Archives For ufology

ufo vector

Different people who want Hillary Clinton to win the presidency in 2016 want her to win for many different reasons. Some believe that a female president is long overdue. Others, believe that of all the presidential contenders, she is the most electable. Yet others dislike her greatly, but with some complicated political calculus arrived at the conclusion that her ability to nominate four of the future Supreme Court justices makes her the only choice that won’t plunge the country into despotic arch-conservatism. But others still couldn’t care less about any of that because such, can we say, earthly, concerns are trivial to them. You see, to them, the most important part of a potential second Clinton administration is that they’ll finally get access to all the top secret files detailing our ongoing contact with alien civilizations. You know, after the last great reveal of our apparent alien alliances failed to materialize in 2012 as predicted, I started losing hope that an alien that’s been taken to our leaders will address the world, but hot damn! Another chance!

As said many times before and will say again, there’s absolutely nothing in the laws of biology that prevents an alien species on another planet from becoming intelligent, building spacecraft when their civilization is advanced enough, and exploring the cosmos, eventually making it to a little blue planet around an otherwise unremarkable yellow sun in the galactic suburbs. In fact, if we run the numbers, it’s almost a certainty. But the odds of this happening with a species close enough to detect us over the last century or so are astronomical. Think of meeting aliens a little like winning the lottery. Someone is going to hit that jackpot, but the chances of it being you just as you really need the money are basically nonexistent. Still, our dedicated ufologists are totally and irreversibly convinced that aliens are among us, whether we’re secretly waging war with an extraterrestrial army on the dark side of the moon, exploring their artifacts on and around Mars, meeting in secret with their representatives, or some combination of the above, and nothing will possibly change their minds, nor will any disclosure be adequate enough.

Again, the government could tell the ufologists everything it knows and even admit to every top secret drone and stealth aircraft test it may have chosen to cover up as a UFO, which would be fascinating for aviation buffs and historians. But that’s not the narrative that ufologists on whose behalf organizations like the Paradigm Research Group advocates, want to hear. Nothing short of the plot of Stargate SG-1 or Doctor Who turning out to be a documentary will do. For them, speculative astrobiology has reinforced a faith instead of acting as a fact check and they’re just hoping for a confirmation that an alien empire doing business with humans in every government report with enough reactions, like Evangelical Christians patiently await The Rapture and take every war or earthquake as a sign of the impending end of time. Although I would argue that the former is much more plausible than the latter in the grand scheme of things, either is so unlikely that it’s probably a bad idea to base our lives on either belief. If you really want to find alien life and get full disclosure about alien contact, I’d point you to SETI rather than any politician…

ufo city

Please pardon the lack of posts. Things have been rather hectic on and off and the news from the usual sources have been rather slow, reporting on experiments and ideas which I’ve written about before in their previous incarnations, or ones that seem to be of little interest to virtually anyone outside the field in question. But I did come across something from Ray Villard that gave me a good idea for a post. Basically, Ray explores the question of whether UFO sightings were culprits in accidents and finds that cases of mistaken identity can certainly cause you to crash a car or make a military pilot do something risky with his jet, but overall, you don’t have to worry if an alien spacecraft will run you off the road or out of the sky. This is all old news of course, but the incident mentioned in his opening paragraphs regarding a pilot who crashed his plane in a spirited pursuit of a UFO likely to have been a weather balloon, is noteworthy because it lets me try and address a very common and often hard to counter claim made by many ufologists.

A while ago, a small group of former high ranking Air Force officers claimed that UFOs regularly showed up during nuclear tests, occasionally disabling the warheads, something a lot of ardent conspiracy theorists and ufologists took as concrete proof of a long-standing idea that nuclear weapons attracted the aliens who come to Earth. Having military personnel talk about having no idea whet was in the sky above them or recalling chasing down bizarre objects which they could not identify and which their commanders seemed very reluctant to discuss, if they discussed the objects at all, sounds like a slam dunk to a UFO believer. If anyone would know what was in the skies, it should be the Air Force and if it doesn’t know, it must be an alien, right? There’s no way that crazy people are flying bombers and interceptors, and operating radar stations on such a massive scale that hundreds of honorably discharged specialists and career officers will come forward to talk about their UFOs sightings. And they’re right. There aren’t. But the issue is not a question of whether someone not entirely sane servers in the military. It’s military secrecy.

