In a world where conspiracy theories are becoming more popular and widespread than ever, one realm of conspiracies from the past has remained surprisingly dormant. Unidentified flying object, or UFO, sightings have not experienced much of an increase in popularity despite the growing relevance of groups such as the Flat Earth Society and the anti-vaccination movement. Here are five brief descriptions of UFO conspiracy theories that have taken place over the last hundred years or so.
The War of the Worlds
This story is perhaps one of the most popular in terms of aliens and UFOs, but its validity has been called into question in recent years. The story goes that on Halloween in 1938, a radio station broadcasted a live adaptation of The War of the Worlds, a science fiction novel by H.G. Wells. This much is true. However, the story then goes on to say that the general public perceived the story as so realistic that a massive panic ensued because people thought that aliens were really attacking the Earth. Now, many people claim that the intense public reaction is a myth, and very few people were fooled by the broadcast.
Often described as the best researched and most thoroughly debunked of all UFO conspiracies, the Roswell incident occurred in 1947 when the Air Force put out a press release claiming that they had spotted a mysterious flying disk over Roswell, New Mexico. This statement was quickly retracted, and the government claimed that it was simply a misidentified weather balloon. Not everyone was convinced by this, and speculation about a UFO coverup exists to this day, although the theory has been debunked several times by several different people.
In 1989, UFO enthusiasts held a convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. The special guest speaker at the convention was Bill Moore, who frequently researched UFO sightings. Moore was acting strangely in the leadup to the convention, even refusing to submit his new paper for review before reading it to the whole convention hall. Moore claimed that he was part of a disinformation campaign to spread falsities about other prominent UFO researchers, such as Pual Bennewitz. This leads many to believe that Bennewitz's claims about UFOs were correct and that the government was trying to keep him from spreading that information to the public.
Solar Energy Conspiracy
Fairly recently, in 2016, the UFO hunting community on YouTube flared up with some members claiming that there were UFOs circling the sun and trying to collect solar energy from it. Apparently, there was a photograph of the sun released by NASA that seemed to depict a line of plasma coming from the sun and leading to a mysterious small object. This theory grew until conspiracy theorists all over the internet were claiming that there were hundreds of small ships collecting energy from the sun for their solar panels for home, similar to what people use on Earth.
Conspiracies about Area 51 have been around for decades, but the government base rose to prominence again in September of 2019 when there was a large campaign of Facebook users to "Storm Area 51" because "They Can't Stop All of Us". The movement gained a huge amount of traction online, with millions of people claiming that they were going to the event, but only about 6,000 people showed up. Still, it was the closest the general public has ever gotten to seeing what is inside the mysterious Area 51.
Whether you believe in all or none of these conspiracies, the important thing to remember is to respect others in your search for the truth. Online discussion about conspiracy theories like these get heated very easily, and everyone seems to be accusing everyone else of spreading false information. If people can learn to calm down and discuss their ideas rationally and concisely, perhaps the amount of false information being spread will fall to a minimum, and then people can start looking for the real truth.