There’s a vast body of material relating to UFO sightings, claims of alien abduction, and other things that some believe are indicative of extraterrestrial visitation. Much of this is genuinely intriguing, and remains unexplained. This certainly constitutes evidence, but evidence exists on a spectrum (weak to strong), and none of this evidence is sufficiently compelling to constitute definitive proof that aliens exist, or that they’ve ever been to Earth. In other words, there’s no ‘spaceship in a hangar’ smoking gun.
The term “UFO” has become synonymous with alien spacecraft, when in reality all the term really means is an object in the sky which the observer was unable to identify.
There’s a legitimate debate to be had about when evidence becomes proof. This depends upon one’s viewpoint. There are, for example, mathematical proofs that are about as definitive as one can get. Beyond this, however, things are more fluid. Evidence and proof are terms used in the legal system, but in some cases charges have to be proven “beyond reasonable doubt”, while in others, “on the balance of probability” is used. All this is subjective, and even in the era of DNA evidence, mistakes can be made, samples can be contaminated, and one will often see prosecution and defence wheel out different experts to support their respective positions.
UFO over France, February 2017
Returning to extraterrestrials, the evidence falls into a variety of categories. Firstly, the UFO sightings. The term “UFO” has become synonymous with alien spacecraft, when in reality all the term really means is an object in the sky which the observer was unable to identify. Some UFO sightings will be hoaxes and others will be the result of psychological delusions. Most will be misidentifications of ordinary objects or phenomena, but perhaps witnessed under unusual viewing conditions, or by someone who isn’t familiar with whatever was seen. Many governments and air forces around the world have run projects and studies to investigate UFOs. In the US, the United States Air Force ran Project Blue Book, while the UK’s Ministry of Defence investigated the phenomenon for many years and produced tens of thousands of documents on the subject, including an intelligence assessment entitled Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defence Region.
Some people argue that there is definitive proof of extraterrestrial visitation, but that it’s being covered up by governments. This is a pointless and circuitous argument that cannot possibly constitute proof. Essentially, conspiracy theorists are asking us to take their beliefs on trust.
It cannot be denied that there are numerous instances where UFOs have been witnessed by pilots and tracked on radar, sometimes displaying speeds and manoeuvres that our best fast jets are unable to match, and where subsequent government or air force investigations have been unable to turn up conventional explanations. However, none of this constitutes definitive proof that extraterrestrials were involved. There’s no such thing as an infallible witness, and radar isn’t an exact science: spurious returns can be caused by two radar systems interfering with each other, or can be generated in certain meteorological conditions. Even when this isn’t the explanation, it’s perfectly possible that these sightings involved not aliens, but secret prototype aircraft or drones, some of which can look pretty much like people’s perception of what alien spacecraft would look like. Moreover, the highly classified and compartmentalised nature of all this means that one part of the government wouldn’t necessarily know what another part was doing.
Nick Pope participates in a panel on UFOs on US TV
Just as there’s no such thing as an infallible witness, there’s no such thing as an infallible investigator, even within government. Even where a UFO sighting was investigated by the government and remained unexplained, this isn’t proof of aliens. It may simply mean that the investigation wasn’t thorough enough, or that mistakes were made. If a conventional explanation wasn’t found yesterday, it doesn’t follow that one won’t turn up today.
Some people argue that there is definitive proof of extraterrestrial visitation, but that it’s being covered up by governments. This is a pointless and circuitous argument that cannot possibly constitute proof. Essentially, conspiracy theorists are asking us to take their beliefs on trust. While it’s difficult – if not impossible – to prove a negative (in this case, that there isn’t a UFO cover-up), it’s incumbent on the person making the claim to present the evidence, and not simply to argue that it exists, but that someone else has hidden it. In fact, far from covering up such material, a number of governments around the world are releasing their UFO files.
Nick Pope concludes a 2015 New Mexico UFO Conference on the topic of 'What does the Government really know?'
Others point to claims of so-called alien abduction as being proof of extraterrestrial visitation. Many of these people may be sincere (though as with UFO sightings, other such reports will doubtless be attributable to hoaxes or delusions), but even if we could be absolutely certain that the witnesses are sincere and that psychopathology isn’t a factor, with the best will in the world these narratives are simply stories, and not proof of any sort. We may be dealing with dreams or hallucinations, and most alien abduction accounts emerge only after regression hypnosis. This is problematic because the hypnosis is often conducted by researchers who believe in aliens themselves, and even when this isn’t the case, there’s no evidence that regression hypnosis can recover supressed memories. Indeed, there’s considerable evidence that it can generate false memories.
A final area of ‘evidence’ put forward by believers in extraterrestrial visitation includes artefacts. These fall into two broad categories; firstly, constructs that some people argue couldn’t possibly have been made by our ancestors. Such ‘aliens built the pyramids’ beliefs are generally attributable to a misunderstanding of just how sophisticated some ancient civilisations were in areas such as mathematics, geometry, astronomy, engineering and architecture, and what a vast proportion of a state’s resources could be brought to bear upon a single project in societies such as Pharaonic Egypt. Another such belief that’s often expressed relates to ‘misshapen’ – often elongated – skulls that are variously described as evidence of aliens, or of human/alien hybrids. Where such stories aren’t simply ‘fake news’, physical anthropologists attribute this to skeletal variation, pathologies, or cranial modification – the latter for reasons that are unclear and not, as believers argue, because our ancestors wanted to appear more like alien visitors who were perceived as gods. This final point about gods is the key one, because it tells us that theories about extraterrestrials are rooted not in the world of science and proof, but in the world of belief and faith.
Learn more about Nick Pope and his views on extraterrestrials/UFOs at his website.
People believe so and there were extreme amounts of human conjectures at different times. We cannot know this thing for sure, because we have no verified information so that everyone knows it for sure. If they visited us, they'd probably stay hidden, due to hostility of humans. Or, on the contrary, if they had traveled such distances to this small planet they'd have exercised control over all species, or, if they'd been benevolent towards sentient forms of life, they'd have probably given the unknown technological schemes, or, if you wish, knowledge how to build machines to travel across the Cosmos, prevent aging etc.
However, we don't have anything like that at this point of time, so that we can, with a bit of certainty, say that we haven't been visited by any of extraterrestrials. We do have still misery, wars, poverty, famine, the land is divided as "Countries", humans kill for the sake of fun or resources, having poor technological advancement in all parts of the world (only few exceptions at this time), there are still aboriginal tribes, nations, patriots, zealots. But that's okay for now, if we see how fast advanced world changes comparing to the length of the evolution of the past civilizations. We somehow one day self will become extraterrestials, for example, if we colonize Mars.