There is no secret regarding the cultural stigma pervading the subject of UFOs, and academia is no stranger to the out-of-hand dismissal the topic has been treated with over the decades. But there are certain individuals that buck this trend and look to UFOs as a field of legitimate research that needs to be looked into, ranging from those with a life-long interest like Stanford University’s Dr. Garry Nolan, to those that have more recently come around to the subject, like Harvard mathematician Eric Weinstein. However, it appears that these two are far from alone in their interest in the anomalous, with a recent survey showing that nearly one-fifth of academia reports that they have seen a UFO, and more than one-third of them showing at least some degree of interest in conducting research into the phenomenon.
The 2022 survey involved data gathered from 1,460 respondents, representing 144 universities across 14 academic disciplines, with more than one-third working in the fields of either engineering, physics, political science or psychology. The survey questions regarded the respondents’ perceptions of, opinions on, and possible experience with unidentified anomalous phenomena.
A full 19 percent of the respondents said that they, or someone they knew, had seen a UFO; an additional nine percent reported that they (or someone they knew) may have seen a genuine UAP, but were unsure if that was really the case. While 21 percent attributed UFO sightings to natural events, 13 percent attributed them to being made by “unknown intelligences”, while 39 percent admitted that they had no idea what the explanation behind the UFO phenomenon was.
Interestingly, four percent of the respondents reported they had conducted academic research regarding the phenomenon, with 36 percent saying that they would be interested in conducting their own formal research; 43 percent could be coaxed into conducting research if a reputable academic representing their discipline were to do the same, and more than half (55 percent) said they would investigate UAP if they could secure funding for the effort.
37 percent of the respondents considered the importance of further research into UAP as “very important” or “absolutely essential”, while the remainder (64 percent) considered the involvement of academia itself in UAP-related investigations to be “very important” or “absolutely essential”.
It is important to keep in mind that the respondents that participated in the survey represent a small portion of the individuals that were invited to participate—the 1,460 respondents represent only four percent of the 39,984 individuals contacted—so it’s possible that the numbers being reported may be influenced by the respondents’ interest in the subject making them more likely to participate to begin with, although there is no way to determine the reasons for why those that declined to participate did so.
However, these numbers suggest that there is indeed an interest—and possibly a growing one, at that—that means that there may be even more proper scientific investigations into UFOs in the near future.
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