The defense establishment has a lot of secrets and these secrets are stratified. If you have top secret clearance while your colleague has a secret one, you know things he or she doesn’t and you’re not allowed to say anything about a top secret level project without those with the same exact clearance as you. This is important because clearances can also be project specific which means that two officers with top secret clearance may actually not be cleared to know about an extremely important project, or only one of them may be involved with it but is not allowed to say anything about his work to his counterpart. Getting pretty tangled isn’t it? Usually, this happens to minimize the potential leaks because the fewer people know about a critical project which has to stay in the shadows, the fewer people can spill any details and if they do, it’s easier to track down who talked and to whom. And during the cold war, the golden days of UFO sightings, very classified, compartmentalized work was constantly happening at military bases.

Former military pilots, specialists, and officers talking about UFOs isn’t crazy or poorly trained, they simply didn’t know what they saw or why because they weren’t allowed to know. Spy plane prototypes flying overhead, highly experimental detectors and weapons systems flew across an impressive swath of the country in total secrecy and whoever detected them with no clue what a bizarre objects like that was doing in the air, was unlikely to have the clearances to find out what they actually were. And the same trend continues today, so even as the number of clearances grows, there are still few people who can accurately connect the dots on today’s black projects, ones likely to involve very oddly shaped robotic craft that have been mistaken for UFOs by the public when being trucked from base to base, even when they were already known to exist and had their own Wikipedia pages for years. Just imagine what’s happening behind closed doors at the infamous Area 51 base, the birthplace of the world’s most advanced military jets. How many experimental planes are flying in the skies today and how many are so secret that only a room full of people are allowed to know about them? How many have been spotted as UFOs?

Some residents of Denver are really, really curious about alien life. And obviously, I don’t blame them for their desire to know whether we’re alone in the universe or not, and if the latter is the case, what real aliens from a different solar system look like. In their desire to know, they proposed a commission to handle extraterrestrial affairs and succeeded in putting it on the ballot during the midterm elections. Fear not, your tax dollars had nothing to fear because the commission was supposed to be funded by grants and donations from citizens with an interest in alien life. Of course I say this in past tense because the proposition didn’t pass at the polls and the city of Denver won’t have it’s very own commission on otherworldly life. But why? Maybe the initiative’s appeal to long standing conspiracy theories involving government deals with UFOs had voters questioning if their city really needed to formally ratify UFOlogists’ lore, even if this wouldn’t be done at taxpayer’s expense?

You may remember some rumors about this proposition from late last year, when this blog hosted an edition of the Skeptics’ Circle and linked to a brief article on the subject. The whole thing was organized by UFOlogy buffs with a little too much time on their hands, one of whom even claimed to have real footage of a classic humanoid Gray alien peeking into a bedroom, and used this “evidence” to argue for a committee tasked with investigate UFO sightings and conduct exopolitical affairs for the city of Denver. And this isn’t the only time that zealous UFOlogists tried to create a legally recognized committee to deal with aliens. Over the summer of last year, European alien hunters petitioned the EU to form an exopolitical council and were summarily ignored, primarily because giving conspiracy theorists money and political clout to push their dearly held notions of an alien presence on Earth is a bad idea. Today, a lot of people are sure that aliens exist. There’s already a body that’s responsible for finding their attempts to communicate with us, and most of NASA’s current programs in space exploration are based on finding any possible scientific proof of alien habitats nearby.

