The latest flurry of UFO sightings has occurred in China, but in recent years some Omahans, too, think they have seen something. One couple, prominent members of the business community, got in their car to leave home for dinner. They say they saw a saucer hovering 100 feet above their house for three or four minutes, and then it flew away. Another man and woman drove at night on "a remote area of the Interstate" in Omaha when, they say, a flying saucer hovered over the four lanes of highway. The couple looked up in awe, and then it was gone. They continued driving, looked at their watches - and were shocked to see that it was an hour and a half later. They had lost 90 minutes. Under hypnotism in the office of John C. "Jack" Kasher, the woman described being taken into the saucer and seeing people four feet tall with large heads, wraparound eyes and four fingers on each hand. She recounted in a hypnotic state that they told her telepathically: "You will not remember this."
Kasher teaches physics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, which has honored him as a distinguished professor and with an "excellence in teaching" award. He gave the above examples, and says about 60 people in the Omaha area who believe they have been abducted by aliens hold support-group meetings.
Kasher knows that many people dismiss UFO sightings. No matter. "The question is not whether they're out there," he said last week at the Omaha Press Club. "The question is have they gotten here yet." Kasher, who believes they have, spoke to about 40 people at a luncheon. He showed photographic slides taken in various countries depicting saucerlike objects in the sky.
Among UFOlogists, he said, the sightings in China are a big deal. Just before the year 2000 began, numerous sightings were reported. On Dec. 2 in Shanghai, people spotted a shining cylinder with a flaming orange tail. Other reports that month came from 12 other cities. Some sightings since have been identified as cargo planes or surveillance balloons. But the normally conservative official news media in China have lavished attention on UFO news.
Sun Shili, a retired Foreign Ministry official who heads the Beijing UFO Research Society, told the New York Times: "In the U.S., scholars investigating this are under pressure and have been derided. But in China, the academic discussion is quite free, so in this area American academics are quite jealous of us."
Sun says he has a gut feeling that "aliens are living among us disguised as humans."
Hmmm. Look around. Count colleagues' fingers, and see if anyone comes up short. Really, haven't you always suspected the little guy in the supply room, or the woman in your information-technology office? Kasher, who speaks frequently on UFOs, brings a scientists' skepticism to his research. But the universe is so incredibly immense, he said, that it's unlikely our planet is the only one on which intelligent life has evolved. Russian military officials, he said, have reported that planes chased UFOs and even tried to shoot them down, but never could catch them. In America, Kasher said, the government maintains secret files. A court case involving requests for files, he said, resulted in judges at two levels ruling that releasing the information would be detrimental to the national security.
"There is a cover-up," Kasher said, "believe me." The subject is good "X Files" material, and Kasher always gives an interesting lecture. (His talk at the Press Club was recorded and will be broadcast Monday at noon on KIOS, 91.5 FM, in Omaha.) UFOs often are reported to show startling maneuverability unknown to earth-based aircraft. Kasher explains that by saying their science is simply far ahead of ours.
If they're that good, and if they're really "out there," are we in danger of attack? On that point, Kasher said he's an optimist. "If they wanted to take over the Earth," he said, "they would have done it by this time."
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