Home HistoryFolklore and Myths Do You Want to Believe? A MindBrews Guide to UFO Culture

Do You Want to Believe? A MindBrews Guide to UFO Culture

by Karan Negi
0 comment 14 minutes read

History, politics, art, and scientific temper played a huge role in the lives of people growing up in the late 80s, 90s, and early 2000s. It was essential for the development of their sense of curiosity, which led them to achieve bigger, better things. 

In the post-social media age, the lines have been slightly blurred. There is more focus on the exploration of self and identity, rather than outwardly concepts and phenomena. Still, there is plenty out there for curious minds to explore and somewhat broaden their perspective.

If you ask your parents (or your older, unmarried supervisor), Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)  were huge in their day. Nowadays, they don’t trend on Twitter as much as the latest Tesla model or celebrity divorce. But they are still the backbone of a lot of modern popular culture: literature, news, TV shows, movies, etc.

It is 100% worth some of your precious time to devote yourself to one of history’s most fascinating and enigmatic touchstones and the culture they inspire/represent. 

Read on to know why.

Why explore UFO culture?

To put it simply, they are an essential piece of recorded human history. 

Ever since their first reported sighting in 1947, American businessman Kenneth Arnold reported nine high-speed objects while flying his plane through Mount Rainier, Washington DC– UFO sightings have been an enigmatic presence in culture. They have been a puzzle that everyone has been trying to solve, but no one really can.

Incidents of similar mysterious aerial activity are littered across global history. Throughout the 1950s and beyond–to the present day. The US government officially established the famous ‘Project Blue Book’ to explore UFO phenomena., which eventually disbanded in 1969 (officially at least). Since then, there have been many reported cases of close encounters, alien abductions, and strange sightings of ‘lights in the sky’. All of this points towards a story that is yet to reach its conclusion.

Let’s face it: As purveyors, we do feel their presence and have been more open than ever to acknowledging their existence. This is why we seek to understand and explore them. Deep inside, we all believe that interacting with extraterrestrials is the next logical step for mankind’s evolution.

If you’re someone who has missed out so far, don’t worry. You can kickstart your career as an amateur UFO sleuth by going through some of the most pivotal moments in culture that we’ve compiled for your reading pleasure.

What was the Roswell crash of 1947?

When a mysterious crash incident was reported in the area of Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947, claiming to be a US Army weather balloon, no one really believed it to be so.

One of the most famous (or infamous) incidents in UFO history, it has long been rumoured to be the first incident of an actual extraterrestrial object crashing into the earth. Since then, it has evolved into one of the most significant UFO-based conspiracy theories, and one of the most famous historical pop culture events.

There have been several accounts of eyewitnesses confirming what was crashed was indeed a ‘saucer’ shaped object (hence giving birth to the term ‘flying saucer’). There were many reported governmental cover-ups, with people made to take a vow of secrecy to protect the truth. Several of those people have, in the years since, retracted their vows and confirmed the original story.

Are these people lying for publicity? Or is the government really hiding something? Well, since the official report (see image below) does mention a ‘saucer-shaped object….

Sample of Roswell UFO report
Excerpts from the original Roswell report indicated the presence of a ‘flying disc’.
Source: FBI.gov.

…….. I guess we’ll let you be the judge.

The Roswell incident has many direct ties to other elements in UFO/Conspiracy lore: Like the mysterious air force base ‘Area 51’, and the foundation of the infamous clandestine group MJ-12 (aka ‘Majestic 12’); which theorists believe has been working on quite a few things that have been kept hidden from the general public, aka ‘forbidden knowledge’. (Read the FBI report here).

You can check out the official ‘Roswell Report’ by the US Government here.

What happened to Barney and Betty Hill in 1951?

When a New Hampshire couple found themselves being ‘tracked’ by ‘strange lights in the sky’ during a ride home; it resulted in a bizarre, elongated, and baffling case of Alien abduction that is too jaw-dropping to describe. In fact, you should read about it in detail yourself. Featuring stopped watches, missing time, star maps, and lost memories. It is quite the saga.

However, this was just the tip of the iceberg. The drama attracted enormous media attention and speculation. Especially as the couple’s repressed memories were unlocked through repeated hypnosis sessions, which revealed to have a staggering level of consistency.

UFO drawings by abductees
How Barney and Betty Ross described their ‘captors’.
Source: University of New Hampshire (via History.com)

The first and most famous incident of an alien abduction; it is a multi-layered case filled with lots of enigma and strange detail that also has connections in the socio-political landscape of the time. One that points to the (very) possible reality that there might be people watching us from the sky at all times. 

