Do You Believe in UFOs?

I chafe every time I hear a reference to “belief” in UFOs.  An UFO is an unidentified flying object.  Asking “do you believe in UFOs?” is the same as asking “do you believe in the color blue?”  Any object in the sky which is not immediately identified is, by definition, an unidentified flying object until it is identified, at which time it becomes an identified flying object.

Almost always, when someone speaks of “belief” in UFOs, that person is actually referring to a belief in the notion of intelligent extraterrestrial life forms visiting the earth.  “Belief” in aliens and “belief” in UFOs are not the same things.  As I just mentioned, there is no such thing as “belief” in UFOs.  The term refers to flying objects which the observer cannot identify, so it’s not a matter of “belief.”  An UFO simply is, just as the color blue simply is.

Belief in the existence of life on other planets, the existence of intelligent life on other planets, and whether or not extraterrestrial life forms are visiting the earth are all separate questions.  None of these conjectures can currently be proven with absolute certainty (although we seem very close to proving at least simple life forms once existed on Mars) therefore all of them do fall into the realm of belief.

Thanks to popular culture, and many self-proclaimed “UFO-ologists,” in the public mind “UFO” means the same thing as “space alien.”  I believe this is an unfortunate circumstance which makes many people unwilling to discuss “UFOs” for fear of being labeled a “cook” who believes in “little green men.”  Consequently, I prefer the term adopted by the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP): Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).

UAP means the same thing as UFO, but the term has not been corrupted to mean more than it implies.  An UAP is simply an aerial event the observer cannot immediately identify.  It doesn’t mean it’s “aliens,” and it doesn’t mean no explanation will ever be found.  In most cases, UAPs become IAPs with natural explanations (no “little green men” involved) after some investigation.  Without all the attached “baggage” of the term UFO, people are much more comfortable discussing experiences with UAPs.

Only through encouraging credible witnesses’ reports is there ever any chance of discovering what, if anything, is going on.  Using terms which do not seem to presume extraterrestrial activity is an important part of this process.

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2 Responses to “Do You Believe in UFOs?”

  1. Bobbi Snow Says:

    I don’t “believe” in UFOs… I’ve been in them, so I know they exist. They are craft that can take me to the edge of my/our human reality–a place from where I can look back and see Earth much the way astronauts see it from the Space Station and from orbit. And the first time I saw Earth from Out There, I was 3 1/2 years old, and was astonished to see that Earth looks almost as round as a ball. The next time I saw it that way was when NASA released photos from one of the orbital missions, in the late 1960s.

  2. Bobbi,
    Thank you for your note. Your comments reinforce the point of my post: UFOs and aliens are not the same things — too many people use the term UFO to mean “space aliens,” but this is an incorrect use. “UFO” is an acronym for Unidentified Flying Object. An UFO is simply any object in the sky which the observer is unable to immediately identify. That object becomes, by definition, an UFO until it’s identified. Therefore there is no such thing as belief in UFOs. If you see something in the sky and cannot immediately identify it, that object is an UFO — that’s what the definition means — and that’s all the definition means. In no way should the acronym UFO or the term “Unidentified Flying Object” be used to mean “space aliens.” Unfortunately, that horse has left the barn and most people automatically think of “space aliens” when they hear “UFO” or “unidentified flying object.” In reality, the vast majority of phenomena reported as “UFOs” have nothing to do with extraterrestrials. Most UFOs are man-made objects or natural phenomena unfamiliar to the observer — hence they are “unidentified” for that observer. Since “UFO” and “unidentified flying object” have become so associated with “space aliens,” I believe the terms are generally unhelpful when discussing unusual aerial phenomena as it implies the presupposition of an extraterrestrial explanation for the event. In order to declare an event as possibly of extraterrestrial origin, all man-made and natural explanations must be investigated and ruled out first. Because of this, I prefer the term “unidentified aerial phenomena” and the acronym “UAP” as these terms do not presuppose an extraterrestrial explanation for the event. Since these terms do not carry the “baggage” of UFO, I believe more credible witnesses are willing to discuss their UAP event since it does not seem to automatically imply among their peers that they’re a “believer” in “little green men.” The UAP term allows the researcher to approach the subject without an implication of a predisposed explanation for an event. My objective is to find answers. It doesn’t matter to me if the answer turns out that all “UFOs” are misidentified experimental aircraft or misidentified natural phenomena or if the answer turns out that extraterrestrials are somehow visiting the earth. My goal is the seeking the truth, regardless where that leads, therefore I prefer terms with do not appear to presuppose an answer. Thanks again for taking the time to read my blog — I appreciate it!

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