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What Is the Link that Connects Alien & Bigfoot Sightings?

Updated on November 13, 2015
Detail from a painting by 19th century French artist Rene Magritte. Image in US public domain.
Detail from a painting by 19th century French artist Rene Magritte. Image in US public domain.

Tapping Into the ET Hypothesis

Ufology is often said to have started with Air Force pilot Ken Arnold's sighting of a group of unidentified flying objects on June 24th 1947.

The objects, which Arnold said moved much faster than any known conventional aircraft, were convex in shape, with one of them shaped like a crescent. Arnold described the objects as moving like "saucers skipping over water."

The press quickly picked up on this phrase, dubbing the objects themselves "flying saucers," even though Arnold never actually called them that.

Later that same year, on July 8, the U.S. Air Force issued a press release stating that the 509th bomb group had recovered a 'flying disk' from a ranch just outside Roswell, New Mexico. The next day, another Air Force press release was issued stating that the recovered craft was actually an experimental radar-tracking balloon, not a flying disk. A photo of Officer Jessie Marcel holding pieces of the balloon was released and printed in newspapers across the U.S.

What many people do not realize however, is that by the time the back-to-back Roswell press releases and the Marcel photo hit the papers, the American populace was already fixated on the notion of flying saucers and possible invasion of the Earth by alien creatures from outer space. The idea was not new.

On October 30th of 1938, for example, actor Orson Welles staged a CBS radio version of H.G. Well's famous alien invasion novel, War of the Worlds . Even though the show started with a disclaimer, everything that followed was broadcast as if it was happening in real time.

So realistic was the broadcast, that people who tuned in late fled their homes, police phone lines lit up all down the Eastern seaboard, freeways were jammed with NJ residents trying to escape the attack, brawls and panics broke out all over, and one person even committed suicide.

Although CBS radio later apologized for the incident, the response of the general public made it obvious that the possibility of such an attack did not seem at all like science fiction to ordinary people.

In fact, the reason H.G. Wells published War of the Worlds in 1898 was that he knew it would play to the Victorian fascination with life on Mars and the possibility of a Martian invasion of Earth. During the Victorian era, even top scientists took for granted that intelligent life on Mars existed, and most likely cities and structures as well (Google 'Martian canals' for more info).

So to say that ufology started with Kenneth Arnold is a little misleading.

After the Orson Welles incident, both the U.S. and the Soviet Union became very interested in the possible military applications of an announced interstellar invasion. The idea that a huge nation could be practically shut down in mere hours due to an outer space panic got the attention of military thinkers on both sides in a big way.

During this same period, the nuclear arms race was already in full swing, the space race began, and supersonic aircraft were being developed by both the Soviets and the American military.

The arms race, the Cold War between Russia and the U.S., the military interest in the applications of disinformation and alien panics, and the public fascination with alien invaders created the perfect climate for the creation of ufology and belief in flying saucers and government cover ups.

So when Kenneth Arnold first reported his fleet of convex objects that skipped "like saucers across water", the American public was already well-primed to jump to the conclusion that any and all such anomalies were spacecraft piloted by intelligent alien beings from some other world.

And the U.S. and Soviet militaries were fully prepared to feed and manipulate public perception to their own ends.

Kenneth Arnold with artist's rendering of of the crescent shaped UFO he saw in 1947.
Kenneth Arnold with artist's rendering of of the crescent shaped UFO he saw in 1947. | Source

First Wave Ufologists and Military Disinformation

During the 1950s, Americans were so terrified of a Soviet invasion or the deployment of a Soviet bomb against the U.S. that grade school children in the U.S. participated in regular 'duck and cover' drills.

At the ring of a bell, children learned to hide under their desks with their heads tucked between their knees as if the bomb sirens had gone off.

U.S. military intelligence was terrified as well, not just of a Soviet nuclear attack, but also of the Soviet induction of an alien invasion panic in the U.S. populace, making it that much easier for Russia to invade the U.S. and win.

In one famous example, July of 1952 saw so many UFOs sighted over Washington D.C. that President Truman is said to have issued an order to shoot them down. Shortly after the D.C. flap ended, the Air Force released a pubic statement explaining that the UFOs were caused by temperature inversion, a rare phenomenon which can cause false blips on a radar screen.

No one was reassured.

It's hard to overstate or fully convey the paranoia that Americans lived with during the 50s and 60s unless you experienced it first hand.