So why give paranoid conspiracy theorists who convinced themselves that our governments are hiding aliens any influence in what scientists are already doing to find confirmed evidence of otherworldly life? So we could either waste money on chasing non-existent proof of their fervent beliefs, or justify their campaigns with votes and government seals of approval so others could throw their money down the same sinkhole? In case they haven’t noticed, money’s a little tight for everyone nowadays with the Great Recession and a job market that’s highly unlikely to recover until 2017, and will never be the same again, so spending it to order the military or bureaucrats to find documents that don’t exist is ridiculous to say the least. The public would quickly shift their opinion of UFOlogists, re-branding them from harmless conspiracy theorists with way too much time on their hands and not enough things to keep them busy, to expensive pests who need to be removed from positions of power. And even worse, most UFOlogists will just see the negative opinion of their actions as a conspiracy to derail them just as they’re getting close to “the truth” and obliviously press on.

It’s all in good fun when people who think we’re about to be attacked by aliens living on the dark side of the Moon, or that a sinister species of alien/human hybrids is using vaccines to cull our population, or that the valleys and craters of the Moon conceal ancient alien cities, or that the government was ready to show us the extraterrestrial diplomats with who they’ve been dealing for decades on the news last year, organize a club to vent their fantasies and float in the clouds for an evening or two. But when they decide to interfere with the real world and demand that scientists and governments show them something that simply isn’t there, we have to play the part of the bad guys and tell them to cut it out. Some amateur UFOlogists’ dreams of an alien intervention with our nuclear programs born of their concern for all living things, shouldn’t dictate policy or international law, much less how we spend our military and scientific dollars.

Oh those pesky aliens, whizzing between this planet and other distant worlds, kidnapping cattle and offering a free, if not necessarily consensual rectal exam to the hapless human. But if you believe a group of now retired USAF officers, while not up to their usual shenanigans, the aliens are trying to stop our nukes. Apparently, in their grab-and-probe missions, they’ve learned enough about our species to take an interest in our politics, so for a few decades, they’ve been visiting nuclear test ranges and shutting off or sabotaging missiles to send us a subtle message about the dangers of runaway nuclear proliferation and M.A.D. Obviously, since we’ve built and now maintain more than enough nukes to trigger a mass extinction if we wanted to, the aliens failed in their mission and some humans are still armed to the teeth and extremely dangerous. But seriously, if we put aside the jokes that practically write themselves here, what possible interest could aliens have in our nuclear ambitions and why would they ever want to interfere in our politics? What could they possibly gain and how?

Now, if you’ve read this blog for a while, you know I take my aliens very seriously, which is why I’m more than willing to explore and discuss astrobiology and side with all those who say that somewhere in this universe, a space-faring, intelligent, alien species must exist. It’s just simple statistics that one will. But the odds of this species invading our world, or actually existing long enough to find us are open questions which too many people have tried to answer by adopting sci-fi movie tropes, outlandish conspiracy theories, and even stark raving imbecility quoting navel-gazing New Age airheads and conspiracy writers. So when you tell me that an alien species may be headed towards our planet right now, I’ll ask you to go on and tell me how you know, and how I can confirm this myself. But when you tell me that there are alien craft casually buzzing around on a regular basis and they’re here to save us from ourselves according to a UFOlogical messianic fantasy, I will call you out on indulging in nonsense and an utter disregard for the laws of physics. Why would aliens be a completely selfless egalitarian culture that only wants to do what’s best for us? If they evolve to be social, they will have no attachment to, or consideration for, us because we don’t share their evolutionary lineage.

To be fair, I could see a high minded alien species sending us a stern warning that our military experiments or our nuclear arms race may backfire in spectacular ways, but for them to stick around and play head games by manipulating nuclear warheads in mid-test? Why would they do that? Out of some pseudo-spiritual calling for universal peace and love? As we discussed before, alien life forms capable of the kind of intelligence we can see inventing spacecraft are probably going to evolve from predators and be just as skilled in killing as we are because that’s what it takes to rise to the top of the food chain. Our sense of compassion only extends to each other, and only then in certain circumstances. Why would we expect real world aliens to get warm fuzzies from us unless they thought we’d be really cute pets? Because that’s what we aspire to be like? It seems more like the officers in question were fantasizing about a messianic force to step in to end our military tensions while diffusing today’s geopolitical conflicts with their soothing presence and sage advice. Call me a pessimist, but I’d think it’s far more likely that any species that could actually do this would probably budget out its mission to our world and say: “um, yeah… this idea is probably too expensive to pull off right now.”

