This week on The Micah Hanks Podcast, we remember the words of the late astronomer J. Allen Hynek, who said of the study of UFOs, “the ‘U’ in UFO, of course, simply means unidentified, it does not necessarily mean visitors from outer space.” While the idea of extraterrestrial visitors remains among the most popular interpretations of the UFO phenomenon in modern times, a number of alternatives do exist.
To understand the UFOs mystery, and why there are so many opinions about what they might be, we turn our attention back to the early days of science fiction and its influence on the idea that alien life may exist, and even be able to visit our planet. We then look at early assessments made by the US Air Force, and how those controversial early studies might have influenced ideas about extraterrestrial visitation.
Such events in history helped shape the idea of an “Extraterrestrial Hypothesis”, or ETH behind the UFO mystery. However, with time, many researchers would begin to become increasingly dissatisfied with an extraterrestrial interpretation of the issue. Namely, computer scientist and physicist Jacques Vallee became noteworthy after the publication of his book, Passport to Magonia, which began to compare modern UFO reports to fairy lore of the British Isles and other folklore from around the world, noting the parallels, while moving in a more ambiguous area with relation to the interpretation of what UFOs might actually be. What are the alternatives, how many unique possibilities might there be, and what best can account for the origin of unidentified flying objects? We will explore all this, and more, on this edition of The Micah Hanks Program.
Below are links to stories and other content featured in this episode:
- Maj. Gen. John A. Samford’s Statement on “Flying Saucers”, Washington, DC, 07/31/1952
- Want to research UFO’s? You can start with a new display at the National Archives Museum
- The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis entry at Encyclopedia Britannica Online
- The Challenges of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis of UFOs
- Jacques Vallee on the Arguments Against an Extraterrestrial Hypothesis
- Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds
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