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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Oct > Oct 17

Bova: Existence Of UFOs Nice But Evidence Lacking

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates@virtuallystrange.net>
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 08:38:16 -0400
Fwd Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 08:38:16 -0400
Subject: Bova: Existence Of UFOs Nice But Evidence Lacking 

Naples Daily News - Florida


Ben Bova: The existence of UFOs would be nice, but the evidence is lacking

Sunday, October 13, 2002

By BEN BOVA, Special to the Daily News

Because I write science fiction, many people think I "believe"
in UFOs.

I do, in a way. I believe that there are many unidentified
objects flying through our skies. I do not believe, however,
that there is one scintilla of evidence showing that UFOs are
the spacecraft of visiting extraterrestrial creatures.

Most UFO sightings turn out to be perfectly natural objects: jet
planes, falling stars, balloons and such. After nearly half a
century of following UFO reports and investigations, I think
that the UFOs that haven't been explained are most likely
natural objects, too.

But the UFO "faithful" believe that we are being visited by
aliens, and the government is covering up the fact. Why the
government would try to cover up alien visitors is something I
don't understand. How a government that leaks like a sieve could
possibly cover up such a story for nearly half a century is
beyond my comprehension.

Remember Watergate? The federal government, for all its power
and the paranoia of the Nixon White House, couldn't keep a
third-rate burglary secret for very long.

But the UFO faithful believe there's an ongoing cover-up. And
they are right, in at least one case. There was a government
cover-up in the most famous UFO report of them all: the crashed
"flying saucer" and alien crew members that were found at
Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947. The cover-up lasted nearly 50
years, but when it was at last revealed most UFOlogists were
bitterly disappointed.

In July 1947, just outside of Roswell, after a severe
thunderstorm the night before, rancher William W. "Mack" Brazel
found in the desert wreckage of a crashed aircraft of a type
none of the local residents could identify. Even military
officers from nearby Roswell Army Air Field seemed stumped.
Soldiers collected the wreckage and within a day or two it was
flown to Wright Field, in Dayton, Ohio, a major facility that
included several government laboratories.

A few days after the wreckage was picked up by the Army, public
relations officer Lt. Walter G. Haut issued a news release that
referred to the wreckage as "a disk." Over the following days,
the story grew: The "disk" was definitely a flying saucer. Three
alien crewmen had been recovered, two of them dead and the third
badly injured. They had all been bundled off by the Army in
great secrecy.

Shortly after Haut's report of finding a "disk," the Army issued
another news release claiming that the wreckage was nothing more
than a weather balloon. Cover-up! charged the UFO faithful, and
for nearly half a century Roswell has stood as the classic
example of the government hiding "the truth" about flying
saucers.

Then, in 1994, the government finally admitted that there had
indeed been a conspiracy to hide the truth about the Roswell
wreckage. It wasn't a weather balloon. But it wasn't an alien
spacecraft, either.

In 1947, the Army was testing a series of very-high-altitude
balloons that were equipped with electronics and listening
devices to "eavesdrop" on possible Russian nuclear bomb tests.
The Roswell wreckage was of one of those balloon sets with its
seemingly strange equipment. The Army wanted to keep the program
secret, hence the cover story about a weather balloon.

Karl T. Pflock, who describes himself as a "pro-UFOlogist,"
investigated the Roswell incident over many years, at first as a
believer in the alien flying saucer story. But the deeper he
probed, he says, the more the story unraveled. There were no
alien crew members, alive or dead. Much to his personal
disappointment, Pflock came to the conclusion that the Roswell
UFO never existed, although a Pentagon cover-up certainly did,
for nearly half a century.

When I was the editor of Omni magazine, we worked hard to track
down UFO stories. They always somehow vanished into smoke and
air. One day a gentleman came into my office bearing a sliver of
metal which, he claimed, had been scraped from the hull of a
flying saucer. "It's unlike any metal on Earth," he kept
repeating.

It struck me, and the rest of the editorial staff, that it might
be pretty difficult to scratch off a sliver of such a metal. We
suggested that we take it to a reputable metallurgy laboratory
for analysis. The visitor was very reluctant to do so. At last,
after several hours, we persuaded him to go to Boston with one
of our editors and have the sample analyzed at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology. He agreed only after we promised to pay
all the expenses for the trip.

MIT reported that the metal was ordinary aluminum, the stuff of
cooking pots and skillets. It may have come from the hull of a
flying saucer; aluminum is a good structural metal for flying
vehicles. But it certainly was not "unlike any metal on Earth."
I believe that life exists beyond Earth. I believe that
intelligent life must exist somewhere in the vast universe of
stars and galaxies. I recognize that there is, as yet, no
evidence to support this belief of mine.

Precisely because I am a "believer," in this sense, I remain
guardedly skeptical about claims of UFOs and alien abductions.
It is all too easy to fall for unsupported stories that tell us
what we want to believe. I would like to see some scrap of hard,
palpable evidence; maybe as much as a person would take to
traffic court to prove he wasn't illegally parked when he got a
ticket.

During the American Civil War, when reports from the
battlefields were often unreliable, many newspapers used a
headline that warned their readers that the story they were
about to read might not be accurate. The headline was "Good
News, If True." That is how I feel about UFO reports. It would
be wonderful to know that we are being visited by intelligent
aliens. But I doubt that it's true.

---

Naples resident Ben Bova's futuristic "Grand Tour" novels deal
with humans exploring the solar system. He gives commentary over
WGCU-FM every Tuesday morning. Dr. Bova's web site address is:

http://www.benbova.net

[UFO UpDates thanks http://www.anomalist.com/ for the lead]



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