Finally, the alien/nuclear connection in this story deserves another application of basic physics and astronomy because it’s been around for a while thanks to scientifically inept conspiracists and states that aliens can see our nuclear tests and decided to come down to either help, or control us. Which one depends on who you ask and his or her mental state. In the real world, our solar system would look like a tiny dust cloud to aliens, so with stars pumping out hundreds of yottawatts every second, a one minute, blink-and-you-miss-it flash of our nuclear tests which put out hundreds of times less energy would be instantly lost in the radioactive noises of the galaxy’s day to day events. We’re not going to attract alien attention with a gamma ray burp because they’re going to be looking at an entire sky full of gamma rays. The truth is that we’re overwhelmingly likely to be alone when it comes to managing our nuclear arsenals and wars, and we can’t rely on messianic aliens to strain in an effort to find species to save, and descend from the heavens to offer us peace and wisdom. That would be a religious belief, not a scientific hypothesis, and we need to find viable answers to our own problems instead of looking up to the sky, waiting for them to fall from the heavens in the form of flying saucers.

[ illustration from a Rayovac print ad ]

Sometimes, you just need a story. Maybe you’re under a tight deadline and suffering from writer’s block. Maybe you really want a sensational story to drive some traffic. So what if you have to make it up yourself and pass off your wild speculation as a news item, or even better, rephrase somebody’s wild speculation and publish it as a newsworthy article? That seems to have been the thought process at the Daily Telegraph, which questions whether Voyager 2 has been hijacked by intelligent aliens who are now transmitting bizarre signals back to the engineers at JPL. Really, this is an article you’d expect to see on Above Top Secret rather than a news site and the only thing worse than getting your ideas from a conspiracy forum is lifting this story from a German blog quoting an UFOlogist as its one and only source. I suppose just asking NASA was out of the question…

Now, it’s true that there’s a data anomaly in Voyager 2 transmissions as it approaches interstellar space in a few years. While the probe is expected to keep sending some sort of transmission until 2025 when its battery runs out, computers can break down over time and all spacecraft have odd problems during their missions. If the experts were to elaborate on exactly what was going wrong and how, those who don’t work with the probes themselves and aren’t aware of all the ins and outs of their operation would only be lost in a stream of jargon, diagrams, and detailed technical specs. But of course, for UFOlogist Hartwig Hausdorf and writers looking for conspiracies and sensational tales, that’s not enough. This is why Hausdorf is quoted as saying that Voyager seems to have been taken over by an intelligent alien species, and the article implies that the aliens know our location in the universe after they found the craft’s first contact kit. Their evidence for this claim? Well, there’s none to be found. There isn’t even an attempt to invoke some pseudoscience, or explain why aliens exploring the outer edges of our solar system would want to tap into our probe and send signals back to us.

Let’s remember that alien creatures probably wouldn’t even know how to decipher Voyager’s brief introduction to our planet. There’s also a very small likelihood that they’ll know how the craft works and how to use to send signals to Earth. It’s not that they wouldn’t be smart enough, it’s just that alien technology would be so distant from our own that they’d face the same kind of challenges working with our machines as we would with theirs. And besides, if they can fly between solar systems and figure out where we, why should they even try to send anything to us? Why wouldn’t they just try to swing by and take a quick look? What do they hope to gain with an odd signal being sent through what they would probably see as a crude and primitive mess of wires, circuits, and metal? And why would anyone consult self-appointed experts in hypothetical alien civilizations who utter totally baseless statements devoid of even the most basic awareness of modern astrobiology? I know that it’s all about grabbing an audience, but these kinds of articles are just plain embarrassing. Really, if I want to get my fill of woo-full ufology, I can always check in with Alfred Webre, Michael Salia, and the New Age pseudo- mystics and amateur Infowars and Prison Planet-style conspiracy theorists who serve as their sources…

