With the hype surrounding the various news stories related to Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs, formerly known as UFOs), the media noise has led some people to believe that we now have definitive proof, especially when there are those on social media who have proclaimed that the US government has officially confirmed it. But is this the case, and do we have more evidence today than ever before?
The UFO phenomenon dates back to 1947, when pilot Kenneth Arnold’s sighting established the idea of flying saucers, and the Roswell incident, the alleged recovery of a crashed alien spacecraft in New Mexico, was reported, followed in the 1980s by the alleged autopsy of an extraterrestrial being. The Roswell claims have been repeatedly debunked, and there are possible explanations for Arnold’s sighting. But the UAP phenomenon has endured, with a legion of followers who have maintained its profitability in books, television programmes, documentaries and other media. However, after a peak in popularity in the 1990s with shows such as The X-Files, interest waned at the beginning of this century, only to pick up again the following decade, in what some experts see as a cyclical process of disenchantment and re-enchantment.
Declassifications and new information
Today, the phenomenon is once again on the rise, fuelled by statements such as that of then US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who said in 2016 that she would release all government-held information if she won the White House. This did not happen, but the following year it emerged that the Pentagon was still running a research programme, which was relaunched in 2020, again made official and with the promise of new revelations. These began to come with the declassification of video footage—later debunked—and reports of unexplained sightings.
The renewed official involvement of the US government in the topic has led to other initiatives, such as NASA’s announcement of the creation of a study group in 2022. Given the agency’s traditional aloofness on the subject, the news was greeted with anticipation, but sometimes misinterpreted: NASA stated that its intention was not to reach a verdict on the extraterrestrial origin of UAPs, but to lay the groundwork for a scientific method of investigation, as it reiterated in its final report in 2023.
Also in 2023, a ufologist presented to the Mexican Congress what he claimed were alien mummies. The National Autonomous University of Mexico rejected his claims, and the specimens presented turned out to be the same as previous ones, dolls made of bones, plant fibres and glue. Another source of uproar in 2023 was the testimony of former US military personnel before Congress, notably David Grusch, a former Air Force intelligence officer who spoke of crashed UAP wreckage containing non-human biological remains. The Pentagon rejected his claims, but above all it is worth noting that although Grusch testified under oath, he did not claim to have directly witnessed what he said, but that it had all been told to him by third parties.
In short, the US government has not confirmed the existence of alien spacecraft. But do we have more evidence now than we did a few years ago? Or at the very least, will this revival of interest and this new officialisation of investigations help us to find out about it, if it exists?