UFOs: The Trail Is Stale

One thing that strikes me about claims of alien visitation is that so much of the evidence is musty and fusty.

Every day, I get stories and articles from people around the world who aggregate UFO news. But much of it is not news — it’s olds. The folks who think there’s good proof that Earth is a stomping ground for extraterrestrials are still hung up on the Roswell incident of 1947 or its British opposite number, the Rendlesham Forest event of 1980. They’re still citing the testimony of aging politicians, defense establishment types and Apollo astronauts who “know something.”

The few alternatives to this vintage archive are contemporary photos and videos of vague lights in the sky, low-resolution and low-confidence material that isn’t likely to sway many scientists. The good stuff seems to be the old stuff.

To better judge if this is really true, I trawled the web for listings of “the best UFO cases.” I quickly collected nearly 100 events that were considered worthy, of which 60 were unique, in the sense of not being repeats (e.g., the Roswell incident appears on most of these lists).

I then plotted up the year in which each of these unique events took place, virtually all since 1940. And guess what? By far the majority occurred in the first half of the last 76 years.

The quality UFO evidence is getting long in the tooth.

So what’s going on? Our technology for documenting alien spacecraft — if you assume they’re real — is substantially better than even a few decades ago. An Apple iPhone’s camera now boasts 8 megapixels, which I reckon is a hundred times as many as the 8 millimeter movie film we had in the 1960s. These fabulous cameras are in the hands of nearly —> Read More