The UFO Observer Spectrum

I am relatively new to what I call "The UFO Community."  Prior to being considered for inclusion in Unidentified on the History Channel last summer I wanted nothing to do with UFOs.  I did not know the extent nor the range of people and beliefs in the UFO Community.  I only knew what popular culture disseminates.

A year ago, I thought the UFO Community was entirely comprised of people in tinfoil hats and Tech Nerds.  In my mind, these folks all attended Star Trek conventions and were either extremely intelligent but with no social skills or they were whacked out of their gourds.  While there may be elements of these stereotypes in each category, as a whole it was an unrealistic amalgamation of unrelated traits.  Having this view was no different than forming a prejudicial mental profile of a minority group based on selective traits observed by an outsider.

Now, as a deeply immersed member of The UFO Community I have identified a number of different factions within our community.

  • True Believers
  • UFO Investigators
  • Agnostics
  • Academics
  • UFO Skeptics

UFO Observer Spectrum
The UFO Observer Spectrum
These factions represent categories on a spectrum of belief versus skepticism.  On the one end you have people who believe in UFOs because they are into the Paranormal.  For them UFOs are one of many unusual subjects they believe in like Bigfoots and Telekinesis.  On the other end there are the folks who do not believe in anything which their current cultural, political, or religious-based belief system goes against.  They tend to seek out information which reaffirms these positions rather than trying to educate themselves with new ideas.

In between, you have a lot of people who use Science, Mathematics, and eye-witness accounts, amongst other things, to either confirm or deny visitation by aliens.  The methods used by each of these two middle groups are remarkably similar but the results achieved are much different.  They have different goals and are bound by different parameters.

Lastly, we have the Agnostics.  These are people who don't give a rat's-ass about UFOs.  They go about their lives every day with hardly a thought about what is out there.

I shaped the spectrum like a bell curve in order to demonstrate that the True Believers and the UFO Skeptics are outliers, on the fringes.  Most people are in one of the groups at the top of the bell with the bulk of those being the Agnostics.  The graphic above is not intended to represent a scientifically conducted survey.  Rather it is based on anecdotal evidence gathered over the past year in my interactions with people in and out of the UFO Community.  However, I encourage anyone with Academic credentials to challenge my assertions and either prove or disprove what I am stating here.

This article will introduce each of the categories of UFO Observers.  I will start with the two groups on the ends of the spectrum and then move up to the groups at the center of the spectrum or top of the bell curve.  Like with politics and religion all the evidence in the world will never convince the most devout adherents of the extreme ends of the spectrum, to change their views.  But the folks in the middle can be swayed.  I am one of them.

Note, in this article, when I use the term "UFO" the meaning is specifically "alien spaceships" and not merely an object flying in the air which cannot be identified.

True Believers

The reason I used to believe that True Believers were either nerds or weirdos, was because that was what popular culture showed me.  I was a believer myself and had been ridiculed for telling my true story of a close encounter.  I had been shamed for experiencing a traumatic event, as it were.  The event itself was difficult enough to deal with.  The resulting social ostracization was worse.  I did not want to ever go through that again.  So I distanced myself from those people.  If I was not one of them no one could ever make me feel like an outcast again.

True Believers
True Believers
After months of speaking with TV producers at A&E about my sighting, last year, I warmed up to the idea of dipping my toe into the UFO Community.  Instead, I dove in head first.

I wanted to find out more about the UFO Community.  I still did not consider myself a member of this group.  But I was curious about how many others like me there were, out there.  I wanted to meet and speak with people who had been in similar situations, not "nerds and weirdos" per se but what I would consider "regular guys."  These are the people with social skills and a sense of humor.  They are co-workers, parents of your kids' friends, the next door neighbor.  There had to be more people out there like me, I thought.

