Close Encounters

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At 2 a.m. the morning of November 13, 2012, a Greenburg, Pa., man watched his dog chase an alien through the field opposite his home, according to The Canadian.

At least, he thought it was an alien. Some of his quotes read more like the scribbling in a reporter’s notebook than actual speech, such as: “Sitting in front of house with dog. Noticed something move across the drive in the pasture.” This is the opening salvo in a strange tale that ends with the dog running off a tall, silver extraterrestrial.

The report, obtained from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) database, concludes that the alien then disappeared. (The dog, unlike every M. Night Shyamalan movie ever, returned safely.) Interestingly, this was not the only report of alien activity that night: another Greenburg citizen reported extraterrestrial activity in his home at 2 a.m. as well.

In a strange way, these reports comfort me. Ever since the age of 8, when I saw a glowing ring of lights in the sky (which most likely had a perfectly reasonable explanation), I have been unable to shake the belief that we are not alone. A fair amount of reading on the subject has done nothing to clarify this, and for me and everyone else, it remains one of life’s mysteries.

Perhaps because of this, aliens are a major pop culture phenomenon, inspiring everything from bumper stickers and songs to movies and road trips. In fact, they constitute such foundational source material for Hollywood that some people have floated the idea that they’ve infiltrated the entertainment industry. Perhaps most notably, many, many people are genuinely convinced they have made contact with extraterrestrials.

Eventually, I believe science will shed light on the matter, but in a way that seems naïve too. For all our scientific advancement, society today does not seem notably less superstitious. All right, we no longer burn witches, and I approve of that. But ask any of your friends and you’ll find that most of them harbor some bizarre beliefs.

So I’m torn: on the one hand, it seems like the availability of scientific knowledge will slowly but surely dry up the wealth of paranormal conviction that currently exists … including my own. On the other hand, the human psyche seems primed always to believe that something is lurking in the nearest dark corner, in which case these beliefs and others are going nowhere.

I can only ask: what do you think?

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