For decades, North Americans have testified to either having encounters with aliens or catching glimpses of UFOs. While these encounters have mainly been popularized through Hollywood movies, the first recorded UFO sighting happened well before Americans saw one on the silver screen.
According to the History Channel, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, John Winthrop, wrote a diary entry in 1639 describing a strange event that left English immigrants feeling uneasy.
In his entry, Winthrop explained that a “sober” and “discreet” man by the name of James Everell was rowing a boat in the Muddy River with two other men when they witnessed a “great light in the night sky.” Winthrop said that when this great light stood still, it flamed up, was three yards square, and when it ran, it morphed into what looked to be the shape of a pig.
Winthrop recounts several other instances of UFO sightings in his diary, which later gave him some serious credibility in academia, paving the way for scientists to dive deeper into the potential existence of aliens.
Fast forward to 1947, when the term UFO gained popularity. After World War II, the number of sightings allegedly increased, with many believing that these objects were “alien in nature.” A few years later, the United States Air Force officially adopted the term UFO and created an inventory of over 12,000 sightings called Project Blue Book.
Due to a rapid increase in the number of UFO reports, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asked the government to hire a team of scientists to investigate the phenomena, which was later called The Robertson Panel.
They met for three days in 1953 and effectively debunked claims about the existence of aliens, citing the UFO sightings as either astrological phenomenons, aircraft, balloons, birds, or searchlights. Notably, parts of the report were kept classified until 1979, fuelling suspicions that the government was hiding something.
A second committee was set up in 1966 at the request of the Air Force, but after coming to the same conclusions as The Robertson Panel, Project Blue Book was dismantled a couple of years later.
Naturally, many scientists since then have held onto hope of the existence of space inhabitants. J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer at Northwestern University who was involved with Blue Book, among other projects, founded the Center for UFO Studies, which continues to investigate aliens to this day.
There have been over 126,000 reported sightings across the United States since record-keeping began.
There have been over 126,000 reported sightings across the United States since record-keeping began, according to StudyFinds. Strangely, California appears to be a UFO hotspot, with over 15,480 sightings reported across the Golden State.
Although many associate UFO sightings with aliens, it’s important to note that while these unidentified flying objects, which are now being referred to as Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), are possibly piloted by aliens, many skeptics believe they are vehicles operated by America's enemies, like China or Russia.
Remember the Chinese Spy Balloon?
In January, the United States government spotted a large balloon floating in its airspace. Four days later, the Biden administration tracked it flying over Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana, home to some of America’s nuclear assets.
Despite Biden’s efforts to prevent the Chinese-based balloon from collecting intelligence, U.S. officials later discovered China could control the balloon to fly over these sites, collect sensitive information, and send it back to Beijing in real-time. As a result, the U.S. military shot it down on February 4.
Of course, we know this strange Chinese Spy Balloon was not piloted by aliens from outer space, which fueled arguments against other UFO sightings about whether previously recorded encounters were simply instances of foreign spies from America’s adversaries entering U.S. airspace.
In fact, most U.S. officials have attributed most of these sightings to trash in the sky, foreign surveillance, or drones believed to have connections to China.
But have these claims extinguished interest in the hunt to verify aliens exist? Apparently not.
What Happened at the UFO Hearing?
The House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security, the Border, and Foreign Affairs held a hearing on UFOs on July 26, demanding more transparency.
David Grusch, a self-proclaimed whistleblower and former military intelligence officer, told the subcommittee that the government has debris collected from crashed spacecraft, as well as “biological remains from alien bodies.”
Although critics are saying Grusch has no concrete evidence, he maintains that he has interviewed dozens of witnesses, some of whom say they were injured by UFOs, and believes the Pentagon has been collecting and studying crashed UFOs for years but is withholding information from Congress.
David Grusch claims the government has debris collected from crashed spacecraft, as well as “biological remains from alien bodies.”
In addition to Grusch, the subcommittee heard from former Navy pilot Ryan Graves, along with David Fravor, a pilot who saw a large object with the characteristics of a Tic Tac during a flight in 2004.
"If everyone could see the sensor and video data I witnessed, our national conversation would change," said Graves.
He urged everyone to "put aside stigma and address the security and safety issue this topic represents. If UAP are foreign drones, it is an urgent national security problem.” He added, “If it is something else, it is an issue for science. In either case, unidentified objects are a concern for flight safety. The American people deserve to know what is happening in our skies. It is long overdue."
Shockingly, both Republicans and Democrats came together at the hearing, demanding the military and CIA be more transparent about these unusual sightings, with many members of Congress pointing to “the potential national security threat posed by unknown objects in or near U.S. airspace.”
Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida said, “We should have disclosure today. We should have disclosure tomorrow. The time has come.”
Sharing his sentiments, GOP Rep. Glenn Grothman, the subcommittee's chairman, said, "Several of us are going to look forward to getting some answers in a more confidential setting. I assume some legislation will come out of this.”
Should We Care?
While national security is a reasonable concern that many believe should be handled by the government, most people online appear unphased by the news that aliens might exist.
One X user who goes by the handle @keyon pointed out: “They announcing that aliens are real and not one person moved……”
Some people cite a lack of evidence as their reason for not caring, and others believe there are more important things like inflation, the threat of nuclear war, and getting tickets to Taylor Swift’s Eras tour that deserve our attention instead.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Molly Roberts explains that if aliens are coming, they aren’t coming soon, adding that “It’s hard to worry about a threat that might not even exist when there are so many threats that do, right here, right now.”
In addition, some believe the government’s and the media’s sudden willingness to talk about a normally taboo topic like aliens is a distraction. A TikTok posted by @ajplus, which posts videos from “underrepresented voices,” explains that aliens are an American-specific phenomenon, with most UFO sightings happening in the USA.
According to the video, since March 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the United States has received over 350 new UFO reports. Most interestingly, the sightings typically occurred near the sites of military exercises. The video explains that in the past the United States has used these sightings to divert attention away from its defense projects, specifically new technological innovations like aircraft or spy planes. The narrator of the video also points out that, so long as the military keeps funding projects on these airborne objects, people will keep seeing them.
Four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers also said on The Pat McAfee Show a couple of months ago that he agrees the whisperings surrounding UFOs are “a manufactured ploy to distract the public.”
“It’s interesting timing on everything,” Rodgers said. “There’s a lot of other things going on in the world.”
So while the threat of an alien invasion is scary in theory, these UFO sightings appear to have more to do with the U.S. military and its secrets and less to do with the existence of tiny green men coming from lightyears away to visit Earth.
If the Covid-19 pandemic taught us anything, it's that any time the media and the government come together to perpetuate a narrative, we should question it. The history of aliens and UFO sightings is long, dating back hundreds of years. But until someone can provide verifiable proof, we should focus on the things that affect our everyday lives.
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