It all started on an ordinary Saturday afternoon. As is often the case, the forces of procrastination had led me to browsing news sites on the internet, when I came across a particularly strange story. It concerned a speech made by Paul Hellyer, the former Minister of Defense under Lester B. Pearson and a cabinet member under Trudeau, who had recently publicly stated his belief in UFOs. According to the article, he was now pressing the Canadian Senate to hold public hearings on ‘exopolitics,’ or relations with extra-terrestrials. My mind hesitated, ‘this has to be a joke. I must have drunk too much last night.’ I’ve always taken talk of aliens and UFOs with a grain of salt – its called science fiction, not science fact. Yet, I was compelled to read on. At a speech at the University of Toronto, Hellyer stated that the American government has been hiding evidence of UFOs for decades, even from a close ally such as Canada. He also warned that the Americans were preparing weapons for use against UFOs, and that the Bush administration had recently agreed for the military to build a forward base on the moon to help intercept them.
And so my descent into the world of alien conspiracies began.
This new information blew my mind. It seemed like an absurd string of claims, but they came from what would seem to be a reputable source. I needed to know more. A link on the article led me to a website with a wealth of information on the true nature of our relationship with the universe. UFO conspiracies began to bombard me from left and right. Aliens did crash at Roswell, as well as in several other incidents. Eisenhower’s famous statement about the rise of the military-industrial complex was in fact a secret warning about those groups in the American government in cahoots with the UFOs. NASA discovered an extra-terrestrial base on Mars’ moon Phobos, and the satellite that found it was subsequently destroyed by a UFO. Finally, the clincher: evidence that Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11 came into contact with UFOs on their moon landing. It seems there was a 2 minute interruption in the broadcast of the moon landings, purportedly because of technical difficulties, but ham radio operators overheard the real reason. The frantic American astronauts were in fact attempting to deal with the nearby sighting of UFOs.
The hairs were standing on the back of my neck; my entire world had changed. I began my attempts to enlighten the rest of the world, but friends and roommates remained skeptical. They laughed, but in their eyes I could see they thought I was only hours away from wearing a hat made out of aluminum foil. I was deteriorating into a crazy alien conspirator, ranting to anyone I could find. But, as suddenly as I came into possession of this knowledge, comments from one of my unbeliever friends prompted me to re-evaluate the situation. I thought to myself: ‘I’m in university; I’ve got to look at arguments from both sides.’ It took about 45 seconds of searching and 5 minutes of embarrassingly simple arguments to debunk the Apollo 11 ‘transcript.’
I’ve never thought of myself as a naïve person, but it was becoming clearer that my trust in the internet has once again been misplaced. Conspiracy after conspiracy fell apart with ease. I realized I had gotten caught up in the glamorous world of UFO conspiracies. That night, I re-emerged from my lair much like I had entered it. Who knows if there is life out there in the galaxy, but for now my mind is back on planet earth.