UFO is an abbreviation or acronym for Unidentified Flying Object. In a literal sense it includes any airborne object whose nature is not known, but more often it is applied to those cases that are believed by some to be the spaceships of extraterrestrial aliens.
UFOs have been subject to many studies over the years, with a wide range of scope and scientific rigor. One well-known study was Project Bluebook, conducted by the United States Air Force. The idea that UFOs are in fact alien spacecraft is discounted by most scientists, because many such sightings have been explained in terms of known natural phenomena or human activity, and there is a lack of evidence corroborating eyewitness accounts which purport otherwise.
A group encouraging open minded and critical investigation of the alien spacecraft hypothesis from a scientific point of view is the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. CSICOP has existed 28 years, and has previously included such people as TV science program host Bill Nye, Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan. Its current main proponents are Philip Klass and James Randi.
The study of UFO claims over the years has led to valuable discoveries about atmospheric phenomena and psychology. In psychology, the study of UFOs leads to such concepts as misinterpretation, perceptual illusion, hallucination and fantasy-prone personality. The study of abduction phenomena especially shows that hypnosis is not a valid method for revealing memory.
The field of UFOs should not necessarily be confused or intermingled with "the paranormal". The UFO phenomenon need not have a paranormal explanation, though those who believe in UFOs may also have a fascination with the paranormal. UFOs are sometimes claimed to be part of an elaborate UFO conspiracy theory in which the government is said to be intentionally covering up the existence of aliens.
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2 Supposed UFO's
3 See also