Sorry, Folks, Little Green Men Don't Exist

Nicholson Baker dissects how 'sensible-seeming' people have bought into UFOs
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 4, 2024 9:30 AM CST
Sorry, Folks, Aliens Don't Exist
   (Getty / FOTOKITA)

"There has never been a worse time to be a UFO skeptic," writes Nicholson Baker at Intelligencer. He ticks off some of the factors in recent years: front-page stories in the New York Times, the congressional testimony of a purported whistleblower who asserts the US has retrieved UFOs and "biologics," a claim of a weird ocean-bottom discovery by a Harvard astrophysicist. "Thoughtful, sensible-seeming non-crankish people" appear to be "drifting ever closer to the conclusion that alien spaceships had visited Earth." Sorry, believers, but Baker is here to burst your bubble. His deep dive into the subject draws on Cold War history to debunk the claims. Baker traces the movement back to the 1940s when mysterious sightings started to surface. How to explain them? "I'm going to have to say it, and I'm sorry because I know UFO people roll their eyes at the word balloons," writes Baker.

However, they can roll their eyes all they want "because balloons of various kinds ... are at the heart of this high-altitude adventure we've been on as a culture," he writes. "None of it is paranormal, but it's still strange." He also casts doubt on the credibility of independent journalist Leslie Kean, whose byline appeared on the aforementioned and "hugely influential" Times article of 2017. Baker writes about her partnership with the late Budd Hopkins, a famous UFO writer who hypnotized people to draw out their abduction tales. And the well-meaning whistleblower mentioned earlier is being used by "seasoned showmen," Baker suggests. The bottom line is that after seven decades of purported sightings, there is "simply no good evidence"—and that includes the much-cited "Gimbal" video by Navy pilots. (Baker writes about how it's been debunked.) Read the full story. (Or check out other longforms.)

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