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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

UFO Acronym for Unidentified Flying Object, also known as a “flying saucer” due to the media misinterpretation of pilot Kenneth Arnold's (which see) 1947 sighting.
      Since that time, endless reports of UFOs have come in, most of them actually of weather balloons, science projects, meteors, regular airline flights, and other relatively mundane events. In most cases, sizes and distances have been given, though such figures simply cannot be determined without the use of proper instrumentation, a comparison object, or another properly recorded, independent report. It is an illusion most people have that they can tell the size and/or the distance of an object without these advantages, and it is just not true.
      The viewing of an unknown object or image in the sky has almost automatically brought in suggestions of extraterrestrial origins. While there can hardly be any doubt that because of the vastness involved, other forms of life must exist in the universe besides those of which we are already aware, that fact does not imply that a viewed UFO is a manifestation of such life. It is simply what its name implies: an object or other phenomenon seen in the sky, apparently flying, and of unknown origin and nature, at that time and place, to that observer.
      The currently favorite UFO claim is that of “abduction,” in which “abductees” report to the media——in considerable detail——how they were whisked away by alien craft as biological specimens. Almost invariably we hear that the UFO occupants carefully examined the genitals of the victims, who delight to dwell on that factor. The Journal of Irreproducible Results in the United States awarded their 1993 “Ig Nobel Prize” in psychology to scientists John Mack of Harvard Medical School and David Jacobs of Temple University in Philadelphia for their joint conclusion that people who believe they were kidnapped by aliens from outer space probably were, and that the purpose of the abduction is the production of children. The opinion of Mack and Jacobs on the Tooth Fairy was not revealed.


John Mack and David Jacobs, winners of the 1993 “Ig Nobel Prize” in psychology.

      Significantly, many persons who believe they are abductees also believe they have lived former lives and can recall them.



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Copyright (C) 1995-2007 James Randi.

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