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Posted by admin on March 15, 2009

Complete Database of the Internet’s Most Popular UFO Websites!

UFO Questions and Answers

What are UFOs?

Who sees UFOs?

What do UFOs look like?

When did people first see UFOs?

How can you recognize a UFO hoax?

What do aliens look like?

Are people ever hurt by UFOs?

Does the U.S. government study UFOs?

What is an IFO?

What are the most interesting cases?

Where and when are UFOs most often sighted?

Are computers used to study UFOs?

Is radar used to monitor UFOs?

What theories do researchers have to explain UFO reports?

Is there intelligent life on other planets?

What do you say to skeptical people who don’t believe in UFOs?

What should you do when you see a UFO?

How do I become a ufologist?


What are UFOs?

UFOs are unidentified flying objects, but no one really knows what 
they are. Many researchers (called “ufologists”) have theories about 
what UFOs might be, but because no one can examine a UFO in a 
scientific laboratory, all of these ideas are really only educated 
guesses. We can offer a definition of UFOs, however, that you may find 
useful when you study the subject:

A UFO is the reported sighting of an object or light seen in the sky 
or on land, whose appearance, trajectory, actions, motions, lights, 
and colors do not have a logical, conventional, or natural 
explanation, and which cannot be explained, not only by the original 
witness, but by scientists or technical experts who try to make a 
common sense identification after examining the evidence.

Who sees UFOs?

All kinds of people see UFOs. It does not matter whether you are rich 
or poor, educated or uneducated, young or old. In fact, many people 
who report seeing UFOs were not even looking for them when they had 
their sighting. The chances for seeing a UFO are greater for those 
people who live in small towns or in the country and are outside late 
at night. Although most of us at CUFOS have never seen a UFO 
personally, some colleagues of ours say that their interest in UFOs 
was sparked by seeing a UFO when they were children or young adults.

What do UFOs look like? How fast do they move? Can I get pictures of them?

 UFOs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are only small spots 
of light that move in strange patterns across the night sky. These are 
called nocturnal lights (NLs) and are the most commonly reported type 
of UFO. Nocturnal lights are not really very interesting because the 
witness can see little detail; without details, ufologists cannot 
learn anything new. Faraway objects, often disk- or saucer-shaped, 
seen in the daytime are called daylight disks (DDs). When UFOs 
approach much nearer to witnesses (within 500 feet), these sightings 
are called close encounters. There are three types of close 
encounters, designated as CE-1, CE-2, and CE-3. (Abductions are 
sometimes referred to as CE-4s.) During close encounters, witnesses 
report seeing UFOs that are shaped like saucers, boomerangs, spheres, 
diamonds, cigars, triangles, or other strange shapes. They have bright 
lights, sometimes white or red, other times multicolored.

The reported speed of UFOs varies dramatically. UFOs can hover 
silently for a long time then instantaneously fly off at great 
speeds–certainly much faster than conventional aircraft. They can 
move slowly across the sky, or perform unbelievable maneuvers, such as 
right angle turns, at incredibly high speeds. We do not know what 
powers UFOs, or why they have such maneuverability.

There are few unquestionably authentic pictures of UFOs. Many 
so-called UFO photographs are really natural phenomena (such as 
strangely shaped clouds) or are light leaks in the camera or flaws 
that were introduced when the film was developed. Some photos are 
deliberate hoaxes made by people who want you to believe they have 
seen UFOs; for any number of reasons, such as fame, money, or to 
promote a religious or philosophical viewpoint. Some of the best UFO 
photos were taken in McMinnville, Oregon, in 1950; in Rouen, France, 
in 1954; off the coast of Brazil in 1958; and in Lubbock, Texas, in 
1951. There are also videotapes of UFOs taken in the Hudson Valley 
region in New York, and in Belgium. These pictures can be seen in many 
UFO books available in your local library.

Photos are not sufficient proof for the reality of UFOs because they 
are easily hoaxed.

When did people first see UFOs? 

 Many UFO researchers argue that UFOs have appeared throughout 
history. There are many myths, legends, and stories that tell of 
strange things seen in the sky or beings who came from the sky to help 
humans develop civilization. Because modern scholars cannot directly 
check the facts of these stories, it is impossible to determine if 
these are accurate reports of true events. Most ufologists, therefore, 
concentrate on studying UFO reports beginning in this century.

