By Tanner Mondok
Stories of UFOs have been around for thousands of years leading to endless debates about their legitimacy.
Dr. Matt O’Mansky, associate professor and chair of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Gerontology at Youngstown State University, said he believes that there is life in the universe other than us, but doesn’t believe that extraterrestrial life has ever visited Earth.
“There is life out there somewhere. Whether or not it’s intelligent life is a whole other story,” O’Mansky said. “Even if it is intelligent and they have the technology to travel through space and fly here … I find that pretty much absurd.”
When it comes to reported sightings of UFOs, O’Mansky believes that there is always some other explanation for what the person just saw.
“I myself tend to go to a more logical explanation,” he said. “It could be an optical illusion from some kind of atmospheric effect, it might be something government … I think all these things are more plausible than something from outer space coming here to visit us.”
Dr. Patrick Durrell, associate professor of astronomy at YSU and Ward Beecher Planetarium director, said that is there is no good evidence that suggests alien life has visited Earth.
“When someone says that they’ve seen something in the sky and they don’t know what it is, by definition that is an unidentified flying object. So there’s nothing wrong with that, but then people go out on a limb saying there must be aliens visiting us,” he said. “There is zero, underline, underscore, boldface evidence that aliens are visiting us or that aliens are among us.”
In regards to UFO sightings, Durrell said that there is always a more natural explanation.
“If people see a funny light changing colors near the horizon then Venus causes a lot of sightings,” Durrell said. “Because part of it is, if you see something in the sky and you don’t know what it is, not everybody knows the night sky as well as my students who took Astronomy 1504 do. Yeah, it’s going to look weird.”
Durrell said that aliens have definitely not visited Earth but also said that doesn’t mean there isn’t life elsewhere in the universe.
“One of the reasons we look for planets around other stars is that we’re looking for planets like the Earth. Scientists are actively looking for planets that could have the possibility of hosting life,” Durrell said. “There may well be alien life out there. I would kind of find it strange if we were the only ones.”
There are also people who believe in UFOs and claim to have had sightings of their own. Chris Parsons, Community Outreach coordinator and member of the Board of Directors for the Mutual UFO Network of Ohio, has devoted most of his life to studying UFOs because of a UFO sighting he experienced when he was 10 years old in his hometown of Ironton, Ohio.
“I remember riding my bike and for no particular reason I had this compulsion to look up in the sky and there it was …” he said. “This beautiful, shiny, silver metallic disk hovering in the clouds and it’s motionless and it’s silent.”
Once Parsons started to really look at the object he started to go through what he now calls his laundry list.
“My laundry list was ‘well that’s not a balloon, that’s not an airplane, that’s not a helicopter that’s not anything I’ve ever seen before,’” Parsons said. “It slowly but surely rose up into the clouds, the clouds covered it and it was gone.”
Parsons said that he knows of many sightings that have occurred in this area of Ohio. One of the most popular in northeast Ohio is a UFO sighting which involved law enforcement officials following a craft from county to county until it eventually ended up in Pennsylvania.
Another popular sighting from this area involved a helicopter following a UFO while flying from Columbus to Cleveland.
When it comes to people who don’t believe in UFOs, Parsons said that he feels he could persuade them if given the chance because most people aren’t aware of the amount of credible information on the topic.
“I’m willing to lay down money that if a person gave me hours or a couple of days to walk them through what I consider to be the evidence, if somebody would give me the chance to show them why I believe it to be true, that I could persuade them,” he said. “I could show them things that they’ve never seen before.”
Scientific minded people such as Durrell most likely won’t be persuaded by Parsons to believe in UFOs but this controversial topic definitely isn’t going away anytime soon. UFO experts and scientists will not stop the debates until the day comes where there is proof of extraterrestrial life or evidence that aliens have visited Earth.
For more information on UFO sightings in the area, visit the MUFON of Ohio website at mufonohio.com.