10 Alien Encounters Debunked

As a longtime investigator of unusual phenomena, I have no doubt that UFOs exist. UFOs, are, of course, Unidentified Flying Objects, and "unidentified" simply means that what the eyewitness saw was not immediately recognized by that person, at that time, under those circumstances. There are many things in the skies that the average person may not be able to identify from a quick look but that a pilot, a meteorologist, or an astronomer might instantly recognize. There are also seemingly unusual experiences that most people may not understand but that a psychologist can explain.

With alien encounters, we find that often an explanation lies not necessarily in the skies but in our minds. Humans are pattern-seeking creatures, and our brains try desperately to make sense of things we don’t immediately recognize. Often we are correct in our assessments of what we see and experience, but many times we simply misperceive, misunderstand, or misremember.

Those who claim to encounter aliens and see UFOs are sometimes ridiculed as crazy, but in fact we are all hardwired with the same fallible brains. While some people seek out the skeptical or scientific explanations, others decide that since they can’t explain something, no one else can either, and therefore that experience is mysterious or inexplicable.

So with that, here are 10 alleged alien encounters—those brushes with aliens (or supposed aliens) that have been definitively debunked over the years.

Cattle Mutilations

The Story:
When alien visitors are not abducting people (see number 2) or implanting things in them (number 3), or making circles in crops (number 7), they butcher cattle, either for research purposes or perhaps sadistic amusement. Since the 1970s, hundreds of animal corpses have been found with unusual or inexplicable features, including being drained of blood and having their organs removed with "surgical precision."

The real story:
Livestock predation has plagued ranchers and farmers for millennia, but it wasn’t until the last few decades (during the public’s peaking interest in UFOs) that anyone thought to attribute the deaths to aliens. Research has shown that the "mysterious" features are in fact quite ordinary and are caused by natural decay processes and scavenger attacks. Curiously, exactly the same phenomena has been attributed to not only aliens but also to Satanic cults and the dreaded chupacabra creature of Hispanic folklore.

Alien Engineers

The Story:
Science can’t explain how the Great Pyramids of Egypt were constructed; because they are so precisely aligned and designed, aliens must have had a role in creating them thousands of years ago.

The real story:
While many people assume that those living in earlier times (such as the ancient Egyptians) were not resourceful enough to possibly have created impressive engineering feats without extraterrestial aid, this is not true. Actually, the methods by which the pyramids could have been constructed are well documented, and have appeared in many places including National Geographic magazine and Mark Lehner’s book The Complete Pyramids. The only real mystery surrounding the pyramids is why anyone would still think aliens were involved.

Area 51

The Story:
Area 51 is where the U.S. government stores and studies extraterrestrial bodies and aircraft, including the unfortunate (and apparently poorly-trained) alien pilots that crashed in Roswell. Some even say that it is an officially-sanctioned landing base for spaceships.

The real story:

The simple fact of the matter is that the public doesn’t really know much about what goes on at the military base near Groom Dry Lake, Nevada (popularly but not officially called Area 51). It is a top secret military base, and there are of course perfectly legitimate government and military reasons for keeping the base’s purposes secret that have nothing to do with aliens or UFOs; 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl suggested that the area may be a dumping ground for toxic waste. There’s no reason to think that anything alien is going on there, but where there is secrecy, there will be conspiracy.

The Face on Mars

The Story:
Proof that intelligent alien life exists in the universe can be found on Mars—or so claims Richard Hoagland, author of the book The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever. According to Hoagland, NASA photographs of the Cydonia region of Mars show a human-like face. According to Hoagland, this must have been constructed by intelligent beings and indicates that there are (or were) alien cities on Mars.

The real story:

The "Face on Mars" is an example of imagination and wishful thinking. The photographs that show an area vaguely resembling a face on Mars were taken by the Viking 1 Orbiter in 1976. Since then, far better photographs have been taken of Mars (for example, by the Mars Global Surveyor in 1998). They show that the area is heavily eroded, and the "face" was simply a combination of low image resolution and tricks of light and shadow.

Crop Circles

The Story:
Aliens are the most likely explanation for the mysterious circles and other designs that occasionally appear in farmers’ fields. They are some sort of sign or message that humans have not yet deciphered.

The real story:
Despite films like Signs, there is no evidence that crop circles are made by alien intelligences. Hoaxing is by far the best explanation for crop circles—far more so than aliens who supposedly travel across the vast universe to reach Earth, only to flatten wheat in rural English and American farms as some sort of information. (You’d think that aliens with superior intelligence would realize their messages aren’t getting through, and be a little more direct.)