In the 1890s, people across North America watched strange 
dirigible-shaped airships with very bright searchlights flying above 
their farms and towns. Some people claimed they had met the airship 
pilots. Researchers disagree about the authenticity of these accounts. 
Many investigators think the airship reports were hoaxes spread by 
local “liars’ clubs” or sensational stories written by creative 
journalists hoping to sell papers. A few ufologists, however, are 
convinced these airship sightings represent the first reliable UFO 
reports in history.

During World War II pilots saw strange, glowing balls of light flying 
beside their airplanes. They called these lights “foo fighters,” a 
term based on an expression (”where there’s foo, there’s fire”) from 
Smokey Stover, a popular comic strip at the time. At first the Allied 
command believed the foo-fighters were secret German weapons or 
surveillance devices. Only after the war did they discover that German 
pilots had also seen the glowing lights, which were thought to be 
American or British secret devices!

During the summer and fall of 1946, a number of unusual aerial objects 
were sighted over Sweden and Norway. They were given the name of 
”ghost rockets” and it was believed that they were secret Russian 
weapons developed from the German wartime rocket program. The Swedish 
defense ministry stated that 80% of the 1,000 ghost rockets could be 
explained by natural phenomena, but about 200 cases could not be 
explained as either a natural phenomenon, Swedish or Russian aircraft, 
or misperceptions.

Although the airship and foo-fighter reports are more detailed and 
credible than ancient stories of strange “prodigies” seen in the sky, 
many ufologists question whether these sightings can be accepted as 
true UFO reports. As a result, many researchers say the modern UFO era 
started on June 24, 1947, with the sighting by businessman and pilot 
Kenneth Arnold. While flying his small plane along the Cascade 
Mountains in Washington state, Arnold saw nine crescent-shaped objects 
flying along the contours of the mountains. Although he saw them for 
only a three and a half minutes, Arnold knew they were not regular 
airplanes. He radioed in his report, and when he landed at the 
airport, reporters were waiting to ask questions. He described the 
motions of the objects as “like a saucer would if you skipped it 
across the water.” This is where the term “flying saucer” came from.

How can you recognize a UFO hoax?

Although tens of thousands of UFOs have been reported over the past 
forty years, less than 1% have been shown to be hoaxes. For the most 
part, competent UFO investigators have been able to recognize hoaxes 
almost immediately. The most common type of UFO hoax is a prank 
balloon, which involves tying a flare or candle to a helium-filled 
balloon. On rare occasions elaborate hoaxes have been perpetrated, 
necessitating a more extensive investigation.

To eliminate the possibility that a UFO report is a hoax, one must 
examine the credibility of the witnesses, the details of the report, 
and any physical evidence, especially photographs. The reliability and 
validity of these factors must be ascertained before a researcher can 
have confidence in the data. A witness’s reliability can be checked by 
interviewing neighbors, friends, relatives, co-workers, and other 
associates. In particular, an investigator is interested in 
determining whether the individual has a reputation as a sincere, 
responsible person, or as a practical joker, prankster, or hoaxer.

The researcher also examines the UFO report to determine if there are 
any unbelievable claims or glaring inconsistencies. For example, are 
there elements in the report similar to those found in science fiction 
or so unusual that they do not appear in other UFO accounts? Does the 
witness claim to have seen the UFO many times, although other 
witnesses cannot be found? Does the witness claim that important 
evidence is mysteriously missing or taken by unknown “government 
agents”? While such facts may not prove a hoax, they can cast doubt on 
the report and must be considered during the investigation.

Finally, the UFO investigator must examine the evidence to check if it 
has been altered, falsified, or hoaxed. If the evidence looks faked, 
or if it can be explained by more prosaic methods, doubt is cast on 
its validity. Often an experienced ufologist can determine that a UFO 
photograph is a hoax upon first viewing. Clues, such as a noticeable 
difference between the sharpness of the UFO image and that of 
foreground and background objects, can indicate a hoax. Computerized 
photo enhancement can also be used to prove a hoax. Enhancement 
techniques can reveal supporting strings or wires and can provide 
information about an object’s actual shape, material, and density.