Give the web’s UFO enthusiasts another notch in the belt for discovering NASA’s attempt to hide a mysterious alien spacecraft captured by the Hubble orbital telescope and filed as an asteroid collision which left a highly distinctive trail shaped like an X. Or if you’re a conspiracy theorist, like a trident and obviously, a huge node of an extraterrestrial craft which appears to be roughly the size of the American Southwest from tip to what we should assume to be the engines extending far beyond the supposed node. One wonders how you would be able to analyze the rather blurry image to make sure it was really an alien craft rather than just debris from the comfort of a home office using just a few image filters, but it seems that if you play the conspiracy card, all that matters is claiming a UFO and every fuzzy outline and blurry shape are undeniable proof of alien presence…

For the sake of argument, let’s play around with the idea that the orbital telescope caught a blurry glimpse of a massive alien craft. Considering its sheer size, the civilization that would have to build it must be hundreds, if not thousands of years ahead of us technologically. Besides having to put together trillions of tons of material into a working ship and powering it up with enough reactors to provide energy to half the Earth’s population at peak demand hours, its designers would have to work around the curvature of their home planet to build what amounts to a small, floating continent. Yes, when we account for the physical requirements of traveling across interstellar space we’ll end up with a huge ship comparable in size to our tallest skyscrapers. But this seems like a pretty major overkill and should raise a lot of questions unlikely to have an uplifting answer. Something this big could be used to transport anentire army, or a planet’s population. If they set their sights on our solar system, what do they want and what would it mean for us?

We should also take into account the very likely rarity of alien civilizations that could build spaceships like this hypothetical craft, their potential aversion to making contact with us, and how short ufologists tend to fall when it comes to providing solid evidence for their claims. Regardless of how old or wise alien empires might be, or how fair technology manages to advance during their existence, they’ll be still be subject to basic laws of biology and physics and any proof for their existence has to be more than a blurry image, promises of grand revelations to come, and indignant rants in response to any critique of their proclamations. But none of this matters to ardent ufologists. They need there to be proof of alien spacecraft visiting our planet, something to convince them that they’re not alone in the universe and that enlightenment from above will rain down from the heavens in the form of advanced alien technology from benevolent extraterrestrials. Alternatively, they’ll be perfectly happy to live in a world of government cover-ups and secret alien plots which is a far more exciting place than the dull routine with which many of us have to deal in our daily lives.

[ illustration by Guille Krieger ]

People persuaded beyond a shadow of a doubt that little gray creatures are coming down to Earth on a routine basis to trade high tech gizmos and study human anatomy with a rather disturbingly frequent use of rectal probes, have been petitioning governments to take them seriously for many years. This time though, a European group of ufologists wants the EU to set up an entire agency devoted to studying UFOs and how to make political overtures to alien species that would be a compete mystery to us.

Organizers and speakers from the European Exopolitics Summit have released a Declaration for the creation of a European Agency to study UFOs and extraterrestrial affairs. The Declaration was first presented to the public at a Press Conference preceding the Exopolitics Summit which featured international speakers discussing the public policy implications of evidence concerning extraterrestrial life. […]

The goal in releasing the Declaration is to spur European governments and citizen organizations to cooperate in collection and analysis of UFO data. An online petition has been started to collect signatures for the Declaration and promote its adoption by relevant governments…

via Michael Salia at

Ok. Where to begin? I’ve always been in favor of looking for alien life. On other planets. You know, places where they would actually evolve in a suitable habitat. Since this blog started in late 2008, I’ve lost count of how many posts I made on the practical and scientific problems aliens and we would have in traveling between far flung solar systems on a regular basis. As breathtakingly awesome as it would be to see an honest to goodness alien ship touch down in front of news cameras, it hasn’t happened yet and we have no proof that it ever did. Forming a government agency to study something that may be just a figment of some people’s fevered imaginations is simply wasteful.

