Flying saucers

flying saucer

When the pilot Kenneth Arnold reported a UFO sighting in Washington state in 1947, it sat off the modern UFO craze. (Before then, we had foo fighters, weird airships, and so on, so it was far from the first sighting.)

This is also where we got the expression flying saucer from.

According to Arnold, he reported that the UFOs skipped like a saucer on water. He referred to the movement of the object, not its shape. A reporter misquoted him which suggested that the object was saucer-shaped.

THE IMPLICATIONS OF A MISLEADING NEWS STORY

That’s the story I have heard a few times, and if it’s accurate, there is something fascinating here.

If Arnold reported on the movement of the object, why did people in the months and years following Arnold’s sighting report seeing saucer-shaped objects?

Why did their reports conform to a misleading news story?

I can think of four different explanations.

The reports were imaginations and hoaxes influenced by the flying saucer description in the reporting. That’s why they correspond to the reporting and not what Arnold saw.

The phenomenon is responsive and mirrors, to some extent, our culture and what we expect. (It can seem that way, especially when we look at how the reports change over time.)

It’s an amazing coincidence.

Or what Arnold saw (or, at least reported) was something that both moved like a saucer skipping on water and had the shape of a saucer.

MORE COMPLICATED

As so often, the story is more complicated. Arnold may have later said he was misquoted. But in several interviews from 1947, he is quoted as describing the objects as saucer shaped. In a preserved radio interviews from June that year, Arnold refers to the objects as shaped like a pie plate (with a triangular part).

LESSONS

Unsatsifactory stories often have lessons in them.

One is to follow and explore the implications. IF the simple story was correct, the implications would be important. And yet, when I have heard people tell the simple story, they haven’t taken it further.

Another is to do a little reading before retelling a story. Don’t say that Arnold was misquoted and leave out that he is quoted in a similar way in other interviews from the time, and that he provably called it pie-plate shaped in a radio interview shortly after the sighting.

Image: Something I extracted from Midjourney v4 some weeks ago.


INITIAL DRAFT

When the pilot Kenneth Arnold reported a UFO sighting in Washington state in 1947, it sat off the modern UFO craze. (Before then, we had foo fighters, weird airships, and so on, so it was far from the first sighting.)

This is also where we got the expression flying saucer from. Arnold reported that the UFO skipped like a saucer on water. He referred to the movement of the object, not its shape. A reporter misleadingly called it a flying saucer, which gave the impression to the public that the object was saucer-shaped.

That’s well-known in UFO circles. And yet, there is something fascinating here that I haven’t heard people explore further. (I am sure some must discuss it, I just haven’t heard it yet.)

If Arnold reported on the movement of the object, why did people in the months and years following Arnold’s sighting report seeing saucer-shaped objects?

Why were they shaped like a saucer? Why did their reports conform to a misleading newspaper article?

I can think of four different explanations.

The reports were imaginations and hoaxes influenced by the flying saucer description in the reporting

The phenomenon is responsive and mirrors, to some extent, our culture and what we expect. (It often seems that way, especially when we look at how the reports have changed through history.)

Arnold referred

There is a story that’s often told about Kenneth Arnold’s UFO sighting in Washing state in 1947.

It set off the modern UFO craze, which is true. (Although before then, we had the WW2 foo fighters, the late 1800s weird airships, and so on.)

It’s where

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