The Real Reality Show: Let’s Cut the UFO Crap

Belief in alien visits equals incredible naiveté about the cosmic distance scale.
By | Published: March 4, 2015 | Last updated on May 18, 2023
The efforts now underway to search for extraterrestrial civilizations invariably raise the favorite question of many TV shows: Has alien life visited Earth in the form of UFOs? After all, half the American public believes alien beings have visited our planet. The claims of UFO proponents, when actually subjected to the principles of scientific analysis, are not very strong. Reports of UFOs commenced in earnest just after World War II with a well-publicized incident near Mount Rainer and the claims of a businessman who said he spotted nine shiny “flying saucers” moving at high velocities. But the thousands of UFO reports made since, many of which have been thoroughly and scientifically investigated, have yielded nothing about the existence of life elsewhere in the universe. People see things in the sky they often don’t understand. That’s the conclusion.

The fact that observers can’t identify an object, or that it seems mysterious to them, should not be surprising — particularly given the nature of some of the reports. The “unidentified” part of the term UFO does not mean turning over all we know about science, about the physics of spacecraft and the cosmic distance scale, about Occam’s Razor, and leaping right into alien visitation.

Face it, folks, it’s a very big universe. But that gives us a little perspective, if nothing else. Earth is a pretty special place, at least for our species, and we should take good care of it, our fellow human beings, and everything else that lives along with us. It’s the only home we have.