Besides, there are already government agencies that fund missions to find extraterrestrial life. You may have heard of them. They’re called NASA and the ESA. Of course they fund real science rather than just say that flying saucers are real and throw money at another self-proclaimed exopolitics experts, which is why ardent ufologists just say these agencies are just covering up proof of alien civilizations and keep demanding that an official in a suit and tie gives some formal credence to their hopes and dreams.

It would be nice to know that we’re not alone in the universe sooner rather than later, but the universe does its own thing with absolutely zero consideration for our personal desires. No matter how much we hope and demand government investigations and funding, we can only find alien life when we can detect its signs and confirm the finding under stringent, scientific guidelines.

Over at Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait tries to explain why astronomers don’t seem to notice any of the countless alien spacecraft supposedly buzzing overhead. According to Phil, most UFO reports are misidentified planets, stars, weather balloons or satellites buzzing overhead, everyday things that both amateur and professional astronomers know how to distinguish from say, a mother ship piloted by an advanced extraterrestrial civilization all the way from Tau Seti or Zeta Riticuli. It makes perfect sense that UFOs would be extremely rare. If even half of all the reported sightings were honest to goodness alien craft, any military on the planet would be in a state of sheer panic right now.

ufo in a hangar

But wait a second. Why do ufologists like to mention the sheer volume of flying saucer reports when all we really need is just one, concrete case with solid evidence? When it comes to science, an argumentum ad populum is pretty much meaningless. Thinking that something happened in the absence of falsifiable proof makes your position a belief. People agreeing with your interpretation of a puzzling event and reporting similar ones, makes that position a popular belief. And yet none of them prove that your stance is backed by anything other than your opinion. It’s just like the pareidolia responsible for constant sightings of saints on cheese sandwiches or in knots of tree bark. Lots of people see it, but it’s hardly definitive proof of the supernatural.

So why focus on quantity rather than quality? Because humans are social creatures and we’re very prone to jumping on bandwagons, often accepting the flawed premise that because many people believe something, there must be at least some truth to it. This is why we have bestsellers and “most popular” sections on news sites and blogs. Ufologists who invoke the sheer amount of sightings people can’t immediately explain, are appealing to our social nature, using it to bolster a point in the absence of solid proof.

The fact of the matter is that alien craft designed to cross interstellar space would have to be huge in order to generate the energy required to make the trip. We’d be able to detect the bursts of radiation coming from their engines. And if they show up multiple times, they’d need to be more or less uniform rather than come in the wildly different shapes, colors and arrangements we hear about today since making every spaceship in a huge fleet unique is not what a species that can manufacture spacecraft on an industrial scale is likely to do. Real alien encounters would leave consistent, falsifiable proof and all we’d really need is one good case to say that there’s just might be something to this whole UFO thing.

One would think that as popular science publications overflow with serious musings about what actual aliens might look like and what their bio-chemical compositions might be, the modern myth of human/alien hybrids walking among us would be discarded even by the most ardent ufologists. And one would be wrong. At least one follower of the ancient astronaut theory, Lloyd Pye, is determined to prove that aliens and humans knew each other in a very intimate way and he thinks he has the direct, physical evidence to convince scientists.

alien girl

That evidence is a 900 year old skull of a young boy he calls the Starchild. Found in Mexico during the 1930s, it’s an odd artifact with an abnormally large space for a brain, shallow eye sockets with oval orbits, and canals for the optic nerves situated in the wrong place. According to Pye, it looks like the result of a Gray alien and a human creating a hybrid and he’s submitted the skull for DNA testing several times to prove that there may be some traces of an extraterrestrial lineage somewhere in its genome. So far, the scientists who’ve tested the sample confirmed that the child’s mother was definitely human. From the father’s side, things are rather fuzzy at best so Pye is using that ambiguity to argue that the child’s dad could very well be an alien.

