UFO Frequently Asked Questions

 
1. What is a UFO?


An unidentified flying object (usually abbreviated to UFO or U.F.O.) is any unusual apparent object or phenomenon in the sky whose cause cannot be identified by the observer, or (in a narrower definition) by investigators; though in popular usage it more loosely means alien spacecraft, being one explanation (among several) offered for such sightings.


2. How long has there been reports on UFOs?

Though UFO sightings have occurred throughout history, modern interest in them dates from World War II (foo fighters), since when governments have investigated UFO reports, often from a military perspective, and UFO researchers have investigated, written about and created organizations devoted to the subject.

The first widely publicized U.S. sighting, reported by private pilot Kenneth Arnold in June 1947, gave rise to the popular terms "flying saucer" and "flying disc", of which the former is still sometimes used, even though Arnold said the most of the objects he saw were not totally circular and one was crescent-shaped.

The term "UFO" was first suggested in 1952 by Cpt. Edward J. Ruppelt, who headed Project Blue Book, then the USAF's official investigation of UFOs. Ruppelt felt that "flying saucer" did not reflect the diversity of the sightings.

He suggested that UFO should be pronounced as a word — you-foe.

However it is now usually pronounced by forming each letter: U.F.O. His term was quickly adopted by the United States Air Force , which also briefly used "UFOB". The Air Force initially defined UFOs as those objects that remain unidentified after scrutiny by expert investigators, though today the term UFO is often used for any unexplained sighting regardless of whether it has been investigated.


3. Are UFOs real?

Studies have established that the majority of UFOs are observations of some real but conventional object—most commonly aircraft, balloons, or astronomical objects such as meteors or bright planets—that have been misidentified by the observer as anomalies, while a small percentage of reported UFOs are hoaxes.

However, after excluding these incorrect reports, between 5% and 20% of the total remain unexplained, and so can be classified as unidentified in the strictest sense.

Many such reports have been made by trained observers such as pilots, police and the military; some involve radar traces, so not all reports are visual. Proponents of the so-called extraterrestrial hypothesis believe that these unidentified reports are of alien spacecraft, though various other hypotheses have been proposed.

While UFOs have been the subject of extensive investigation by various governments, and some scientists support the extraterrestrial hypothesis, few scientific papers about UFOs have been published in peer-reviewed journals. There has been some debate in the scientific community about whether any scientific investigation into UFO sightings is warranted.


4. What are the different types of UFO encounters?

In ufology, a close encounter is an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object. This terminology and the system of classification behind it was started by astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, and was first suggested in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry.

He introduced the first three kinds of encounters; more sub-types of close encounters were later added by others, but these additional categories are not universally accepted by UFO researchers, mainly because they depart from the scientific rigor that Hynek aimed to bring to ufology.

Sightings more than 500 feet (160 m) from the witness are classified as "Daylight Discs," "Nocturnal Lights," or "Radar/Visual Reports."

Sightings within about 500 feet are subclassified as various types of "close encounter."

Hynek and others argued a claimed close encounter must occur within about 500 feet to greatly reduce or eliminate the possibility of misidentifying conventional aircraft or other known phenomena.

Hynek's scale achieved cachet with the general public when it informed elements of the 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which is named after the third level of the scale. Posters for the film recited the three levels of the scale, and Hynek himself makes a cameo appearance near the end of the film.



Hynek's Close Encounter Scale
First
A sighting of one or more unidentified flying objects:
  • Flying saucers
  • Odd lights
  • Aerial objects that are not attributable to known human technology

Second
An observation of a UFO, and associated physical effects from the UFO, including:
  • Heat or radiation
  • Damage to terrain
  • Crop Circles
  • Human paralysis (Catalepsy)
  • Frightened animals
  • Interference with engines or TV or radio reception.
  • Lost Time: a gap in one's memory associated with a UFO encounter

Third
An observation of what Hynek termed "animate beings" observed in association with a UFO sighting. Hynek deliberately chose the somewhat vague term "animate beings" to describe beings associated with UFOs without making any unfounded assumptions regarding the beings' origins or nature.

