‘They Are Already Here’ looks at the sociology of UFO belief

The question of whether life exists beyond our own planet has been pondered for ages, but the fear and concern that they may be visiting us is relatively new. It seems as if there are only two sides — you either “want to believe,” or you don’t.

Journalist Sarah Scoles, however, wants to understand why people believe in the UFO phenomenon in the first place. Her 2020 book, They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers, explores the far-reaching corners of the “the-truth-is-out-there” movement to figure out what’s really happening in the UFO community. Who are these people, anyway?

Humans: 1, Extraterrestrials: 0

First and foremost, don’t get too excited — no, Scoles doesn’t believe “they” are already here, and she acknowledges it’s unknown if “they” ever have been or will be in the future. She’s never seen a UFO herself, but resigns herself to the idea that the universe is a big place and we don’t know everything. Perhaps, they could be somewhere out there.

So, if Scoles doesn’t believe in UFOs, how did They Are Already Here come to be? The December 2017 New York Times article “Glowing Auras and Black Money: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program” sparked an interest that would send Scoles down the rabbit hole. Once inside, she realized that despite the difference of belief, there was common ground between her and the people who she might have mocked, at one time. They were all looking for the truth, and Scoles wanted to know more about them.

Scoles used her freedom as a freelance writer to expose herself to things outside her comfort zone: going to UFO hotspots, listening to speakers at the International UFO Congress, heading to a meeting of MUFON (the largest civilian UFO reporting group in the U.S.), speaking to believers, camping out at Area 51, and more — not in search of aliens, but of human understanding.

You won’t find the answers to any mysteries about aliens in They Are Already Here, but what you will find is a plethora of information about people in political power and their connections to eccentric billionaires, secret government programs and lies of scientists supposedly “for the greater good,” and a plucky musician who dreamed of reaching “To The Stars” (yes, blink-182 frontman Tom DeLonge).

They Are Already Here

You’ll also find a hardened scientific skeptic coming to terms with the fact that maybe she’s been a bit misguided herself in how she views those on the opposite side of scientific issues. The various people and experiences Scoles finds on her journey are frustrating, unique, weird, funny, and at times almost wistful.

Out of this world, or of it?

They Are Already Here holds within its pages a lot of information that’s absolutely necessary, especially if you’re not very familiar with ufology. Big names, big money players, and government officials get vetted thoroughly, and there’s also the on-foot search for Scoles to see some lights in the sky herself. The book gives a well-rounded view on how the conspiracy element of ufology came to be.

On the other side of the coin, despite her ambition to be more of a neutral observer, Scoles’ incredulity is stark throughout the chapters. Her empathy and compassion for believers doesn’t come out until the final quarter of They Are Already Here. Sometimes Scoles’ descriptors feel a little harsh and judgmental, but that seems to fade as the book progresses, and her understanding of humans-being-humans, and the “why” that motivates them to believe, rises.

Despite the bias from the start, as They Are Already Here proceeds, you’ll see the personal growth and development arc of Scoles learning about herself, connecting with those who appear to be on the opposing side of the scientific literature and evidence, and taking the first steps toward dropping her personal biases about who they are.

Do I recommend They Are Already Here? Yes, but not to everyone — it’s definitely geared to avid high school readers and above — and not without the caveat that it’s likely going to push your buttons no matter where you lie on the spectrum of belief … and that’s actually a good thing.

There were a few occasions where I had to call out my own biases in order to move forward with They Are Already Here. Anyone could read through it and cherry-pick the data they like, or boast that Scoles never found any evidence and didn’t change her beliefs. The UFO crowd, conversely, will read it and be put off by her condescending tone of disbelief, or perhaps her attitude about them being unable to access their critical thinking skills and accept evidence. The religious readers will be annoyed that Scoles gave up on God. The hardened scientific thinkers might find it difficult to extend an olive branch to the fringe believers.

“How does the universe actually behave, and why, and who’s in it?

Others still will be unsettled by the unknown vastness of space. What is the universe, though, and how does it actually behave, and why, and who’s in it?” Scoles writes. “When will we find out? We don’t really know, and probably we never totally will.”  The truth is, there are many things we can’t know, and all of us have to come to terms with that.

If any or all of the things in They Are Already Here upset you, don’t worry. Sit with it, and with yourself. Sit with your outrage or frustration; it’s a fantastic way to self-reflect and see who you really are. In doing so, you too can see how to operate with a more open mind, make connections with those opposing sides, and drop your own biases. Scoles is correct in her assessment and is a wonderful example of growth and hope in humanity in this way. We could all use a little more empathy.

Every February, to help celebrate Darwin Day, the Science section of AIPT cranks up the critical thinking for SKEPTICISM MONTH! Skepticism is an approach to evaluating claims that emphasizes evidence and applies the tools of science. All month we’ll be highlighting skepticism in pop culture, and skepticism *OF*pop culture.

AIPT Science is co-presented by AIPT and the New York City Skeptics.

‘They Are Already Here’ looks at the sociology of UFO belief

They Are Already Here

A great book to read for information about UFO belief and the players involved. Will challenge your biases, but will also leave you with hope for the future of humanity.

Thoroughly vets the big names in UFO circles

Explores historical events and government documents

Foot-on-the-ground reporting, connecting with believers

Can appear to be biased and judgmental

Join the AIPT Patreon

Want to take our relationship to the next level? Become a patron today to gain access to exclusive perks, such as:

  • ❌ Remove all ads on the website
  • 💬 Join our Discord community, where we chat about the latest news and releases from everything we cover on AIPT
  • 📗 Access to our monthly book club
  • 📦 Get a physical trade paperback shipped to you every month
  • 💥 And more!

Sign up today

Sign up for our newsletter

Por Ovnis

Deja un comentario

Tu dirección de correo electrónico no será publicada. Los campos obligatorios están marcados con *