Remember, in any investigation you must critically and thoroughly 
examine the evidence. The more evidence that is proven to be 
unreliable, the greater the doubt to be cast on the validity of the 
UFO event. A rule-of-thumb to consider when investigating any UFO case 
is if something appears too good to be true, it probably is too good 
to be true.” (This is also true in life, not just ufology.) 
So–investigator beware, and never let your critical thinking skills 

What do aliens look like, and where do they come from?

 Because we do not know for certain that UFOs are spacecraft, 
we cannot be sure aliens are visiting the earth from other planets. 
Many ufologists argue that there is enough evidence to show that UFOs 
are really spacecraft operated by intelligent aliens. Among the 
reports of encounters with aliens (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 
or CE-3s), there is a wide variety of descriptions. Some witnesses 
describe beings who look very human. In fact, they say these aliens 
could easily blend into the crowd on any street in any city of the 
world. These types of aliens are sometimes called Nordics, because 
they most closely resemble the people living in northern Europe. 
Others report seeing short, gray beings with large, almond-shaped 
eyes, and large, bulbous heads. These aliens have been called Grays. 
The Grays are sometimes divided into subgroups depending on other 
physical characteristics, such as height. On some occasions, witnesses 
report seeing creatures that resemble robots or androids. Only in the 
most unusual cases do people claim to have seen monstrous creatures so 
often depicted in popular movies about beings from outer space. (The 
beings in the illustration are those described in the book Encounter 
at Buff Ledge, by Walter Webb.)

There are many theories about where aliens come from, but there is no 
absolute proof. Some speculate that aliens come from other planets, 
while others suggest different dimensions. The idea that UFO beings 
are time travelers from our own future is also a possibility. The most 
intriguing clue about the origin of the aliens comes from the UFO 
abduction account of Betty and Barney Hill. During their abduction 
aboard a UFO in 1961, Betty Hill was shown a three-dimensional map of 
a cluster of stars. She later drew the star map while under hypnosis. 
Years later, an Ohio school teacher, Marjorie Fish, made many models 
of known groups of stars in our section of the galaxy and compared 
them to the Hill star map. Fish eventually found a match and concluded 
that the two major stars shown were the binary stars, Zeta Reticulum I 
and II. It is interesting to note that these stars are similar to the 
sun and could very well have earthlike planets in orbit around 
them–planets that might support intelligent life.

Are people ever hurt by UFOs?

People occasionally report feeling pain or receiving an injury during 
a UFO encounter or abduction. Physical effects include eye irritation, 
sunburn, skin cuts, and sickness. After the experience, witnesses may 
have nightmares and feel anxious, and they may undergo personality 
changes or changes in their beliefs about important life issues. 
Witnesses, especially abductees, claim later UFO encounters and other 
experiences with the paranormal, such as poltergeist activity or the 
development of psychic powers.

One of the most famous UFO sightings resulting in injuries to 
witnesses involved two women, Betty Cash and Vicki Landrum, and Mrs. 
Landrum’s grandson, Colby, as they drove along a deserted Texas road 
during December 1980. In front of them, they saw a huge, brilliant, 
diamond-shaped object with flames shooting out from the bottom. Cash 
stopped the car and got out to have a better look at the UFO. The 
object radiated intense heat that softened the dashboard of her car. 
Terrified, Cash returned to the car and with the others, watched the 
UFO move away. As it did so, a squadron of helicopters appeared and 
surrounded the UFO. The witnesses followed the object and the 
helicopters until they disappeared in the distance. By the time the 
three reached home, all were feeling ill. Within a few hours, they 
developed sunburnlike blisters, nausea, and diarrhea. Betty Cash’s 
symptoms were the most severe, and she eventually sought medical 
treatment and was hospitalized as a burn victim. Her doctor concluded 
Cash was exhibiting symptoms of radiation sickness. The witnesses 
later sued the United States government, claiming it was responsible 
for their injuries. (They had identified the helicopters as Chinook 
twin-rotor helicopters used by the U.S. Army.) Their lawsuit was 
unsuccessful because they could never prove the UFO or the helicopters 
were devices owned and operated by the American government.

Does the United States government study UFOs?