I attended my first UFO Conference last October.  Surely, I would find what I was looking for there.  Still, I was nervous.  I felt like I was entering an adult toy store.  I looked over my shoulder to see if anyone was watching or following me in there.  When I had difficulty finding the meeting room in the library I was embarrassed when I had to ask a librarian for directions.  I was afraid she would get on a microphone and announce it to the whole library.  I pictured myself in the pharmacy, buying tampons for my wife and having the cashier get on the horn and announce, "Price check on tampons for the gentleman in the blue," and I'm like, "They're for my wife!  They're for my wife!"

There were four presenters, Linda Zimmerman, Shane Sirois, Paul Eno, and Rosemary Guiley.  The bulk of what the speakers talked about was all-things-supernatural other than UFOs.  This included ghosts, demons, and... what the F is a Hansen Trickster?  They talked about fringe concepts, new to me, like the Multiverse, as if these concepts were proven science.  I was, and still am, not into any those topics.  I do not believe in them because there is no way to scientifically prove their existence.

When the speakers opened the discussion to questions from the audience the conversation went further in the direction of general paranormal activity and pseudoscience.  It was a turn-off for me.  I am not saying that anyone is wrong for believing in these subjects.  I understand that my claim of having had a Close Encounter seems as unbelievable to many people as the Hansen Trickster is to me.  But I know what I saw.  Therefore, maybe people who claim to see paranormal activity know what they saw.  Regardless, I draw a major distinction between general Paranormal and UFOs.  Visits by aliens can be easily explained and substantiated with Science and these other subjects cannot.  I will elaborate more on this, below.

This category of people, the True Believers, are easy prey for conspiracy theorists and cult leaders.  People like Steven Greer, David Wilcock, and Jimmy the "Creek Jumper" So-and-so will blatantly make up unsubstantiated "facts" in an effort to reel in followers.  This allows them to sell books, retreats, and other money-makers.  Some would say they are just trying to make a living.  I can respect that, on the surface, but it hurts the cause of bringing the truth to people by muddying the waters, giving fuel to the Skeptics.  For example, once I hear terms like the "Military Industrial Complex" or talk about the US currently having bases on the moon and on Mars, I tune out.  I suspect most other rational people do too.

UFO Skeptics

On the other end of the spectrum you have the pure UFO Skeptics.  Just as I am skeptical of all forms of general paranormal activity, many people cannot wrap their heads around visits from aliens.

For some, it is a religious conviction that a higher power has put humans on Earth for a purpose and we should not question that.  Many of these people adhere to the belief that Earth is at the center of the Universe and since all the known history of our gods and prophets is here on Earth, there is no room in the narrative for intelligent life on other planets.  Others in this group have a belief that life may exist on other planets in some form but that life is not intelligent.  This position may evolve, over time, as even the current Pope has expressed a belief that there may be intelligent life, somewhere out there.

UFO Skeptics
UFO Skeptics - Am I right or am I right or am I right?
Some Skeptics will say there may be other intelligent life somewhere in the Universe but it does not have the capability of interstellar travel.  The main reason I have heard is, since humans have not created this ability, it is not possible.  We are presumably the most intelligent animals on our planet.  If we cannot do it, no one can.  Right?

Many of these people are as quick to jump on a conspiracy theory as the True Believers but with the opposite point and outcome.  These theories say that the lack of government disclosure about UFOs is proof in itself that they do not exist and any assertion to the contrary is an effort by "The Deep State" or other boogeymen to quell the masses.  None of this is based on any credible reporting by major publications.  That should be a telltale that the information is false but instead, it fuels the imaginations of people who have been led to believe that journalism is controlled by certain political factions and only people who work out of their mom's basement know the real truth.

Still other Skeptics may not have any particular religious beliefs and may not care for politics but they are limited by what they find to be tangible.  Perhaps if a UFO landed in their back yard and took them for a ride they would change their minds.  But then they might just think they had been abducted by humans in alien masks, an assertion I recently heard on a Facebook Page I follow, to try to explain alien abductions.