Suffice it to say that for most of the 20th century, ufology was dominated by Americans--half of whom thought the government was hiding flying saucers, and the other half of whom were covert government agents infiltrating ufology circles and disseminating disinformation to scare the pants off the Soviets.

Even today, if you mention the term UFO in the U.S. you are almost sure to get a treatise on whether or not the person you mentioned it to believes in life on other planets.

The Cold War is over, yet most of America still automatically accepts the ET hypothesis--or else they laugh at the very idea and make fun of 'little green men from Mars.'

In fact, ever since the late 1970s a whole new school of ufologists and researchers have been putting forward a very different view, one in which the U.S. and its military paranoia plays a much less prominent role.

Second Wave Ufologists and Men Seeking Monsters

Most people looking for Bigfoot are cryptozoologists--self-financed enthusiasts looking for elusive animals that have been sighted, but for which no physical evidence exists, (except perhaps some controversial tracks and the occasional grainy film).

'Cryptids' is the technical term for these unproven animals--a group that includes Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, Ogo Pogo, giant inland sharks, and more.

What connects Bigfoot and alien sightings? Second wave ufologist/monster hunters, that's what.

The thing about the first wave ufologists of the 50s and 60s is that most of them were middle-aged or older even back then. By the beginning of the new millennium, many of them had already died, and ufology had become successfully marginalized in the U.S.

Overseas however, the situation was very different and continues to be very different.

Britain declassified its military records of UFO sightings for public view in 2008. All of them.

France put together the first formal protocol for contact with an unknown extraterrestrial race in 2007. That report stated that while most UFO sightings could be explained by natural phenomena or conventional aircraft, no less than 25% could not, and since the French government did not know what caused that mysterious 25%, they could not rule out the possibility of interstellar visitors.

A plea for U.S. disclosure and cooperation was issued, not by a group of eccentric miscreants living in airstream trailers--but by the government of France.

At the same time, a new generation of researchers--many from Britain or Europe--began to connect UFOs to a wide spectrum of paranormal phenomena, including cryptid sightings, folk magic, and spiritism.

In his readable and often hilarious book, Three Men Seeking Monsters, paranormal researcher Nick Redfern describes a number of instances in which sightings of UFOs in Britain were accompanied by sightings of a large hairy ape, a wolflike man creature, a reptilian beast, or a beast of unknown origins.

Redfern was not the first to make this connection.

In 1970, ufologist John Keel published his first account of a beast seen before the collapse of the Point Pleasant bridge. Keel dubbed the beast "Mothman."

In a convoluted and astonishing story that deserves a hub (or a book!) of its own, Keel and his friend and arch rival Gray Davis raced to publish their own accounts of the local phenomena. Keel's account included concurrent UFO sightings, the Davis account did not.

Keel was a dark, odd man who was obsessed with conspiracy plots and government malfeasance, but after Point Pleasant he no longer believed that UFOs were from outer space.

Keel had a background in esoteric Eastern religious magical practice and at one time had been a magician himself, and Point Pleasant and the Mothman mess convinced him that UFOs were part of a paranormal phenomenon that included bright lights in the sky, perceived craft, little people, 'the grays', and cryptids.

Keel felt that we, as human beings, can't really know the motives of these 'aliens' anymore than we can know the motives of a grasshopper. But he had a bad feeling about it. (And most everything else, to be fair.)

Not long after Keel began to voice his doubts about the ET hypothesis, UFO researcher and data analyst Jacques Vallee began to write books voicing similar doubts. Vallee called again and again for untainted data collection and analysis of the phenomena, and openly criticized first wave ufologists for editing out 'the weird stuff' to make their sightings more palatable to mainstream science.

Vallee felt that the relentless focus on aeronautics and the space race was contaminating the data on UFOs, and felt certain that when 'the weird stuff' was left in, a very different picture would emerge. Like Keel, Vallee suspected that UFOs were of terrestrial origin and had more in common with other paranormal phenomena like spirit communication, fairies, cryptids, and ghosts than with interstellar space travel.

Mac Tonnies, one of the most exciting of the second wave ufologists wrote an excellent book called Cryptoterrestrials , in which he argues that fairy folk, the Fay, and the grays are all one and the same, and that, far from being creatures from outer space, they live right here among us, and always have. They present themselves as they think we want to see them, or as they feel like presenting themselves, for reasons they understand and we do not.

