A new book published in the U.K. claims?yet again?that UFOs are a form of cultural mass hysteria. British researchers David Clarke and Andy Roberts, who say they uncovered thousands of previously secret government and military reports and investigated dozens of sightings, have concluded that flying saucers were a product of Cold War paranoia and not visitors from outer space.

They say none of the evidence points to any form of alien contact. They believe the widespread belief in UFOs that began in the 1950s and lasts until the present day should be seen as a social phenomenon.

Clarke says the UFO craze began at the start of the Cold War, when the new threat of atomic war with the Soviet Union hung over the world. ?It was just simple to want to believe in something up there in the sky that could come and rescue us,? he says. Many of the early UFO sightings were confirmed by Britain’s radar system, and their military often scrambled fighter planes to investigate sightings. But as radar technology improved, the authors day, the number of incidents appearing on radar dwindled to zero. ?That cannot be a coincidence,? says Clarke. ?Those early confirmations were just a product of a primitive radar system.?

But Clarke and Roberts did uncover evidence that the CIA, with the possible connivance of the British, studied ways of using the public panic over UFOs as a psychological weapon against the Russians. In CIA memos marked ?secret,? top officials considered exploiting the UFO craze. ?I suggest that we discuss the possible offensive or defensive utilization of these phenomena for psychological warfare purposes,? wrote CIA director Walter Smith in 1952.

?Shortly after that meeting the CIA sent a delegation to Britain to discuss UFOs. It is hard to imagine that they did not discuss the psychological warfare aspects of it with their British counterparts,? Clarke says. Clarke says the belief in alien visitation once reached up to the highest positions in government. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered an investigation into it and Lord Mountbatten was a firm believer. In the 1950s Britain set up a working party of top Ministers and army staff to study UFOs. ?That is why this field is important for academic research. It did have an impact on government policy at a crucial stage in history,? Clarke says.

The writers found evidence that the British and U.S. Governments did have a systematic cover-up of UFO sightings, especially by military pilots. Reports were kept secret and military personnel were told not to talk about them. But Clarke believes that such actions were taken not to disguise contact with aliens, but because the Government did not want to admit that it too could not explain the UFO hysteria.

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Meanwhile, an English newspaper, The Bath Chronicle, wrote on April 17, “In the same week that saw Star Wars playing at the ABC Beau Nash Cinema, some Bath residents had a close encounter of a far less fictional nature?An unidentified flying object moving from Bristol towards Radstock was seen by at least ten people. Now the Ministry of Defense is investigating the incident.” Witnesses saw the object break up and explode. According to the paper, “Among people who saw the object was Wessex Newspapers librarian Mr. Geoff Tarling,” who said, ?It was like a huge rocket moving across the sky and then the tail broke off into three pieces and it disappeared. It looked as big as a fairly large high flying aircraft. It was not moving fast enough to be a meteorite or a shooting star.?” In Lancashire, England, Nikki Lamb and her husband also saw a UFO. Lamb took a digital photograph, but the image isn?t clear enough to be decisive.

The Italian Center for UFO Studies reports that in 2001, sightings of UFOs in Italy jumped from 655 to 717. And in the Pacific island of Tuvalu, at least 200 witnesses saw a strange blue light and a group of football players felt a strong rush of wind as it flew past. One man saw it while out in the ocean fishing and jumped for cover under his boat. Merchant navy sailors who were home on vacation say they never witnessed anything like it.

In Beijing, China, four yellow spiral UFOs appeared on April 22. The sightings were reported in two newspapers, the Beijing Times and the Shanghai Star. The UFOs were seen for just over an hour, and emitted beams of bright yellow light. Chinese observers on the streets estimated that the UFOs were “very high up,” an estimated 6 miles above the earth. They hovered for a while in pairs and then departed to the south.

Strange lights appeared in the night skies over Saliquell

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