Two British researchers David Clarke & Andy Roberts claim in their new book 'OUT OF THE SHADOWS' ,that UFOs are all in the mind and should be seen as a form of cultural mass hysteria.They uncovered thousands of previously secret government and military reports and investigated dozens of sightings,and have concluded that flying saucers were a product of Cold War paranoia - not visitors from outer space.
Clarke said that the UFO craze began at the start of the Cold War, when the new threat of atomic war with the Soviet Union hung over the world. ‘It was just simple to want to believe in something up there in the sky that could come and rescue us,’ he said.
Many of the early UFO sightings were seemingly confirmed by Britain’s fledgling radar system, often scrambling fighter planes into the sky to investigate sightings. But, as the new technology improved, the number of incidents appearing on radar quickly dwindled to zero. ‘That cannot be a coincidence. Those early confirmations were just a product of a primitive radar system,’ Clarke said.
But Clarke and Roberts did uncover evidence that the American Secret Service, with the possible connivance of the British, looked at ways of using the public panic over UFOs as a psychological weapon against the Russians.
In CIA memos marked ‘secret’ and seen by The Observer, top officials consider exploiting the UFO craze. ‘I suggest that we discuss the possible offensive or defensive utilisation of these phenomena for psychological warfare purposes,’ wrote CIA director Walter Smith in 1952.
Clarke, who started out as a believer in UFOs but is now a sceptic, said that the belief in alien visitation had once reached up to the highest positions in government. Prime Minister Winston Churchill once ordered an investigation into it and Lord Mountbatten was a firm believer in flying saucers. In the 1950s Britain set up a flying saucer working party of top Ministers and army staff. ‘That is why this field is important for academic research. It did have an impact on government policy at a crucial stage in history,’ he said.
One scrap of consolation for conspiracy theorists is evidence that the British and US Governments did embark on a systematic cover-up of UFO sightings, especially by military pilots. Reports were kept secret and military personnel told not to talk about them. But Clarke believes that such actions were taken, not to disguise contact with aliens, but because the Government did not want to admit that it too could not explain the UFO hysteria.
Of course the question remains: What are the psychological mechanisms that caused this hysteria?
If it is just a hysteria......