I was interested to read of a survey recently that says that 3 percent of Americans believe they have been abducted by space aliens.
So, if you're at the basketball game tonight, and say there are 1,000 people in the stands... yep, that's right, about 30 of the folks around you are secretly thinking about the aluminum foil helmets they are going to design when they get home.
Personally, I'm not opposed to a good, old-fashioned alien probing. Not only is it a chance to get out of the house, it's a cheap date. Little green nurse, while you're at it, throw in a prostate exam and check the oil, please.
We shouldn't be surprised by the surveys. People believe in all manner of outlandish things, like sasquatch and politicians' promises, for example. Sasquatch is more likely to pay off out of those two.
Over a third of Americans surveyed believe that aliens are visiting earth; more than half think their government is covering up information about aliens.
In a 2014 "Jimmy Kimmel Live" interview, former President Bill Clinton revealed that immediately after his second election, he asked his aides to access and review every document on alien life forms and the infamous Area 51 in New Mexico, and found no evidence of aliens ever on earth. "If you saw that there were aliens there, would you tell us?" Kimmel asked.
"Yes," Clinton said, with sincerity. And knowing Bill, if there were aliens, he would have probed them.
Given the sheer incomprehensible vastness of our ever-expanding universe, of course, it would be hard to argue that that there could not be other planets with the necessary elements and distance from a star to could conceivably be capable of supporting life.
Before you get too excited about learning Mr. Spock's "live long and prosper" split-finger salute, however, keep in mind that the very next nearest sun to our own, Alpha Centauri, is some 24 trillion miles away. Even if some life form could fathom a way to travel a million miles an hour, it would take 2,500 years to make the one-way trip. Talk about having to pack a lunch...
If we're counting on picking up audible messages from space, we're even more out of luck. With the speed of sound waves, even if we did receive a promising noise, at that distance it would have originated hundreds of thousands of years ago... whatever planet it came from may not even exist.
Now, I'm not here to insult anybody. If you believe you've been whisked away by spacemen, and perhaps even sexed up by them in the process, and if that gets you through the day, more power to you.
But based on the survey percentages, if this were true, about 100 million residents of Earth, including 4 million Americans, must have been kidnapped for a space ride. As pop scientist Carl Sagan - who once spoke in Storm Lake - joked, "It's surprising more of the neighbors haven't noticed."
For the record, if you believe in such things, a famous Roper survey report compiled the symptoms that supposedly indicate that you may have been abducted (and presumably had the whole thing erased with some alien brain-Windex, since that seems like the kind of afternoon that wouldn't just slip your mind):
1. "Waking up paralyzed with a sense of a strange presence in the room." I've had that, but it turned out to be the water meter dude.
2. "Experiencing a period of time of an hour or more, in which you were apparently lost, but you could not remember why or where you had been." I believe that is also called... being very, very drunk.
3. "Feeling that you were actually flying through the air although you didn't know why or how." Although I may wear Spiderman jammies, I leave flying to the seagulls, even in my dreams.
4. "Seeing unusual lights or balls of light in a room without knowing what was causing them." Ooh, I get that all the time! But I call it a lamp.
5. "Finding puzzling scars on your body and neither you nor anyone else remembering how you received them or where you got them." Oh come on, that's just a typical Sunday morning in college.
Supposedly, if any four of these five things describe you, you've been beamed aboard, Scotty.
What interests me, though, is how so many people see things. Mass hysteria? Leftover mental images from movies of books they have been exposed to? Mistaking normal phenomena for the otherworldly?
A lifelong Buena Vista County resident and a car-load of friends all saw a "saucer with windows all around" sail over the south part of the lake one night in the 1950s. "It gives me goosebumps even now just thinking of it because, at the time, I didn't know what would happen," the woman said in an interview.
Another sighting places a UFO over the municipal ballfield for several moments 35 years ago. A reputable Lake View man reported seeing a noiseless UFO with lights in the shape of a triangle at his farm in 1966 and even tried following it in his car. Former BV Deputy Don McClure recalled a report of a spacecraft received during the early 1980s from a carload of young adults who had been driving between Storm Lake and Newell. Two or three other calls came in with the same description in the next day or so. The sighting was eventually written off as a shooting star or something, but no doubt, all these people believe.
Former Obama aide John Podesta tweeted this month that his "biggest failure of 2014" was not securing the disclosure of the government's "UFO files."
If there were aliens, I'd like to meet them. But until then, I'll have to settle for Charlie Sheen.