At present, the United States government does not officially 
investigate UFO sightings, although there is some evidence suggesting 
that various governmental agencies continue to maintain a secret 
interest in the subject. During the past forty years, however, there 
have been several projects and investigative panels that examined the 
UFO evidence, at least superficially. Because UFOs are an aerial 
henomenon, between 1947 and 1969 the U.S. Air Force was charged with 
organizing several projects to investigate UFO reports. The most 
famous was Project Blue Book, which existed from 1952 to 1969. 
Although there were many UFO reports during those years, including 
numerous sightings by military and civilian pilots, and other 
technical personnel, the Air Force maintained that UFOs were not real. 
The military considered UFO reports seriously only because it believed 
that they could be used to confuse and overwhelm our intelligence and 
communication operations, thereby making America vulnerable to 
surprise attack by some foreign power.

Some military experts also admitted the possibility that the Soviet 
Union, with the help of captured German scientists, was developing 
technology far superior to any the United States possessed. Therefore, 
the Air Force concluded that UFO reports should be investigated until 
these possibilities were proven unlikely. Through its investigations, 
the Air Force was able to explain most sightings as natural phenomena 
or misidentified aircraft. However, there were still hundreds of UFO 
reports that it could not so easily explain.

In 1966 there was a wave of spectacular UFO sightings across America 
that received widespread press coverage. Political leaders, especially 
congressional representatives, were pressured by their constituents 
who demanded explanations for their sightings. A congressional 
committee conducted hearings on the UFO sightings, and pressure was 
placed on the Air Force to resolve the issue once and for all. 

In response, the Air Force contracted with the University of Colorado 
to conduct what it hoped would be the definitive study of the UFO 
phenomenon–a study that would finally settle the UFO question to 
everyone’s satisfaction. The project was headed by Professor Edward U. 
Condon, a physicist, who had expressed negative views about life on 
other planets and the existence of UFOs. Several members of the 
Colorado study (which became known as the “Condon Committee”) charged 
Condon with failing to act in an open-minded and impartial manner, 
thereby biasing the study. Despite becoming mired in controversy, 
after several committee members were fired and the Congress organizing 
its own symposium on UFOs, the Condon Committee continued its 
investigation and eventually released a final report. The study’s 
conclusion, written by Condon, stated that the 21-year study of UFOs 
had not added anything to scientific knowledge and that further study 
could not be justified. Critics charged the report’s conclusion did 
not follow from the study’s own data, and the Condon investigation was 
a sham from the beginning. Despite the controversy surrounding the 
Condon Report, the Air Force used its conclusions as a ustification 
for disbanding Project Blue Book in December 1969 and severing its 
connection with the UFO subject.

Despite this disbanding, many ufologists believe the government still 
maintains extensive files on UFOs and continues to investigate 
sightings in secret. Their belief is reinforced by the fact that U.S. 
intelligence agencies have already released documents showing that 
they have been collecting UFO information that is still classified Top 
Secret. The government does not allow public access to these 
documents, despite numerous attempts by UFO researchers to see them 
through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is supposed to 
give American citizens the right to view any government document that 
does not threaten national security.

In response to the government’s reluctance to release UFO documents, 
the UFO group Ground Saucer Watch began legal action to gain the 
release of documents on UFO sightings over military bases in the 
1970s. After Ground Saucer Watch ran into financial difficulties, 
Citizens Against UFO Secrecy (CAUS) pursued the case. Though CAUS 
argued that the release of official UFO information would not threaten 
national security, U.S. intelligence agencies claimed their operations 
would be jeopardized by their release. Even when CAUS emphasized that 
it only wanted the UFO information and not anything related to U.S. 
intelligence, the government adamantly refused to release the 
information. Eventually, federal judge Gerhardt Gesell ruled in the 
government’s favor, citing national security reasons. CAUS protested 
the decision, claiming the hearing was unfair. In particular, the 
group pointed out that the judge was not allowed to review the UFO 
material despite having top security clearance. In fact, Judge Gesell 
was only given a summary explaining why the government could not 
release the documents, which served as the basis for his decision. 
Although CAUS failed to win the case, it continues to work for the 
release of government UFO documents through the Freedom of Information 

What is an IFO?