These same people may also say that their UFO ride was part of some kind of military experiment.  I outright reject any assertions that the capabilities demonstrated by UFOs are part of any military experiments, based on the fact that the ship I saw 27 years ago, while on duty in the US Army Reserves, had the same capabilities as those reported today by Navy pilots but we have not yet seen this technology in use against our adversaries nor have we seen it capitalized on by entrepreneurial business people.  It would have happened by now.  All you need to do is watch any Fail Video and count the number of hoverboard accidents you see.  If someone could build a hoverboard that really hovered, they would be a billionaire over night.  Humans do not possess the ability to hover.  We certainly cannot zip off into space instantaneously.

One would think that with all of the many thousands of eye-witness accounts of UFO Sightings, some of these Skeptics could be swayed.  But they will simply point out that the witnesses have some personality defects, or the videos are grainy, it was just some lights in the sky, or it could have been the proverbial "weather balloon."  Furthermore, a belief is a belief and just like with religion, once someone has taken the leap to be a believer, it is nearly impossible to persuade them to change their line of thought.


Now we get into one of the two categories of people who use scientific principals in the study of UFOs.  These people, The Academics, are typically scientists, university professors, and other educated and intelligent individuals, you know, bookworms, eggheads, poindexters.  These are the folks who should be spending the most time on this subject but they do not.  They have the intellectual capacity, the training, and perhaps even the power to show the world the truth about UFOs.  However, many of these people seem quick to dismiss even the most remote possibility that we are being visited by aliens.

There are three main reasons Academics are unable to accept that we are being visited by intelligent people from other planets.  The first is, this category of skeptics will bind themselves to The Scientific Method or something similar.  The Scientific Method allows for philosophy to be the root of a concept but then the concept must be proven by systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.  In other words, you have to be able to set up a test of the concept and repeat the test over and over.  Poindextering sounds so boring.

That method works great when you are trying to prove that Turtles carry Salmonella.  But it is not as easily applied to proving the existence of other intelligent life forms.  There are no habitable planets in our solar system so we cannot view or visit aliens who happen to be in the neighborhood.  Astronomers have recently discovered potentially habitable planets in other solar systems but they are too far away for us to travel to using the the utterly primitive rocket technology we currently possess.  Our telescopes are not powerful enough to even see these planets, let alone zoom in to their surfaces.  We know the planets are there because we can see them pass in front of their suns during orbit and now we can also see these planets' heat signatures but we cannot devise the tests to prove they are inhabited.  The conclusion, then, is that life on other planets does not exist because we are not able to prove it does.  Scientific Method, dude.

But wait, you say, there are thousands upon thousands of eye-witness accounts of alien visits.  Surely, not all of these people walk around in tin-foil hats, burning sage to ward off evil spirits.  If even one of these witnesses was telling the truth it would be the biggest news in the history of our civilization!  No, they say, "I'm not going to touch that."

The Professor, an Academic
This brings us to the second main reason Academics are unable to accept the existence of UFOs, fear.  People in Scientific Communities lack the courage to risk their reputations by seemingly associating themselves with the True Believers.  Like me, a year ago, Academics view everyone in the UFO Community as a strange sub culture.  In order to advance in their chosen fields, it is crucial to maintain credibility.  In order to maintain credibility you must distance yourself from that which is incredible.  Stories of Hansen Tricksters and Bigfoots are incredible which make the people who tell these stories incredible or not credible, the Academics believe.  UFOs are in that same paranormal category to them, therefore the study of UFOs will damage my credibility, one would say.

Academics are so closed off to exploration of the strange and unusual that they will arrogantly dismiss the very notion of UFO Investigation.  Last fall I read a great article by a brave Academic about how we should take alien visits more seriously.  If you read the subsequent comments you can see how he was then ridiculed by his readers.  The detractors seemed to far outweigh the supporters.  #Sad

The third reason Academics seem to put up roadblocks to UFOlogy is, they are often required to publish the results of their findings and then subject these publications to the Peer Review process.  This is where an Academic or their publisher will call out to other Academics around the world, asking them to read what the first person has produced and try to either prove or refute it.  This is why, when people say things like, "Every reputable scientist in the world believes that Global Climate Change is mad-made," we know it is true because that happened - the findings were published many times by different, independent experts who conducted their own tests and then other people with advanced knowledge of Climatology who were not associated with those who published the findings were invited to either prove or refute the conclusions.