This was a very similar conclusion to the one reached by John Keel, or the one suggested as possible by Jacques Vallee.

Jacques Vallee and his followers are currently in the process of collecting unedited data on UFO and alien sightings from historical and literary documents. So far they have found accounts of these phenomena dating back to four thousand years B.C.

Right now, first wave ufology is in a sorry state and second wave ufology is just finding its feet. I hope the new research continues, since I personally believe it has a stronger chance of attracting serious scientific analysis than the first wave stuff, which is so contaminated by disinformation and spy versus spy nonsense that we may never know what really happened between 1938 and the 1980s.

One thing is sure: The U.S. is no longer the center of UFO inquiry.

And the rest of the world is not snickering.


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    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 

      7 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      I have never even considered this! Great information!

    • CR Rookwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Hi d.william! Thanks for your thoughts. I appreciate you coming by. :)

    • d.william profile image


      7 years ago from Somewhere in the south

      Excellent hub. Very interesting. I had forgotten about those days of my youth when we were taught about hiding under our desks in school in the event of an invasion or bombing. Seems so bizarre now, but was very frightening to us as children. (Like hiding under a desk would save our lives.) Duh. Today it is laughable.

      But realistically, it would be silly for us to believe we are the only intelligent (and i use that word cautiously) creatures in the vastness of the universe.

      Also silly in thinking we could somehow conquer an invading extraterrestrial race of beings intent of overpowering us, is at best naïve. I look forward to reading more of your stuff. Excellent writing and keeps one's interest throughout.

    • CR Rookwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Molometer, good question. Their motives are not exactly transparent, that's for sure.

    • CR Rookwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Wow, George Adamski...what a character! I do remember him. The Contactees came before the abductees, and he was one of the bigees. Looking forward to reading your Findhorn essay, Lilleyth.

      You know the trouble with Bob Lazar and so many others is that there's just no way to know if he is credible. Maybe he's telling the truth, maybe he's disseminating disinformation. We may never know. If anything was ever at Area 51, I think it isn't there now. My thought is they keep people out because there are toxins from weapons testing on the property, and because keeping people out perpetuates the UFO mythos should they ever need to use it again to defect public attention from this or that.

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      Here is an excellent article about Adamski and a photo of Flying Saucers Have Landed, the first UFO book I ever read:

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      I just wrote a hub about Findhorn and Perelandra, which I always thought were supposed to be inspired by devas, or nature spirits, only to discover Caddy was actually channelling aliens from Venus! This was all swept under the rug later. What is very interesting is that Perelandra is a book by C.S. Lewis about Venusians. And George Adamski wrote about Venusians in his book...

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      H2's Book of Secrets is on now about Area 51. Do you believe Lazar is credible?

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      I have Keel's Mothman book, and started buying UFO books in the 60s. Love to read Those old Frank Edwards, etc. books. Anyone remember George Adamski? That was the first one I ever read, I think when I was 13. The only one the bookmobile had.

    • molometer profile image

      Micheal is 

      7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I think we all need to seriously consider what this all means.

      If they are here, what do they want?

    • CR Rookwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Alastar, yes I bought "Wonders in the Sky"--it's really good. I did a review of it on one of my blogs and the author commented, which really made me feel good. I always feel like I'm writing this stuff in a vacuum, so it's so great when other writers say hey.

      If you ever see a used copy of a John Keel book grab it. Some of them are cheap, but some are out of print and the out of print ones can go for hundreds of dollars. Whenever I see one of those 50s or 60s or earlier ufology books I grab it if it's affordable. Some day I'll slap them up for sale, maybe, on a blog...or maybe not! They're pretty cool. :)

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Nice breakdown CR. Those look like some interesting reads too. How 'bout that $175 one for $14. Wonders in the Sky is fairly good with sighting history from antiquedy on up to the 19th century.

    • CR Rookwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Hi IntimatEvolution! Thanks for taking the time to wade through my answer. :)

    • IntimatEvolution profile image

      Julie Grimes 

      7 years ago from Columbia, MO USA

      AH Ha!

      Thanks for tackling this question and doing a great job answering it!

    • CR Rookwood profile imageAUTHOR

      Pamela Hutson 

      7 years ago from Moonlight Maine

      Thanks Lilleyth. I agree, I think they live here too. :)

    • Lilleyth profile image

      Suzanne Sheffield 

      7 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

      I think they live here. Very interesting hub. Thumbs up.


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