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A Crackin’ Good Controversy: Creepy UFO Encounters

I love the way UFO believers are so often portrayed as crazies. To be fair, however, the sort of skeptics who end up blasting the UFO buffs with proverbial napalm don’t always write for Skeptical Enquirer magazine (which, to the contrary, often provides very illuminating commentary on paranormal events), nor do they necessarily appear on UFO programs along with the other “crazies” merely to debunk the claims of these supposedly deranged individuals.

Perhaps what’s most interesting is that many of the “so-called skeptics” also recoil in shock and awe when confronted with information that actually does defy logic… and which defy their hopelessly limited hypotheses (i.e. “the witness had been mistaking the large moving object for planet Jupiter”).

As a skeptically-minded, but reasonably positioned individual myself, I can attest to a certain thrill I get when the occasional story does leave me baffled by its credibility. Along these lines, a recent article at the Cracked Magazine website titled “5 UFO Sightings That Even Non-Crazy People Find Creepy” begins with the a pretty typical warning to its readers who seek to enjoy UFO phenomenon: “You’re about to be drowned in sensationalist books and blogs from UFO enthusiasts who declare every blinking light in the sky to be the opening scenes of Independence Day,” noting how “It’s no coincidence that so many people who encounter UFOs also really want to believe in them.”

Though, as stated previously, I consider myself skeptically-minded, it still rubs me the wrong way when each and every instance of Ufological weirdness is branded as the resulting ravings of a fringe-lunatic wired on years of unrestrained gullibility. Granted, for a magazine like Cracked, I would also expect a bit of hilarity–if not downright cynicism–with interest in providing comic relief; hence, I elected to read on with certain measured haste.

Somewhat pleasantly, the article goes on to detail several encounters for which multiple sources of credible witness testimony (including many government sources) outline inexplicable phenomenon, which the author bills as being something to “give even a skeptic second thoughts.” In addition to the utterly horrifying story of the Valentich Dissapearance, in which a Cessna pilot disappeared immediately after reporting a large UFO hovering over his aircraft, the odd story of Captain Thomas F. Mantell is detailed, quipping curiously about an engagement with a high-altitude UFO that led to his death. While he and other pilots were engaging a large unknown craft in 1948, Mantell decided to swoop upward and ascend quickly to try and study the object. What happened next was both shocking, and tragic:

Well, before he went out, he had time to radio in that the craft was “metallic and tremendous in size.” And it was. The Air Force had forgotten to mention they were testing a new weather balloon in the area, one that happened to be huge and covered in a reflective silver surface. Just one of those wacky misunderstandings that would have made for a funny story later, had it not caused a guy to die in a horrific plane crash.

There was no weather balloon present, of course… but this, in part, exemplifies the beauty of the article: from a beginning that might have us believe we’d be ridiculed at the outset, by the end the author is cutting crude jokes (as Cracked tends to be known for doing) and poking fun at the utterly simplistic resolutions government officials have supplied over the years for UFO encounters that simply defy logic; or at very least, any logic that would detract from the otherwise fantastic nature of the phenomenon. In such circumstances, sometimes only humor of this sort can properly detail the utter hilarity that lies not so much in the UFO “crazies” and their testimony, but in the wildly stupid explanations the pseudo-skeptics offer instead.


Micah Hanks is a writer, podcaster, and researcher whose interests cover a variety of subjects. His areas of focus include history, science, philosophy, current events, cultural studies, technology, unexplained phenomena, and ways the future of humankind may be influenced by science and innovation in the coming decades. In addition to writing, Micah hosts the Middle Theory and Gralien Report podcasts.
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