• By ufos-usa
  • / August 8, 2023
  • / Podcast

NPR’s Audie Cornish speaks with science and technology historian Kate Dorsch about why Americans seem particularly interested in UFOs.


UFOs may not be limited to national borders, but numerous sightings have also been recorded in the USA for some time. A Pentagon report released last Friday confirmed more than 140 unidentified aerial phenomena since 2004 alone, although historian and University of Pennsylvania professor Kate Dorsch says the rest of the nine-page document was no surprise.

KATE DORSCH: This largely reflects similar reports that emerged in the early 20th century.

CORNISH: The focus is on national security risk.There is a request for additional funds but no mention of foreigners. But Dorsch says this moment speaks volumes about America’s unique obsession with visitors from other worlds. Kate Dorsch joins me now.

Welcome to the program.

DORSCH: Thank you.

CORNISH: There is no specific global database of UFO sightings, but is it fair to say that in some ways Americans are seeing more than their fair share, so to speak?

DORSCH: You can say that with certainty. Of course, we will never have complete surveillance data because not everyone comes forward. However, it’s safe to say that Americans appear to be more willing to talk about their experiences than other people around the world.


CORNISH: Can you say more about that? Why do you think this is so?

DORSCH: I think that’s partly because we’ve created a culture around disaster preparedness, right? If you see something, say something. Also Americans: We are a very individualistic country, so we are more willing to share what we have seen, heard and done.

CORNISH: Is there anything that contradicts our acceptance of conspiracy theories?

DORSCH: I think so. Our culture embraces conspiracy theories so passionately and powerfully that it creates a very large space for UFOs to still have some cultural significance to represent all sorts of themes: political, religious and sometimes existential.

CORNISH: What do we know about other countries, perhaps in Europe and elsewhere, where similar sightings have occurred? How do we talk about this?

DORSCH: The way they are interpreted elsewhere in the world is not always the same way we interpret them here in the United States. For example, UFO sightings in Germany in the 1950s and 1960s were very rarely of an extraterrestrial nature. Instead, the Germans saw things they couldn’t explain and assumed they were American or Russian technologies and that the world’s superpowers were testing new types of war technologies in their skies. In the 1940s and 1950s, a series of
sightings of ghost rockets were recorded in Sweden, which were also quickly interpreted as new Russian technology.

CORNISH: It’s interesting, though, because when you think you’re in a country with the highest technology, you don’t necessarily think that when you see something unusual, you’re pointing at another country.


DORSCH: Exactly. Normal. You see, since we have long been the dominant technology and science nation on the planet, we have had to look to the stars to explain technology that seemed so far away from us.

CORNISH: Do you have any idea why the United States?Is the government choosing this moment to speak out on this issue?

DORSCH: Partly it was because they had to. The pandemic relief bill included a provision requiring a Pentagon report on the current status of the investigation into an unidentified aerial phenomenon within the Pentagon. I think the reason the administration is interested now has a lot to do with the political moment, given the deep state allegations that were so popular among a certain group of people during the Trump administration, and the fact that that many Americans feel as if we don’t. We don’t have as much information about our government as we would like. This really gets the stories of cover-ups and obfuscations going.

CORNISH: You think this enthusiasm will continue, don’t you? – What is the situation now that this report has been published?

DORSCH: That wouldn’t surprise me. This is what sparks interest in UFOs. It goes through such peaks and valleys.There will always be an enthusiastic community, regardless of their visibility in the media. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see the story unfold in the coming months and see the UFO disappear into the stars for a while.

CORNISH: This is Kate Dorsch, science and technology historian at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thank you for being with us.

DORSCH: Thank you, Audie.It was fun.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *