(Investigator 15, 1990 November)

We seem to have reached a point where it has become downright disreputable of anyone with the slightest reverence for scientific principles to demonstrate even the merest whiff of enthusiasm for UFO phenomena. In fact, in some circles, if you want to avoid being thought of as someone with considerably less than average intelligence, or overwrought due to an undisciplined imagination, it is best to avoid the subject altogether.

This judgement, according to alternative schools of thought might, in the fullness of time, well turn out to be premature, if not dangerously negligent.

Even Dr Allen Hynek, respected scientist and professional astronomer (and thus not easily fooled) admitted, after a twenty year official investigation into the matter that he was hard pressed to find scientifically viable explanations for some of the incidents and events that he came across. Nonetheless, as far as I can discover, even he avoided the radical step of associating UFOs with alien intervention.

I personally have never seen a UFO. Nor do I know anyone who has seen one. I do not even know anyone who knows anyone who has seen one. Strangely, even perhaps significantly, it appears that the bulk of those with such "first hand" experience were people who had previously shown no interest in the phenomenon and/or were not scientifically oriented.

Like everyone else, I have of course read about UFOs, although due to the absurd nature and ridiculously sensational presentation of most of the so-called encounters not in great depth. And, like most of us, I have grave misgivings when it comes to equating them with investigators from light-years-distant realms. There has never been the slightest trace of tangible evidence to support such a claim. Only anecdotal reports.

Those of us with even a modicum of astronomical knowledge have the advantage of being able to appreciate — if only in a minor way some of the incredibly complex mechanics and physics involved in interstellar travel. The realization of the daunting magnitude of energy requirements and life-support systems, and the evident application of scientific principles that clearly do not coincide with our understanding of universal laws (the speed of light for example) surely justifies a little cynicism.

Nor, fortunately, do we, with our awareness of the prevailing conditions, (however scanty at this point) fall into the trap of imagining that we are being coldly appraised by scrutineers from Venus or Mars or indeed anywhere else in the solar system.

Nevertheless, in spite of the absence of tangible evidence (in the form of artifacts or alloys completely alien to us) we cannot dismiss the whole thing out of hand. To entertain the idea of off-planet visitors may be a laughable concept to most of us (little green men — whatever next), but unless we insist on adopting the attitude that we are the only intelligent beings in the universe — which would be the height of ludicrous egocentricity — such visits are, sooner or later, as inevitable as mankind eventually homing-in on a planet of another sun. And we don't hear much jeering about that notion. When you think about it, any alternative civilization has only to be a mere thousand years ahead of us in technological expertise to have the capacity to visit us before we visit them. In short, to beat us to the punch.

One of the strongest arguments against UFOs being alien spacecraft is the apparent reluctance on the part of their occupants to make themselves known. Assuming for one wild moment that they exist at all, there could be good reasons for this. They may, for example, simply be afraid of us. We are, after all, for the most part, a quarrelsome, violent, greedy, suspicious, disease-ridden, ecologically uncaring lot, highly skilled and short-fused in administering death and destruction at very short notice, and in the reverse situation we too, might be reluctant to become too intimately involved.

 On the other hand, let us imagine, perhaps their intelligence exceeds ours by a factor of many hundreds: in which case, they may regard us as being so ecologically primitive as to not be worth bothering with beyond recognising us as interesting biological specimens. They may have ants more intelligent than us!

Alternatively (or additionally) they may be carrying out a planned investigation program and the reason for the long delay (at least 40 years) could be that they are conditioned to time scales vastly different to ours. If, for instance, they came from a planet where a day is as long as one of our months and their average life-span is therefore over 2,000 years, forty years or so would be to them equal to less than two years within our bracket of reference. Quite acceptable as a preliminary fact-finding mission. After all, when human interstellar pioneers make their first planet-fall they are hardly likely to be so imprudent as to swoop in, indiscriminately pick out a landing spot and start handing out mirrors, beads and fish-hooks, all within the first five minutes.

Nothing of the sort. There will have to be a time consuming period spent in gathering data, and agonising over what to do for the best. Especially if the natives are capable of nuclear and biological warfare and are restless to boot. And it wouldn't be any use appealing to Head Office for advice. An answer, for what it would be worth, wouldn't arrive for a minimum of nine years or so.

But all this is pure speculation. Apart from a few dedicated (misguided?) afficionados and those making a fast buck out of it we don't believe in UFOs, do we? Nor do we think that they represent the technical achievement of an alien culture, do we? Perish the thought. I just hope that we're right.

The older I get the greater becomes my reluctance to leap to conclusions.

In the face of present evidence few of us seriously think that the phenomenon we know as UFOs justifies the slightest credence. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to be too loftily, dogmatically certain about anything. History is strewn with "certainties" that didn't come off. It wasn't all that long ago that scientists were convinced that no man-made machine would ever fly, much less carry hundreds of passengers. And less than 500 years ago the Earth was not only flat, it was the centre of the universe and dare let anyone disagree with these immutable and well-known constants.

Perhaps we should indulge ourselves with a little open-minded mental flexibility, and not rule out the possibility that some of those manifestations so dear to ufologists are not the result of gross-over-imagination after all. And that that weird assortment of cigar-shaped, saucer-shaped, many-hued, infinitely different apparitions may just be a clever smoke-screen hidden with in which is the real thing.

We shall, in the utmost certainty (always presuming that we curb our enthusiastic proclivity for self destruction) visit "them" at some time in the future: let us not be so absolutely and positively certain that "they" won't get here first ... or that they are not here already

Copyright (c) 1990 Vic Lloyd