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Little Green People? Unlikely. But The Navy Says UFOs Are Real.

An Unidentified Flying Object is pictured over Bulawayo, in what is now Zimbabwe.
An Unidentified Flying Object is pictured over Bulawayo, in what is now Zimbabwe.

Every year, thousands of people report seeing things in the sky they can’t explain. Science fiction offers an explanation: aliens visiting the human species on flying saucers.

But the evidence suggests that that theory is unlikely. And there are much more encouraging, scientific pursuits in the search for extraterrestrial, intelligent life.

The United States government reignited the conversation around UFOs when the Defense Department released video in late April showing footage from Navy in-flight cameras. In a press release, it confirmed that the videos show “unidentified aerial phenomena.” The videos were already circulating on the internet for several years, but by releasing them, the DOD confirmed their authenticity and acknowledged that it had no explanation.

Navy fighter pilots also reported close encounters with unidentified aerial phenomena in incidents between 2012 and 2019, according to recently-released documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests.

And there are various theories for what people see when they spot UFOs. It’s no coincidence that descriptions have closely mirrored the evolution of aerial technology itself. Today, when people describe seeing UFOs, they often describe them as looking like drones.

What explains the UFO sightings? What does our obsession with UFOs tell us about ourselves? And what are the more hopeful pursuits in the search for intelligent extraterrestrial beings?


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Avery Kleinman