Of course just because we haven’t been able to determine a genetic profile of the father doesn’t mean that we need to set our sights on Zeta Riticuli. But as most skeptics know, when it comes to pseudoscience, negative evidence carries the same weight to believers as any tangible proof. This is why rather than provide a serious explanation for any of the mysteries of the skull, Pye simply exaggerates them and keeps reminding us that it looks an awful lot like the head of a Gray if you squint hard enough. He also dodges the question of how alien genomes would resemble our own closely enough for producion of viable offspring and how we could detect some trace of genetic manipulation by an advanced extraterrestrial species. In other words, Pye doesn’t even know what he’s trying to find other than validation for his ideas.

You see, some proponents of the ancient astronaut theory need a little something extra to their science to get that feeling of uniqueness, significance and companionship that most religious beliefs try to offer. They’re too skeptical about a traditional deity and so they embrace the idea of alien overlords because alien life is at least scientifically plausible. When something in human history gives them pause, they use alien influence to craft an answer for themselves. How did apes mutate into intelligent humans? Genetic “upgrade” from aliens who were experimenting with our biosphere at the time. How did we go from cave dwellers to residents of vast city states that were the seeds of empires? Extraterrestrial guidance. For every mystery or gap in their knowledge, there’s a wide variety of alien tales to choose from, many of which combine ancient fiction or New Age beliefs into complex mythologies. For them, it makes being human a lot more exciting.

This is why a strange skull which can be a handy Rorschach test for skeptics and believers alike isn’t just an interesting way to make money and gain publicity for Pye and his fans. It’s something to hold on to almost like a religious relic. And because it’s seems like the proof they’ve been seeking all these years, they insist that its abnormalities aren’t abnormalities at all and that no doctor can classify them as human disorders, even if the tentative expert conclusion is that the skull represents a rare and severe case of brachycephaly. It’s just one of those beliefs that’s too spectacular to let go without a fight.

Bad information tends to spread on the internet, especially when that bad information has an audience willing to believe it. In this case, it’s an alleged UFO battle in the skies of Nuremberg, Germany in April of 1561 which was witnessed by the entire town. Makes perfect sense when we consider the events in question. If there’s an alien armada having a brawl in the skies above my city, I’d go out to have a look. And probably take a camera with me. Of course there were no cameras in Renaissance Germany so all we have is a woodcut and vague accounts from the Gazette of the Town of Nuremberg…

…the dreadful apparition filled the morning sky with cylindrical shapes from which emerged black, red, orange and blue-white spheres that darted about. Between the spheres, there were crosses with the color of blood. This frightful spectacle was witnessed by “numerous men and women.” Afterwards, a black, spear-like object appeared. The author of the Gazette warned that “the God-fearing will by no means discard these signs, but will take it to heart as a warning of their merciful Father in heaven, will mend their lives and faithfully beg God, that he avert His wrath, including the well-deserved punishment, on us, so that we may, temporarily here and perpetually there, live as His children.”

All right, you may be thinking, we have a woodcut and a published account from a historical source. What’s the problem? The first problem is the fact that a reference to the Gazette of the Town of Nuremberg doesn’t show up anywhere other than UFO and conspiracy sites. Most towns had some sort of official record documenting major events but they weren’t necessarily gazettes or newspapers, Actually, the first modern newspaper was printed in 1605, almost half a century after the incident. Before that, news were generally delivered by sheets or pamphlets with information intended for businessmen to help them in conducting commerce.

Having what sounds like a fully fledged newspaper with an official, localized title and a local news focus before publications like that were actually thought of sounds rather odd and gives us a clue why UFO and conspiracy cites are likely to cite it while there’s no reference to it anywhere else.There’s also a question about what the infamous woodcut by Hans Glaser really shows. While it’s attributed to the incident of 1561, the actual piece is usually dated to 1566 which would give plenty of time for exaggerations and legends to work they way into any unusual event Glaser may have heard of.

Finally, there are many examples of famous artwork which supposedly shows UFOs or alien spacecraft to our modern eyes, but are actually far more likely to be religious symbolism. To say that an artist’s work shows a UFO is a purely subjective judgment, especially when the art is as abstract as Glaser’s woodcut.