The Alien Autopsy Film

The Story:
The 1947 "Roswell Incident" (see number 1) got a boost of credibility in 1995 when a grainy, black-and-white film surfaced. The top-secret film (shot by the military and showing a post-mortem dissection of an alien body) was touted as evidence of what some UFO buffs had claimed all along: that alien bodies had been recovered by the U.S. government.

The real story:
Soon after the alien autopsy footage was broadcast on Fox television, serious doubts were raised about the authenticity of the film. Skeptics (and even many UFO researchers) branded the film a hoax, pointing out anachronisms and inconsistencies in the film. Yet because the Roswell story is so short on evidence, others clung to the autopsy footage as real. Earlier this year, the special effects artist who created the alien confessed that it was in fact a hoax.

The Flying Saucers

The Story:
On June 24, 1947, the modern UFO era began when a man named Kenneth Arnold saw nine “flying saucers” moving at high speed near Mount Rainer, Washington. Soon others began reporting seeing similar UFOs, spawning a “flap.”

The real story:
The phrase "flying saucer," so familiar to Americans and UFO buffs, is the result of a reporter’s error. After interviewing Arnold about his sighting, a reporter from the Eastern Oregonian newspaper reported that Arnold saw round, aerial objects (in fact he said they were "crescent shaped"). Arnold stated that the objects "flew erratic, like a saucer if you skip it across the water"—not that what he saw resembled an actual saucer. Yet that "saucer" interpretation stuck, prompting many eyewitnesses to repeat (and hoaxers to duplicate) Arnold’s nonexistent description. This strongly shows the role of suggestion in UFO sightings; as skeptic Marty Kottmeyer asks, "Why would extraterrestrials redesign their craft to conform to [the reporter’s] mistake?"

Alien Implants

The Story:
As part of nefarious experiments, aliens have implanted various objects in human abductees. Victims have found small foreign objects in their bodies and come to realize they had been abducted. Several alien implants have been recovered, and when they are scientifically tested, they are found to be indestructible or of materials not found on Earth.

The real story:
Joe Nickell, a columnist for Skeptical Inquirer magazine, noted that “Since 1994 alleged implants have been surgically recovered but they’ve become remarkably diverse: one looks like a shard of glass, another a triangular piece of metal, still another a carbon fiber, and so on. None was located in the brain or nasal cavity, instead being recovered from such extremities as toe, hand, shin, external ear, etc.; some were accompanied by scars while others were not. As physicians know, a foreign object can enter the body unnoticed, as during a fall, or while running barefoot in sand or grass—even as a splinter from a larger impacting object.” People find all sorts of weird things in their bodies, but so far none are of alien origin.

Alien Abductions

The Story:
Hundreds of people claim to have been abducted by aliens, especially during in the 1980s. They were subjected to rape, experiments and implantations (see number 3), and other bodily intrusions. Several prominent researchers, including Harvard’s John Mack, supported the claims and wrote books about these victims.

The real story:
There may be several causes of the alien abduction experience. Many of these experiences are only recovered years later, during psychological treatment for other issues. Research has proven that false memories can be created in the course of therapy by careless psychologists. People can actually come to believe they were abducted or abused when they were not. Other researchers have shown that a common psychological process called sleep paralysis may be misinterpreted as an alien abduction.

The Roswell Incident

The Story:
The most famous UFO crash in history occurred in 1947, on a ranch just outside of Roswell, a dusty New Mexican town. Mysterious debris and alien bodies (see number 5) were recovered, spirited away in a government cover-up.

The real story:
There was indeed a cover-up of what crashed outside Roswell, but authorities were hiding not a crashed alien saucer but a weather balloon from a secret spy program called Project Mogul. The debris described by the original eyewitnesses exactly matches the balloons used in the program; the fanciful stories of alien bodies did not appear until much later. The Roswell Incident was in fact only one of many similar (and clearly folkloric) stories of crashed vessels containing alien bodies and debris—some dating back nearly 100 years earlier.


More than a third of Americans believe in Aliens

More than a third of people in the U.S. believe aliens exist - and more than 10 per cent of the population believes they have seen an alien ship in the sky.

The study from National Geographic Channel found that 80 million Americans - or 36 per cent - are certain alien spaceship exist, and of those who believe, 79 per cent are convinced the White House has kept information about other lifeforms a secret.

