Join the Space Cult

I glanced at a table near the bathroom in the local Borders store and found an Illinois MUFON application staring back at me.

I was in the mood for a laugh, so I snapped one up. It turns out for twenty bucks, I too can join the search for little green men in flying saucers. I wonder if there’s a membership card and a secret handshake. I’m half tempted to join just so I can find out if the majority of the membership is comprised of Stanton Friedman types or if they’re just your garden variety, mouth-breathing, basement-dwelling dweebs. (One may may be indistinguishable from the other from a distance, but at least you can hold a conversation with someone like Mr. Friedman.)

While it does make sense to me that there could be life on other planets, perhaps even (now or in the past) on other planets in our own solar system, I find most people are too quick to assign extraterrestrial origins to anything they can’t otherwise explain.

For example, an ex-governor of Arizona claims he spotted a UFO. The article has the following quote:

“As a pilot and a former Air Force Officer, I can definitively say that this craft did not resemble any man-made object I’d ever seen.”

That’s often enough for most people to tag him as an expert on the subject. However, when was his Air Force experience? What was his job? What was his security clearance? Engineers can conceivably be working on all kinds of strange and unusual technologies that he wouldn’t be privy to.

Consider the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber. I don’t doubt when it was first under development, many pilots would never have recognized it, much less your average Joe who spotted it flying high overhead. I wouldn’t be surprised if a number of UFO reports could now be attributed to the B-2. In fact, some say many of today’s UFO sightings may be attributable to the hypothetical Aurora or other deltoid aircraft with exotic propulsion systems like external burn.

Are there unexplainable events out there? Sure. But does that automatically make them the result of visiting aliens? Of course not.

2,000 years ago, people thought the Earth was flat. They explained things they couldn’t understand as the work of gods and monsters, including things like thunderstorms, which we now take for granted. They thought tornadoes and hurricanes were divine punishment (hell, we still refer to them as “acts of God”) rather than natural weather phenomena. People today have a much better grasp on science, however, so they instead conjure up science-based strangeness to explain the unexplainable. They replace Zeus and Hera with Martians and Greys.

On another side of it, the UFO chasers are very much a cult. I think so many of them so badly want to believe that they latch on to anything they can’t easily explain and call it alien rather than fully investigating the object or event in question. The Haitian UFO video is a perfect example of people disregarding the obvious because it contradicts their faith.

How odd it is to see a hybrid of faith and science when the two are so often mutually exclusive. Does anyone else think it’s funny that both divine creation and alien genetic engineering both site a Missing Link as a proof? They can’t both be right, and something that simply may not have been found yet is a flimsy piece of evidence anyway.

So I think I’ll take a pass on joining the great space cult. While UFO’s, extraterrestrial life, and spacecraft are, and always will remain, a fascinating subject for me, I’m not sure there’s such a big difference between alien abduction claims and the Virgin Mary appearing as a water stain.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.


  1. John U says:

    UFOs are just that: Unidentified Flying Objects. The problem comes, I think, when people quickly jump to the conclusion that their particular UFO (which, oddly enough, might have been just swamp gas, or a weather balloon) was definitely alien in origin. And then, of course, there are the people who claim that all other reasonable explanations are somehow flawed.

    I don’t disbelieve in aliens. I don’t discount the possibility that they are visiting earth. I just don’t believe every person who says they’ve seen ’em.

  2. David Stockman says:

    You got a crucial part of it right—many of our sacred beliefs have been replaced by scientific theory. But keep in mind that Zeus throwing lightening bolts around was replaced by some very valid research done over…what? Thousands of years? Research mostly done by little “basement-dwelling dweebs” and those Dr. Friedmans that you enjoy taking a shot at. Eventually, though, the truth came out and the heretics were vindicated. But your description of those who do the research might actually be correct. Most serious research IS done in seclusion and away from distractions.

    I think what bothers me about your writing is that it shows a lack of knowledge of the subject. Just one or two books about the subject might enlighten you. You defend your position by questioning witness’ credibility rather than questioning the absurdity of counter-claims. Especially explanations coming from our military.
    Their consistent misinformation, stonewalling, and refusal to divulge information is evidence enough that they are holding back the facts. One thing we can count on is that our military and intelligence communities know what flies in our skies, and over everyone else’s country, too.

    You state that the UFOs might just be advanced secret projects of our government. But even you know that the reports by many credible pilots and witnesses since the forties cannot be explained away even by today’s “hypothetical” Aurora aircraft when it comes to maneuverability and speed performance of the UFOs. And surely you do not mean to say we had black project aircraft back in the forties, fifties, and sixties that could do what UFOs were then described as doing.

    Now, I’m stumped. You’re intelligent, creative, and can express yourself well. Why DON’T you accept that UFOs are from some alien culture? (Alien meaning, not similar to our contemporary cultural experience, and not necessarily from Mars, Zeta Reticuli, Canada, etc.) After all, astronauts, presidents, pilots, “trained” observers, and Auntie Matilda have been telling you about the phenomena for years. Heck, for your whole life! So why don’t you think there’s something to it?

    Ahh, I see…but don’t feel bad, we all feel unnerved when our world view is in jeopardy. And who needs to be confronted with, “You believe in flying saucers?!!!”

    —One of the dweebs

  3. Mike says:

    Hi David,

    Thanks for the comment.

    First, keep in mind, this is just a simple, quick blog post and by no means a complete representation of what I do or don’t believe. I don’t necessarily disbelieve in UFOs, but I think they’re more unlikely than likely. I tend to feel the same way about God and religion.

