Culture Watch: Aliens Among Us

Photo by Marshall Gordon

Photo by Marshall Gordon

Though he has never seen a UFO, Hendersonville resident Fred Chaffee still believes they exist and that aliens visit Earth regularly. “I’ve never seen a UFO in my life,” he says. “I know they exist because of what I’ve read, and I believe the stories are very reliable.”

Unidentified flying objects and their media sensation cousins — flying saucers, alien abductions and government cover-ups, are all linked in a tug-of-war as to whether they exist or are mere speculation.

The study of UFOs is called Ufology. At the heart of Ufology is the premise, and hope, that we’re being visited by aliens from far-away universes, Chaffee says.

Spearheading the study of UFOs is the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), an international non-.profit. Chaffee, a self-proclaimed Ufologist. is the founder of the defunct Blue Ridge UFO Research Society and has been a member of MUFON for more than 25 years.

UFO sightings have been reported since before Biblical times. These sightings seemed to take off after World War II fueled by advances in photography, space exploration, an increasing interest in science fiction, especially movies, and the highly secret military programs of Cold War antagonists.

Sighting a UFO has always been the easy part. Rooms full of photos, film and video clips exist and some folks claim these prove the existence of UFOs. Hendersonville has had a few sightings, Chaffee says. But finding hard, peer-reviewed physical evidence verifying UFOs, especially alien encounters, is another story.

With the controversy surrounding the existence or not of UFOs, it’s little wonder that a lot of time is spent in refuting unidentified flying objects. Skeptics want to see hard evidence, not anecdotal stories and conspiracy theories of government cover ups, proving they exist.

For Ufologists, much of their belief is based strictly on faith. Chaffee admits as much.

In this he-said, she-said environment, finding the truth is often elusive. It’s a complicated process. The best suggestion for anyone interested in knowing more about UFOs and other phenomena is to do the research.

Want proof UFOs exist?

Chaffee recommends starting with two web sites: mufon.com, the official site of the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), and stantonfriedman.com, the home page of Stanton Friedman, the world-renowned UFO lecturer and advocate.

Want proof UFOs are bunk?

A good start for skeptics is csicop.org, the official site of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.

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