Flying Saucers Redux

Wouldn’t it be nice if kindly space people suddenly appeared to lead us out of this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into? The New York Times thinks so.

Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was also a continuing saga of flying saucers, as they were called then. I was intrigued, being a kid who read science fiction and was terrified of atom bombs. As recently a year ago, on a trip to Texas, I made sure to drive through Levelland, where a famous sighting had taken place.

We’ve got an international mess right now. Creeping fascism and authoritarianism. The United States and Britain consumed with their own crazy. It would be so nice if the kindly space people would land, with their wisdom.

The space people are always kindly, never mind the counterexamples we have on earth.

Our aviators sometimes see blobs on their radar or with their own eyes that move in ways, without obvious means of propulsion, that seem to defy the laws of physics. Wild speed and instantaneous maneuvering. There are not a lot of these sightings. It was the same with flying saucers, but we are more judicious now and call them Unidentified Flying Objects. There are a few people in the military who believe they should be investigated. Some are found to be reflections or electronic glitches, but others don’t have enough information to know.

Movies were made about flying saucers and the high intelligences that piloted them. The genre never entirely went away, and now folks look back to the kindly ET who needed to call home. Official organs of the state acknowledged the existence of flying saucers too.

The New York Times has had a number of articles on UFOs in the past year. A year ago, Dan Zak of the Washington Post told the story of the rock star who has been pushing UFO lore. No matter, there was another in the Times this week.

The movements of the blobs in the videos look to me like the way reflections seem to move. That’s as scientific as the judgments in the stories.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence that these apparitions arrive at times when we are faced with what seem like international conundrums. Flying saucers became less visible into the 1960s, as we sorted out how to deal with the problems we had made for ourselves. We can sort out today’s problems too. Just us.

Graphic from here, but I recall this one from long-ago accounts of the Levelland sitings.


Cross-posted at Balloon Juice.