    Second, please don’t presume I know nothing about the subject; while I’m willing to bet I’m not nearly as widely read on the phenomena as yourself, I do enjoy learning about it. Yes, I take the occasional shot at Mr. Friedman, but he’s intelligent and articulate and while I don’t buy his evidence, I think it’s great that he’s able to put this much effort into his investigations.

    Conversely, most of the people I’ve run into who profess the existence of aliens tend to be incapable of holding a conversation for one reason or another. Those experiences are where the dweeb label comes from, and do note I was talking about two different people: those like Stanton Friedman (intelligent and articulate) and the dweebs (those who suddenly decide to groom their eyelashes in mid-sentence — yes, it’s happened). If you prefer to call yourself “one of the dweebs,” well, rock on, brother.

    As for my reference to the Aurora aircraft, that was just a contemporary example. My point is merely anything new is going to be “alien” to the observer. A WW I flying ace would probably be freaked out the first time he saw a jet flying overhead. Just because someone’s a pilot doesn’t mean they’re an aeronautics engineer with access to all the latest research and technology. The Native Americans thought the Spaniards on their horses were gods, which amounts to the same thing — attaching a fantastic explanation to something they’d never seen before.

    Government cover-ups aren’t proof, either. The government keeps secrets for all kinds of reasons, whether we agree with them or not. Our government’s done research into LSD and mind control, so why wouldn’t they look into UFO phenomena? The Majestic 12 and Project Blue Book conclusions and cover-ups could just as easily be hiding a whole different truth, and we won’t know until these things go public. In the meantime, it doesn’t matter what they say, because the simple fact that they’re keeping secrets makes it convenient for believers to turn it into evidence or attach their own explanations.

    You mention “alien” as being not necessarily spacemen but anything foreign to our culture, and hey, I’m down with that. That’s closer to my own personal feelings, though I’m still not convinced we’re talking about anything more than man-made things we haven’t seen yet.

    There are a lot of unexplained things going on in this big world of ours, but I think people are way too quick to attach comfortable (for them) explanations, be it aliens, God, gods, ghosts, or Bigfoot. Unfortunately I think there’s a lot more “I’m going to find evidence to support my conclusions” going on than there is “I’m going to find out what’s happening.”


  4. David Stockman says:

    Your points are well presented and thank you for responding. However, one fact remains that you did not address. Since the 1940s, not to mention earlier, UFOs have been described in detail. Almost universally, they exhibit extremely unusual flight characteristics. Right angle turns at speeds that would kill a human, backing up without slowing down, and other maneuvers that are far beyond anything that is currently exhibited by even today’s military aircraft. You state that they are likely man-made things we haven’t seen yet. What country was producing aircraft in the 1940s that could perform as described by countless witnesses?

    My point is that some things become obvious if only one fact is unexplainable. We did not have the technology then or even in the 1950s or later using combustible fuels, our alloys, or our knowledge of aerodynamics to create such craft. And its very likely that if the military has the technology today to recreate those awesome feats, then they probably copied someone else’s knowhow.

    It’s tempting to dump the strangeness of our world into one basket and dismiss them all because they are out of the ordinary realm of logic. Not to get theological on you, but the devil is in the details.


  5. Mike says:

    Going back in time, there are things described that we haven’t been able to explain. However, there are still questions of credibility of witnesses, translation of accounts (not to mention possible mutation of accounts due to to repeated retellings), and the easy adaptation of these limited accounts to modern conceptions.

    I’ve seen theories about ancient paintings or tapestries depicting what some are now saying are UFO battles and space-suited visitors. Again, a very intriguing idea. But they’re hardly photographs and are widely subjective due to the witness/artist interpretations and understandings of what they saw. Until we find physical evidence of some kind, all we can do is speculate.

    I’m more than willing to meet you on a middle ground and agree there are things out there we can’t yet explain, and they quite possibly are not man-made or natural phenomenon. My problem is I don’t think we can yet make the leap to say it’s definitely aliens and alien spacecraft, which many, many people are more than willing to do. Going back to my comments about gods & monsters vs. aliens and spaceships, I think it’s entirely possible they are both interpretations of the same phenomena we don’t yet understand, be it natural or supernatural.

    Again, my problem is I think too many people have decided “these are aliens” and are trying to make the evidence work in their favor rather than performing complete and thorough investigations.

    As for the reverse engineering theories, also a good subject but I think many of these theories sell human ingenuity short (the same goes for pyramid building and other ancient feats). Every invention comes out of experimentation, luck, or accident. That’s like saying the gods gave us fire because we couldn’t have figured it out on our own, or that aliens must have taught us the secret of bronze because ancient blacksmiths would never have mixed copper and tin. If those are too simple, pick your invention: printing presses, microwave ovens, the cotton gin, gun powder, plastics, the Manhattan Project, etc., etc., etc. They all started somewhere, many out of nothing.

    All it takes is one guy with a wild idea to create the next big thing.


  6. David Stockman says:


    “I’m more than willing to meet you on a middle ground and agree there are things out there we can’t yet explain, and they quite possibly are not man-made or natural phenomenon.”

    Then they are uber-human or semi-natural made?

    Reverse engineering is rather a commendation of mankind’s ability to recreate and adapt than in selling it short. Of course not all inventions were given to us by “them”, that certainly would be selling our ingenuity short. But the question still remains, we were not capable of creating those craft decades ago. Yet they existed. Who made ’em?

    This is my last entry, I promise. I got too many projects going. Good luck with your writings and thoughts.


  7. Mike says:

    “…not man-made or natural phenomenon” as in supernatural or otherworldly. The original statement was probably a little too broad.

    Thanks again for commenting. I enjoy hearing contradictory opinions.

    Take care,

  8. […] my aliens-as-religion post a couple weeks back I mentioned the way some people undersell human ingenuity. For example, there […]

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