Great news, people of the paranormal persuasion: According to Live Science, the U.K.’s Ministry of Defense is finally feeding the world’s collective curiosity by releasing its collection of UFO sighting reports. For the first time ever, the public can dig into the Ministry’s ‘X-Files’ that were collected from the early 1950s all the way to 2009, at which point the country finally decided to pull the plug on the department responsible for these things. Presumably, the British equivalent to Fox Mulder is still sitting in a pub somewhere, whining about the truth still being out there to anyone within earshot.
The Ministry of Defense’s UFO sighting catalog might seem like a strange thing, but Great Britain does in fact have a history with unidentified flying objects. In the 1950s, the country went through an outright UFO craze, and even Winston Churchill himself got in on the action. In 1952, he sent a memo to Britain’s Air Minister, asking: “What does all this stuff about flying saucers amount to? What can it mean? What is the truth?” It’s probably fair to guess that after such high-ranking interest, it was fairly easy to secure a budget for UFO research.
What on Earth prompted Britain to release their 'X-Files?'
It’s tempting to imagine that some heroic figure within the government program — perhaps one who bears no small resemblance to actor David Duchovny — has worked for years to bring these files accessible to the public and is finally nearing his goal. However, it looks like the reason the files have been flagged for release is much simpler and more boring: Pure bureaucracy.
The Ministry of Defense’s Churchill-induced “flying saucer group” soon came to conclusion that unidentified flying objects were “hoaxes, delusions or ordinary objects that were misidentified,” and while the ministry did continue to keep tabs on sightings until 2009, it appears they’re not exactly concerned about releasing groundbreaking information. Several of the UFO files have already been released on the website of the U.K. National Archives, and the decision to release it all for the public came because a news agency called PA Media invoked the country’s Freedom of Information Act to request the files. In fact, it looks a bit like the officials simply decided it would be less of a pain in the rear to just release it all than to keep uploading the occasional file to the National Archive website. So, as it stands, the files are set to be released at some point in 2020 on a website of their own. Despite the rather anticlimactic way the decision to release them was made, UFO enthusiasts still believe that the files could contain some pretty interesting stuff.
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