John Oliver Uncovers the Totally Rational Explanations for UFOs


Ordinary Americans, military pilots, and even former President Jimmy Carter have claimed to have seen unidentified flying objects in the sky over the past 77 years, and on Sunday night, John Oliver said “it’s both promising and long overdue” to see the U.S. government taking the issue of UFOs more seriously.

On this week’s episode of Last Week Tonight, Oliver brought viewers up to speed on America’s UFO obsession since the first public reports in 1947, alleging how both government officials and mainstream media either deceived or dismissed virtually all eyewitness testimonials.

“From the very beginning of our modern obsession with UFOs, there’s been a belief that our government is keeping something from us, and that mistrust has been well-earned,” Oliver said.

“While you can believe aliens exist or not, when it comes to UFOs, belief doesn’t really come into it. Whatever they are, people are seeing them,” Oliver claimed. “That poster in Mulder’s office (in The X-Files) shouldn’t have said, ‘I Want To Believe,’ it should’ve said ‘Believe, Shmelieve, What The Fuck Is That Thing?’”

Oliver recounted how UFO sightings skyrocketed after pilot Kenneth Arnold made the first report of “flying saucers” in 1947. The infamous UFO crash in Roswell, New Mexico, soon followed, though multiple government projects reported finding nothing credible after reviewing thousands upon thousands of sightings. “But it’s not just that the government has covered itself with glory when it comes to studying UFOs. It has also actively engaged in cover-ups about them—though not necessarily in the ways or for the reasons that the History Channel might have you believe,” Oliver said.

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The Pentagon only admitted in 1997 that the crash debris from Roswell in 1947 came from a top-secret military project (code name MOGUL) that included balloons as long as 650 feet designed to detect Soviet nuclear tests. “That does make more sense. Although it is hard to take the government’s word for it, given they had just admitted they’d been lying for 50 years,” Oliver said.

Only in 2017 did the press report on the existence of another secret Pentagon program that began in 2010, called AATIP (Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program). “That is incredible. You don’t expect to hear about a shadowy Pentagon UFO program on primetime news. You expect to hear it screamed at you on a webcast in between ads for canned rations and herbal Viagra,” Oliver said. But he found it more unnerving that “reporters who dug into what AATIP actually did have found themselves underwhelmed,” especially since the program was run by a company owned by budget hotel chain owner Robert Bigelow.

Oliver reported that Bigelow also has claimed aliens live among us “under our noses” and has set up an institute investigating the afterlife. “This is beside the point, but it does say something that for a guy who is willing to throw millions at the pursuit of the discovery of aliens and the discovery of an afterlife, his worst financial decision still might have been supporting Ron DeSantis,” Oliver joked, referencing Bigelow’s 2022 donations to the DeSantis campaign.

Moreover, according to Oliver, AATIP’s publicly known research papers included speculation on wormholes with illustrations “looking like a teenager’s Rick & Morty fan art.”

“It’s really disappointing because people deserve serious answers to these legitimate questions,” Oliver said, adding that, “it takes courage to even ask them, or talk about what you might have seen.”

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However, Oliver said the government and military have gotten much better at coming forward with rational answers, citing a 2022 Congressional hearing where a Naval intelligence officer explained triangle lights as UV interpretations of the light source on unmanned drones. A four-hour press conference by a NASA panel in 2023 similarly demonstrated how one sighting from 2015 really was distorted based upon the height and velocity of the observing jet overhead.

Even Carter’s sighting in 1969, which he reported in 1973 and has repeated in public interviews, was allegedly debunked as a misinterpretation of the planet Venus.

“Well that was boring as fuck,” Oliver said, while also cheering the panel for being forthright. “They set out what they know—the object’s speed—and concede what they don’t know, which is what that object is,” he said. “It’s both promising and long overdue to see people approaching this issue soberly, scientifically, and perhaps most importantly, boringly.”

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