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Do I believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?
A. Considering the vastness of space and the staggering size not only of our own galaxy but of the universe itself, I should be astonished (and not a little disappointed) if we were the only advanced life in the universe. Even the majority of scientists agree with me on this one.
Q. Do extraterrestrials have the capacity to visit earth?
A. Traditional physics tell us that no object may travel faster than the speed of light (186,000 MPS) making the idea of interplanetary travel a daunting prospect. However, as we gain more understanding into the nature of the universe, scientists are beginning to to be more open to the possibility that FTL (faster than light) travel might be at least theoretically possible, making the prospect that extraterrestrials might visit our planet increasingly plausible. Certainly, if there is a way that Einstein's pesky little law might be superceeded (space warping, wormholes, etc.) we can speculate that at least a few advanced civilizations out thereassuming they existhave found a way of making interstellar flight feasible and so might well have the ability to visit earth.
Q. Do I believe extraterrestrials visit us today?
A. If there are spacefaring races out there, I believe they visit our planet with some frequency. If they possess even a fraction of the curiosity about the universe that we do, I suspect earth would be a worthy subject for study (and probably has been for several hundred million years). Some skeptics ask why they would be interested in doing so, seeing how primitive we are, but I've never bought off on that; anthropologists study primitive cultures all the time, and I can't imagine we wouldn't continue to do the same once we begin moving out into the galaxy, so why wouldn't they be just as interested in learning about us "primitives" here on earth as we are? In fact, if intelligent life is fairly rare in the galaxy, I should think any culture, no matter how primitive it may be by their standards, would be worthy of study by a race that possessed even a modicum of scientific curiosity.
Q. Did aliens create the earliest civilizations or otherwise interfere in our evolution?
A. It's possible, but I think unlikely. The first rule of scientific observation is to not interfere with your subject's natural course of development lest your results be compromised and thereby rendered invalid. Of course, it's possible that a civilization may intentionally intervene in the natural course of human evolution for some reason, though I suspect such interference would not be viewed favorably by those advanced civilizations which prefer a more hands-off approach. I like to think that advanced civilizations have us on a "protected species" list somewhere that mandates no tinkering, but that's purely speculative.
That being said, there appears to be some evidence that the ancients were aware of extraterrestrials and may have even worked stories about them into their mythologies. Some of Erick von Daniken's material, for example, is very compelling it that regard (though I think the gentlemen has a tendency to go overboard at times). And, no, I do not believe Jesus was an extraterrestrial (although I do have some questions about Jerry Springer).
Q. What do extraterrestrials want?
A. As before, they may simply be interested in seeing how civilizations like our own make the leap from primitive to advanced status. I can't imagine a study that would be more fascinating and, as such, more likely to draw large numbers of curious aliens to our neck of the woods than the chance to study a developing civilization first-hand.
Q. Do aliens consider us a threat?
A. It is common to believe that aliens became more interested in us once we developed atomic weapons, thereby implying they consider us a threat, but that is simply an assumption. To a culture that possesses the level of technology capable of traversing the vast expanses of space, even our most powerful weapons would be puny in comparison to those they would be capable of constructing. Additionally, as we are still likely centuries away from achieving a true interstellar capability ourselves, we are unlikely to pose any immediate threat in the near future (except, perhaps, to the most paranoid of extraterrestrials). It may be that increased UFO activity is a result of a general overall increase in technology rather than the advent of any single invention (radio waves being beamed into space may have been a better signal that we are becoming more interesting than an atomic detonation, for instance). On the other hand, it could simply be that with improved global communications and an ever burgeoning number of potential witnesses (as well as growingly sophisticated means of detecting ETs), it just appears that UFO sightings are becoming more common when, in fact, they may just be more widely reported. There's also the possibility that people are more willing to report what they have seen without fear of embarrassment than they were even a few decades ago.
Q. Are some aliens hostile?
A. I don't personally believe any civilization could achieve the high degree of technological sophistication required to traverse space without also developing the parallel advanced moral nature required to handle that technology. In other words, an unenlightened, malevolent race would most likely turn that technology on itself long before it made it to the stars, dramatically reducing the likelihood that extraterrestrials might be inherently aggresive or dangerous. As such, I assume most alien civilizations are basically benevolent or, at worst, indifferent (which could make them at least appear to be hostile to the easily frightened). Further, if an extraterrestrial race wanted to invade Earth, it could easily have done so at any point in the past and probably accomplish it quite easily even today, thereby suggesting that the reason we're still here is because they are basically benevolent or are prevented from taking aggressive action against us by a cartel of more technologically and spiritually advanced races. In effect, some races may be protecting us from their less benign colleagues.
