UFO means “unidentified flying object.” Because UFOs are unidentified objects, this leaves the door open for all kinds of possibilities. UFOs are usually taken as extraterrestrial spacecraft but they could be an energy or spirit field (or possibly being), like the many orbs that have been observed through camera and the naked eye.
Alleged UFO sightings have been reported throughout history. Since the 1950’s UFOs and aliens have been popularized by the news and entertainment media. Some authors like George Adamski and, more recently, Rael and Whitley Streiber claim to have encountered aliens.
Alien sightings and abduction accounts have increased in the media, especially on sci-fi TV networks and radio shows like Coast to Coast AM.
Also making the news was an apparent U.S. military cover-up of a crashed flying disc and its inhabitants at Roswell, New Mexico in 1947. The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) quickly modified an earlier announcement about a crashed flying disc, saying later in the same day that the disc was attached to a weather balloon. The Air Force has responded to charges of “controlling public information” by stating that there was “no evidence” of UFO air traffic over Roswell and the case has been officially closed.
Public figures like Dan Akroyd, however, continue to explore the possibility of a government cover-up.
Not everyone sees UFOs through the lens of conspiracy theories. Raelians believe that mankind was created by wise, loving aliens. And some contemporary writers believe that mankind is gradually being acclimatized to the reality of ETs through the media. Conversely, some Christian fundamentalists believe that aliens, and anything associated with them, are demonic.
Others take a middle path, believing that aliens may be benevolent or malevolent. Just as human history is a complicated mix of good and bad, it seems to reason that interstellar realities would be much the same.
Some UFO theories are quite bizarre. Hollow Earth theorists, for instance, believe that UFOs originate from the bowels of the planet, where an advanced civilization apparently resides.¹
The depth psychologist Carl Jung (1875–1961) said that the disc shaped UFOs of the 1950s and early 60s could be real but he also viewed them as archetypal images of the self. For Jung, UFOs were a modern mandala. Meanwhile the respected author Jacques Vallée likens UFO lore to fairy tales and mysterious trickster beings.²
Since Vatican Council II (1962-65) was inaugurated by Pope John Paul II, the Catholic Church has endorsed inquiry into the possibility of ETs and UFOs. This makes the Catholic position on UFOs and ETs quite different from that of many Christian fundamentalists.
¹ See related entries in The Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends (London: Headline, 1993) and The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (London: Headline, 1992) by Stuart Gordon.