The truth is still out there

When it comes to UFOs, we don’t know the answer. The truth is still out there.

And it may be out there for a while. A new federal government report on UFOs couldn’t explain 143 of 144 military aviation encounters, which the government, never one to pass up the opportunity to create a clumsy acronym, now calls UAP, short for Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. The one explainable encounter? A large, deflating balloon.

We didn’t expect the brief report to include selfies of a little green guy from another world. Heck, folks are still looking for Sasquatch and Nessie. Good luck with those searches, too.

That leaves us pretty much where we have always been — believing whatever we want to believe.

According to a Gallup Poll in 2019, one-third of Americans believe that UFOs are alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies. Still, 60 percent also think these sightings can be explained by human activity or natural phenomena. And there’s little bipartisanship regarding alien encounters. About 30 percent of Republicans and 32 percent of Democrats believe in spacecraft from other planets.

The belief in UFOs plays into the expanse of human imagination. For decades, movies and popular culture spotlighted one of two themes — the friendly extraterrestrial or the fleet of militaristic visitors intent on destroying all humans. Since at least the 1940s, just about any phenomena in the sky has been labeled a “flying saucer,î” cultural shorthand for hopes and fears of how earthly mortals fit into a wider universe. With uncertainty come conspiracies, fantasies and imagining a reality beyond ourselves.

Nonetheless, the possibility that life exists elsewhere drives our exploration of space and encourages additional inquiry and interpretation. Astronomers estimate that we share the Milky Way galaxy with 300 million habitable worlds. So why can’t these be homes for intelligent life and advanced technology? Or so we speculate.

Without a doubt, the report erases some of the stigma of aviators talking openly about unexplained radar and visual encounters of the close kind. But will we know for sure anytime soon? Don’t bet on it. Much of our own planet remains a mystery, let alone oddities in the skies. And not having the scientific tools to explain an anomaly only means that we’ll have more questions than we have hard evidence.

Yes, the truth is still out there and may be out there for a long time to come.

* Editorial from the Dallas Morning News


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