Q. Are there are more than one type of alien?
A. There are probably scoresif not hundredsof different alien races studying us at any given moment, either remotely (through unmanned surveillance or long-range observations) or directly from orbit (manned observations/interactions). This would seem to explain the immense variety of shapes and types of craft observed over the years as well as account for the many different "types" of aliens observed. Whether these races are working together (perhaps they share a type of communal alien database in an effort to minimize redundancy and expand their knowledge base faster) or independently is, of course, an interesting question.
Q. How can aliens observe us without being seen themselves?
A. It's simply a matter of technology. If a civilization possesses the means of crossing trillions of miles of empty space to get here, it seems reasonable to assume they also possess the means of observing us without being detected. They can probably accomplish this through a number of mechanisms: building their craft out of a light-absorbing material, bending light around themselves, forcefields, autonomic camoflage technologies, etc. I also imagine they have different ways of observing us as well, from the use of tiny unmanned probes too small to be seen with the naked eye (alien nanotechnology?) to simply sitting in orbit monitoring our radio transmissions. As such, I believe that they cannot be seen unless they want to be seen (which brings up a number of interesting points. See the next question).
Q. If these aliens have the ability to observe us without our knowledge, then why do we sometimes see them?
A. Most likely the vast majority of UFO reports can be explained away by natural causes, hoaxing, or simple misidentification of manmade objects (click on related article here). However, for those tiny number of genuine encounters, my guess is that they are either accidental (which seems unlikely but not out of the question; I assume Murphy's Law applies to extraterrestrials as well as it does to humans) or it is intentional. I realize the latter possibility contradicts my earlier statement that they are intent on observing us without interfering, but I am open to the possibility they may intentionally show themselves from time to time, either to gauge our reaction to their potential presence or to prepare us psychologically for eventually revealing themselves.
Q. Do aliens have bases on Earth?
A. An intriguing possibility and certainly not out of the question. Considering the small size of most UFOs, it would seem they would require some sort of maintenance facility somewhere here on Earthor, at least, within our system (unless they are remotely controlled and expendable, which remains another possibility). If they do have bases on Earth, however, they would have to be inaccessible to humans (the bottom of a shallow sea would be ideal, for example). A better possibility, in my opinion, is that they maintain immense "mother ships" outside of sensor range, either in very high Earth orbit or further out in our solar system.
Q. Do I believe alien spacecraft have crashed on Earth and have been retrieved by the military?
A. Aside from the prospect of just how difficult it would be to shoot down a vehicle that is literally centuries ahead of us technologically, I find it inconceivable that any advanced civilization would not appreciate the importance of retrieving their own downed vehicles (much less their occupants, dead or alive) or lack the means of recovering them. At a minimum, they should at least possess the means of vaporizing the debris from orbit long before the military knows about it. Further, and in the same vein, I cannot imagine a scenario in which an alien civilization would permit one of their vehicles to be closely examined by a technologically inferior race or would permit reverse engineering to be carried out (plus there is the question as to whether it would even be technological possible to reverse engineer an alien spacecraft). As such, while I am open to whatever hard evidences the "reverse engineering" and "crash recovery" crowds have to present, for the time being I must remain skeptical of the whole idea that we have crashed disks and/or dead aliens in our possession.
Q. Do I believe alien technology has been "reverse engineered" into our own technology, thereby accounting for the rapid pace of technological development seen over the last half century?
A. Since I see no evidence that anyone has ever actually recovered an alien disk-and since without a crashed disk there would be no technology to reverse engineerthe answer would have to be no. However, for the sake of argument, let's assume that alien technology was recovered at some point in the past. If so, that brings up several new problems. For example:
Reverse engineering only works when the technology in question is comparable to what already exists, is clearly understood, and the materials available to replicate it are readily available. For example, the Soviet Tupolev TU-4 bomber was clandestinely reverse engineered from an American B-29 that had made an emergency landing in Vladivostok during World War Two. In essence, reverse engineering is engineering on a micro-level, not a macro-level.
Do I believe alien spacecraft have ever purposely landed on Earth?
A: There is some trace evidence that suggests that unknown machines of some kind have set down on our planet from time to timeevidence which exists in the form of indentations or disturbances to the ground, electromagnetic anomalies, and various chemical alterations to the soil at alleged landing sites. In fact, such trace findings constitute some of the best "hard" evidence of extraterrestrial visitations on record. I do wonder, however, why extraterrestrials would be so careless as to leave such traces behind. Carelessness or perhaps something more?