[INLINE] An IFO is an Identified Flying Object. In essence, it is a 
natural or man-made object that people reported as a UFO. About 
90%-95% of all UFO reports prove to be IFOs, after an examination of 
the evidence by a trained investigator. People report natural or 
conventional objects as UFOs because they do not recognize them as 
such, due to unusual environmental conditions, ignorance, or the 
rarity of a natural event. For example, people have reported the 
planet Venus as a UFO, unaware of how bright the planet can appear at 
certain times of the year. Stars near the horizon are sometimes 
reported as UFOs because atmospheric turbulence and thermals (columns 
of warm air) cause them to twinkle rapidly in red and blue colors. 
Stars may also appear to dart back and forth because of autokinesis. 
This is a psychological phenomenon in which a person’s eye movements 
create the illusion that a bright object seen in the dark without a 
frame of reference is moving.

In order to distinguish between UFOs and IFOs, an investigator must 
find as much information about a sighting as possible, without leading 
witnesses into giving false details. It is also important that UFO 
reports are investigated soon after the sighting, so all relevant 
information about possible IFO explanations can be considered. 

It is significant that IFO reports, along with genuine UFO reports, 
have decreased over the past decade. People almost never report Venus 
or advertising planes, for example, as UFOs. The reasons for the 
decline in IFO reports are worthy of serious study and could shed 
light on the nature of the UFO phenomenon. If UFOs are misperceptions 
of natural or man-made objects, as many skeptics claim, why don’t 
people misperceive these objects as UFOs today? If UFO sightings are 
the result of psychological problems, can we assume people report 
fewer UFOs today because they are psychologically healthier? If UFOs 
are a rare or unknown natural phenomenon, what has happened in the 
earth’s environment to cause the decline in sightings? The answers to 
these and other questions may provide missing pieces to the UFO 

What are the most interesting cases for ufologists to study?

The most important cases for learning more about UFOs are those with 
multiple witnesses and reports in which the UFO leaves some sort of 
physical trace or effect. Physical trace cases involving ground 
markings or electromagnetic effects are called Close Encounters of the 
Second Kind (CE-2s). When a UFO is observed visually and picked up by 
radar simultaneously, this case is cataloged as a Radar-Visual (R-V) 

One of the most famous CE-2 cases occurred in 1971, at Delphos, 
Kansas, where a teenage boy, Ronald Johnson, saw an illuminated object 
hover near the ground. After the object flew off, a glowing ring 
appeared on the spot. Analysis showed that the soil had undergone 
considerable physical and chemical changes that lasted for several 

The most famous R-V case took place in 1952 over Washington, D.C., 
where air traffic controllers tracked UFOs while an Air Force pilot 
reported strange lights were encircling his aircraft. Air Force 
intelligence explained that the radar images and the strange lights 
were caused by temperature inversions, an explanation many scientists 
reject as improbable.

Another fascinating R-V case occurred on July 17, 1957. An Air Force 
bomber, an RB-47, was followed by a UFO for 700 miles across four 
states as it flew from Mississippi to Oklahoma. For an hour and a half 
the object was seen by the flight crew, detected by the aircraft’s 
electronic gear, and tracked by ground radar. Because of the multiple 
witnesses, radar confirmation, and the duration of the sighting, most 
UFO researchers rule out misperception and radar malfunction. The 
RB-47 case is still unexplained.

Recently, the most significant Radar-Visual cases have come from 
Belgium where triangular-shaped UFOs were seen by military personnel 
and civilians and detected on military radar. The Belgian Air Force 
has publicly aired recordings of radar trackings that show objects 
making fantastic maneuvers at incredibly high speeds that are far 
beyond the capabilities of conventional aircraft.

Where and when are UFOs most often sighted? 
Are there any UFO sightings near my town?

UFO sightings are a worldwide phenomenon, with reports coming from 
almost every nation. Some countries, however, have more reports than 
others. In particular, a large number of UFO reports come from the 
United States, Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Italy, Spain, 
Belgium, and Russia. By contrast, few reports (considering their large 
populations) are received from Mexico, Germany, and India. No one is 
sure why the number of UFO reports varies from country to country, but 
cultural, religious, and political factors are probably involved. 

