Read More: Futurism
On December 16, the New York Times published two stories that read almost like science fiction. For at least five years, the Defense Department housed a $22-million, clandestine program to investigate UFOs. Military pilots had sent in reports of objects they observed that moved in unfamiliar ways; the mission of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, as it was called, was to investigate those claims to see if there was truly something otherworldly behind those sightings. It’s unclear just how many reports pilots had filed to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, but people who have come forward about the program have made it clear that there would have been a lot more reports filed if it hadn’t been for one thing: stigma. “The sightings were not often reported up the military’s chain of command,
said, because service members were afraid they would be laughed at or stigmatized,” one Times piece reads.
American culture is steeped in depictions of what would happen if sophisticated aliens visited Earth, from E.T. to Arrival to Independence Day. Some are more hackneyed than others; some are downright terrifying. But outside the clear genres of fiction, most conversations about UFOs happen online, and with varying degrees of vehemence.
Let’s face it — believing in the paranormal has become shorthand for crazy.
“60 years of folklorization and Hollywood production have, in the minds of the general public, definitely trivialized the subject. It has become a ‘standard’ consumer product,” Jean-Christophe Doré, the technical manager for UFO-SCIENCE, the French association that aims to scientifically evaluate aspects of UFO phenomena, tells Futurism.