An unidentified flying object (UFO) is an object which is observed in the sky, but cannot be identified. While people have been spotting mysterious objects in the sky for centuries, claims of UFO sightings exploded in the wake of the Second World War. Attitudes about UFOs vary widely, with some people believing that such objects have a perfectly logical scientific explanation, while others have suggested that the origin of UFOs is paranormal in nature. People who support a paranormal explanation for UFOs are sometimes referred to as “believers,” referencing the idea that they believe in paranormal phenomena.
It may come as a surprise to learn that the vast number of UFO sightings reported each year are later downgraded to “IFOs,” or identified flying objects. Claims of genuine UFOs are rare, and hard to confirm, usually due to lack of photographic evidence or reliable witnesses. Some believers accuse skeptics of suppressing evidence which would support a more paranormal explanation for UFOs, arguing that there is a conspiracy to hide the truth.
The UFO craze really started in 1947, when a pilot named Kenneth Arnold reported seeing a flying object which he likened to a saucer, coining the term “flying saucer” along the way. Arnold was viewed as a reasonably credible witness, and his sketches of the mysterious object got a lot of press, undoubtedly inflaming the collective imagination. Today, UFO believers can share information about sightings, along with conspiracy theories, on numerous websites and forums.
When examining the history of the UFO, it is interesting to note that sightings greatly increased after the close of World War Two, when numerous nations started experimenting with cutting-edge aircraft. Experimental aircraft associated with the military obviously have to be tested at some point, and such aircraft often look extremely strange. Due to security reasons, sightings of experimental aircraft cannot be confirmed or explained, so it is possible that the UFOs which believers think are whizzing across the sky at all hours are actually just extremely sophisticated planes.
It should also be noted that UFO sightings have historically been very high in the Southwest, a region which has been used as a military proving ground for a very long time. Other UFO sightings around the world often happen to occur near military bases and research facilities, further supporting the idea that these unidentified objects remain obscure for security reasons, rather than mysterious ones.
Some UFOs do indeed look like aircraft of some form, leading people to suggest that they are examples of alien technology, despite lack of confirmation. Others take the form of moving lights and random floating shapes. In most cases, mundane explanations like the weather can be used to dismiss UFO claims, but believers still retain their hope that “the truth is out there,” as they say in the X-Files series.