UFOs, RUFOs, and UAPs
By: Jim Virkler
Since 1947 when the “flying saucer” craze first impacted public awareness in a significant way, many books and articles have been published, numerous radio and television specials have been produced, and much interpersonal discussion has been generated. Waves of sightings have occurred periodically. Almost everyone has been a party to these discussions at some point during their life. People are asked, “What is your opinion on flying saucers?” The first reports of these phenomena were popularly described as flying saucers after a famous 1947 sighting in Washington State. Historically, many unidentified phenomena throughout history were described as “saucer-like.”
What do we mean by saucer-like? This is only one description of UFOs. Their shape may be saucer or disc-like. But UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena) is a term from a more modern perspective. The phenomena have appeared in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors. Some hover; others maneuver at impossible speeds. They have also acquired a wide variety of explanations—inspection and/or invasions by extraterrestrial beings, intrusions from foreign military powers, or evidence of clandestine military research technology from our own military. Errant human perception, faulty description, or hallucination rate as possibilities. Personal opinions regarding UAPs vary widely. The spectrum of belief is wide, indeed.
Some people do not believe in UFOs for a variety of reasons. Even residual UFOs (RUFOs—those UFOs left over after doubtful sightings are explained away) are subject to question by skeptics who are still in denial concerning these mysterious occurrences. Statistics concerning public belief in UFOs can be confusing. For example, 56% of Americans think UFOs are real. 60% of Americans think human activity or natural phenomena are responsible. About two-thirds of Americans believe the US government is hiding information from the public. Half of those believe alien spacecraft are responsible for the hiding.
In the US 16% of the population has “personally witnessed what they thought was a UFO. 84% have not. 20% of the population in the western US make this claim, while only 12% of easterners have claimed to witness an unidentified flying object. Regionality, therefore, is significant. UAPs seem to gravitate toward population or military centers. We offer a preliminary caveat to our discussion: Apparent surveillance by UFOs so far does not equate to “foreign” conquest. To date, our planetary societies have NOT been threatened or attacked.
An internet search reveals multiple articles on UFOs and their history. Many accounts of UFOs are credible, still unexplained, and occurring throughout human history. Since the modern flying saucer craze began in 1947, many more credible reports have occurred, sometimes in clusters. Among many famous figures who have offered their opinions have been Allen Hynek (1910-1986) and Jaques Vallée (b. 1939). Hynek became convinced of an IDH, an “interdimensional overlap” with our familiar dimensions. Vallée has spoken of “other dimensions beyond space/time.” Early UFO researchers were more convinced of the ETH, the extra-terrestrial hypothesis which proposed that visitors from other planets or locations beyond our solar system have discovered methods of traversing enormous distances from outside Planet Earth using advanced space travel technology.
With passing time it now appears that the IDH (interdimensional hypothesis) holds more promise from a scientific perspective. Another term for the IDH is supernature, or the supernatural. In future posts we will address further IDH and supernatural hypotheses. In the past several years even government agencies have publicly admitted that RUFOs are real—a vastly more explicit admission than at any time in the past. Our blog will deal with these revelations in future posts.
There are multiple explanatory hypotheses for UAPs. There exists an abundance of opinion to match the hypotheses. Skeptics may insist that UFOs are manifestations of natural phenomena such as reflections, unusual temperature inversions, cloud formations, or even flocks of birds. A reasonable or logical explanation for an unusual UFO sighting commands support from a variety of interested parties.
Let us conclude with two accounts from Northern New Jersey where I lived and worked for nearly fifty years. The first account is reported to provide comic relief from concern over the serious subject of UAPs. A famous hoax was perpetrated in 2009 in Morris County which fooled thousands of local residents and was reported widely on local and national television. The hoax was even reported on a program produced by History Channel—“UFO Hunters.”
Two young men assembled, ignited, and launched highway flares at night on fishing line attached to large helium balloons. On five occasions over several weeks in January and February 2009 they launched from five to nine red flares. The sightings, visible over a wide area, astonished people in Morris County and around the country. Many local and national mainstream media reported it. It has been described as “the biggest hoax ever covered by the mainstream media” by Reddit. “UFO Hunters” deleted their program soon after the hoaxers confessed and documented their activity in detail. Wikipedia has a lengthy article on the “Morristown UFO Hoax.” Curiously, the 2002 volume by Hugh Ross, Kenneth Samples, and Mark Clark—A Rational Christian Look at UFOs and Extraterrestrials described in some detail that “…less than 1% (of UFOs) have been shown to be hoaxes…..The most common type of UFO hoax is a prank balloon, which involves tying a flare or candle to a helium-filled balloon. On rare occasions elaborate hoaxes have been perpetrated, necessitating a more extensive investigation.” Did the hoaxers use the Ross book, published seven years before their prank, as a source for their ideas? We do not know.
The young men were fined $250 and sentenced to fifty hours of community service. They later noted “If a respected UFO investigator can easily be manipulated and dead wrong on one UFO case, is it possible he’s wrong on most (or all) of them?” The hoaxers passed off their prank as a “social experiment” but stated they would do it all over again.
The other event took place in 1952 a few miles west of the Morristown during the height of a number of eastern US sightings, many around Washington, DC. I was a teenager who had digested many UFO reports. After dark I spotted a very bright light near the southeast horizon, barely moving. After observing the slowly ascending light it disappeared behind a row of trees. When it reappeared it was barelyvisible much higher in the sky moving very rapidly. At no time was any noise generated. My next door adult neighbor also reported seeing the phenomenon the next day, his description matching mine almost exactly. Had I observed a UFO? Perhaps.
Dr. Hugh Ross states in his closing chapter that, “If one takes the extradimensional hypotheses to mean that entities could come into the universe from a spiritual realm, one can see a remarkable coincidence between science and Scripture.” We strongly recommend reading the Ross volume for its thoroughgoing treatment of the RUFO/UAP phenomenon from a sound Christian perspective.
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Jim Virkler, a retired New Jersey public school science educator, now devotes his time investigating the harmony of scientific discoveries and Christian faith. He and his wife, Eleanor, now reside in the mid-west near their children and grandchildren.