In December 2020, President Trump signed a coronavirus relief bill that included an interesting stipulation – the bill set into motion an 180-day time frame in which US intelligence agencies must tell Congress everything they know about UFO sightings, via an unclassified report.
Remarkably, in what sounds like the opening crawl of an unimaginative sci-fi film, the report must also include an analysis as to whether or not UFOs pose a threat to national security (perhaps, one day, our puny, primitive weapons will be used to “bring democracy” to a space-faring civilization).
As the deadline inches closer, public interest in UFOs has started to spike, recently encouraged by a Fox News interview with Trump’s former intelligence director John Ratcliffe, who stated:
“Frankly, there are a lot more sightings than have been made public. Some of those have been declassified. And when we talk about sightings, we are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery, that, frankly, engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for, or traveling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.”
Public interest in UFOs and alien abduction spiked during April 2020, as the Pentagon confirmed the authenticity of three videos showing unidentified aerial phenomenon, shot by Air Force pilots who were, judging from the recordings, extremely excited by the sight of a mysterious presence in the sky.
Alien invasion and abduction has also become a popular meme, as social media users have jokingly proposed that an alien invasion would be the only way to top the ever-escalating insanity and surreal news headlines of the last few years.
The Facebook event “Storm Area 51, They Can’t Stop All of Us” (which proved amusing, but anti-climatic) as well as the series of randomly placed art installations known as the “mysterious monoliths” have also helped propel alien abduction mythos into the public imagination.
To add to that, in January 2021, thousands of CIA documents on unidentified flying objects were released, in a massive document dump that the agency claims includes all their records on UFOs.
And, of course, the launching of the “Space Force,” an idea so silly that Netflix created a mediocre comedy series based on the concept, only fueled more speculation.
Hence, in early June, the public will be offered an official explanation regarding UFOs – or perhaps the report will merely amount to a resounding shrug, deepening the mystery. But the answer might be a little closer to home than we thought.
On Fox News, when asked where the unidentified phenomena were sighted, Ratcliffe replied:
“… all over the world, there have been sightings all over the world. Multiple sensors that are picking up these things. They’re unexplained phenomenon, and there’s actually quite a few more than have been made public.”
Ratcliffe is correct – but looking at Esri’s animated map, which visualizes the data from a century of reported UFO sightings, it is clear that the vast, vast majority of alleged encounters with extraterrestrials have occurred in the United States.
Perhaps omniscient, otherworldly aliens share a deep fascination with the excesses of American culture, similar to the way in which hardcore anime fans fetishize Japan. Or maybe, just maybe, our encounters with the paranormal are shaped by our cultural values. Who’s to say?
At least we’ll be a little more informed once that report makes its way to Congress.