Who killed the UFOs?

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In the USA, public interest in UFOs reached a peak in the 1950s and 60s, and has steadily declined until it is now almost extinct. Dozens of groups interested in flying saucers have disbanded because of lack of interest.  Dave Wood, chairman of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP) says UFOs are a thing of the past. His UFO cases have dropped by 96 per cent since 1988, and the number of other groups involved in UFO research has fallen from well over 100 in the 1990s to less than 10 now.

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There has been a dramatic drop in “sightings,” and there has never been any hard proof that we are visited by beings from another planet or dimension. This leaves the dwindling numbers of enthusiasts to rehash supposed UFO “encounters” that supposedly happened decades ago, plus the “government covert-ups” that surround them. At UFO conferences of the present, people long for the past.

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What killed UFOs? I think there are three factors…

[1] The disappearance of the middle class. When a nation has extreme poverty and inequality, its peasants cope with their misery by thinking in terms of religious mumbo jumbo. When a nation develops a middle class, the peasants have the time, the material freedom, and the technical education to let their imaginations run wild. The 1950s produced a middle class, plus one alien monster movie after another. Chinese society developed UFO mania when China developed a middle class. So did Brazilian society, plus a few other Latin American societies.

When the middle class vanishes, as it has in the USA, so does mass interest in UFOs.

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[2] Boredom. The public has seen so many movies and TV shows about aliens and UFOs that the subject no longer inspires people’s imaginations. This boredom has been increased because no one has produced incontrovertible evidence of alien craft, despite countless millions of cell phones with video cameras in them.

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[3] The Internet. In the past, UFOs had an element of mystery and secrecy that made them fascinating, and even scary in an exciting way. Today if something happens, the Internet helps you find an explanation. Classic cases like Roswell are only classic cases because they were not investigated properly at the time.

To illustrate this, let me give you two of my own UFO “sightings.”

Case 1: One evening at dusk I saw a glowing orange orb in the sky. The object was stationary, very high, and so incredibly bright that I thought it might actually be some kind of alien craft, or perhaps a cosmic phenomenon like a gamma ray burst or something. I watched it for forty minutes, as did several other witnesses. It was eerie and bizarre. Finally the brilliant orange orb began to move, still at very high altitude, and it slowly dimmed until it vanished in the sky. The bizarre event would have perplexed me for the rest of my life – except the next day I learned on the Internet that it was a simply a research balloon that had been released in New Mexico. When I saw the balloon, the sun had gone down, but the balloon was at such high altitude that the sun’s rays reached it from over my horizon, and reflected on the balloon’s ultra-shiny Mylar surface, creating the illusion of a flaming glow. It was no big deal. But it would have been a big deal if I had not found an explanation. It would have been “aliens.”

Case 2: One evening at 10:00 pm I saw a multi-colored orb in the sky at fairly low altitude. Again I had witnesses with me. The object was very bright, and it changed colors: red, blue, green, yellow, white, and back to red again. We watched it for half an hour. It was eerie and bizarre. Finally I thought, “Wait just a minute…” I went inside and checked a web site that tells you which celestial objects are in the sky over you at any moment on any day, including the sun and moon. The  “UFO” was simply the star Sirius which, instead of being at “low altitude,” was 8.6 light years away. If I had not had the internet, it would have been very bizarre. But with the internet, it was not even worth going outside to look at. It caught my attention because Sirius is the fifth brightest object in the sky, after the sun, moon, Venus, and Jupiter. And Sirius sparkles when it is seen at low altitude, unlike Venus and Jupiter.

So now when I see something bizarre, I think, “Whatever it is, there is a simple explanation on the Internet.”

Q. What killed UFOs?

A. Poverty, boredom, and the Internet

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