Hynek did not necessarily regard these beings as "extraterrestrials" or "aliens."

Additionally, Hynek further expressed discomfort with such reports, but felt a scientific obligation to include them, at the very least because they represented a sizable minority of claimed UFO encounters.

Bloecher subtypes

The UFO researcher Ted Bloecher proposed six subtypes for the close encounters of the third kind in the Hynek's scale.

A: An entity is observed only inside the UFO
B: An entity is observed inside and outside the UFO
C: An entity is observed near to a UFO, but not going in or out.
D: An entity is observed. No UFOs are seen by the observer, but UFO activity has been reported in the area at about the same time
E: An entity is observed. But no UFOs are seen and no UFO activity has been reported in the area at that time
F: No entity or UFOs are observed, but the subject experiences some kind of "intelligent communication" 
Fourth
A human is abducted by a UFO or its occupants. This type was not included in Hynek's original close encounters scale. Jacques Vallee, Hynek's erstwhile associate, argued that a CE4 should be described as "cases when witnesses experienced a transformation of their sense of reality," so as to also include non-abduction cases where absurd, hallucinatory or dreamlike events are associated with UFO encounters.


Fifth
Named by Steven M. Greer's CSETI group, these purported encounters are joint, bilateral contact events produced through the conscious, voluntary and proactive human-initiated or cooperative communication with extraterrestrial intelligence. This is very similar to some "contactees" of the 1950s who claimed regular communication with benevolent aliens.

While the nature of this bilateral communication is generally claimed to be telepathic, the experiencers in this group (as defined by CSETI) generally do not claim to be psychic if they should happen to think of themselves as contactees (in the strictest sense of the meaning of that terminology), insofar as contact, at least intially, is unilateral communication coming from the otherworldly intelligence to its subjects.

Contrary to popular belief, not all experiencers in this group necessarily equate their communiqué as being with aliens.


Sixth
On Michael Naisbitt's website, a sixth proposed CE scenario is described as UFO incidents that cause direct injury or death. This category was not included in Hynek's scale, and is furthermore redundant: a CE2 in Hynek's scale specifically included UFO encounters that leave direct physical evidence of any kind.


Seventh
The Black Vault Encyclopedia Project proposes a Close Encounter of the Seventh Kind as mating between a human being and extraterrestrial that produces a human-alien hybridisation, usually called a Star Child.

This concept similar to ideas promoted by ancient astronauts theorists like Erich von Däniken, Zecharia Sitchin and Robert K.G. Temple, in that extraterrestrials interacted with, perhaps interbred with and influenced ancient human beings in the past.

This concept of CE7 is at odds with Hynek's original concepts, however. Hynek's CE3 specifically avoided describing UFO occupants as "aliens" or "extraterrestrials," contending that there was not enough evidence to determine if beings associated with UFOs had an objective physical reality, let alone to confirm their origins or motives.


5. What is an IFO?

UFOs that can be explained are sometimes termed "IFOs" or Identified Flying Objects.

Unidentified Flying Object is a difficult task due to the normally poor quality of the evidence provided by those who report sighting the objects. Nevertheless, most officially investigated UFO sightings, such as from the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book, have been identified as being due to honest misidentifications of natural phenomena, aircraft, or other prosaic explanations.

In early U.S. Air Force attempts to explain UFO sightings, unexplained sightings routinely numbered over one in five reports. However, in early 1953, right after the CIA's Robertson Panel, percentages of unexplained sightings dropped precipitously, usually being only a few percent in any given year. When Project Blue Book closed down in 1970, only 6% of all cases were classified as being truly unidentified.



6. What is a USO?

A USO is an Unidentified Submerged Object. It is believed that some UFOs may actually be under water and some theories state that these UFOs may have bases under our oceans and waters. This theory is somewhat popular since much of our oceans have not been mapped. It is estimated that less than 5% of our oceans have been mapped. Since we know very little about our oceans and because they can be difficult to reach it is believed that this would be an ideal area for a UFO to hide from prying eyes.