(Investigator 84, 2002 May)

Recently I got an e-mail with a picture of a cow being beamed up to a flying saucer. Certainly, if you want to believe that aliens are spying on us, the Internet has plenty of material.

Many websites on UFOs rehash dubious UFO encounter stories and dubious flying saucer images of past decades. There are websites about:

Many websites obtain newer, unverified material from one another and re-issue it uncritically so that it makes the rounds.

Pictures are plentiful. Some are hilarious like the cow being beamed up. Most are photos of fuzzy or shiny shapes in the sky. You can view scores of public domain images at: 

One of the easiest ways to produce a picture of an alien spacecraft is to cut out a picture from a magazine and paste it on a glass pane or window behind which is the sky or ocean or other background, and photograph it. This gives you a convincing photo and a negative to prove its genuineness.

Nowadays we have powerful image-editing programs with which you can produce UFO images on the home PC as realistic as in Hollywood movies. Therefore photos of UFOs or of supposed aliens – no matter how impressive they look – are by themselves worthless evidence.

Some websites suggest that aliens constantly interfere in events on Earth and even blame recent disasters on interfering aliens. Others are more investigative. For example:

On Nebula we try to winnow out the nonsense, naivette, and non-information that dominates UFOology.

A 1968 report by the University of Colorado supported the US Air Force conclusion that there is no evidence of alien visits or interference on Earth. This research – "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects" – is on the website of the National Capital Area Skeptics:

The best evidence, if we had it, would be "Direct Physical Evidence". A report of this title on the website shows that no evidence uncovered was immune to mundane explanation.

The US Government has released many documents dealing with possible flying saucer encounters. Forty are on the US National Security Agency website:

The home page says:

The documents listed on this page were located in response to the numerous requests received by NSA on the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects. In 1980 NSA was involved in Civil Action No. 80-1562, Citizens Against Unidentified Flying Objects Secrecy v. National Security Agency. Documents related to that litigation are marked with *.

The documents, however, do not prove much.

FBI files released under the Freedom of Information Act are at:

You'll find information on Animal/Cattle Mutilation, the Majestic 12, Project Bluebook, Roswell, and Unidentified Flying Objects.

Project Bluebook investigated over 12,600 UFO sightings of which 700 remained unidentified – the site gives a year by year numerical breakdown.

Operation Majestic 12 is a document dated November 18, 1952 which says in part, "Operation Majestic 12 is a TOP Secret Research and Development/Intelligence operation responsible strictly and only to the President of the United States." Someone made it public in 1988 leading to much speculation in UFO magazines. The FBI investigated whether the document was still classified. The investigation ended in August 1991 after discovering "that the document was fabricated" and was "completely bogus".

A useful website is:

It includes a list of over 480 books on UFOs with reviews of most of them. Many of the reviews, however, are too accepting of claims made. Inside The Flying Saucers (G Adamski, 1955), with its claims of humans living on every planet, and cities and rivers on the far side of the Moon, is described as "a little bit too bizarre". That's about as critical as it gets.

There are also websites about "abductees" – not cows but humans. Some probably got their inspiration from the book One in Forty – The UFO Epidemic (P Dennett, 1996). The title "One in Forty" refers to the author's estimate that 1/40 of Americans – that would be about 7 million – have been abducted.

Skeptics explain alleged alien kidnapping of humans either as hoax or by psychology and psychiatry. If you're worried you can get insurance against abduction at:

The home page says:

Since 1987 The UFO Abduction Insurance Company has boldly gone where no Insurance Company has gone before and offers the perfect policy for anyone who thinks they have Everything Covered.

A Lifetime Premium costing $19.95 covers you for $10 million. The benefits include medical and psychiatric care and sarcasm protection. A $20 million double indemnity clause covers trauma resulting from aliens requiring conjugal visits or from aliens eating you.

The St Petersburg Times (1997 February) – which is reproduced on the website – reported there was a successful abduction claim by a policy-holder in 1990! Successful claimants are paid $1 per year for 10 million years.

Mike St Lawrence, the president of the Florida-based Company, is an accountant who also runs The Future Life Insurance Company. This offers $10 million reincarnation compensation – $20 million if you return as a lower form of life.

So what's the probable verdict – are aliens out there?

Recently the British Flying Saucer Bureau, the world's oldest UFO research organization, suspended its activities. Furthermore, no ufologist has produced evidence that's convincing to skeptics – no item of alien manufacture for example or scientific breakthrough of alien origin.

And according to Bob Rickard, editor of Fortean Times, the wide use of camcorders should by now have led to convincing footage if aliens were visiting.


More about UFOs and other paranormal phenomena On this website: