UFOs: The Myth That Won’t Die?

“Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.”

—R. Buckminster Fuller

The 19th century naturalist Thomas Huxley (1825-1895) made an astute observation. He noted that even though the universe has to be filled with all sorts of alien life—that, statistically, it is almost guaranteed to be teeming with both intelligent and unintelligent life forms—there is virtually no chance of any of them ever meeting any of the others. Why? Because it’s simply too big. As Donald Trump might say, the universe is “yuge.”

Pick up a high-powered rifle and fire it in the air. If the bullet were to travel for, say, 10,000 years at rifle-speed, the distance it traversed over that period would be so infinitesimally small compared to the dimensions of the universe, it wouldn’t even move the needle. How big is the universe? So big, no adjective can describe it.

And yet there are people who insist that aliens have not only landed on earth, but that they were the ones who created the dinosaurs, built the pyramids, and gave us the world’s great religions. After building the pyramids, they decided to hang around for a few centuries. Apparently, they now occupy themselves by doing rectal probes on the white, male population of rural Alabama.

It’s no coincidence that the so-called “UFO craze” in America began in the 1950s. This craze happened to coincide with the same period in which the U.S. Air Force and the Soviet Union began experimenting with all manner of exotic aircraft. There were literally thousands of UFO sightings during this decade. Thousands.

But if these super-advanced space aliens had been tooling around Earth in their flying saucers ever since the pyramids, why were there no reports earlier? Why were there no sightings until the 1950s—when the Air Force began doing its experiments, and everybody and his brother began reporting UFOs?

There was a ridiculous book written in 1968, called, “Chariots of the Gods,” by Erich von Daniken, a self-promoter and con man who had spent time in a Swiss mental institution. The book was filled with spectacular examples of “proof” that space aliens had visited Earth. Naturally, it became a best-seller.

One of von Daniken’s amazing examples was the famous Iron Pillar, located in Delhi, India, estimated to have been built around 400 AD. The author stated that, incredibly, even after all this time, (1) the 23-foot high iron edifice was totally rust-free, and (2) that no one had a clue how it was created. The world’s greatest scientists were dumbfounded. The greatest minds in the world were baffled. Clearly, it had to be the work of an advanced race of extraterrestrials.

As it happened, I was in Delhi years ago, and (along with thousands of other tourists) visited the Iron Pillar. While it was impressive, there were two things wrong with von Daniken’s claims: (1) The Iron Pillar does, in fact, have rust on it, and (2) after examining its metallurgy, scientists had no problem figuring out how it was constructed. While it was an amazing accomplishment for 400 AD, it was clear that this puppy had been built by ingenious Indians, not spacemen.

But, alas, as long as it remains fun to believe in space aliens, we’re going to believe in them. And because no one trusts the Government, we cling to the myth that we actually captured some of these little bastards and are keeping them locked up in Area 51. It’s all part of a massive cover-up. It’s a conspiracy. And it’s yuge.

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com