June 24th this year will see the 67th anniversary of Kenneth Arnold's observation, of what first came to be called "flying saucers;" a term which later changed into 'Unidentified Flying Objects" and numerous variations. As readers of this blog will know, I personally prefer the term "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (UAP.)
Where are we today?
Views as to exactly what causes sighting reports, vary today, as much as it did in the early days of study. Today, you can find individuals who believe UAP are crewed extraterrestrial spaceships; travellers from the future; living creatures; that they are all hoaxes; all misinterpretations of natural phenomena; are psychosocial constructs, and any combination of the any of these.
We have numerous Internet sites, Facebook pages, and blogs, run by individuals or groups who claim to be in contact with the intelligence behind it all. Just as in the early days we had "contactees." The message remains the same, that the "aliens" are here to help us; but the medium of its communication has changed.
Debate continues between opposing sides as to the cause of individual sighting reports. The Rendlesham Forest affair is an excellent example of such debate and confusion. To me, this is no different to those early days in the 1940's.
Civilian UAP research groups exist today, confident that they are working towards the final solution to the UAP enigma. The very same objective was the aim of early research groups, such as APRO.
A more jaded researcher, than myself, may well feel that little real progress has been made since 1947.
Other researchers will point out that many things have changed since 1947. They will list:
* That the US Government withdrew from officially and openly researching the topic
* That the UK Government withdrew from officially and openly researching
* That a number of countries have opened up some of their files
* That the era of large numbers of abduction claims has come and gone
* That scientific research of the phenomena has, by volume, largely given way to Internet style "research"
* That the numbers of close encounter reports has steadily declined over the last ten years.
But is change, progress?
If by progress, we mean are we closer to identifying the nature of the phenomenon we study, then I personally, do not think there has been real progress on this front.
US researcher John B Alexander has an interesting take on this. In his 2011 book "UFOs:Myths, Conspiracies and Realities," published by Thomas Dunne Books. New York. ISBN 978-0-312-64834, on page 273:
"Based on credible witnesses and backed by physical evidence, I conclude that the ufo observations are manifestations of issues that are anfractuous and beyond current comprehension."
(Anfractuous, meaning full of twists and turns.)
This neatly sums up my own current view.