UFO Sightings: Real or just a Hoax?

     “Are aliens real?” This question usually pops up in our mind when we heard or saw something about aliens. We may begin to think, where do they come from? What do they want from us? Are they going to invade us? Or maybe they just want to make friends with us? Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO) become the world’s most phenomenon report over the past years. Hence, there are many reports of UFO sightings that are still debatable.

     According to Randhir Singh, the information of the first UFO sighting is not known. Some researchers say that UFO sightings date back to ancient times. However, this speculation has no evidence, so it is just a theory. Most researchers mark the beginning of sightings in the United States in the late 1800s; they were called “the Mystery Airships”.

Early newspaper hoaxes aside, there have been countless UFO reports over the decades, and a few of them becomes famous. The first well-known report of a UFO sighting occurred in 1947 when a pilot named Kenneth Arnold claimed to see a group of nine objects near Mount Rainier in Washington. He described their movement as “like saucers skipping on water”, which a reporter mistakenly stated that the objects were saucer-shaped, and that mistake launched many “flying saucer” reports in later decades.

     Since the 1947 UFO sighting, almost every country have something they called a “UFO wave”, which defined as an unexplained increase in the number of UFO sighting reports over a certain period of time (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, 1997). For instance, UFO waves occurred in Italy and France in 1954, in New Guinea in 1958, etc. These waves were still unexplained.

     According to Benjamin Radford, a writer at Live Science, UFO sightings have been reported in recent years. Here is the list of events that got a lot of attention:

Jan. 7, 2007: Strange lights over Arkansas fueled much speculation on the internet until the Air Force debunked the UFO claims, explaining that the flares had been dropped from airplanes as part of routine training.

April 21, 2008: Phoenix lights were reported again. It was a hoax, created by road flares tied to helium balloons. The hoaxer admitted it, and eyewitnesses reported seeing him do it.

Jan. 5, 2009: New Jersey UFOs that proved so baffling, they were reported on the History Channel turned out to be helium balloons, red flares and fishing lines, all part of a social experiment. The men who perpetrated the hoax, Joe Rudy, and Chris Russo, were fined $250 for creating what could have been a danger to the nearby Morristown airport.

October 13, 2010: UFOs over Manhattan turned out to be helium balloons that escaped from a party at a school in Mount Vernon.

Jan. 28, 2011: Videos of UFOs hovering over the Holy Land (the Dome of the Rock on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount) was revealed as a hoax — the effects of video editing software’s use were discovered.

July 2011: The sighting of a UFO on the ocean floor was attributed to a Swedish scientist, but that researcher, Peter Lindberg, merely said the thing he detected in blurry images was “completely round,” an assertion not supported by the low-resolution sonar image. A second “anomaly” made the case seem even more bizarre, but no evidence has emerged to suggest alien origin.

April 2012: A UFO near the sun, spotted in a NASA image, turned out to be a camera glitch.

April 2012: A viral UFO video was taken from a plane over South Korea likely showed a drop of water on the airplane’s window.

May 2012: A nephew of the famous Wayans brothers comedy team, Duayne “Shway ShWayans” Wayans, filmed a UFO over Studio City, Calif. But like many, many UFO sightings, this one turned out to be the planet, Venus. In fact, Venus has been mistaken for a UFO even by airline pilots.

SOURCE: Live Science

     With these sightings that have been reported, many people intrigue this happening because it leads us to doubt the existence of extraterrestrial life. The reason why we cannot easily identify a flying object is because of the limitations of our human perception. Any object seen in the sky, especially at night, can be very difficult to identify. Based on what we see, we tend to estimate the distance, size, and speed of UFOs, so this makes our claim unreliable.

     Since the UFO sightings, so far, provide no real evidence, it is possible that extraterrestrials in spacecraft exist and have visited Earth. The lesson for this is that “unknown lights in the sky” is not the same as “extraterrestrial spacecraft” (Radford, 2012).