Much was done by the Air Force behind closed doors and should be covert. The government has published papers over many years that reveal that numerous UFO viewers saw classified aircraft, such as the U2. It is hardly surprising that the Air Force is trying to maintain rigorous control over what is communicated to the public.
However, this stringent control is one of the numerous things which over the years has fuelled conspiracy theories. The idea among UFO believers was: “The government is not just firing at us. Somehow we have to persuade these folks to reveal all the information they know.”
What’s the present US view of UFOs?
Until the 1990s, the Cold War had actually played a vital part in the way in which people in the US envisioned UFOs – both in terms of how we think technologically about the prospects of mankind and in relation to the concerns and worries of the Cold War. But when the Cold War came to an end, there was little interest. The media coverage was negligible from the late 1990s to the early 2000s.
All this changed with the 2017 revelations of the Pentagon’s secret UFO project. This stimulated a revival of interest in UFOs. The way the media talked about UFOs had many of the same things: Are these stuff alien? If they’re not alien, are they military or military? If they’re not alien? Are those folks who pushed the storey and the history of sightings working in good faith?
This was all in so many ways reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s.
Do you perceive a change in the way scientists think about UFOs?
I’ve seen a certain shift towards a readiness to say in my interactions with scientists, “This is perhaps worth considering more seriously.” The major change since the 1990s – for astrophysicists and astronomers in particular – has been the discovery of so many planets around other stars which can host life.
I am enthused about the prospect of further study — not only as a phenomenon that physical scientists have to study, but also as a social and cultural phenomenon. Mystery creates speculation, and the UFO phenomena is not an easily solved conundrum. The mystery section offers individuals the chance to raise major questions not only about the position of mankind in the universe, but about the boundaries of technology and knowledge. I suppose this is why people continue to come back to the issue of UFOs.