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Hillary Clinton Wants More Transparency (About Aliens)

Hillary Clinton does not think enough of the truth is out there. As The New York Times reported Tuesday, she thinks there may be something to all those reports of UFO activity.

“There’s enough stories out there that I don’t think everybody is just sitting in their kitchen making them up,” she said when asked if she believed in UFOs during an interview in April with “The Breakfast Club” on radio station Power 105.1 FM. She has pledged to declassify government files on aliens, if they exist, provided that there’s no national security risk.1

Clinton is not the first presidential candidate to indulge in extraterrestrial conspiracies. Shirley MacLaine claimed that former Rep. Dennis Kucinich shared a UFO sighting with her, but you’d have to believe in something a lot less plausible than aliens to think he had a chance of prevailing in his 2004 or 2008 presidential campaigns and getting the chance to open the books.

A decade ago, about one in four Americans believed there was something to reveal. In a 2005 poll by Gallup, 24 percent of Americans believed that “extra-terrestrial beings have visited Earth.” In an earlier, 1997 ABC News Poll,2 only 16 percent of Americans thought that UFO sightings were caused by real alien spacecraft, as opposed to weather balloons, odd weather, or, in the case of noted skeptic Michael Shermer, a too-long bike ride.

Americans have been a little more optimistic that we’ll meet aliens eventually. In the Pew Research Center’s 1999 Millennium Survey, 27 percent of Americans thought we would probably or definitely make contact with alien life in the next 50 years. (Pew didn’t ask if people expected the government would ’fess up when that finally happened.)

If Clinton wants to make a play for voters with beliefs in unproven phenomena, there are larger constituencies than the Roswell truthers. That 2005 Gallup poll found that over half of Americans (55 percent) believed in the power to heal people mentally, and other psychic powers also are rated as more believable than aliens (ESP: 41 percent, telepathy: 31 percent).

To win these voters’ support, Clinton might need to go through the military’s files on psychic experiments in the 1980s as part of the Stargate Project, where recruits tried to influence or kill animals by concentrating. If there’s anything revelatory and still classified, she can suggest a stare-goats-to-death duel be added to the presidential debate calendar.

Footnotes

  1. You might assume that breaking this promise is proof that there are aliens, and national security concerns intervened. I for one hope we won the Cold War by lying that we had alien allies, and now we can never ever admit to Russia that we made it up.

  2. I accessed this poll through the Roper Center iPoll databank.

Leah Libresco is a former news writer for FiveThirtyEight.

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