If an alien knocked on the door, 22 per cent would try to befriend the alien, 15 per cent would run away, 13 per cent would lock their doors, and, reassuringly, only 2 per cent would try to inflict bodily harm.

A mock-up of a UFO flying over an American road: up to 10 per cent of Americans believe they have seen something strange in the skies

Furthermore, 55 per cent believe there are real-life Men in Black-style agents who threaten people who spot UFOs.

Brad Dancer, senior vice president of research and digital media for National Geographic, said: 'We wanted the pulse on people's opinions. 'We wanted to get a sense of how Americans view UFOs, what people believe and how mainstream pop culture may or may not be playing into their opinions on it.'

In total, 17 per cent of Americans had no belief in UFOs, 36 per cent think they do, and 48 per cent are not sure.

Turning to aliens vs politics, almost 65 per cent think Barack Obama would so a better job at an alien invasion over his opponent Mitt Romney. On a slightly less realistic note, 21 per cent would handle the Hulk, 12 per cent would call Batman, and eight per cent would call Spider-Man.

The survey was commissioned for an upcoming National Geographic Channel series, Chasing UFOs.


Fluorescent lights turn the bottom of the Red Sea into a sponge disco

The depths of the sea are normally a dark, colourless environment - but a new trend in diving has revealed the hidden colours of the unlit depths of the Red Sea, turning sponges and corals into a glowing light show.

'Fluo dives', where divers take near-ultraviolet lights into the depths, show up the hidden colours of the denizens of the deep - with everything from brain corals to algae and bacteria glowing with a natural bioluminescence.

The colourful 'glow' of the creatures is created by ultraviolet light reflecting off pigment cells in their skin. Under normal light, the creatures look far less interesting.

Cylinder water lily pictured at a depth of 49 feet - glowing fluorescent yellow under neon light

Four sea anemones pictured lit up by the neon lights carried by divers in the Red Sea

Scorpion Fish is seen surrounded by coral and algae during a fluo-dive

Stony coral glows in fluorescent colours as neon light strikes it

Brain coral: The images were captured at night, during a fluo-dive. Ultraviolet torches were used to see the bio-fluorescent properties of the marine life and the colours on the coral were only enhanced by the algae growing on them

Stony coral: Ultraviolet torches were used to see the bio-fluorescent properties of the marine life

The technique has been used to discover new species at dive resorts around the world - and divers at the Red Sea used the lights to capture sponges, scorpion fish and algae in a new, disco-coloured light.

The technique is particularly spectacular at uncovering the 'hidden' colours of coral reefs - turning the bottom of the Red Sea into a riot of colour. A scorpion fish turns orange, a water lily becomes fluorescent green, and stony coral takes on several shades.

The images were captured at night, during a fluo-dive. Ultraviolet torches were used to see the bio-fluorescent properties of the marine life . At times the photographer was at depths of 49ft.

Algae and bacteria pictured during a fluo-dive

Stony coral glows a bright greenish-yellow at the bottom of the Red Sea

Iridescent scallops and stony coral glow brightly under the fluorescent lights

Stony coral turns many different colours under the fluorescent light

Stony coral: Ultraviolet torches were used to see the bio-fluorescent properties of the marine life


Villages of Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands is a group of 18 islands in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean, northwest of Scotland and halfway between Iceland and Norway. The Islands have a population of nearly 50,000 and a language and culture of their own. The Faroe Islands are undeniably beautiful: green, rugged and wind-swept. The countryside is dominated by steep mountains, vertical sea cliffs and picturesque valleys. During summer, the Faroe Islands turn extraordinarily green and this is usually the best time to visit.

There are over a hundred villages in the Faroe Islands. Nearly every single one of them is situated near the ocean, and to new visitors they may all seem to be very much alike. The houses are either painted in bright colours or the traditional black, whilst the roofs are often turf covered. The buildings are usually built very close to each other, which is very cosy. In most places sheep occupy the outfield throughout the whole year.

Although the history of the Faroe Islands dates back to the 6th century, towns didn’t start to appear until very late. For instance, the capital, Tórshavn, only counted about 100 inhabitants in 1900, whereas today the number has escalated into nearly 20,000. In the Faroe Islands the traditional village was to a certain extent self-sufficient. When the fishing industry took off in 1872, it was the beginning of the end for the traditional way of life in the small villages as fishing replaced farming and the growing population chose to settle in the fast growing towns instead.