Peer Review worked great for proving the source of Climate Change - not so much with visits from aliens.  The reason is not only because of the difficulty of creating repeatable tests but even more-so because nobody wants to risk their professional reputation by signing their name to the study that was put out for Peer Review, talking about "paranormal activity."  Just like people in the military who report their sightings while on duty (like I did) Academics would be laughed into silence.  I call this Peer Rebuke.  People would look at them funny, afterwards.  They might not get assigned the next big project they deserve.  Career advancement would decelerate.  They may even lose their job.

Fear of Peer Rebuke and the intellectual confines of the Scientific Method are the main factors in the inability of Academics to even consider the study of visitation by aliens, let alone to prove its existence.

Surely, not all Academics are afraid of their own shadows!  There must be some brave people within their ranks.  Indeed there are, and don't call me Surely.  I have blogged before about Avi Loeb, the head of Astronomy at Harvard.  Loeb is one of the few people in Academia willing to stick his neck out, at the risk of having it chopped off by his peers.  However, there is one thing that Loeb and most other Scientists are bound by which they cannot escape:  Physics.  That is to say, they are bounded by their understanding of physics.  But physics ain't over.  Newton was a good start.  Einstein was better.  But there is even more out there.

I had a conversation with a rocket scientist, last fall, and told him the ship I saw must have zipped away faster than the speed of light.  He said that was impossible and then proceeded to school me on Relativity.  Well, yeah, we humans are limited by the knowledge of Relativity but that is only because we have not yet discovered what comes next, in relative terms (as it were).

The ship I saw and the ones documented by the Navy pilots in History Channel's Unidentified were able to break all sorts of known laws of physics.  The fact that they are even able to get here before everyone on their ships dies of old age is a testament to the fact that Physics is a jail cell constricting creative thought.  We need to think beyond the rules, as we know them.  Unfortunately, Academia is serving out its full sentence.

UFO Investigators

Also near the center of the spectrum, alongside the Academics, you have us, UFO Investigators.  We tend to focus on UFOs and stay away from the Paranormal.  We try to approach the study of UFOs from a scientific perspective, just like Academics but there are a few major differences between us.

  1. UFO Investigators start from the fact that: UFOs are real and are piloted by intelligent beings.
  2. Scientific Method is limiting.  People who travel at (or faster than) the speed of light do not permit us to set up repeatable tests.  We need to approach this from a different tack.
  3. The known laws of Physics are limiting.  People on other planets can do things our scientists say is impossible.  We need to think of the impossible and then figure out how to make it possible rather than letting it stymie us.

Philosophizing is encouraged amongst this group as long as it is clear that the philosopher is engaging in creative thought rather than stating a fact, like some of the charlatans who lure in the True Believers.  This free-from speculation allows the individual to think beyond the confines of known Physics without concern for adhering to the Scientific Method nor facing the ridicule of peers.  We have jobs outside of the field of UFOlogy so we do not need to worry as much about attaching our names to our work, however, people in this group may not share their views with everyone they know, due to social fears.

That having been said, despite having looser boundaries than the Academics we still have a respect for Science.  UFOs are thought of as alien spaceships not simply because we believe it to be true.  Rather, we start off by taking the thousands of credible eye-witness accounts and analyzing the performance of the vehicles described versus current human technology.  We have analyzed the likelihood of these vehicles having come from our own solar system or another.  We have applied our own military or civilian experience and made logical conclusions.  Some of us are trained observers.  Most of us are intelligent and rational.

Some of us UFO Investigators have seen UFOs, some have not.  Some of us have had close encounters with alien spaceships.  Others have actually been inside them.  That will sound far-fetched to the Skeptics and Academics but there are too many of these stories for them to all be false.  A man can be sent to the electric chair based on eye-witness testimony.  Yet, thousands of eye-witness accounts of UFOs are dismissed as "weather balloons" or "military experiments" or some other nonsense.  Or, if the stories cannot be dismissed outright then the witnesses are discredited.  You would have to be crazy to tell a story about a UFO sighting, right?

