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UFOs And Hollywood

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose.nul>
Date: Fri, 29 Mar 2013 12:34:31 -0700 (PDT)
Archived: Sat, 30 Mar 2013 08:00:34 -0400
Subject: UFOs And Hollywood

I only share some of Dr. Clarke's views. By way of example I may
mention that a calculation of probability according to current
astronomical, astrobiological, astrophysical and astrochemical
knowledge undermines his cock-sure claim that: "...in all of
human history we might expect one single visit. If we're
lucky..." But he makes some interesting points.

Stig Agermose


Source: Yahoo! Movies:


Thu, Mar 28, 2013

The Will Smith Effect: UFOs And Hollywood
By Mark Lankester

The connection between what we watch on our screens, and see in
the skies.

By Mark Lankester | Yahoo UK Movies Features =E2=80=93 Thu, Mar 28,
2013 18:07 GMT

In 1996 something strange happened in the UK. From out of
nowhere our fair island was swarmed with reports of strange
lights in the sky, mysterious craft and flying saucers. The
Ministry Of Defence's UFO desk was inundated with almost six
times as many sightings as the year before.

Was it an invasion? Was E.T. finally here? Well, no... it was
Will Smith.

"Popular culture informs what we see in the sky, and then how we
interpret it," says UFO expert Dr. David Clarke, "You can't help
but absorb it."

"We've grown up with science fiction movies like 'Independence
Day', and no one can divorce themselves from it. Not that people
were seeing that one movie, and then going out to look for UFOs
- It simply raised their awareness, and they became more likely
to report things," he says.

David is a Sheffield based journalist, folklore expert, and
official consultant to MOD's Classified UFO files at The
National Archives. Think Fox Mulder with a South Yorkshire

Roland Emmerich's alien-invasion spectacular 'Independence
Day' was 1996's summer blockbuster and it sent the world
extraterrestrial mad. "Newspapers even began running UFO
campaigns," says David, "and the figures leapt from 117
sightings in 1995 to 609 in 1996"

"People would write in with sightings from decades before,
encouraged to do so by the craze. It's the power of popular

This phenomena of a film affecting UFO reports led to the
coining of endearing term "The Will Smith Effect", but it's not
all down to the Fresh Prince.

"The biggest spike was around 1977/8 - around the time we got
'Star Wars' and 'Close Encounters Of The Third Kind'," says
David, "But there are also anomalies: 1982 for example, when
'E.T.' was released was a particularly quiet year."

"You couldn't look at it scientifically and say 'Right, this
film is coming out =E2=80=93 therefore we should expect this many
sightings'. It doesn't work like that. But by-and-large there is
a strong relationship between aliens on screen, and UFOs in our

"It's not mass hysteria, and it's not just movies - TV, books
and comics contribute too - it's just a zeitgeist. When UFOs are
popular, people see them."

To David, explaining UFO sightings is all down to trends:

"People's descriptions alter with time," he says. "In the 50s
it was all flying saucers, and right now it's big black
triangles. Largely influenced by Stealth aircraft sightings.
That's then echoed in our media, and people largely begin to see
only what it's popular to see."

There's two explanations for this, says David: "Either aliens
are very fashion conscious and move with the times, or people
interpret their experience through what's going on around them.

"Quite often we see what we believe, and not believe what we

A man dedicated to explaining the unexplainable, David doesn't
stop with the crafts themselves  - he says there's a problem
with cinema's depiction of aliens too:

"The image of the little grey alien with the big black eyes
seems to be endemic in our culture," he begins, "but there's
lots of other types of 'aliens' that people see. There are
reptilians, and even cat-people. But the interesting thing is
how prevalent that one image is in the West. If you go to parts
of South America, they tend to have very different 'aliens'.
Their experiences are a mix of their own indigenous beliefs, and
parts of Western cinema."

"Ever since H.G Well's early work, we've had this idea of the
big-headed, big-eyed, tiny-bodied creature. Cinema picked it up,
and it's never changed."

He summarises: "There's not a single story in the current UFO
literature that hasn't been anticipated by science fiction,
somewhere along the way."

To David, the very nature of the word "alien" shows the problem
with how the movies do it: "The fact that we've evolved like we
have, with a body, two arms, and a head, is an outcome of a
billion different chance-like things. And the probability of
those same chances occurring on a different planet, with a
different set of rules and conditions, in another solar
system:. It just wouldn't happen"

"The bottom line is, there's just too many extra-terrestrial
experiences for them to all be true," says David. "In reality,
in all of human history we might expect one single visit. If
we're lucky. But in the absence of evidence, there are far more
rational explanations in human belief, psychology, sociology,
folklore and culture.

"I'm completely open to the prospect of life on other planets,"
he adds, "but the movies tell it a different way. And they
change how we think about aliens. There are genuine experiences,
but they tend to be so un-generic and weird, that they get
forgotten. They just don't fit with the Hollywood ideal."

David, whose favourite movie is actually 'Close Encounters',
has of course faced criticism for his seemingly skeptical
approach, and even accusations of "government collaboration" -
but as he points out, even the movies that he singles out come
under fire from conspiracy theorists:

"Some people genuinely believe that Hollywood is doing the
bidding of the US Government," he says, "and that blockbuster
sci-fi is actually a slow drip-feed of alien exposure, to get us
all used to the idea:

"There's this great anecdote about President Ronald Regan, who
was a great believer in UFOs himself. Regan invited Steven
Spielberg to the White House for special screening of 'E.T.'
=E2=80=93 then halfway through the movie, he turned to director and
said: 'You'll never believe this Steven, but there are people
in this room, who know that all the things in your movie are
perfectly true:'"

You can find out more about David's work on his blog, here
[link] - and for more information about The National Archives'
UFO files, visit their website here [link].


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