Unidentified flying object! Few things grip the human psyche the way those three letters strung together do. You could query people about a dozen different subjects. Many times, people aren't willing to share--or just don't have an opinion. But not when it comes to UFOs.
Believers and nonbelievers alike will dig in their heels and let you know. "Between one-third and one-half of Americans believe in unidentified flying objects (UFOs). A somewhat smaller percentage believes that aliens have landed on Earth (Gallup 1996; Southern Focus 1998)." From http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind00/c8/c8s5.htm
Another poll "Only a third of adults, however, believe it's either very likely or somewhat likely that intelligent aliens from space have visited our planet, according to a survey of 1,003 adults conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University.
The poll revealed that one in every 12 Americans has seen a mysterious object in the sky that might have been a visitor from another world, while nearly one in every five personally knows someone who has seen an unidentified flying object." From here: http://www.reporternews.com/news/2008/jul/26/you-are-not-alone/
A common sentiment among believers follows suit with Ted Arroway, a character from Carl Sagan's book, "Contact", who says--after his daughter asks him if there is life on other planets, " I don't know, Sparks. But I guess I'd say if it is just us... seems like an awful waste of space."
A common sentiment among nonbelievers is that we would see them. They would be here...would have been here by now, would be living among us. If humans are capable of space travel, surely intelligent life on other planets is capable interstellar travel.
To which a believer would say, "They have. They are. They live amongst us."
Oy! *laughing* And it goes round and round.
I am going to put a few thoughts out there. Just because we (Earthlings) are not yet capable of interstellar travel, doesn't mean that other life forms aren't. It is not a mutually inclusive or exclusive feat. If we consider the different rates of evolution on the continents on Earth alone, it gives us a pretty good idea that someone else isn't necessarily going to be at the same place in space travel technology as we are. They could be light years ahead of us (pun intended) or light years behind.
I am inclined to agree with Carl Sagan. It would be a terrible waste of space. I really think that there is life out there. Intelligent life? Well, depends how we define intelligent life. I have little doubt that there is microbial life. But, what has it evolved to?
And...I am not so sure I want to have them visit. Like Don Henley asks in one of his songs--did they just swing by for McNuggets? I am not doomsayer, but, I am a realist. Lifeforms probably aren't cruising around the Universe on an intergalactic version of a Sunday drive.
I have to think of it this way (egotistical--I know) making the assumption that all life forms have similar needs. Why would WE pack up a ship for star travel, and journey across the night sky to the unknown?
Best I can come up with is that would we need a new place to live. Maybe our world has run out of resources and we need more. We are out of food-or the conditions that allow us to provide food for ourselves, have deteriorated. There are wars and famine, disease, oppressive regimes ruling the planet (fighting the urge to be cynical here). None of the scenarios are good. And we would need pretty specific environmental parameters. The chemicals that make up Earth and its whole atmosphere might not be common at all when we get outside of our solar system. So, maybe we are desperate and will just take what we need?
I read a book last year called, "Hunt for Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah" It's available on Amazon. Four stars after 98 reviews. It was written by a respected journalist--well, respected until he wrote the book. He was not well thought of by his peers after he wrote about his experience at Skinwalker Ranch. And the scientists involved with the research asked him to not identify them by name in the book. If you like these kinds of books, it's a good read. It was interesting. Okay, I admit...I wasn't quite able to wrap my head around everything he wrote. I wanted to believe he was telling the truth. Still...denial. I think that a lot of us are that way.
Have I seen a UFO? :-) Oh my god, no!
*hangs head* Okay, that was a lie (I am a natural fiction writer). I share this purely as a humorous and cautionary tale. One time (and only once) I saw something in the sky. It was at dusk. I was alone. (never a witness) I had just finished watching the sunset. Not a cloud in the sky the whole time I had been watching. Then I noticed one lone cloud, small, strangely illuminated, heading from straight south toward the north--which is a rare weather direction, indeed, for western PA. It generally takes an odd storm to coax clouds to float that direction. Its heading took a gentle turn to the east--to float directly over me--well, where I WAS standing when I first saw it. I was no longer there, because I was running just as fast as my old legs could carry my scared arse. If I'd had four legs, I know my back ones would have been passing up my front ones. Terrified, glancing over my shoulder, sure it would swoop down on me. I reached the house, dashed inside, and went to the other side of the kitchen and watched (okay, okay, timidly peeked) until I saw it come overhead. It faded just above the trees below our house.
I researched cloud types, twilight illumination, the prevailing weather direction. And damn it, none of it made sense. I saw what I saw. Crap.
Or...maybe that story was an exercise in fiction...
And maybe I am the only one who will ever know.
*mumbling* "Nice disclaimer at the end, Teresa. Now nobody thinks you're goofy."
UFOs So, if they are coming--what do you think they are coming for?
And, have you seen something in the sky you couldn't explain away? Anything that defied good, solid, rational, logic? Would you tell anyone if you had?