UFOs: What Evidence Do We Need?

When we look at the past ten years and the claims made in the subject of UFOs, there has been quite a bit that seems to suggest something out of the ordinary is indeed going on.  Everything from photographs to radar contact, mass sightings, video, uniformed contact claims, presidential sightings, and entire countries coming forward with a keen interest in the subject suggest that this is more than nothing.  And yet the response is so often the same from skeptics – that it is categorically not true.  Skeptics have even come forward saying they would not believe in aliens even if one landed in their back yards and started talking to them.  So what evidence would be sufficient?

In an attempt to tackle the potential change in culture the introduction of another intelligent species would initiate, perhaps the only real answer must come from history itself.  Entire cultures have been faced with massive changes in the way we see the world, and so often these changes too are confronted with staunch skepticism – with a few interesting artifacts that would likely translate quite well in the case of extraterrestrial contact.  The discovery of microscopic germs, steam locomotion, heliocentric views of the universe, the speed of light, atomic power, and the printing press have all been major achievements that have pushed us forward to the culture we see today.  But so often, these cultural shifts were met with overwhelming opposition – with the more directly affecting changes being met most overtly of all with opposition.  Often these changes could take place and be integrated within society only when the established power structure accepted them, or they were independently reproducible.

Unfortunately, the established institution relating to knowledge is divided between various religions and the established scientific community.  And each has its own reason for denying claims that extraterrestrials may have visited Earth.  The average scientist is most likely not a conspirator working to cover up an alien presence, but they will always demand the same thing – empirical evidence to support the claims.  Add to this the legion of professional skeptics who make a practice of discounting the subject wholesale and often sounding quite eloquent when doing so.  And yet the claim that humans are the only life in the universe is an extraordinary claim – one which would require extraordinary evidence.  Given that you cannot disprove an alien presence, the argument follows a familiar track and leaves both sides ultimately dissatisfied.

As a result, the UFO subject becomes a deeply personal one, not looking to any central authority for proof or vindication.  Instead, the evidence must be gathered by the individual looking into the matter – ultimately turning the question from proof into belief.  “I want to believe,” is an interesting stance on the subject that was popularized by Chris Carter’s classic Science Fiction Crime Show, “The X-Files.”  In it, the hapless Mulder undergoes this agonizingly frustrating journey himself and is eluded by the evidence that would vindicate his claims despite the fact that the paranormal is all around him.  One of the poignant elements of the show is that this is the same journey we all must undertake.  Is the truth out there?  And what will ultimately prove the matter one way or another to ourselves?