In the United States, UFOs are sighted in every state, with the 
greatest number of reports coming from the Northeast and the 
Southwest. Generally, sightings occur in rural areas, small towns, and 
near military installations. Statistical analysis indicates that 
sightings most often occur around 9:00 p.m. with a secondary peak at 
about 3:00 a.m. UFO reports are evenly distributed throughout the 
week, with peak periods of reports coming during the summer months, 
especially July. Since the modern UFO era began, there have been 
extraordinary numbers of sightings (called waves) in the United States 
during the years 1947, 1952, 1957, 1966, and 1973.

To find out if there have been UFO sightings near your town will take 
some investigative work on your part. Ask your relatives and friends 
if they have seen a UFO. You may be surprised how many people have 
seen UFOs but never reported their sightings. Some researchers suggest 
that only one in ten witnesses actually report their sighting. Check 
your local newspapers, especially editions published during the wave 
years listed previously, for news reports and articles about area UFO 
sightings. Most libraries have collections of old newspapers for you 
to examine. Finally, read as many good UFO books as you can. You may 
discover a UFO report from where you live.

Are computers used to study UFOs?

Many UFO reports are recorded on a computer database called UFOCAT. 
The UFOCAT computer database was started by Dr. David R. Saunders as 
part of the Condon UFO Project at the University of Colorado during 
the late 1960s. It was continued by Dr. Saunders and CUFOS until 1980, 
at which time UFOCAT contained about 106,000 entries. The UFOCAT 
project was inactive for ten years but has recently been reactivated 
by Dr. Donald Johnson, a former associate of Dr. Saunders and CUFOS 
board member. Originally stored on a mainframe computer, UFOCAT can 
now be maintained on a personal computer. Although the database lacks 
many cases from the 1980s, it is still the largest information base on 
UFO reports, and efforts are underway to add as many unrecorded cases 
to the system as possible. UFOCAT has fields to record information on 
dozens of report parameters, including date, location, weather, number 
of witnesses, effects on witnesses, type of UFO and size, and UFO 
maneuvers. It does not record narrative details of a UFO report, but 
instead codes the report information according to a system devised by 
Dr. Saunders. UFOCAT has been used by many serious researchers to 
study patterns in location, time, and types of UFO reports. UFOCAT 
information is available only to serious academic scholars and 

Is radar used to monitor UFOs?

Although there are cases in which UFOs are tracked by radar 
(Radar-Visual sightings), radar is not considered a practical 
surveillance technique for ufology. Radar, including the sophisticated 
systems of the FAA and NORAD, has many shortcomings that limit its 
value to UFO research. A UFO may be too low for it to be detected or 
too fast to appear on the radar screen for more than a few sweeps of 
the antenna. UFOs that hover or move erratically may be filtered out 
by a radar’s sophisticated computer system as ground scatter or noise. 
Also, planes with transponders return stronger radar signals than 
targets not so equipped, and radars are often tuned only to 
transponder signals. It is also possible that UFOs might not return 
radar signals at all.

In spite of the inadequacies of radar in the search for UFOs, FAA 
supervisors do report “unusual air traffic” in their operational logs, 
and radar confirmation of a UFO sighting can help verify a report and 
details of a UFO’s physical characteristics. A serious problem for 
ufologists, however, is that the FAA keeps radarscope tapes of air 
traffic for only two weeks, and computer printouts of this information 
can be very expensive. As a result, radar data is only available for 
cases reported immediately.

Although rare, one Radar-Visual case is more significant than dozens 
of nocturnal light reports for increasing our understanding of the UFO 

What theories do researchers have to explain UFO reports?

There are three general theories that try to explain UFOs. They may 

1. the products of intelligent beings; 
2. unusual but natural phenomena; or 
3. the result of people’s need for a comforting or challenging belief 

1. The most popular theory (especially in America) is that UFOs are 
spacecraft built and operated by aliens from somewhere else in outer 
space. Some researchers reject the idea that they are space vehicles 
and speculate that UFOs might be another type of intelligently 
controlled device. These devices might create a holographic image that 
people see as something unexplainable, or they may stimulate the brain 
to create a hallucination that the witness interprets as a real UFO.

