When you look at the 1940s and 50s reports of “flying saucers” became an American cultural phenomena. Sightings of strange objects within the sky became the materials that are raw Hollywood to present visions of potential threats. Posters for films, like Earth vs. the Flying Saucers from 1956 illustrate these fears. Linked to ongoing ideas about life from the Moon, the canals on Mars, and ideas about Martian Civilizations, flying saucers have started to represent the hopes and fears regarding the world that is modern.
Are these alleged visitors from other worlds peaceful and benevolent or would they attack and destroy humanity? The destructive power regarding the Atomic bomb called into question the progressive potential of technology. Anxiety about the number of choices for destruction into the Cold War-era proved ground that is fertile terrestrial anxieties to manifest visions of flying saucers and visitors from other worlds who might be hidden among us in plain sight.
Aliens in our midst and Fears regarding the Other
If UFOs were visiting our world, where were these extraterrestrials? Could they be hidden among us? Comic books and television illustrates how the possibility for extraterrestrial visitors reflected anxieties of this era.
The 1962 comic There are Martians Among Us, from Amazing Fantasy #15, illustrates the real way concern with extraterrestrials could reflect Cold War anxieties. When you look at the comic, a search party gathers around a landed craft that is alien however it are able to find no ultius sign of alien beings. Radio announcers warn those nearby to stay indoors. The action shifts to a wife and husband while he prepares to go out of their house despite a television announcer’s warning to remain indoors. He reminds his wife to stay inside as he waves goodbye. The wife however chooses to slip off to the store and it is dragged and attacked off. The husband returns home and finding it runs that are empty the telephone in a panic. In a twist, the anxious husband reveals that he along with his wife are the Martians.
Driving a car that there could be alien enemies in our midst resonates with fears of Soviets and communists from 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 in the position regarding the monsters.
UFOs as Contemporary Folklore
Irrespective of depictions of UFOs in media, UFOs are also element of American folk culture. Ideas of aliens and saucers that are flying a part of the mythology of America. There is documentation of those kinds 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 a person’s knowledge about a UFO that is potential sighting.
In A mysterious light, a segment of an ethnographic interview, Miller describes a strange light he saw once while hunting together with dogs in 1966 “All at I looked up to see what happened once it was daylight, and. There is a light about this big, going up, drifting within the hill. It just faded out when I looked and seen. I’ve been in the Marines, and understand what airplane lights appear to be, plus it was too large for that.” When asked if he knew what it had been he offered, “I’m not sure what it had been” but went on to spell out, “If there is such a thing as a UFO that’s what that was.” This light that is unexplained a walk within the woods is typical of numerous stories of these kinds of encounters. It’s not only the media that tells stories and represents most of these ideas, documentation of the experiences and stories Americans tell each other is similarly important for understanding and interpreting what UFOs supposed to century that is 20th.
Scientists and astronomers express varying levels of enthusiasm for the possibility for intelligent life when you look at the universe. However, scientists generally dismiss the idea that you will find aliens visiting Earth. In Pale Blue Dot: A Vision for the Human Future in Space, Carl Sagan reviews the options of alien people to Earth, and shows that there is reason that is good be skeptical of those. A lot of Sagan’s work focuses on debunking folk stories and beliefs and attempts to encourage more rigorous and thought that is skeptical. He similarly discussed criticism of beliefs in alien visitors in his earlier book, Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark.
This criticism that is zealous of in UFOs from Sagan, who was simply well recognized for his speculative ideas about the odds of alien civilizations, might seem to be a contradiction. Sagan himself had even speculated from the likelihood of visits by ancient aliens in the essay through the early 60s contact that is direct Galactic Civilizations by Relativistic Interstellar Spaceflight.
Just how do we reconcile Sagan the skeptic using the imaginative Sagan? Far from a contradiction, both of these parts of Sagan’s perspective offer a framework for understanding him therefore 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 necessary to entertain and explore new ideas, however strange, while during the same time testing and evaluating the validity of those ideas.