The vast majority of UFO reports investigated have been explained as natural or manmade phenomena with approximately 5-10% unresolved cases serving as the foundation for several theories which attempt to explain this longstanding mystery. :1) natural or manmade phenomena, 2) the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) – UFOs are physical craft governed by non-human intelligence (NHI) from another solar system, 3) the extra-dimensional hypothesis (EDH) – NHI is operating physical craft from another dimension or parallel universe, 4) the psycho-cultural hypothesis (PCH), 5) the “paranormal” or experiences that are beyond science’s ability to explain or measure, 6) atmospheric phenomenon like plasma, and 7) time travel-UFOs are from our future. Given the above context, keep in mind that there exists a great distance in time between many seemingly implausible theories and their acceptance once proven through scientific study. Consistent with Carl Sagan’s position that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,” it would seem appropriate to explore whether extraordinary theories require extraordinary evidence to prove.
The Extraterrestrial and Extra-Dimensional Hypotheses: A Debate
Although the ETH has remained the predominant explanation for UFOs, some UFO researchers have abandoned it in favor of the EDH which implies that beings coexist with us in a parallel reality. Strangely, the EDH states that the phenomenon represents visitations from other “realities” or “dimensions” that accompany our own. Could one possible “strange” hypothesis include parallel universes, or other time-like dimensions beyond the space-time reality we ascribe to, or could the strangeness of their behavior be explained on the basis of differences between the time-space continuum of UFOs and us?
Within the abstract field of quantum physics, the branch of physics dealing with physical phenomena at microscopic levels, the controversial existence of alternate realities has been promoted as a possible explanation for the UFO phenomena. Though theoretical in nature, the EDH may help explain the accounts of missing time and time distortion among other forms of “high strangeness” often experienced in a close UFO encounter. Based on anecdotal testimony, many quantum mechanical theorists believe the UFOs apparent ability to defy laws of gravity and inertia, may require different scientific methods and principles to prove the existence of a parallel reality or “muiltiverse.” J. Vallée, who proposed the EDH hypothesis, provided rationale for why UFOs are not extraterrestrial, as discussed below:
1) Unexplained close encounters are far more numerous than required for any physical survey of the earth; 2) The humanoid body structure of the alleged ‘aliens’ is not likely to have originated on another planet and is not biologically adapted to space travel; 3) The reported behavior in thousands of abduction reports contradicts the hypothesis of genetic or scientific experimentation on humans by an advanced race; 4) The extension of the phenomenon throughout recorded history demonstrates that UFOs are not a contemporary phenomenon; and 5) The apparent ability of UFOs to manipulate space and time suggests radically different and richer alternatives.
Psychological and Sociological Theories
Psycho-social theorists have provided several reasons to explain UFO and alien abduction reports and beliefs. Overall, they contend there must be either a conscious or subconscious recall from various media forms or a heightened level of gullibility influenced and reinforced by the strong social context of the UFO phenomenon. Carl Gustav Jung, the psychotherapist and psychiatrist who founded analytical psychology, advocated the psycho-cultural hypothesis (PCH) and paranormal theory to explain the UFO phenomena. The PCH regards the UFO phenomenon as a cultural phenomenon in which the belief in UFOs developed out of our societies interest with space-flight reinforced by media hype of aliens and flying saucers. Although Jung believed that UFOs might be psychological manifestations, he did rule out the possibility of intelligently controlled physical objects. Another proponent of the PCH, neurologist Dr. Steven Novella, president and co-founder of the New England Skeptical Society, considers the UFO phenomenon an example of “modern mythology” which evolved out of “popular culture” facilitated by the media. Supportive evidence for this notion is largely based on the evolution of how aliens have evolved over time. Novella provides examples of how witness reports changed from “hairy dwarfs to giant insects” to the current “grey” alien which appeared after the famous Betty and Barney Hill abduction case in 1961.