Are extraterrestrials walking among us today?
A. I remain open to the possibility but highly skeptical. First, the chance that they would look physically enough like us (or have the capacity to make themselves appear human) that they could interact without being noticed are astronomically low. Further, even if they could somehow pull that off, the linguistic and social barriers to overcome along with the biological consequences of mixing alien and earthly organisms (i.e. bacteria) together make such a prospect even more problematic. I suppose it's possible a very advanced technology might be able to overcome these problems (perhaps through the use of carefully crafted and programmable androids ala Commander Data of Star Trek fame) but the entire idea seems far-fetched. Additionally, it raises the question of what they're hoping to discover by such close contact that they couldn't learn from a distance, either by direct observation or through monitoring our private and public airwaves.
Q. Do I believe extraterrestrials are in contact with certain humans (or government agencies) today?
A. There's no way of knowing, but if they are interacting with us directly, it's likely they are in contact with only a tiny number of human agents here on Earth (who, by the way, would be unlikely to write books or go on the radio to talk about such things). I'd be extremely surprised if they were stupid enough to contact a government agency, considering the potential for leaks.
Q. Are extraterrestrials trying to help us grow culturally and spiritually?
A. Probably not (that non-interference thing again). Their very presence within our mythology, however, may have some potential for helping us recognize that we are part of something much larger than ourselves, thereby forcing us to grow up spiritually. Just a thought.
Q. Are extraterrestrials trying to prevent us from destroying ourselves?
A. It would depend. If they are here to simply observe the various trials and tribulations a developing civilization must endure on its path to enlightenment, they might factor potential self-destruction into the equation and so be willing to stand by and watch us blow ourselves to smithereens. They may be tempted to save us from ourselves, but a truly enlightened race would recognize that failure is always a possibility and accept it as part of the process. Of course, it's always possible there are those races who are convinced their job is to help errant civilizations and so come to the rescue at the eleventh hour, but I don't see how they could do that without raising a few eyebrows (or whatever it is that aliens raise in consternation) among their extraterrestrial colleagues. Additionally, a truly enlightened civilization should realize that any effort to help us might prove to be the very catalyst that ends in our destruction. Without perfect knowledge of the future, alien intervention could prove even more disastrous than any potential danger we currently face could prove to be.
Do I believe aliens occasionally abduct humans beings?
A. I cannot imagine what reason an alien race would have to abduct a human against their will. If for specimen study, it seems they should have learned what they need to know long ago (and by using far less invasive means). The other possibility is that they are manipulating the genetic makeup of humans in some way and for some reason, though if that were the case we should see some evidence of them doing so via DNA drift or obvious genetic splicing being found in abductees.
The second problem I have with the idea is why these supposedly advanced cultures would take such chances. In other words, why would they compromise themselves my effectively kidnapping unwilling human subjects and performing all manner of usually bizarre physical procedures on them that often leave them traumatized, and yet permit these procedures to still be recalled by their subjects via hypnosis, thereby threatening the veil of secrecy they are supposedly attempting to maintain? It strikes me that if an alien race did have a habit of kidnapping human specimens for study (or whatever it is they're trying to do) they should at least have the capacity to not merely suppress the memory of such an event, but entirely remove the memory from the brain (in which case there would be no alien abduction stories to be recalled and, hence, no controversy in the first placean interesting little Catch 22).
course, they may have other reasons for abducting people that I'm not aware
of, so I am still undecided on the issue. However, I am convinced that if abductions
do occur, they are far rarer than some ufologists would have us believe, and
in many cases really are a confabulation based upon cultural mythologies or
evidence of sleep paralysisespecially in those cases in which the abductee
does not exhibit any physical evidences of having been abducted.
Q. But so many people remember being abducted by aliens. They can't all be wrong, can they?
A. This is an interesting question, and one probably better left to psychologists to answer than ufologists. The belief that one has been abducted is an extraordinary claim that demands extraordinary evidence which, to date, has been sadly lacking (I know this comment will generate a ton of objections, but please do not send me your reading lists or links to a dozen internet articles for me to peruse. Believe me, if such evidence is forthcoming, it will make national news and not be buried in cyberspace somewhere.) Superstition, fear, and fantasies have a profound impact on some peopleespecially those with fantasy-prone personalitiesso the answer is that yes, it is possible for all those people to be mistaken. That's not to say they are mistaken, but until there is some solid empirical evidence that a person has been physically abducted by an alien, accounts of abductions must remain in the realm of anecdotal stories.
