Let’s talk about UFOs.
The first “modern” UFO sighting occurred on June 24, 1947, while pilot Kenneth Arnold was flying near Mount Rainier in Washington. He reported a group of nine metallic objects in the sky, flying at incredible speeds.
This, for whatever reason, heralded an increase in reports of strange, unidentified crafts, and a new fascination with the possibility of extraterrestrials visiting Earth.
A lot of the contemporary fascination with UFOs was also spearheaded by Ray Palmer, publisher of such pulp science-fiction magazines as Amazing Stories and, more importantly in this case, Flying Saucers. Its original title was Flying Saucers From Other Worlds, and it hit newsstands in 1957.
Fun fact: The word “ufology” first appeared in the November 1963 issue of Flying Saucers, coined by 16-year-old Gregory Swofford.
But things haven’t been going well for ufologists these days. Reported sightings are down, and apparently a lack of any “real” evidence has finally taken its toll on their enthusiasm.
The Truth May Not Be Out There, After All
Britain in particular has seen many of its premiere UFO investigation networks close, as well as a statement from the Ministry of Defence that UFO sightings will no longer be investigated. The Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena, as well, recently called a meeting to discuss the future of ufology.
More specifically, whether or not it has one.
“I think that any UFO researcher would tell you that 98 per cent of sightings that happen are very easily explainable. One of the conclusions to draw from that is that perhaps there isn’t anything there. The days of compelling eyewitness sightings seem to be over.” – Dave Wood, Assap chairman
That discussion will take place on November 17, and I’ll be curious to find out what they say.
Will ufology be “dead” within ten years? Honestly, I doubt it. But it’s reasonable to assume that such topics may become even more fringe as the mainstream loses interest or becomes more skeptical.
The proliferation of hoaxes and some of the more dubious claims, and even some of the distractions, don’t exactly help, either.
Image courtesy Gerhard Uhlhorn.