Science: UFOs as Fringe Science

The Story:

Today, we will look at the recurrence of debate about what look like high-tech objects dancing about in surprising ways in the atmosphere, discerned from time to time by US pilots. They certainly seem to be flying, and so they are by definition “unidentified flying objects.” The authors of a new official report on the subject have no idea of where these objects (UFOs) come from, but they say in effect “it isn’t from us,” the US government.


Controversies about UFOs are very old news. In 1968 a Swiss author named Erich von Daniken came out with a book called “Chariots of the Gods?”. He argued that much of human religion, and a wide range of ancient structures and art, can best be explained as the work of “ancient astronauts,” intelligent creatures from other planets, who were seen as gods by the humans who encountered them. It was never a great stretch, and it was one encouraged by Daniken, to see contemporary sightings of “saucers” or such in the same light, as regular visitations from our alien gods.

Strange New Worlds:

From Daniken’s time until today, the arguments about UFOs and alien visits have been constantly recycled, in a way that smells not of science (which grows and mutates over time) but of fringe or pseudo-science, particular bodies of which can preserve themselves as in amber for long periods.

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