Are We Asking the Wrong Questions About UFOs?

A new book probes this history in unexpected ways

UFO crash site sign
A new book wonders if we should be asking different questions about UFOs.
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From Congressional hearings to declassified materials, the last few years have been a boom time for UFO enthusiasts seeking to uncover the truth about what sightings of bizarre aircraft might mean about our planet and what might be beyond it. The publication of a new book from Pulitzer Prize finalist Garrett M. Graff, titled UFO: The Inside Story of the US Government’s Search for Alien Life Here — And Out There, would seem to add even more fuel to speculation surrounding what people have and have not seen in the skies over the last few decades.

But to hear Graff tell it, we might be looking in the wrong places. In an excerpt from the book published in The Atlantic, Graff makes an interesting argument about where he stands after conducting years of research. “I’ve become convinced that a cover-up is real — it’s just not the one that you think,” he writes. “Plenty of revelations, declassified documents, and public reports suggest active, ongoing deception.”

Graff goes on to argue that the reality is likely more mundane than evidence of extraterrestrials — and that plenty of UFO reports actually relate to classified U.S. government projects and flying vehicles representing the classified projects of other nations.

That said, Graff points to another explanation that fits neatly beside this one. “After reading thousands of pages of government reports, I believe that the government’s uneasiness over its sheer ignorance drives its secrecy,” he writes. “It just doesn’t know very much.”

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In a recent interview with, Graff demystified much of his chosen subject. “The vast majority, whether that’s 90%, 99% or 99.9%, of these things are explainable with more or better data,” he said.

He went on to argue that “interest in this topic lies in that tiny fraction that’s not an easily explainable case of mistaken identity.” The truth may well be out there — but not, perhaps, in the form that we’d expect.

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