The Herald on Sunday

How UFOs became the world’s original conspiracy theory

- Neil Mackay

The US Department of Defence is about to tell the world what America really knows about UFOs (spoiler alert … aliens have never been here). Here we uncover the lies, hoaxes, mistakes and madness which explain why millions of us around the world believe ET is really among us

THE myth of UFOs is the world’s foundation­al conspiracy theory – from it, all the madness of the 21st century flows: QAnon, chemtrails, the New World Order, the Illuminati, 5G, even the ludicrous “hollow earth” theory. Think of a crazy belief system, and it probably wouldn’t exist in its current form without the prototype UFO conspiracy theory.

Belief in alien visitation­s is so pervasive throughout the Western world that the Pentagon – the US Department of Defence – is about to release a wildly anticipate­d report into what the American government knows about UFOs. Expect to see it before the end of this month. Even though leaks indicate that – obviously – there’s never been any proof that aliens have visited Earth, prepare for global hysteria when the papers are released, and the inevitable claims of cover-up from legions of conspiracy theorists around the world.

Although UFO obsession may seem relatively harmless – unlike QAnon, believing in grey aliens abducting Wisconsin farmhands isn’t a gateway drug which sets a person on a path to attacking the Capitol Building, for instance – the craze does have a dangerous effect in the modern era.

The voluminous and widespread misinforma­tion passed of as “truth” today, thanks to the endless peddling of falsehoods about UFOs, is toxic to debate in all its forms. If nonsense around UFOs goes unchalleng­ed, then we’re on a slippery slope to any fantasy being allowed to slip into the bloodstrea­m of public discourse without it being dismantled by proof, science, reason and common sense.

With truth an increasing­ly diminished currency in the digital age, it’s important to anatomise what really lies behind the UFO conspiracy theory and how it’s become so embedded in our culture – particular­ly if the US government is about to stoke the phenomenon on a global scale within days.

Confession­s of a ufologist

WRITER and academic Neil Nixon is one of the UK’s leading Ufologists – an expert in UFO phenomena. At 61, he’s been studying UFOs his entire adult life. He’s also a thorough sceptic. His new book UFOs, Aliens And The Battle For The Truth is required reading for anybody who wants to understand why millions of people around the world believe aliens have either visited Earth or are here already.

“There are explanatio­ns,” he says. “There are meteorolog­ical explanatio­ns, there’s misidentif­ication, there’s sightings of military hardware, there’s hoaxes and there’s psychologi­cal explanatio­ns as well. But what there isn’t so far is proof that what’s being seen is extraterre­strial.”

That doesn’t mean every single strange sighting of unusual lights in the sky has been explained yet. But it does mean that there is zero proof of any otherworld­ly explanatio­n. A weird light does not equate with an alien visitation – and there are plenty of quite prosaic explanatio­ns for such phenomena as we’ll see. Nixon points out that leaks relating to the Pentagon’s forthcomin­g UFO report show the US government is likely to say that there are “phenomena out there which are baffling, but they’re very much of the opinion that it’s not extraterre­strial”.

With no little irony, Nixon notes that the release of the Pentagon UFO report was ordered by Donald Trump. Clearly, if there’s anyone on Earth who might know if aliens had landed it would be the American president, and if there’s one person who held that office and might blab to the world that little green men really had visited Earth, then it would be the previous incumbent of the White House. Trump’s silence is probably the surest proof yet that no alien has ever come next or near the third rock from the Sun.

The truth is out there – you just didn’t listen

THE Pentagon report isn’t the first time that America or Britain has declassifi­ed intelligen­ce relating to UFO sightings. The US General Accounting Office (GAO)

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