Widespread belief in UFOs from other planets is one example of how the human mind uses mystery and faith to maintain a sense of power in the face of the otherwise overwhelming forces unleashed by the use of science to change human existence. Although belief in UFOs is relatively benign by itself, it is symptomatic of a much deeper affliction in the US, which is the surge in those willing to buy into ridiculous and even perverted ideas in an attempt to escape reality.
There is not now, and never has been, any hard evidence to prove the wild speculations that earth has been visited by beings from other planets. All such claims are hypothetical musings and fantasies generated by the wishful, devious, fearful or ignorant. Numerous pranks and doctored photos have been produced over the years.
Many UFO sightings (likely the vast majority) have been shown to be natural phenomenon or aircraft. Ironically, investigations of some of these mysterious natural phenomenon have resulted in new knowledge about the natural world.
During the cold war, many UFO sightings were undoubtedly experimental aircraft, especially in the western US. To the extent that any reported sightings of extraterrestrial "beings" were not pranks, they were working for the military as part of these programs. It is only reasonable to conclude that the military would rather let people believe in extraterrestrials than to expose some top secret program, especially during the cold war.
There will always be some UFO sightings that will remain just that; Unidentified Flying Objects, with emphasis on "unidentified". Hard core UFO fanatics twist the lack of explanation for such occurrences into "proof" of some out-of-this-world happening. Yet, it is very convenient that they never have any hard evidence to substantiate their bogus claims.
For at least the past 200 years, waves of new technology have altered the way we live and understand the world. Much of this new technology has been frightening even when it improves our ability to deal with the myriad challenges of life on the blue planet.
Maintaining some semblance of control over our own beliefs is one of the most important needs for just about everyone. Yet, the constant changes wrought by science threaten our grasp of how the world works.
For many, challenging science has been a way to assert an independent mind. However, while skepticism about the claims of new technology is often warranted, refusal to believe clear and repeated evidence demonstrates an inflexible nature that greatly diminishes or even negates the ability to handle change. Most importantly, such weakness of mind and character is the key ingredient that has allowed demagogues and tyrants to gain power throughout history.
One of the most egregious examples of such weak-minded "thinking" is the number of Americans who have been telling pollsters that they believe our government was responsible for blowing up the World Trade Center, not the Saudi terrorists who clearly flew planes into the buildings. It is quite frightening to consider that such incredibly ignorant citizens have the right to vote.