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The Chilling 60 Minutes Episode That Had Fans Believing In Aliens

"60 Minutes" isn't exactly the kind of show you'd expect to be associated with UFOlogy or other paranormal phenomena. Let's face it, it's one thing for a show like "Ancient Aliens" to talk about encounters with aliens. Despite airing on the History Channel, there is at least a tacit acknowledgment that what is being discussed is, at best, a bunch of fringe theories. At best, they are entertaining speculation.

"60 Minutes," however, is one of the most respected news shows on television with a reputation for rigorous reporting. In other words, for a series like "60 Minutes" to venture into speculation about extraterrestrials is a big deal. By the time the segment in question aired, the American Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon had already released a cache of documents and videos chronicling the appearance of unidentified aerial phenomena (or UAPs) within United States airspace (via The Guardian).

But while the CIA has yet to comment on whether these UAP are actually of alien origin, the "60 Minutes" segment elaborating on the contents of these reports seems to have convinced at least a few viewers that we aren't alone in the universe.

Navy pilots' descriptions of their UFO encounters made viewers believe

Airing in May of 2021, just a few months after the release of the CIA and Pentagon documents, the "60 Minutes" segment saw Bill Whitaker speak with United States Navy pilots. These pilots, at different times, saw with their own eyes flying objects that looked and behaved in ways that no known aircraft can, including possibly traveling 60 miles in a matter of seconds.

"There's definitely something," says Commander Dave Fravor, "I don't know who's building it, who's got the technology, who's got the brains, but there was definitely something out there that was better than our plane." And the comments in the YouTube video of this segment are filled with people who appear similarly convinced. "I am a UFO skeptic and a military nerd," wrote Thomas Kositzki. But as the segment showed, the footage was caught on radar and infrared, and was observed by some of the most highly trained military personnel in the world, prompting some to reevaluate their ideas. Kositzki also added, "Now I have goosebumps and am not so skeptical anymore."

Several other comments stress how highly trained the pilots are, while other commenters even claimed to be military personnel themselves. The overarching sentiment of all of it is that, as commenter Shrimp puts it, "It's pretty much impossible for alien life to NOT exist."

Some see these segments lending credibility to the existence of aliens

What's more, there is a sense of editorial distance in the "60 Minutes" segment, meaning that, while Bill Whitaker gives interviewees' license to tell their stories and state their case, he never suggests that viewers themselves should check their own skepticism at the door. Even as it may feel difficult to question the credibility of the pilots, even if we aren't fully convinced that what they saw was extraterrestrial in origin, it is difficult to deny that they saw something unexplained.

"You did a great job representing this profoundly important issue," wrote Project Unity in the comments, "no doubt you have bolstered the credibility of this conversation for many and allowed people who may have been skeptical, to become more curious."

With that in mind, it seems clear that the declassified documents, and perhaps the "60 Minutes" segment, have had an impact. A Gallup poll conducted in July of 2021 found that roughly four in ten Americans believe that UAPs are extraplanetary in origin. This was up a whole ten points from two years prior, before the cache of documents was released.

This hasn't completely removed UAPs -– or UFOs for that matter –- from the realm of science fiction. Though even here, writers and filmmakers have had to play with the context a bit. In the run-up to the release of "Nope," writer and director Jordan Peele claimed that the declassified military documents made his film feel more real, and the film makes explicit mention of them.