- Two-thirds in U.S. say government knows more than it's saying on UFOs
- One-third thinks some UFOs are actual sightings of alien spacecraft
- Residents of the West show highest belief
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As an internet campaign called "Storm Area 51" has nearly two million people pledging to break into a highly secure military base later this month in the hopes of uncovering possible secrets about UFOs, a recent Gallup poll finds two-thirds of Americans believe the government knows more about the subject than it has conveyed.
|2019 Jun 19-30||68||29||2|
|1996 Sep 3-5||71||19||10|
For decades, UFO enthusiasts have claimed the government is warehousing crashed UFOs, and possibly aliens, at Area 51, part of an Air Force base in southern Nevada. In other UFO news, the Navy recently issued new guidance for personnel to report "unexplained aerial phenomena" after a spate of unusual sightings by Navy pilots.
The 68% today who believe the government is withholding information about UFOs is comparable to the 71% found in 1996. Both times, the results were similar among all main demographic groups, including by age, education and party identification.
However, it appears that only about half the number who think the government is hiding something about UFOs think it is covering up information about alien space landings, specifically. This conclusion is based on the finding that far fewer people give credence to UFO sightings or have witnessed them, personally, than think the government knows more than it's telling.
- 33% of U.S. adults believe that some UFO sightings over the years have in fact been alien spacecraft visiting Earth from other planets or galaxies.
- The majority, 60%, are skeptical, saying that all UFO sightings can be explained by human activity or natural phenomenon, while another 7% are unsure.
- 16% of Americans say they have personally witnessed something they thought was a UFO while the vast majority (84%) have not.
Even as most Americans are skeptical that aliens have visited Earth, the majority (56%) believe that those who spot UFOs are seeing something real, not just imagining it. This is up from 47% in 1996, possibly reflecting public awareness of military testing and the proliferation of drones which people may think can be mistaken for UFOs.
Separate from possible space landings on Earth, about half of Americans, 49% think that people somewhat like ourselves exist elsewhere in the universe. Even more, 75%, believe that some form of life exists on other planets.
Western U.S. Leads Nation in Believing UFOs Are Alien Spacecraft
UFO believers are found in all demographic and political segments of society, but are particularly likely to be residents of the West. That is the home of Area 51, as well as nearby Roswell, New Mexico -- where a crash of some kind in 1947 sparked the Area 51 conspiracy theories that persist to this day.
- Forty percent of residents of the West believe some UFOs can be attributed to alien visitors. This compares with 32% of residents in the East and South and 27% in the Midwest.
- Westerners are also a bit more likely than those in other regions to say they have personally seen a UFO: 20% in the West vs. 12% in the East and 15%-16% elsewhere.
Additionally, the new poll finds significant differences in UFO sightings by education and income, with lower socio-economic Americans being more likely than their counterparts to report belief.
Notably, Americans identifying as Protestant and Catholic are similar to the national average in believing UFOs are real. However, Americans with no religious affiliation are more likely to put stock in UFOs, with 40% saying some have been alien visitors.
|Think some UFOs are alien spacecraft^||Personally seen a UFO ^^|
|18 to 29||39||16|
|30 to 49||32||17|
|50 to 64||34||16|
|Not college graduate||37||18|
|Less than $40,000||37||21|
|^ Source: Aug. 1-14, 2019 Gallup poll ^^Source: June 19-30, 2019 Gallup poll|
While not a majority, 33% of Americans believe alien spacecraft have visited Earth at some point. This group is potentially sympathetic to those who want to uncover what the government knows about alien landings, once and for all.
Another third or so of Americans may assume the government isn't being completely transparent about what it knows, but not because it is hiding something. For example, they may believe officials are keeping quiet because unidentified sightings could unnecessarily alarm the public, or because refuting UFOs would require disclosing sensitive military information.
Regardless of what Americans think of UFOs or the government's awareness of them, the subject is part of the nation's consciousness with 86% of U.S. adults saying they have heard of or read about unidentified flying objects.
Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.