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Flying saucers and alien abductions: New book explores history of UFOs
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Flying saucers and alien abductions: New book explores history of UFOs
by Clarence Oxford
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jun 05, 2024

The end of the Second World War marked the beginning of an era dominated by new technologies, the Cold War, nuclear threats, and the first UFO sightings.

Strange aerial events have been noted since ancient times, but the term "unidentified flying object" represents both a concept and a theory, according to Greg Eghigian, professor of history and bioethics at Penn State. In his new book, "After the Flying Saucers Came: A Global History of the UFO Phenomenon," Eghigian explores how people, scientists, governments, and the media have responded to UFO sightings and alien abductions, and what these responses reveal about humanity.

"Human beings have always tried to unpack mysterious phenomena," Eghigian said. "Unpacking a phenomenon that still has no clear conclusion or any clear evidence means that we're projecting values and ideas onto it. The story of UFOs is a story of the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves."

Eghigian uses archived material, old newspaper reports, and expert interviews to trace the history of UFO sightings and alien encounters globally. He also examines reactions to these reports, from hoaxers to military and scientific programs, to UFO supporters and skeptics. This history reflects where humans have been and where we might go.

The UFO phenomenon draws on science fiction and fantasy genres from the late 19th century, Eghigian explained. However, UFO sightings truly took root in the post-war world.

"UFOs are really a post-World War II phenomenon," he said. "UFO sightings emerged out of the presence of a major war in which governments developed all sorts of new technologies like jet airplanes, rockets, and the first intercontinental ballistic missiles, which introduced widescale bombings and new fears from the sky. The new technologies also introduced the possibility of going into outer space in a person's lifetime. It's a period where science fiction was becoming science fact."

The Cold War, nuclear destruction threats, and secret government technologies also influenced the UFO phenomenon, he explained. In this climate, the idea of advanced, otherworldly technology flying through the sky resonated with people.

The first sighting of what journalists called "flying saucers" occurred on June 24, 1947, near Mount Rainier, Washington. Hundreds of UFO reports followed in the subsequent weeks before media interest waned in late August, Eghigian said. This established a trend of brief upticks in sightings and encounters reported by the media, followed by waning interest that continues to this day.

Radio and print media, especially pulp magazines, significantly publicized the UFO phenomenon in its early years, Eghigian explained. He likened the reports to modern true crime podcasts.

"Every new sighting or encounter introduces a new element to the plot," he said. "What the media loves about UFOs is they're a mystery - and a seemingly endless one at that. But the media doesn't show consistent interest in the topic. That interest fluctuates over the years."

"After the Flying Saucers Came" aims not to debunk the UFO phenomenon but to tell its history and better understand human perspectives on it, Eghigian said.

"The UFO phenomenon has always raised fundamental questions about our past, present, and future," Eghigian said. "Questions like, where do we come from? If there are aliens out there, did they have a hand in building this world?"

Many questions revolve around the existence of UFOs and aliens. If they don't exist, Eghigian said, what do UFO sightings suggest about human perception and the brain? What are these objects, and who is behind them?

The focus on science and technology in the UFO phenomenon, he continued, serves as a vision of what our future might hold.

"Can we achieve these scientific and technological advances?" Eghigian said. "Or are we going to destroy ourselves before we have a chance to do it?"

The stories of UFOs are, at heart, human stories. And that, to Eghigian, is as equally fascinating and mysterious as the UFOs themselves.

Research Report:After the Flying Saucers Came: A Global History of the UFO Phenomenon

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