Within the 1940s and 50s reports of “flying saucers” became an American cultural phenomena. Sightings of strange objects in the sky became the materials that are raw Hollywood to provide visions of potential threats. Posters for films, like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers from 1956 illustrate these fears. Connected to ongoing ideas about life regarding the Moon, the canals on Mars, and ideas about Martian Civilizations, flying saucers have started to represent the hopes and fears associated with the modern world.
Are these alleged visitors from other worlds peaceful and benevolent or would they attack and destroy humanity? The destructive power for the bomb that is atomic into question the progressive potential of technology. Anxiety about the possibilities for destruction within the Cold War-era proved ground that is fertile terrestrial anxieties to manifest visions of flying saucers and visitors from other worlds who may be hidden in our midst in plain sight.
If UFOs were visiting our world, where were these extraterrestrials? Could they be hidden in our midst? Comic books and television illustrates how the possibility for extraterrestrial visitors reflected anxieties of this era.
The 1962 comic you can find Martians in our midst, from Amazing Fantasy #15, illustrates the real way fear of extraterrestrials could reflect Cold War anxieties. When you look at the comic, a search party gathers around a landed alien craft, nonetheless it are able to find no indication of alien beings. Radio announcers warn those nearby to remain indoors. The action shifts to a husband and wife as he prepares to go out of their property despite a television announcer’s warning to stay indoors. He reminds his wife to stay inside as he waves goodbye. The wife however chooses to slip off to the shop and it is dragged and attacked off. The husband returns home and finding it empty runs towards the telephone in a panic. The anxious husband reveals that he and his wife are the Martians in a twist.
The fear that there can essay help be alien enemies in our midst resonates with fears of Soviets and communists through the McCarthy era. Ultimately, in this story, the humans are the ones who accost and capture the woman that is alien. The shift in perspective puts the humans when you look at the position of this monsters.
Regardless of depictions of UFOs in media, UFOs are also element of American folk culture. Ideas of aliens and flying saucers are a part associated with the mythology of America. There is documentation of those forms of experiences in folk life collections. An interview with Howard Miller about hunting and hound dogs, collected as an element of Tending the Commons: Folklife and Landscape in Southern West Virginia collection, documents an individual’s experience with a potential UFO sighting.
In A mysterious light, a segment of an ethnographic interview, Miller describes a strange light he saw once while hunting with his dogs in 1966 “All at once it was daylight, and I also looked up to see what happened. There is a light about that big, going up, drifting up the hill. When I looked and seen it just faded out. I have been in the Marines, and know very well what airplane lights appear to be, and it also was too large for that.” When asked it was he offered, “I don’t know what it was” but went on to describe, “when there is such a thing as a UFO that is what that has been. if he knew what” This light that is unexplained a walk within the woods is typical of several stories of these types of encounters. It is not only the media that tells stories and represents these kinds of ideas, documentation of the experiences and stories Americans tell each other is similarly essential for understanding and interpreting what UFOs meant to century that is 20th.
Scientists and astronomers express varying degrees of enthusiasm when it comes to possibility of intelligent life when you look at the universe. However, scientists generally dismiss the basic proven fact that you will find aliens visiting Earth. In Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of this Human Future in Space, Carl Sagan reviews the options of alien visitors to Earth, and shows that there is certainly reason that is good be skeptical of them. Much of Sagan’s work centers around debunking folk stories and beliefs and tries to encourage more rigorous and skeptical thought. He similarly discussed criticism of beliefs in alien visitors in his earlier book, Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle at night.
This zealous criticism of belief in UFOs from Sagan, who was simply well recognized for his speculative ideas about the probability of alien civilizations, may seem to be a contradiction. Sagan himself had even speculated regarding the likelihood of visits by ancient aliens in his essay through the early 60s contact that is direct Galactic Civilizations by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight.
How do we reconcile Sagan the skeptic utilizing the imaginative Sagan? Far from a contradiction, these two elements of Sagan’s perspective offer a framework for understanding him and the interchange between science and myth about life on other worlds. Skepticism and imagination that is speculative together as two halves for the whole. It’s essential to entertain and explore new ideas, however strange, while in the same time testing and evaluating the validity of the ideas.