The paranormal theory, while interesting to contemplate, resides at the fringe along the UFO theory continuum, especially since the “paranormal” cannot be measured and explained using the scientific method. Given the “high strangeness” of the UFO phenomenon, any proposed theory to explain unusual aerial events will almost certainly be met with a high degree of skepticism. Within this context, is it possible that the “high strangeness” associated with the phenomenon provides evidence of its nature and origin? This theory, regarded as “pseudoscience” by mainstream science, suggests that UFOs are paranormal manifestations which evolved from the reported “high strangeness” associated with the phenomenon. This is evidenced by witness reports of “shape-shifting” UFOs, their apparent ability to materialize and dematerialize, reports of aliens floating through structures, and telepathic communication with aliens associated with many UFO encounters. Some UFO researchers make analogous assumptions between the behavior of UFOs and their occupants and other “paranormal” areas of study which include apparitions, the Men-In-Black phenomenon, and demons.
What is plasma and its possible relationship to the UFO phenomenon? Plasma, which carries electrical current and generates magnetic fields, “comprises more than 99% of the visible universe, and permeates the solar system, interstellar and intergalactic environments.” Similar to ball lightning, plasma is an atmospheric phenomenon not fully understood by modern science. Theoretically, the phenomenon of ionized and excited atmospheric molecules around a UFO also ties together a number of related mysteries about the phenomenon: 1) general nighttime appearance of the UFO, 2) many colors, 3) self-illuminating character, 4) fuzzy appearance, and 5) indiscernible outline with the appearance of a physical object/craft behind the light. This evidence, which is similar to witness descriptions of the appearance and behavior of UFOs, reinforces the notion that many people who encountered a UFO may have experienced a plasma related phenomena. Extensive research on plasma by Dr. V.N. Tsytovich, a scientist at the General Physics Institute, Russian Academy of Science, while working with colleagues there and at the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, studied the behavior of complex mixtures of inorganic materials in plasma and concluded that plasma exhibited:
1) Gradual growth; 2) Splitting into two or more separate parts; 3) Dissolution to invisibility; 4) Disparate bright lights merging into larger formations (often reported as small craft joining the mother ship and forming a row of portholes); 5) Disappearance, accompanied by a smell; 6) Rotation, nonlinear motion; 7) Weak thermal radiation; and 8) Beamed light emissions.
Interestingly, most, if not all of these behaviors have been similarly described by witnesses during UFO encounters. The beamed light emissions, reported by witnesses of UFOs, were explained by the Russian scientists as “discharge, or leakage paths” that allow the plasma to “float off” and to change direction, seemingly at will.
Given the unique similarity in the reported appearance and behavior of both atmospheric “plasma” and UFOs, the obvious question is whether or not all or part of the 5-10% unexplained UFOs can be accounted for by this natural phenomenon. It is imperative that future research focus on this connection to ascertain the percent of UFO reports attributed to this atmospheric phenomenon.
According to the time travel theory, UFOs are visitors from our own future. Some UFO researchers believe those from our future are returning to their past for needed DNA. Part of the rationale for this theory evolved from the descriptions of the frail humanoid “grey” beings, usually seen during reported alien abductions. It is speculated that their apparent fragile condition requires them to interbreed with humans to modify their genetic material. The alien-hybrid babies reportedly seen during the abduction scenario also lend support for this theory. Additionally, based on anecdotal evidence, “normal” appearing humans within physical craft have identified themselves as from our future.
Many who observe an unusual object in the sky will interpret it as an ET craft, while others who see the same object will consider it to be of earthly origin. Many who believe that some UFOs are physical craft from another solar system or space-time, do so based on pure faith and the human tendency to want to believe in something. That is, scientific verification of a theory often takes a back seat to those who tend to formulate conclusions in a biased fashion. The motivation to do so may be based on the accepted premise that the existence of intelligent life in the universe is extremely high, and possibly even a touch of wishful thinking.
In the absence of definitive proof, however, several UFO theories will continue to facilitate the longstanding debate of the true nature and origin of the phenomenon. And in the absence of such proof, no one theory will be accepted by the scientific community and skeptics alike who generally accept one or more alternative theories such as natural and manmade phenomena, advanced secret technology, and the PCH, among others, to explain the phenomenon. While some theories may sound more plausible than others, theories alone do not provide the definitive proof that explains the force that controls and regulates this phenomenon.