Another possibility is that what people see as UFOs are portals or 
”wormholes” that connect different parts of our space-time continuum 
and are used by intelligent beings to move between different points in 
space-time. Though most proponents of the “intelligent beings” theory 
believe that the intelligence behind UFOs comes from outer space, 
others believe it originates in another dimension or on earth itself. 
A few researchers believe that secret groups of scientists have 
developed technology beyond the current capabilities of mainstream 

All of these ideas, including the aliens-from-outer-space theory, 
still lack conclusive proof and unambiguous evidence. Individuals who 
are skeptical of the existence of UFOs specifically direct their 
criticism most often against this first theory. They argue that the 
vast distances between stars would make interstellar travel nearly 
impossible. These skeptics also believe that the many varying 
descriptions of UFOs and their occupants would imply that many alien 
groups are visiting the earth, which they consider very unlikely. They 
also argue that aliens would not be so secretive about their 
activities and would announce their presence in more obvious ways. 
Finally, skeptics point out that there is no undeniable evidence, such 
as a truly authentic photograph or metal from a UFO, that would prove 
their existence.

2. The second theory states that UFOs are unusual natural phenomena. 
Ball lightning is an example of a rare and incompletely understood 
phenomenon. Proponents of the “earthlight theory” argue that 
geological stresses in the earth’s crust produce glowing balls of 
ionized gas that are ejected into the atmosphere. They think that the 
properties of this gas (called a plasma) may have strange effects on 
the people that come near it; plasma may stimulate areas of the brain 
to produce vivid hallucinations, which might be the basis for 
abduction cases.

Opponents argue that the earthlight theory does not take into account 
all the data. They do not think that geological stress can create a 
plasma with the size, shape, and duration of reported UFOs. They also 
question whether an electromagnetically-induced hallucination could 
create the consistent type of memories reported by abductees.

3. The third theory proposes that UFOs are the result of psychological 
or sociological factors. Many scientists, particularly those who are 
skeptical of the existence of UFOs, argue that all sightings are 
really misperceptions of natural phenomena or conventional aircraft. 
They say that these misperceptions are the result of the witness’s 
ignorance, emotional state, or psychological health, or caused by 
unusual environmental conditions adversely affecting an individual’s 

Other researchers believe that the stresses and upheavals in modern 
society have created a need in many people to establish “contact” with 
UFOs or aliens. They say that such a need exists because modern 
society has rejected traditional values and beliefs, leaving 
individuals adrift with no direction or hope. Through their belief in 
UFOs and technologically superior aliens, some people can place their 
faith in something or someone who can help humanity solve its problems 
and restore purpose to the world.

Arguments against this theory point out that witnesses usually 
describe their sightings with a certain level of precision and 
consistency. UFO reports from emotionally disturbed individuals are 
rare and easily identifiable. However, there are individuals who claim 
to have received messages from alien beings, often by “channeling” 
these messages in a trance-like state. This undoubtedly comes from the 
channelers’ belief system rather than a seemingly objective source 
like the UFO phenomenon.

Each of the three theories has its strengths and weaknesses. Because 
of the complexity of the UFO phenomenon, all three may explain at 
least a part of the mystery. Only more research and new data will help 
us solve the UFO enigma.

Is there intelligent life on other planets? 

[INLINE] Although the Center for UFO Studies is not specifically 
involved in the search for intelligent life on other planets, the idea 
that some UFOs are alien spacecraft makes this question somewhat 
relevant to ufology. While there have been many fanciful tales about 
life on other planets, most scientists search for intelligent life by 
using radio telescopes tuned to detect the emissions of other 
technologically advanced civilizations. (Projects involving the search 
for extraterrestrial intelligence are referred to by the acronym 
SETI.) One of the first organized attempts to discover 
extraterrestrial life was Project Ozma (named after the queen of Oz), 
which was initiated by the American radio astronomer, Frank Drake. The 
project tuned its telescopes to detect radio emissions from nearby 
sun-like stars, such as Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. Although signals 
proving the existence of intelligent life were never detected, 
valuable information about the universe was discovered.

Since Project Ozma, other attempts have also been made to detect 
extraterrestrial signals, with one of the longest-running efforts 
occurring at Ohio State University.

Despite the lack of success in discovering extraterrestrial signals, 
most astronomers consider the probability for extraterrestrial life to 
be very high. This conclusion is based on the Drake equation developed 
by Frank Drake, who conceived it as a way to stimulate discussion 
about the search for extraterrestrial intelligence). Seven factors are 
used in the equation to determine the probable number of technological 
civilizations able and willing to transmit and receive radio signals. 
These factors include the rate of starbirth, number of planets around 
a star, planets with life, supporting environments, planets with life, 
intelligent life, communicating societies, and civilization life span. 

