UFO sightings

As a kid I was very into UFOs and did all the usual stuff associated with that crowd such as subscribing to various UFO magazines, reading the words of the prevailing high priest Erich von Daniken, and of course scanning the sky and being ready with my very own UFO detector.

Life has of course moved on since then and I’m now a little bit older and wiser.

The monthly magazine was of course a self-published rag churned out as a money making exercise that fed an appetite for such stuff and included not only stories of “real” alien encounters from “witnesses”, but even had a series that went into the details of an alien language that one chap had been given the details of, so you could perhaps think of it as a gullibility test, one that I successfully passed at the time.

Mr von Daniken, was of course rather popular due to his book, Chariots of the Gods, going viral. His big idea was that aliens had visited our planet and seeded and influence ancient cultures. As for his evidence, it may sound impressive, but it was not. For example …

  • A non-rusting iron pillar in Delhi, India, was evidence of extraterrestrial influence …. except it does show evidence of rusting, and its construction is actually well understood. He later admitted in an interview Playboy magazine, (page 64, Volume 21 Number 8, 1974) that he no longer considered the pillar to be a mystery.
  • The Nazca Lines were built following instructions from extraterrestrial beings so that they could be used as airfields for their spaceships … except they were not, and were in fact made by pre-columbian civilizations for cultural purposes
  • The Piri Reis map depicts some Antarctic mountains that were and still are buried in ice … except the map in his book only extends 5 degrees south of the equator, ending in Cape São Roque, which means that it doesn’t extend to Antarctica.
  • etc…

What is also true is that a lot of this stuff was not original, he simply copied it from others without attributing it, but even that should not be a surprise given that he was also a con-artist who was sentenced to a spell in prison for financial fraud shortly after the publication of Chariots of the Gods.

As for my UFO detector, that was a magnet that would set off an alarm if it suddenly decided not to point North because a passing alien spacecraft had disturbed the prevailing magnetic field (as we all know, that is what alien spacecraft do … right?) Strangely enough, it never actually went off, but that little fact did not deter me from actually believing at the time.

While I did of course grow out of all this nonsense, I only did so by replacing it with an alternative form of nonsense – religion (that is a story for another day). What is rather sad is that some do not grow out of any of this, but rather sadly sink even deeper into it all. Some are not true believers, but rather are individuals who find that churning out books and magazines to feed the interest creates a rather lucrative stream of income, but most are indeed people who embrace the idea that we are not alone.

Key Observation

The evidence that aliens have ever visited the earth, or for that matter even exist, is exactly zero.

It would be an exciting discovery to make, and it is quite probable that we are not alone in the universe, but so far all we can do is speculate and dream.  There are of course plenty of claims, but no evidence at all.

Finally … a new Statistic for you

Now this is fun, the Economist reports

…the National UFO Reporting Centre, a non-profit, has catalogued almost 90,000 reported sightings of UFOs, mostly in America, since 1974. It turns out that aliens are considerate. They seldom disturb earthlings during working or sleeping hours. Rather, they tend to arrive in the evening, especially on Fridays, when folks are sitting on the front porch nursing their fourth beer, the better to appreciate flashing lights in the heavens (see chart). The state aliens like best is Washington—a finding that pre-dates the legalisation of pot there. Other popular destinations are also near the Canadian border, where the Northern lights are sometimes visible.


So there you go then, conclusive proof that aliens are very considerate, and do not wish to disturb us while we are sleeping or working.

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