The Faroe Islands' primary industry is the fishing industry and the islands have one of the smallest independent economic entities in the world. The fishing industry accounts for over 80% of the total export value of goods, which are mainly processed fish products and fish farming. Tourism is the second largest industry, followed by woolen and other manufactured products.

Klaksvík is the second largest town of the Faroe Islands. It has an important harbour with fishing industry and a modern fishing fleet.



Eiði is a large village located on the north-west tip of Eysturoy, Faroe Islands.



Porkeri is a village in the Faroe Islands, situated northeast of Vágur on Suðuroy's east coast. As of 2008 it had a population of 362, and it has been inhabited at least as early as the 14th century.


Funningur is located on the north-west coast of Eysturoy. About 70 people live in Funningur on both sides of a cascading stream in a compact cluster of houses around a small bay.


Bøur is a small village on the west-side of Vágoy on the north side of Sørvágsfjørður, Faroe Islands. It has a magnificent view over the sea and the rocky islet Tindhólmur with its many peaks, Gáshólmur and the two "drangar", (tall, pointed clifftops sticking up from the sea). This motif is famous on many paintings and photographs.

Tórshavn is the capital and largest town of the Faroe Islands. The Vikings established their parliament on the Tinganes peninsula in 850 CE, thus Tórshavn was made capital of Faroe Islands and has remained so ever since. The town has grown rapidly ever since the turn of the 20th century into the undisputed administrative, economic and cultural center of the Faroes.


Gjógv is a village located on the northeast tip of the island of Eysturoy, in the Faroe Islands and 63 km (39 mi) north by road from the capital of Tórshavn. The village was named after a 200-metre (650 ft) long sea-filled gorge that runs north to the sea from the village.


Kirkjubøur is the southernmost village on Streymoy, Faroe Islands and the country's most important historical site.

Vágur meaning Bay is a town and an important port on the island of Suðuroy, part of the Faroe Islands and an important port. It is situated on the east coast of the island on the Vágsfjørður fjord, and was founded in the fourteenth century.



The town of Sandavágur lies on the south coast of the Faroese island of Vágar, and has been voted the most well-kept village in the Faroes twice. The name Sandavágur means sandy creek and refers to the beach down by the inlet.


Dead Sea

The Dead Sea, also known as the Salt Sea, is a salt lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west. It’s a hypersaline lake that is truly one of Earth’s unique places. Below you will find ten interesting facts along with a gallery of picture of this fascinating place. All information below via Wikipedia, enjoy!

1. The surface and shores of the Dead Sea are 423 metres (1,388 ft) below sea level, making it Earth’s lowest elevation on land.

2. The Dead Sea is 377 m (1,237 ft) deep, making it the deepest hypersaline lake in the world. A hypersaline lake is a landlocked body of water that contains significant concentrations of sodium chloride or other mineral salts, with saline levels surpassing that of ocean water.

3. With 33.7% salinity, the Dead Sea is one of the world’s saltiest bodies of water. Although Lake Assal (Djibouti), Garabogazköl and some hypersaline lakes of the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica (such as Don Juan Pond) have reported higher salinities.

4. The Dead Sea’s unusually high salt concentration means that people can easily float in the Dead Sea due to natural buoyancy. In this respect the Dead Sea is similar to the Great Salt Lake in Utah in the United States.

5. The Dead Sea is roughly 8.6 times saltier than the ocean. This salinity makes for a harsh environment in which animals cannot flourish (hence its name). The high salinity prevents macroscopic aquatic organisms such as fish and aquatic plants from living in it, though minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present.

6. The Dead Sea is 67 kilometres (42 mi) long and 18 kilometres (11 mi) wide at its widest point. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley and its main tributary is the Jordan River.

7. The Dead Sea area has become a major center for health research and treatment for several reasons. The mineral content of the water, the very low content of pollens and other allergens in the atmosphere, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation, and the higher atmospheric pressure at this great depth each have specific health effects.

8. Biblically, the Dead Sea was a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world’s first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from balms for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers.

9. An unusual feature of the Dead Sea is its discharge of asphalt. From deep seeps, the Dead Sea constantly spits up small pebbles and blocks of the black substance. Asphalt coated figurines and bitumen coated Neolithic skulls from archaeological sites have been found. Egyptian mummification processes used asphalt imported from the Dead Sea region.

10. The world’s lowest road, Highway 90, runs along the Israeli and West Bank shores of the Dead Sea at 393 m (1,289 ft) below sea level.