It is always going to be difficult to come out with a unified theory for the UFO experiences due to the variability of the data. We have full alien contact and abductions, to lights in the sky and other more surreal events, each with a myriad of different explanations. Here is a selection of theories, which are more geared to explaining different aspects of the phenomena loosely classified as UFO experiences. The lines between some of these theories may be a little blurred but for sake of simplicity they have been split into a number of sections.
Misidentification and Hoaxing
The most sceptical theory about UFOs is of course that they do not exist at all but are; figments of imagination; misidentified stars, planets, aircraft weather balloons etc; and the result of hoaxing and daydreaming.
As far as misidentification goes the Northern Lights have been misinterpreted, as have stars, planets, aircraft, helicopters, weather balloons, lightning, meteors, space debris, and satellites. Even in Police reports eyewitness testimonies of one event from different people and viewpoints, can be very varied. Everybody tends to colour what they observe through their own filter of experience, and a belief in UFOs may influence misidentification and cause hallucinations. While it is true that more than ninety percent of UFO sightings are misidentified objects, there is a significant remainder that are at the present time without explanation.
Hoaxing in photographs and eyewitness accounts has fooled many people in the past, and will continue to do so in the future. Hoaxing seems to play a large part in human nature, whether it is to gain credibility, to fool experts, or just out of fun. However many people who report and have experienced strange events have a lot to lose by going public, yet they still do even at the expense of being ridiculed.
With the expansion of quantum physics the existence of alternate realities has been readily debated. There has been a move in some quarters to use this as an explanation for the UFO phenomena; that the aliens are actually beings who live in coexistence with us in a parallel reality. Perhaps this explains some of the accounts of missing time and time slips described by UFO witnesses. Unfortunately there is little evidence to suggest that this is true, and if there are parallel dimensions the energy needed to cross between them would be phenomenal.
Psyccotronic / The human factor
Carl Jung, the eminent psychologist thought that the UFO phenomenon was the result of symbolic manifestation of the human unconscious, somehow projected into reality. However, he was never quite comfortable with the more physical element of sightings. There does seem to be a similarity in older folk beliefs about fairy abductions and UFO abductions, albeit coloured by the modern worldview. This theory has links with some of the other ones, namely folklore and it is interesting to note that some alleged UFO abductions have taken place while the subject was under full view of other witnesses. This suggests that the experiences are personal, and stem from the psychological make up of the individual.
The Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis
From early on in UFO lore (after the 1947 sighting) there has been a firm belief, especially in America of the reality of visitors from another planet. This has recently been refuelled by the X files and the many books and programs about government conspiracies and Roswell. This has been polarised with the more down to earth belief in archetypal unconscious imagery being the source of encounters.
The belief in government cover ups, and that aliens are amongst us, goes hand in hand with the ETH, authors such as Timothy Good have championed this theory, writing about how successive governments have covered up the knowledge of aliens. However it is unlikely that a government cover up would be possible given failure to keep even relatively small scandals quiet.
As for science, it seems split in the belief in extraterrestrial life, it seems that life on earth has been dependant on a number of coincidental factors, that have proved perfect for the advancement of cellular carbon based life forms; Factors such as the existence of Jupiter blocking life destroying asteroids, and the size and position of the moon. These are seen in some quarters to decrease the likely hood of life on other planets. But then the Universe is a big place with billions and billions of stars.
What scientists generally agree upon is that there is little chance of any Alien civilisation reaching the earth, especially if the speed of light is a stable variant. The distances covered are thought to be too large. The existence of wormholes and other theories has not yet been proved.
The only way to prove the existence of an alien race visiting earth would be hard physical evidence independently verified.
Geophysical Locations and the effect on Human Consciousness
Much research has been done on the effect of certain geophysical locations and their effect on human consciousness, and the reality of a phenomenon called earthlights. The leader in this field of research has been Paul Devereux, who has shown that places along fault lines and plate margins are associated with strange lights that may have a natural origin and may be misidentified as alien craft.
He goes further and suggests that abduction experiences may be the result of these lights and places affecting the brain by way of electronic fields. These effects can create dream states within the individual concerned explaining why some accounts seem coloured by personal experience. All this being said there is no doubt that the experiences have life changing qualities, in much the same way as shamanic experience of past cultures. The ability of some people to go into trances in the past was seen as a great benefit to the community. Perhaps a similar state is attained when people experience abductions.
This is too small a place to go into this theory in detail but you should check out Paul Devereux’s books, Earthlights Phenomena and Power in the Land.
Folklore and Modern Mythology
The similarity between descriptions of fairy abductions in common folklore, and alien abduction cases has often been pointed out. The real difference is the appearance of the beings, and description of the place the abductee is held. There are similarities in time differences and slips, strange lights heralding the events, and the changes in witnesses after the experience. The sites of these abductions are also often very close to ancient sites and fault lines. It seems as though the same phenomena is at the root of the events but the belief system of the witnesses has changed, colouring the accounts.
There is also the temptation to call the UFO phenomenon modern folklore; strange lights in the past would have been identified with the fairies, whereas now they are often seen as UFOs and whatever the term conjures up to the witness.
Hollow Earth Theory
This theory is one of the most bizarre we will look at in this small selection, it is not as widely discussed as in the early stages of the phenomena, and it is not really one that has ever taken hold in British Ufology. The theory seems to stem from an ancient occult belief that there is a hollow kingdom under the earth inhabited by strange beings. A great deal of old lore suggests hidden tunnels, caverns leading to other worlds etc, although this could prove evidence for other theories such as the belief in other dimensions. The hollow earth is either seen as a base for interplanetary craft, or as a place where strange denizens live, and have always lived, sometimes wandering to the upper regions in much the way as Fungus the Bogeyman does in Raymond Brigg’s graphic story.
So there are a few theories about UFOs, we will expand this selection in the future and perhaps look at some of the more bizarre ideas that exist.