UFO stigma and alien conspiracy theories are relics of Cold War paranoia
For more than seven decades, very credible witnesses and sophisticated sensors observed mysterious objects fly in a way that defy easy explanation. But until recently the old presidents, High intelligence officials, members of Congress and pilots never had was talkingn yes openly about UFO – or the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
Largely unknown, however, is that the UFO taboo – and an array of weird alien conspiracy theories – are leftovers from the Cold War. paranoia.
According to a declassified air force document, the volume and geographic distribution of sightings meant that the UFO phenomenon “cannot be ignored”. A 1947 note from a senior Air Force general noted that UFOs are “real and not visionary or fictitious.”
With striking parallels to the more recent met, air force analysts determined that many UFOs exhibited “extreme rates of climb, maneuverability … and action which must be taken into account evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar. Such characteristics, the Air Force concluded, suggest that “objects are controlled either manually, automatically or remotely”. (A CIA director would continue to state that UFOs “operate under intelligent control.”)
Adding to the mystery, an Air Force intelligence from 1948 note said the UFOs “are not of national origin”. At the same time, the air force assessed the likelihood of the Soviet Union developing such advanced technology as “extremely distant”.
Not surprisingly, the Air Force was not the only government entity with an interest in UFOs. Urgent 1952 note from the science branch of the CIA to then-director Walter Bedell Smith sounded the alarm: [UFO] the incidents convince us that something is happening that deserves immediate attention.
According to to the CIA, UFOs “are not attributable to natural phenomena or known types of air vehicles. In addition, they have been observed “at great altitudes and moving at high speed in the vicinity of major US defense installations.”
A 1952 FBI note notes that analysts were “fairly certain that [UFOs] are not ships or missiles of another nation in this world. “Reflecting the frequent reports of UFOs escaping from nearby planes, the FBI learned that” when the pilot in [an intercepting] jet approaches the object he invariably fades from view. “
In short, US intelligence analysts have concluded that intelligently controlled the objects – often flying in restricted airspace and capable of evading fighter jets – were not developed by the United States or a foreign power.
If the government’s assessments are correct, the list of possible explanations shrinks considerably.
Another FBI note notes that after years of studying the Air Force, “a small percentage of extremely honorable people [sic] the observations were inexplicable. As a result, “some military officials are seriously considering the possibility of interplanetary ships. “
But such a goal, open minded the analysis was not to last.
Amid the intensifying cold war hostilities, American spies and defense planners concerned that massive UFO sightings could Again overwhelm the emergency reporting channels, giving the Soviet Union “a surprise advantage in any nuclear attack. Civil servants too dreaded than the Soviets use “UFOs as a tool of psychological warfare” to be sown “mass hysteria and panic. “
The agency started with recruit academics to join a “Scientific Advisory Group on Unidentified Flying Objects”. The group, which – above all – was not shown the most compelling UFO data, recommended a “extensive educational programTo “demystify” UFO reports and “train” observers “to correctly recognize unusually illuminated objects.”
According to to the panel, the “training” program “would lead to a significant reduction in [UFO] reports. “At the same time, the” debunking “effort would reduce” public interest in “flying saucers” “and reduce” Americans’ susceptibility to intelligent hostile propaganda. “
But the effort to “demystify” has had extraordinary consequences.
According to James McDonald, one of the great atmospheric physicists, the Air Force began to apply “meteorologically, chemically and optically absurd” explanations to the UFO observations. Widespread Public and Congress soon anger followed.
Perhaps worse, as a longtime astronomer and consultant to the Air Force UFO project J. Allen Hynek outright declared: CIA panel “made the subject of UFOs scientifically disrespectful”.
Vice-Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter, the first director of the CIA, abstract the situation: “Through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe [UFOs] are nonsense. “Behind the scenes”, however, “senior Air Force officers are soberly concerned.”
To be sure, classified American planes represented a lot of UFO sightings. By the government itself metric, the U-2 and SR-71 spy planes were responsible for “more than half of all UFO reports in the late 1950s and most of the 1960s”.
But the once secret planes were almost certainly not behind the most irresistible Historic UFO incidents. Dozens of believers witnesses and several sensors platforms objects observed engaging in movements that no American or Soviet aircraft was capable of.
Unsurprisingly, the Air Force’s clumsy attempts to explain the UFO sightings have led to charges of sweeping cover-up. This dynamic has created fertile ground for an array of conspiracy theories.
But wacky allegations of alien autopsies, inverted UFOs, or a large government plot to cover up alien visits are not supported by the historical context and should be viewed with the greatest skepticism.
More importantly, these bizarre conspiracy theories support the UFO taboo and fuel a shocking lack of scientific interest in the UFO problem.
In the end, instead of an infamous cover-up, the government was guilty of “big mistake“on UFOs. conclusion is justified by both scientists who has spent decades studying UFOs while enjoying extraordinary access to government records.
James McDonald, the renowned atmospheric physicist, was particularly mad by the government bad quality work on UFOs, declaring “I have never seen such superficiality and incompetence in an area of potentially enormous scientific importance.”
Indeed, much of the air force effort cataloging and analyzing UFO reports was crippled by a dismal lack of interest and Resources. Perhaps worse, it was run by a always rotating group of low-level officers determined not to “shake the boat. “The passage of investigate discrediting the UFO sightings only made matters worse.
Marik von Rennenkampff was an analyst in the Office of International Security and Non-Proliferation at the United States Department of State, as well as a person appointed by the Obama administration in the United States Department of Defense. Follow him on twitter @MvonRen.