No, not really.  The folks who fall into this category of UFO Investigators tend to be educated and successful.  We have supportive families and respectful friends.  We may or may not attend a church or synagogue.  We have strong social skills.  We may participate in popular culture, even if we say we are above the inane, trite garbage which passes for entertainment.

Those who have never seen a UFO use many of the same scientific principals as Academics to justify the existence of UFOs and intelligent alien visitors.  Others, like myself, who have had sightings will use these scientific principals to help explain why they themselves are rational, level-headed individuals in order to win over the Academics and others who can help spread the word that this is real - people from other planets are visiting us.

UFO Investigators
UFO Investigators Tom DeLonge and Lue Elizondo of TTSA
Some UFO Investigators, like Lue Elizondo and his cohorts at To The Stars Academy (TTSA), are involved, in large part, out of a concern for National Security.  Anyone with the technological capability to get from there to here (wherever "there" is) must certainly possess military capabilities which would make the US arsenal seem like spears and stones by comparison.  That is a problem, not only for national sovereignty but also for life as we know it.  The US military (and the other major powers like Russia, China, England, etc.) should be doing something about this.  We are not.  The United Nations should be involved, while we are at it.

I have felt the same way as the TTSA folks for the past 27 years.  I could never understand why nobody with the power to do anything about this issue cared about my sighting story.  It is bizarre that the US Government is ignoring this.  Even with all the recent press and the Navy's acceptance of UFOs, the other day President Trump just said, "I want them to think whatever they think... people are saying they’re seeing UFOs.  Do I believe it?  Not particularly."  Which category would he belong to?

UFO Agnostics

The final group on the spectrum of UFO Observers is the Agnostics, also known as the "Meh" group.  These are people who rarely, if ever, put an ounce of thought into aliens and UFOs.  If asked about this subject their response would be something along the lines of, "Meh...  I don't know."  These folks could not be bothered by whatever is going on in the sky.  They are too busy looking down at their phones.

Unlike Skeptics who have a firm belief that UFOs are not alien visitors, Agnostics have not formed a firm opinion, one way or the other.  They live in a blissful cloud of ignore-ance towards aliens much as one might react towards a telemarketer.  Do I care that I am over-paying for chimney cleaning?  Yeah, but not enough to listen to a sales pitch by someone with an unintelligible accent and then put in the mental effort to weigh my options.  Make a decision?  Not today, bub.  I am vegging on the couch.  Take me off your list.

UFO Agnostics live for today, driving low-gas-mileage vehicles, throwing McDonald's bags out the window with one hand and texting with the other.  They must steer with their knees - good thing most cars are automatics, these days.

UFO Agnostics
UFO Agnostics
I am mostly joking about these characteristics, of course.  Mostly.  This group represents the bulk of people in the world.  That may sound dismal. But I see it as an opportunity.  Now is the time to speak up about your views on UFOs.  It does not matter which of the above categories you fall into.  What is important is that we have the conversation.

Discussing intelligent alien life and visitations by their spaceships should be as normal as discussing any other current events topic.  You may not like the opinion of the person you are speaking with and they may not like yours.  But have the conversation.

Think about it; where do you fall on the UFO Observer Spectrum?  What do your best friends and family think about that?

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Thank you for reading and keep an eye on the sky.


  1. You "shaped" your data like a bell curve? How about showing us the ACTUAL data rather than shaping it how you want it to be? Without the actual data, you can't see--much less illustrate--that those two groups are outliers at all! Truly, as a scientist who respects data, that's one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard. You don't get to make up your own graphs.

    1. Good point. I am not a statistician nor a scientist. I'm just a guy who had a close encounter and then put a lot of thought into why we're being visited and why no one thinks this is a big deal. I welcome your contributions if you feel you can improve upon my graph.


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