Several scientists have also begun to speculate about the possibility 
that extraterrestrial civilizations have already come in contact with 
each other, especially in regions of the galaxy where stars are in 
close proximity. The activities of these highly advanced cosmic 
societies might be detectable on the earth, providing the evidence 
SETI projects have sought.

Some scientists reject the idea that extraterrestrial life exists; a 
position best expressed by Enrico Fermi’s statement (now known as the 
Fermi Paradox) that if extraterrestrial life exists in the universe, 
they (the extraterrestrials) should have arrived here by now. So where 
are they? The argument essentially states that if extraterrestrial 
intelligent life exists, we would have the evidence for its existence 
by now because the age of the earth would have given the 
extraterrestrials enough time to reach here. Of course, if intelligent 
beings exist elsewhere, many factors may have prevented them from 
contacting us, or they may have simply chosen not to do so. Then 
again, the possibility exists that the extraterrestrials have reached 
the earth. Most scientists involved in SETI projects, however, have 
not shown an interest in examining UFO data as a way to test this 

What do you say to skeptical people who don’t believe in UFOs?

The study of the UFO phenomenon should not involve the issue of 
belief. Serious ufologists are not trying to make people believe in 
UFOs; they are trying to show that the UFO phenomenon–whatever it 
is–deserves serious scientific study. A constant problem ufologists 
face is ignorance about the subject. Even well-educated 
skeptics–often college professors–are unaware of the evidence for 
UFOs, the subject’s literature, the history of government involvement 
and civilian investigations, and the details of significant cases. In 
fact, serious ufologists are often the best skeptics; they possess 
greater knowledge about the pros and cons for studying UFOs than 

Skeptics often argue against the study of UFOs based upon assumptions 
unrelated to the evidence. They assume aliens would not visit the 
earth in the large numbers that UFO reports suggest or that people see 
UFOs because of some religious or emotional need. Because scientists 
do not study UFOs, you might assume that the evidence must be lacking. 
In practical terms, scientists generally study topics that are 
academically acceptable, have an abundance of data, and can attract 
funding from government and private sources.

To those who remain skeptical about the value of UFO research, here 
are some suggestions: 
* Read the serious and relevant UFO literature. 
* Learn about the UFO investigators and research organizations. 
* Know the facts behind the phenomenon. 
* Study the data and do not confuse facts with speculation. 
* Examine the research methods and arguments of skeptics.

Remember that honest and serious skepticism requires an understanding 
of the data, relevant scientific and social research, and the 
world-wide history of the UFO mystery. 

What should you do when you see a UFO?

First, you should call for other people to come and watch the UFO with 

The more witnesses, the more credible the report will be to 
investigators. Second, you should observe very carefully. If you have 
a camera, take pictures of the UFO that include known objects in the 
foreground and background. Remember as many details as possible, 
especially the time, date, duration, and location of the sighting, the 
UFO’s appearance, shape, apparent size and distance, lights, colors, 
direction, estimated speed, trajectory, motions, actions, sounds, and 
how you lost sight of it. Third, after the sighting ends, write down 
as many details as you can remember. Draw a sketch of the UFO (even if 
you took photographs) and a map of the area where the sighting 
occurred. If the UFO left any physical traces or effects, protect the 
evidence so researchers can investigate and analyze it. Finally, and 
most importantly, contact the Center for UFO Studies to file your 

What do I do to become a ufologist?

There is no formal training required to become a ufologist. In fact, 
ufology is not so much a professional career as it is a hobby. That 
is, most researchers study and work in this field on a voluntary basis 
and have educated themselves about the subject. If you are serious 
about studying UFOs, you must read the serious literature about the 
subject. You must also attend college and study any field you find 
rewarding; this will help you understand the scientific method and 
develop your critical thinking skills. It is impossible to predict 
what discipline, whether in the social or physical sciences, will 
contribute to a further understanding of the UFO phenomenon, so 
knowledge and perspective of any field of learning may shed light on 
the phenomenon. Finally, you should try to meet other persons 
interested in UFOs and who may already be involved with investigations 
and study. They may have books you can borrow and expertise you can 
draw upon.