June 28, 2006

Conspiracy theorists unmoved by British UFO denial

By Sven Nordenstam

SHEFFIELD (Reuters) - Last month, the British Ministry of
Defense made public a top secret report on UFOs, concluding
that three decades of sightings had failed to produce evidence
of visiting extraterrestrials.

Case closed for alien aficionados? Not so.

Far from alleviating UFO buffs' suspicions that governments
are concealing what they know, the report has intensified them.

"I just e-mailed the MoD explaining my disgust at their
latest UFO report," an Internet UFO forum member wrote, saying
the Ministry was in denial.

Instead of alien spacecraft, man-made vehicles and natural
phenomena, some of them little known, were behind the UFO
sighting, according to the report that runs to almost 500

David Clarke, a journalist and folklorist who used freedom
of information laws to gain access to the report, said UFO
believers would not accept any explanation for the phenomenon
other than the extraterrestrial one.

"They've got the truth, but it's not what they want to
hear," he said, speaking in a cafe near Sheffield Hallam
University where he teaches journalism.

"They want to hear 'yes, there are aliens' but, because the
report says there is no evidence, it's not good enough," said
Clarke who has written several books on supernatural beliefs,
including UFOs.

"The only thing they can do now is pray that there must be
more files that are even more secret than these, being


Last year, the alien hypothesis gained a prominent
supporter in Paul Hellyer, a former Canadian defense minister,
who told a conference that UFOs were "as real as the airplanes
that fly over your head."

Hellyer told Reuters by telephone from Toronto he had
become convinced of the existence of alien visitors from
reading a book on the subject last year and that he was
disappointed in the conclusions of the report.

"I think it's just one more man-made hurdle to trying to
get the truth out," he said.

"Maybe I'm a little too suspicious, but the fact that the
report was completed in 2000, just when the Brits were passing
the new Freedom of Information Act, might easily have been in
the minds of some of the drafters at the time they were writing
their conclusions."

Nick Pope, a Defense Ministry official who worked on UFO
cases from 1991 to 1994, said the release of the report was an
indication of the British government's openness on the subject.

"In Britain, I'm convinced there's no cover-up, there's no
conspiracy," he said. Many UFO researchers disagreed with him
and believed he was part of the conspiracy since he worked for
the government and used to work with UFO cases, he added.

"But I can't win with arguments like that, because whatever
I say, they won't believe it."


Pope has written several books on UFOs. He said he did not
rule out aliens as the explanation for UFOs, but added there
was no conclusive proof.

In the absence of the "almost cliched landing-on-the-White-
House-lawn type scenario," Pope said the existence of aliens
could be proved if radio astronomers picked up an intelligent
signal or if extraterrestrial metal pieces were discovered.

If there are alien visitors, "the lack of artefacts is a
significant mystery," meaning they must either have completely
accident-proof vehicles, or have mastered teleportation and be
able to scoop up debris, the report said.

To the folklorist Clarke, claims of the discovery of pieces
from alien craft and marks on the ground bear a resemblance to
tales from the past.

"It's like these fairy stories when people visit fairyland.
They're given a gift by the fairies, and when they come back it
just dissolves."

Until an alien spacecraft can be publicly examined or a
signal from the green men is detected, the final line of the
1951 film "The Thing from Another World" still applies for UFO
believers: "Keep watching the skies."