Written by Keith Rowell
Last Updated: 23 January 2015

We hope you will find some of your UFO and UFO-related questions among the ones below. If you do not, why don't you consider emailing us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We'll consider your question, and if it seems of sufficient general interest, we'll add it to our list and do our level best to answer it.

What is a UFO?

A "UFO" is an "unidentified flying object." The term "UFO" was introduced to the English language in the 1950s by the U.S. military. Before that, UFOs were known as "foo fighters" in World War II, "ghost rockets" from the 1946 incidents involving fly-overs of Sweden, and then "flying saucers," which was coined by a Pendleton, Oregon, newspaperman in June 1947.

The general public uses the term "UFO" to mean "flying saucer," of course. And flying saucers are considered to be flying machines piloted by intelligent beings from outer space. Much of science fiction is filled with fanciful stories about intelligent beings from outer space, and ideas like these are what most people think of when UFOs come up in conversation. However, things are a bit more complicated than that. A useful distinction has been made by the best minds doing UFO research today. The "UFO" has resolved into "IFO" and "genuine UFO."

What is a genuine UFO?

For ufologists, a UFO is just something that is the cause of a UFO report as long as the report is a seriously reported one. (A hoaxed report may or may not have a cause.) After the investigative work is done, UFO reports divide into "identified flying objects" (IFOs) and genuine UFOs, which are what people mean when they talk about UFOs.

So, a genuine UFO is what is left over when ufologists (UFO researchers or investigators) do a thorough investigation of the circumstances of a UFO report. Ufologists have long believed that most UFO reports are resolved into mostly IFOs (about 90%). Genuine UFOs make up the remaining unknowns (about 10%). (One or two percent at most are resolved into hoaxes by competent investigation. Hoaxes just don't account for very many UFO reports.)

What is an IFO?

An IFO is an "identified flying object." Ufologists believe that something like 90% of all investigated sightings turn out to be conventional, human-made or natural objects or effects. According to Allan Hendry's comprehensive study of over 1000 UFO sightings, the IFOs were things like the following: stars and planets, aircraft, meteors, space debris re-entry, satellites, the Moon, prank balloons, searchlights, advertising airplanes (in vogue when this study was done in the late 1970s), Venus, kites, weather balloons, etc.

What is a UFO report?

A UFO report is a formal document that you create either by yourself online or in cooperation with a credentialed UFO investigator. Credentialed UFO investigators are affiliated with MUFON or the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Many other UFO investigation groups exist and they do valuable work, but generally if you want the most responsible and best educated UFO investigators, either MUFON or CUFOS is your best bet. You can make a report online at MUFON or to Peter Davenport at NUFORC.

What is a UFO investigator?

Anyone can call himself or herself a UFO investigator because UFO research has been abandoned by establishment elites in all countries around the world (except France). Thus, there is no licensing or "sanctioning" by official bodies within our society. When there is no official sponsorship of your activity by establishment elites, then no appreciable money, time, or expertise is devoted to it, and it is left to the people themselves to do the best they can. This is true of ufology. You can't go to college and be trained in UFO investigation or ufology. Make up some letterhead and print up some business cards and you are in business. Despite this, there are a few citizen-supported, nonprofit organizations that do their best to scientifically investigate UFOs. In the U.S., these are MUFON and CUFOS. Investigators for MUFON must pass a 100 question test covering weather phenomena, general science, some basic psychology, basic astronomy, and other academic disciplines related to UFO study. After passing, you become a MUFON UFO investigator. You then work with a State Director, Assistant Director, and State Section Directors to investigate UFO sightings assigned to you.

Do scholars and scientists study UFOs?

No, they do not. Why they do not is a long story, parts of which are documented on this site in UFOs & SocietyGovernment InvolvementParanormal World, etc. The academic establishment did formally and quite publicly study the UFO in the late 1960s and issued a report of its findings: Edward U. Condon's Final Report of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. This report's findings were written by Condon and based on the highly controversial and scandal-ridden University of Colorado UFO Project, which Condon led. He concluded that UFOs were not worth scientific or scholarly study despite the fact that nearly one third of the more than 100 UFO reports in the study were unidentified. The negative summary and conclusions (written solely by Condon in contradistinction to fair-minded scientific panel reports) of this report allowed the U.S. Air Force to close its Project Blue Book public relations-oriented UFO investigation group. Since 1970 no academic or government organization studies UFOs. We in the public have been left high and dry by the establishment elites who run our country.

What is a UFO alien?

A distinction should be made between UFO aliens and science fiction/science aliens. UFO aliens are "beings" described by people in UFO reports to groups like MUFON, CUFOS, BUFORA, etc. Science fiction/science aliens are merely figments of the fertile imaginations of science fiction writers and scientists engaged in ETI/SETI speculations and research. ETI/SETI scholars and scientists completely ignore and usually disparage descriptions of UFO aliens. Entertainment media people generally present a confusing mix of the UFO alien and the science fiction/science alien in their movies, documentaries, etc.

UFO aliens come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A good reference to UFO aliens is Kevin Randle's Faces of the Visitors.

What is a crop circle?

This is an anomalous area of flattened crop (usually wheat) formed at random overnight and has been found in various countries such as Britain, Germany, Japan, Australia, U.S., and Canada during the last 30 years or so. Most crop circles by far are found in southern Britain. In the 30 year history of the phenomenon, crop circles have become extremely complex, leading to many theories and speculations about their ultimate meaning. Some crop circles are over 600 feet in length. Some crop circles show complex layering of the flattened crop, somewhat like weaving. Some crop circles have "expulsion cavities" in the wheat nodes, seed germination anomalies, odd recorded sounds made in them, odd balls of light videotaped and photographed above them, strange mechanical and electrical equipment malfunctions associated with them, etc. Theories trying to account for their appearance include (1) people making them—secret government activity, "environmental" artists, hoaxers, etc., (2) UFOs, (3) planetary spiritual forces, and (4) purely natural forces. The UFO explanation seems to fit best, but is not completely satisfactory.

