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How Flying Saucers Became UFOs

and why they should not have...

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, July 24, 1996.

I haven’t seen Independence Day, but after listening to four to five hundred trailers and reading the reviews, I feel I have seen it many times. And all the hoopla about UFO’s has produced its own weird phenomenon, the complete breakdown of common sense and grammatical definition. What I’d like to recall with you is how the phrases “flying saucer” and "UFO" evolved. Mostly, because after WWII, the majority of sightings of airborne strange items were described as, well, saucers.

OK, not profound, but because pseudo-science is a social climber, they decided accuracy demanded an acronym, and since only most, not all, of the strange sightings were saucer like, they came up with the military sounding Unidentified Flying Object, UFO. Still thumpingly obvious.

Yet now, the phrase flying saucer - once, perhaps, only 85% accurate - has been replaced by UFO, an acronym applied solely to saucers, meaning it is inaccurately used about 100% of the time.

It is hard, granted, to work up much indignation over this, but both of the newsmagazines and just about all of the hoopla on TV about this movie have stirred up the shut-ins and out-patients who claim to have had sex with aliens or been abducted to have seen flying wedge formations of UFO’s doing acrobatics. These people are offered on equal terms with NASA scientists and /or botanists with a PhD in agronomy, just so long as the interviewer can call them doctor for that added bit of impressiveness.

Yet, for all this, just about everyone now misuses the acronym UFO. This does not add to the case for other beings visiting earth. People who claim to have been aboard space ships and to have been surgically altered by creatures lose immense credibility when calling such a vehicle unidentified, especially when they recall interior details down to throw rugs and doilies.

And now, friends, imagine the US military. Now imagine the US military in 1947 or so, when they cheerfully supplied photographs of our foot soldiers watching the explosion of a nuclear bomb, the blast site of which poor grunts would soon be visiting with loud and public insistences that all was safe.

Now imagine this military - one decimated by the stand down after WWII, being able to keep secret an alien space ship crashing in Roswell New Mexico.

Got it? Granted, these are about the only people stupid enough to call a vehicle they could describe down to interior flourishes as unidentified, but could they really have pulled this off? Kept it secret, conducted autopsies? Doubtful.

Its hard not to think there are other civilizations out there, granted. But I resent supposed first amendment champions doing nothing more than cashing in on a summer movie under the guise of journalism, perpetuating ludicrous myths, and debasing language.