Some today, in spite of the vast amount of information technology is capable of providing, still find dissatisfaction with what appears to be a general lack of decent photographic evidence of UFOs. Along these lines, at AOL’s Politics Daily, writer and blogger David Corn recently did an interesting piece that dealt with the politics, so to speak, surrounding UFO photography. One might initially ask what is political (or even exopolitical) about photographs of strange objects in the skies–or as the scope of Corn’s column seeks to address, the lack thereof. However, Corn’s argument, along with other analysis of the debate, brings forth some interesting details nonetheless, spurring questions over whether the kinds of things that occur in the study of ufology are really always what they seem.

Corn, having worked as a Washington reporter for more than two decades, argues that a lack of available photographic evidence of UFOs, especially in our gadget-laced techno-society, has political ramifications. One thing, for instance, that he draws from his experience is summed up well in the statement, “nothing undermines conspiracy theorizing better than reporting” (which mirrors something similar I said on this blog only days ago, pertaining to the research Nick Redfern). “I came to the conclusion that the government is generally not capable of mounting extensive and complex, years-long conspiracies that transcend administrations,” Corn writes. “The bureaucrats are just not that good, and risk-averse political leaders often don’t have the guts to do so.”

I would agree with Corn here, also. In fact, it brings to mind a conversation I had with a former North Carolina Congressman a few weeks ago, who offered a similar theory. “Many people go into politics thinking there are conspiracies and secret plans being orchestrated,” he told me, “but after a while, when you see how unorganized it really is up there in Washington, I don’t think it would be possible for them to pull it off!” That said, it would also be silly to argue that secret affairs don’t occur at all. Consider the CIA’s secret operations between 1952-54 in Guatemala, where a democratically elected leftist government was overthrown by the CIA, due to fears fueled by Cold War sentiments that the country would become a “Soviet beachhead.” The U.S. State Department under John Foster Dulles, along with his brother Alan Dulles (then overseeing CIA operations) helped establish a military dictatorship in place of the Guatemala’s lawful government. “There are indeed secret programs,” Corn also admits, citing the Iran Contra, but dismissing the JFK assassination as the acts of a lone crazy gunman–a theory for which the arrival he admits occurred slowly over the years.

Perhaps the most ironic statement Corn makes has to do with a UFO sighting of his own, though he gives few details other than the fact that he “was about 12 at sleep-away summer camp in New Hampshire.” In spite of his failure to elaborate on the incident, he somewhat remorsefully adds that he wishes he could keep the views he held in his youth (perhaps thanks to the experience detailed here) “that UFOs carrying extra-terrestrial tourists were turning the Earth into a veritable celestial truck stop. But that brings me back to the question: Where are the photos?”

This is where Corn’s argument begins to falter somewhat. Nobody would argue (well, okay… maybe some would) that the photographic evidence of UFO activity is somewhat lacking (i.e. blurry images of strange objects–truly unidentified in the sense that they can hardly be recognized in the photos often presented as evidence). Some of the really good ones are likely fakes, too. That doesn’t mean, however, that a good number of photos depicting genuine unexplained aerial objects and/or activity don’t exist. They do indeed exist, but what we should keep in mind about these photos and videos is that they may not depict extraterrestrial aircraft, but a wide variety of other things ranging from classified government projects to atmospheric phenomena akin to ball lightning–both of which, though commonly reported as “UFOs,” are known without a doubt to exist. That said, for a huge collection of UFO photographs ranging from the best and most convincing, to the worst and most obvious hoaxes, you can visit this link:

Best UFO Pictures, 1870-2008

Indeed, you’ll see that the most recent years begin to fill up so quickly that individual pages cease to span several decades, and from 2004 through 2010, the pages feature individual galleries for those years. This might suggest one of two things: 1) As technology has made photography and video more widely available, more evidence of strange aerial activity is surfacing or 2) as technology has made digital manipulation more readily available, there are more hoaxes. In truth, both of these probably deserve some credit.

One final piece of the puzzle, however, might also have to do with knowing where to look; but this doesn’t pertain so much to knowing “where and when” so far as expecting the right location for a UFO to appear. Instead, I refer to a general knowing of where on the web to look for evidence as it gathers. The reason I bring this up has to do with another conversation I had a few years ago while working in the radio business, shared between a veteran reporter and myself. Somehow, the conversation had drifted to reports of UFOs, and the fellow told me, “back in the 1960s and 70s, you heard about UFOs all the time. Now you never hear about them at all, it seems.” To the contrary, there is actually probably more UFO reporting that goes on today, with the wide variety of 24-hour news resources available on television and the Internet. UFO stories, perhaps more prevalent than ever, now also have websites and television shows focused solely on covering that sort of material, with reporters, bloggers and researchers focused almost exclusively on providing material on the subject. Though major media outlets will occasionally feature the more significant UFO stories as “water cooler” material, the majority is sifted down to the sites and other mediums that welcome that sort of content. Since news has more places to go now, arguably in the world today you can count on what you’re hearing having more to do with where you’re getting your information.

So if there appears to be a lack of evidence of UFOs in photos and video, at least for some, could it be due to something as simple as knowing where to look? All debate over what, exactly, the photos may actually depict, perhaps photographs of strange UFO activity are so hard to find because, like so many things in this over-saturated media-driven world of today, they are hidden in plain site, with easy access to everyone.

UFO image courtesy of The UFO Casebook.

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Micah Hanks

Author: Micah Hanks

Micah Hanks is a writer, researcher, and podcaster. His interests include areas of history, science, archaeology, philosophy, and the study of anomalous phenomena in nature. He can be reached at info@micahhanks.com.