UFO Sightings Decline! Were They Always An Urban Legend?
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
A decline in UFO sightings in recent years has opened up the debate whether intelligent life, apart from our own planet, truly exists.
The failure to establish solid evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life has led many to believe that intelligent aliens, if they exist at all, have never been to earth on fantastically designed flying machines of any kind.
Despite a handful of seemingly plausible cases of UFO sightings, alien visitations, and even a notable account or two of alien abductions over the past half century, it is more likely that the truth, if it is out there, has not reached us yet.
This lack of evidence has led many to believe UFO sightings have always been an urban legend. And in light of such thinking, dozens of UFO groups have closed their doors because of lack of interest and a decline in sightings. Later this month (Nov. 17), one of the UK´s foremost organizations on UFO research will be holding a conference to discuss whether research should continue or not.
Enthusiasts admit that a decline in sightings and also in interest could mean the end of ufology–the study of UFOs–by the end of the decade.
Dave Wood, chairman of the UK-based Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), said the Nov. 17 conference will be held to discuss the authenticity of UFO sightings and alien encounters, by both amateur and experienced enthusiasts, and what the future holds for ufology.
“It is certainly a possibility that in ten years time, it will be a dead subject,” Wood told The Telegraph´s Jasper Copping. “We look at these things on the balance of probabilities and this area of study has been ongoing for many decades“¦The lack of compelling evidence beyond the pure anecdotal suggests that on the balance of probabilities that nothing is out there.”
“I think that any UFO researcher would tell you that 98 per cent of sightings that happen are very easily explainable. One of the conclusions to draw from that is that perhaps there isn´t anything there. The days of compelling eyewitness sightings seem to be over,” added Wood.
“Since the late 1980s ufology has seemingly been in global decline. In many parts of the world UFO sightings have exhibited a general downward trend. The occurrence of significant UFO events (once occurring with notable frequency) has dropped notably over the past two decades,” reads an official release by ASSAP.
The summit, Seriously Unidentified – A Summit on the Future of UFOlogy, will look into select reports of UFO activity and landings that have been the most controversial. Among them include the infamous Roswell incident in July 1947, an event that kick-started the UFO sighting craze in the US, and the 1980 Rendlesham Forest incident.
“When you go to UFO conferences it is mainly people going over these old cases, rather than bringing new ones to the fore,” said Wood. “There is a trend where a large proportion of UFO studies are tending towards conspiracy theories, which I don´t think is particularly helpful.”
“While UFO study has always been concerned with governmental secrecy, the subject has become significantly influenced by conspiracy theories whose implications take ufology into extreme and alarming directions. Some believe the ‘UFO debate’ is effectively over – UFOs are extra-terrestrial, with ‘disclosure’ of their presence merely awaiting official verification,” ASSAP´s release stated.
In the UK, UFO cases reported to ASSAP have dropped by 96 percent since 1988, and the number of groups involved in UFO research has fallen from well over 100 in the 90s to only 30 today.
ASSAP, self-described as an education and research charity, was established in 1981. Comedian Michael Bentine became the organization´s first president.
The organization contains both skeptics and believers and has been involved in several notable sightings over the years. Its current president, Lionel Fanthorpe, claimed in the group´s journal Anomaly that King Arthur was an alien who came to Earth to save humans from invading extraterrestrials.
ASSAP´s summit follows an announcement made by the Ministry of Defence earlier this year that it would no longer be investigating UFO sightings since there was “no evidence” they pose a threat to UK´s national security.
“The subject is dead in that no one is seeing anything evidential,” said David Clark, a Sheffield Hallam University academic and the UFO adviser to the National Archives. “Look at all the people who now have personal cameras. If there was something flying around that was a structured object from somewhere else, you would have thought that someone would have come up with some convincing footage by now — but they haven´t.”
“The reason why nothing is going on is because of the internet. If something happens now, the internet is there to help people get to the bottom of it and find an explanation,” Clark told The Telegraph. “Before then, you had to send letters to people, who wouldn´t respond and you got this element of mystery and secrecy that means things were not explained.”
He added that “classic cases” of UFO phenomena, such as the 1947 Roswell incident and the 1980 Rendlesham Forest (Suffolk) incident, are “only classic cases because they were not investigated properly at the time.”
But others still believe there is a future for UFO investigations.
Nick Pope, who ran the MoD´s UFO arm from 1991 to 1994, now researches UFO sightings privately and said with UFO research there is “a quantity versus quality issue here.”
“So many UFO sightings these days are attributable to Chinese lanterns that more interesting sightings are sometimes overlooked,” he said.
“The same is true with photos and videos. There are so many fakes on YouTube and elsewhere, it would be easy to dismiss the whole subject out of hand,” he noted. “The danger is that we throw out the baby with the bathwater. And as I used to say at the MoD, the believers only have to be right once.”
Also, some notable Russian astronomers claimed last year that 2031 would be the breakthrough year in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
“The genesis of life is as inevitable as the formation of atoms. Life exists on other planets and we will find it within 20 years,” Andrei Finkelstein, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Applied Astronomy Institute, was quoted as saying at the time.
And despite a declining trend in sightings, they are still out there–one of the most recent US sightings being Thursday Nov. 1, 2012 just south of Marshall, Texas.
As the reports go, a handful of eyewitnesses reported UFO activity in the skies around 7:05 p.m. According to accounts, there was an object or an entity in the sky just below cloud level. The objects position was described in detail with exact positions given.
“On Thursday night South of Marshall, TX around 7:05 pm turning off hwy 59 South onto FMRD 1186 we observed a glowing white large oval object in the sky hovering below cloud level,” according to one report of the sighting.
The report also explains how before moving up into the sky, the object ejected another small star-sized object that was flashing different colors. The witnesses also reported that the object had been appearing in the skies over the region over the past few weeks as well.
The report was published from a testimony and included in the database of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).