What would have to be true for "UFO" aliens to be real?

That is to say, not the scientists/astronomers idea of extraterrestrial life, but UFO aliens as portrayed in popular culture and urban myth? If the following general scenario were true:
[li]Disk-shaped craft capable of antigravity and inertialess movement occasionally overflly us[/li][li]These craft are the vessels of diminutive humanoid figures[/li][li]Their motives and purpose are unknown; they occasionally perform medical experimentation on humans[/li][li]Sometimes people have their memories of such encounters erased but subconcious memories can sometimes be recovered by hypnosis[/li][li]The government has been aware of these beings since the late 1940s, and that knowledge is highly classified[/li][li]Contradictory and unreliable testimony is that these beings originate from other star systems; that the witnesses were lied to is one possibility[/li][li]The beings may have a hidden base, or even a settlement somewhere underground on Earth[/li][li]These beings may (or may not) be associated with apocryphal reports of other paranormal phenomena[/li][/ul]

In other words, how would our basic paradigms of what we think is generally true have to be revised for the any of this to be real?

Don’t you have that a bit backwards?

Either they are real or they are not.
Therefore IF they are real then some of your list might be true.

You would have to come up with a real alien.

If it is OK with you, I will address only a couple of these.
[li]Disk-shaped craft capable of antigravity and inertialess movement occasionally overflly us[/ul][/li]AFAIK, anti-gravity and inertialess movement are not possible. To discover the reality of both would constitute a major revolution in our understanding of physics, comparable to the discovery of quantum mechanics.
[li]The government has been aware of these beings since the late 1940s, and that knowledge is highly classified[/li][/ul]
I’ve never understood why the government would do this. Why would they cover up such a thing? People aren’t going to panic in the streets. And as mentioned above, the knowledge that antigravity and inertialess movement are possible would be a major scientific advance. I would think the government would want every scientist in the world to jump on it and try to figure it out.

So, in order for your scenario to be true, a good deal of what we know about physics and human nature would have to be wrong.


Just to know where you are coming from, which of the points you’ve given us do you believe are true?

Another issue is why would all governments agree to keep it secret? The US isn’t the only major power on earth, I don’t think all governments would keep the issue secret.

It is far to early to say anything is not possible. Even if something appears impossible, there could be a way to achieve it on a long enough timeline. If a vehicle can warp spacetime it should (I think) be able to travel faster than light w/o having inertia damage the inhabitants.

Also if aliens are so far more advanced than us (to the point where they seem able to clone humans, several abductees report seeing humans who seem slightly off, who are probably cloned) why have they not mastered the art of wiping a person’s memory?

I don’t really believe any of them are true, or least I would be very surprised if they were. I was simply trying to give a more or less definitive description of the UFO “trope”, as it were. Most scientists regard popular accounts of UFOs as highly suspect on scientific grounds, and believe it far more likely that the UFO phenomenon is due to a combination of misinformation and human psychology. My question was, how radically would we have to rethink what we thought we knew, if it turned out that UFOs and all the associated woo-woo were real? It’s sort of equivalent to asking how we would have to revise archaeology if Atlantis really existed, or history if it were revealed that a secret conspiracy had been controlling world events for centuries.

That’s a good point - why would the aliens only be taking people from American trailer parks?

As far as anti-gravity and inertia-less motion and so forth, I don’t know if these are impossible in the sense that our technology isn’t advanced enough, or impossible in the sense that perpetual motion is impossible. But if aliens can do it, then it is only impossible in the first sense. And that knowledge is half the battle - especially if we can get in contact with them and start asking technical questions.

But if they can travel faster than light, then if they had hostile intentions, then presumably they could wipe us out without much ado. But they haven’t. Ergo, they must be at least neutral towards us, especially if they want to examine us from time to time. And that’s good - maybe we can persuade them to tell us something in return for the examinations.

I for one would be perfectly willing to be anally probed in return for a tour of the ship and some interviews with the crew. It doesn’t even have to be heavy-duty questions about tachyons and warp drives - any information about their motives or daily lives gives reams of information about their psychology and background.

Very radically indeed, AFAICT, at least in terms of physics. Maybe chemistry and biology as well, depending on what we can find out about them.


The aliens would have to be fucking with us. Approaching the target in line with the planet Venus or painting “Goodyear” on the side of their spaceship.

I read some science fiction with a cute premise: teleportation is possible, but only the distance of a single ‘smoot’, which (for the purposes of the story) is the width of a single molecule. The inventor of the Smoot Drive is the one who realizes that the teleportation can be repeated almost infinitely quickly, so effectively you have a drive capable of FTL speeds that is also inertialess because it doesn’t involve actual motion.

I think that, if little green men were real, it would strongly imply that FTL travel is practical because otherwise, interstellar travel is pointlessly onerous. No one would create an ark-like generation ship to spend decades or centuries crossing the vasty deepness, just to anally probe a bunch of rednecks.

Aliens aren’t necessarily much more advanced than we are.
You don’t need FTL to travel to the stars if you are patient.

We could start a colony ship today. We’re waiting on fusion power, and not much else.
It would be nice to have the Mars colony for practice, but not required.

So then maybe they don’t have anti-grav, or ray guns.
Maybe it’s a lot of lights and smoke and hoopla.
Like how Europeans approached other cultures some years ago…

Well, that depends. If the public just knows, “Aliens exist,” then they won’t panic. If the public knows, “Aliens exist, and their Genocide Ships will arrive in 2015 to sterilize the planet,” then yeah, probably a good bit of panicking.

I believe it’s spelled ‘scoffing’. :wink:

Wouldn’t that just be the last laugh?
Gubmint warns of alien invasion, we disregard, and are eaten and enslaved.
In that order.

They’re not:


But I recall reading that aliens are never sighted in Jordan. I wonder about the West Bank, though. Does anyone know if they have a preference for either the settlers or the Palestinians?


I think the movie Men In Black explored the OP’s premise.

That and a couple trillion dollars… One really major problem is the sheer size of the vessel. It has to be big enough to hold a self-sustaining population of people. We don’t want genetic drift to winnow us down. It also needs a lot of shielding against radiation: interstellar space is a bit “hot.” And, even a slow ship needs a hell of a lot of fuel.

(We could address the fuel problem by launching a fleet of big ships, one with actual human payload aboard, and all the others just carrying fuel. That helps a little.)

Seems like they went to a lot of trouble to come here and then a lot of trouble to keep it a secret from us. You have to wonder why they would care about keeping it a secret.

I think it would mean that conspiracy theorist are on to something.

The premise of the OP was that their motives were unknown, apart from them studying us occasionally.


That there is definitely life outside of this planet and that FTL (or, at least interstellar) travel is possible and practical. Those are the two basic concepts that would shift the basic paradigms of our current thinking.

Up until the late 1800s that is what was said about manned flight.