Are UFOs Real? 

4 min read

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UFOs, or Unidentified Flying Objects, have been a subject of fascination, speculation, and tinfoil hat conspiracies ever since we could look up at the sky and think, what the fuck is that? 

From grainy footage of flying saucers to tales of anal probes gone wrong, the idea that we might not be alone in this cold, dark Universe has fascinated and terrified us in equal measure. 

So, are UFOs real, or is it just a bunch of weather balloons and swamp gas and hey why are you even asking that question bud, don’t make me point that Men in Black memory erasure stick thing at you. 

Anyway, let’s dive in, shall we?

What are UFOs?

Let’s define what we’re talking about here. UFOs are basically any flying objects that can’t be immediately identified by some nerd with a telescope. They could be anything from a top-secret military plane, through a wayward frisbee to, yes, an actual alien spaceship. The point is, no one knows what they are at first glance, hence the “unidentified” part.

Do UFOs exist?

Well, yes. Idiot. Of course UFOs exist. Anything that’s flying around and can’t be identified is technically a UFO. There have been more UFO sightings than Kardashian selfies over the years, with many from seemingly credible witnesses including pilots and military personnel.

But here’s the thing — just because something is unidentified doesn’t mean it’s E.T. In fact, the majority of UFO sightings can be chalked up to boring stuff like weather balloons (no, really), drones, or just plain old human stupidity — turns out, people are pretty bad at identifying things in the sky, especially after a few beers.

Is there proof that extraterrestrial UFOs are real?

Depends who you talk to. While there have been many tantalising photos, videos and witness accounts over the years, there has never been any definitive proof of an extraterrestrial UFO. Many of the most famous pieces of “evidence” have been debunked as hoaxes or misidentifications (sad, I know).

However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t compelling evidence out there. In recent years, the US government has confirmed the authenticity of some videos taken by Navy pilots that show unidentified objects performing seemingly impossible manoeuvres. These videos, along with a 2017 New York Times report on a secret Pentagon UFO research program, have reignited interest in the topic and spawned a whole new generation of UFO truthers.

UFOs vs UAPs: What’s the difference?

In recent years, there’s been a push to rebrand UFOs as UAPs or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. This new name is meant to remove some of the stigma and baggage associated with the term UFO.

UAP is also meant to be more inclusive, encompassing not just objects but any unexplained phenomena in the sky, like strange lights or anything that performs physics-defying manoeuvres. Basically, it’s a catch-all for anything that makes pilots scratch their heads and say, ‘Holy Christ on a Tim Tam what the hell is that?’.

UFOs and Extraterrestrials: What we know

So, if UFOs are real, does that mean aliens are, too? Not necessarily. While the idea of extraterrestrial visitation is certainly a possibility, there’s no hard evidence to suggest that this is what’s behind UFO sightings (my personal belief — that the Earth is flat and secretly controlled by a ring of reptilian aliens who pose as our political and cultural leaders — notwithstanding).

That said, many experts believe that the sheer size and age of the Universe makes it statistically likely that there are other intelligent life forms out there. Somewhere. Whether they’re visiting Earth in flying saucers is another matter entirely.

As the late cosmic king Carl Sagan loved to say, “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence”. Until we have that evidence, the link between UFOs and aliens remains speculative at best.

Have there been any UFO sightings in Australia?

Australia has indeed had its fair share of UFO sightings over the years. One of the most famous cases is the Westall incident of 1966, where hundreds of students and teachers at a Melbourne school reported seeing a strange craft hover overhead before landing in a nearby field.

Other notable Aussie UFO cases include the 1988 Knowles family incident, where a mother and her three sons reported their car being lifted off the road by a strange craft, and the 1993 Kelly Cahill case, where a woman claimed to have been abducted by aliens in Victoria.

While these cases are intriguing, there is no evidence of extraterrestrial involvement (if you want to take our reptilian overlords at their word, that is).

What does NASA say about UFOs?

NASA, the world’s leading space agency, the Big Dog of Space, the undisputed heavyweight of — okay I’ll stop. Anyway, NASA has long been at the forefront of the search for extraterrestrial life. However, when it comes to UFOs, the agency has  (for the most part) remained somewhat sceptical.

In a recent report NASA concluded there was no evidence that any of the UFO sightings investigated by the agency were of extraterrestrial origin. The report looked at sightings dating back decades and found most could be explained by natural or man-made phenomena.

However, NASA hasn’t ruled out the possibility of extraterrestrial life entirely. The agency is actively searching for signs of life on other planets and moons, and has even sent messages into deep space in the hope of making contact with other civilisations.

And while we’ve yet to hear back, it may only be a matter of time. As Sagan (yes I’ll quote him twice, he rocks) once said: “The Universe is a pretty big place. If it’s just us, seems like an awful waste of space.” 

Main image: The Simpsons