Betty hill star map
The ‘star-map’ extracted through Betty Hill via hypnosis was revealed to be from the Zeta Reticuli star system. Too bizarre to be a coincidence?
Source: Wikimedia commons

The ‘Men in Black’ are….real?

Remember that Will Smith movie you saw when you were younger? That was based on things that…might possibly exist (yes). The ‘Men in Black theory’ has been one of the most popular conspiracy theories regarding UFO folklore since the 1950s.

There have been multiple reports and sightings of shady mysterious men dressed in black suits interrogating witnesses during close encounters and strange phenomena. First reported in 1952 by UFO cultist Albert K. Bender as ‘three men in black’ who tried to ‘shut him down’. There have been several sightings and reports of similar incidents by witnesses and other prominent figures in UFO culture. 

In Gray Barker’s book ‘They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers’; they were described as possible government spooks with a mysterious otherworldly aura (yup) who routinely harass eyewitnesses and cover up the existence of UFOs. Some theories have even speculated that they are extraterrestrial beings who work in collaboration with the US government.

So exactly who these particular beings are has become one of the most fascinating and bizarre aspects of UFO folklore. The ‘Men in Black’ are the ‘Is Bigfoot real?’ of this particular subculture. No matter what you believe, you can’t help but be fascinated.

Heaven’s Gate’ and UFO cults

Bizzare, unexplained events attract bizarre inexplicable people, just by the law of nature (sigh). As a result, cults based around UFOs are not an uncommon phenomenon. While these are still a bit more respectable than cults based around celebrities, ‘hustle culture’, and ‘daily motivation’–these are still cults. 

The most notorious of them being ‘Heaven’s Gate’. A UFO cult that is so beyond insane, that it begets a full article in of itself. Led by a truly professional madman called Marshall Applewhite (google him, seriously) who truly believed he was the key to ‘transition’ to the next world. The actions of this cult led to, shall we say…..tragic events that will be viewed less favourably in history.

Marshall Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate
Marshall Applewhite of Heaven’s Gate
Source: Brooks Kraft LLC—Sygma/Getty Images, via History.com

Elements like these invite more scepticism and scorn than curiosity, but it’s still important to consider them to have an overall balanced perspective. Sometimes UFO obsession goes horribly wrong, and it’s important to acknowledge that.

Read more about ‘Heaven’s Gate’ here.

Films, television, and pop culture

Despite whatever your mother-in-law thinks, Koi Mil Gaya, starring Hrithik Roshan, is not a great film (sorry, fans). But Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind is; James Cameron’s The Abyss is; and so is Dennis Villeneuve’s Arrival. Roland Emmerich’s silly, uber-patriotic Independence Day may also be dumb, but it is still worth watching.

There is a lot of UFO-related media in the 90s and 2000s that is worth watching. Chief among them is the ‘X-Files’, probably one of the most significant mainstream shows to ever tackle this subject matter with the required scale. There was also ‘Dark Skies’, which is underrated but still has cult appeal.

There are a lot of solid UFO documentaries. A lot of them are available on streaming services like Netflix. Top Secret UFO Projects: Declassified is worth a look.

UFO incidents based in….India?

We are just as surprised as anyone that Ram Gopal Varma or Anurag Kashyap haven’t made any movies about this. The truth is, that there have been significant noteworthy UFO incidents within India itself. 

These are every bit as enigmatic and mysterious as the events on a global scale. It’s time for you to explore them:

  • A five-member team of glaciologists and geologists have a legitimate close encounter with a mysterious, hovering balloon-shaped object near the equally enigmatic location of Lake Chandratal. Read more here; or hear directly from eyewitnesses.
  • A ‘shape-shifting fireball’ is spotted in the sky in Kolkata, which became a city-wide fascination for a few weeks, with multiple sightings and reports.
  • In 2023, a UFO spotting incident disrupted regular flight activity in Imphal. Which led to an Independence Day/Michael Bay-style recon operation with fighter jets (we’re being serious). Explore more about it here.

Let the unknown ignite your curiosity!

HP Lovecraft said that the only fear is the ‘fear of the unknown’. However, the best thing is to let it ignite your curiosity. If the events we’ve listed above have done so for you, we urge you to go full Fox Mulder and start your own online research on UFOs. 

Remember to share your findings with us in the comments section below. We’re excited to see what you discover!

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