What is alien abduction?

This seems to occur sometimes when a UFO is physically near the environment that a person or persons are in at the moment. This can be virtually any environment, but almost always the abductee is alone or nearly alone. Most abductions seem to occur at night, many from bedrooms. Abduction seems to run in families down through the years. Many, but not all, members of a family experience abduction. Abductions occur over a person's lifetime with most abductions in the reproductive years. The abductions begin in early childhood.

Apparently, intelligent UFO-associated entities select certain people to apparently physically remove from their terrestrial environment and take them on board some nearby craft. A fairly standard set of procedures is then performed on and/or with the abducted humans in about a two to three hour period. This more or less standard set includes capture, examination, conference, tour (possibly), journey (possibly), theophany (possibly), return, and aftermath. In capture, the abductee is aware of a "UFO" presence, consciousness is altered and time distorts, the body is sometimes immobilized, beings appear and escort the abductee into the waiting UFO. In examination, a sort of "medical" examination occurs. The body is prepped, a physical examination with scanning, manipulation, probing, "biopsying," etc., is done. A "neurological" exam is sometimes administered. Behavioral and emotional tests are sometimes administered.

In the conference, images of catastrophe are shown on a screen, questions and answers are taken and answered, explanation of the aliens' purposes are offered, future events are prophesied sometimes, tasks for abductees are sometimes assigned. In the tour, the abductee may visit the UFO's interior along with a kind of alien/human hybrid incubatory room and/or nursery. In the journey, the abductee is treated to an apparent journey to a barren or lush, Earth-like environment, or possibly is taken on a purely spiritual journey to visit apparent "celestial cities" where angels, gods, demons(?), the creative force itself dwell. In the theophany, the abductee has a religious or spiritual experience and/or participates in some sort of ritual. In the return, the abductee says goodbyes to the UFO beings who promise to return. There is a memory lapse and the ship departs and the abductee is returned to much the same but many times not exactly the same earthly circumstance he or she remembers last being in.

In the aftermath, the abductee may have many different physical symptoms such as eye irritation, dehydration, cuts, scars, nosebleeds, "sunburn," headache, diarrhea, nausea, feelings of violation, "dirtiness," etc. Many psychological conditions ensue such as nightmares, "site return compulsion," flashbacks, vague anxieties, specific fears like fear of large-eyed creatures. Long-term aftereffects include men-in-black episodes, poltergeist activity, enhanced psychic abilities, changes in interests, personality, lifestyle—generally there is less caring about immediate social concerns, but a more "spiritual" outlook and more abductions in the future.

Am I likely to be abducted?

No. The best answer to this question lies in the Roper polls conducted in July, August, and September 1991 where UFO abduction-related questions were embedded in larger, regular Roper organization polls of the public. These polls are representative of the average American's opinion to within a 1% margin of error. UFO abduction researchers Budd Hopkins, John Mack, and David Jacobs helped formulate the 11 questions generally concerning UFOs and abduction. The conclusion of this survey was that possibly 2% of the U.S. population may have experienced abduction. This astonished the researchers and in their summary booklet sent out to thousands of mental health professions (the "Unusual Personal Experiences" booklet), they invited these thousands of mental health professionals to free workshops, forums, or seminars to discuss this important conclusion. No workshops, forums, seminars, etc., occurred as a result of this offer because of a lack of interest on the part of the professionals. To this day, no other scientific, national survey has been conducted to replicate or refute the findings of this survey. The establishment is scared silly over this topic. And we are all the worse for this unconscionable attitude.

How often are UFOs reported?

No one knows with any reasonable certainty. UFOs are not studied by establishment science and scholarship on a regular basis, and they are essentially ignored by the mainstream media, too. Citizen-supported study organizations are poorly equipped to answer this question. But a ballpark guess would be perhaps worldwide 100,000 reports a year.

Why doesn't our government tell us UFOs are real?

The short answer is that UFOs come from the nonrational, but real, side of human experience. Our society is heavily invested in the rational, but real, side of human experience. Therefore, UFOs are essentially ignored by the ruling, establishment elites. See the rest of this website for how to understand these ideas.

Do UFO aliens come from outer space?

No one knows. The UFO intelligences could very well originate on some of the planets that astronomers are just in the last decade or two discovering are quite common in the nearby regions of outer space. If they do originate on some other physical planet or from some other physically real phenomenon our terrestrial science hasn't discovered yet, then at the very least the UFO intelligences seem to know a lot more about the laws of time and space and matter than we do. Their modes of appearance and disappearance seem so advanced and barely conceivable that they must be many thousands of years advanced over us

However, a good case can be made that if they do have a physical presence in outer space that this is not their primary place of origin or operation. In the evidence about UFOs and the UFO intelligences, there are numerous hints that physical time and space is not all there is to our universe. Some sort of other dimension, or two or three, etc., may very well exist that current science doesn't know about. Or possibly the old religious and occult ideas about another "spiritual" realm of existence might be real and our UFO friends might essentially dwell and operate from that realm. No one knows. See the books recommended on this site for more information on this.

What are some good UFO movies?

See Documentaries.

What are some good UFO websites?

See Websites.

What are some good UFO books?

See Books.