But what about the people who have been found with unidentifiable scars and
implants in them as a result of an alien abduction? Doesn't that prove that
abductions are real?
A: Unexplained scars and implants don't prove an abduction as much as they demonstrate the failings of the human memory. People often unknowingly acquire foreign objects into their bodies all the time (perhaps while walking around barefoot or as a result of some long-forgotten accident), only to interpret such foreign bodies as "evidence" of an abduction later on. Additionally, in every case I'm familiar with in which a "implant" has been removed and analyzed by experts, it invariably turns out to be a common metal or something quite terrestrial in origin. Further, if ETs are trying to perform these abductions in secret, why would they leave such obvious evidences of themselves behind? A single, tiny transponder of obvious alien manufacture would immediately prove their existence, for example. Would they really be that stupid?
Do I believe the government knows more about aliens than it's willing to admit?
A. I believe the government has information about UFOs it has not shared with the general public, but I don't believe this is the workings of some carefully orchestrated cover-up. Rather, I suspect it is more likely simply a by-product of the secretive nature of government and the military in general.
Q. What do I personally believe the government/military knows that it's not telling us?
A. I wouldn't be surprised if it keeps radio transmissions and radar evidence under wraps, as well as perhaps some interesting gun camera footage and aerial reconnaissance and satellite imagery. I also imagine there's a bundle of official reports on file somewhere that remain classified, not so much for what they contain, but because restricting the flow of information is a big part of what the government does naturally. I'd personally find the fact that our government was capable of maintaining a secret of this caliber for over fifty years (especially in the light of the fact that the number of people required to pull off such a stunt would easily number into the thousands) more remarkable than the possibility that there are aliens amongst us.
Q. But what about the Majestic documents? Don't they prove that the government knows all about aliens and is keeping it a secret from the public?
A. For those new to the controversy, the Majestic documents are a series of letters and personal correspondence exchanged between senior government officials in the Truman and later Eisenhower administrations that supposedly demonstrate the government not only was aware of extraterrestrials, but was covering up the fact that they had recovered both crashed alien disks and dead alien corpses from a number of crash sites from around the world. While the authenticity of someand many would say allof these purported documents is a source of considerable debate, I personally believe all of these documents to be hoaxes of varying degrees of sophistication. A number have been proven to be clever frauds (see my analysis of one of the more famous Majestic documents, SOM1-01, here) and the remainder appear most likely hoaxes as well, resulting in considerable damage being done to the credibility of the UFO phenomenon. While I have no problem with the idea that the government may maintain more than just a casual interest in UFOs and may even now be looking into the phenomenon privately, the idea that they would leave any sort of paper trail regarding things like recovered exotic technologies and alien bodies over the decades is too incredulous to be believed.
So I don't believe a spaceship crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947?
A. No. I believe the entire incident to have been an invention by over eager ufologists intent on turning a minor incidenta crashed Mogul ballooninto a cottage industry (and, apparently, with some success). Consider that the incident wasn't even known within ufology until the late 1970s when physicist Stanton Friedman first broke the storysome thirty years after the factby releasing a number of taped interviews from a retired Roswell AFB intelligence officer named Jesse Marcel, who supposedly was in on the initial recovery and investigation of the whole affair. I won't go into all the details about what happened next and how his story was embellished by others (some of whom have been subsequently discredited) but suffice is to say it has all the elements of myth-making. To be fair, I don't contend that the entire incident was a hoax, but I do believe that it was largely a case of mistaken identity (Mogul debris being reinterpreted as UFO wreckage), faulty memories, and a large amount of exagerration that has subsequently gotten completely out of hand.
Do I believe extraterrestrials will ever reveal themselves to us?
A. It's inevitable that at some pointespecially once we begin developing out own spacefaring capabilitythat they will have no choice but to show themselves to us. Whether this happens tomorrow or a hundred years from now remains the only real question; whenever it is, however, it will be according to their timetable, not ours.
For more information on this phenomenon or to explore these issues in more detail, you may be interested in acquiring a copy of my latest book, UFOs: The Great Debate, recently released by Llewellyn Worldwide (just click on the cover to order). It is an objective attempt to examine the entire UFO phenomenon designed to leave you with a more balanced approach to the subject than is possible to achieve with most books about UFOs. Written for the person who likes to think for themselves and make up their own minds what to believe about this important issue that continues to grow in popularity every day, the book is a must for the serious student of the UFO phenomenon.
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