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Truth Beyond Belief: 'Intimate Alien'

Evidence matters little in the case of UFOs. In the U.S., 45% of people believe UFOs exist and have visited Earth, according to a 2020 Ipsos poll. Yet those pushing for government transparency and scientific inquiry often face ridicule. How can a belief so widespread be marginalized at the same time?Host Frank Stasio discusses UFO sightings with author David Halperin.

'Intimate Alien' was released in March 2020
Credit Stanford University Press
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'Intimate Alien' was released in March 2020

While most literature focuses on proving or disproving sightings, a recent book from a professor emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill offers a third path for considering UFOs: Believer or skeptic, the magnetic power of alien visitation is a collective myth. Using Jungian analysis, author David Halperin revisits his own years as a teenage UFOlogist and dissects the history of alien visitation and prophetic vision in "Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO" (Stanford University Press/2020).

Halperin explains to host Frank Stasio why — from Ezekiel’s chariot to Roswell to "Chicken Little" — humanity remains transfixed by the celestial unknown. Halperin is a professor emeritus of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Flyleaf Books will host a one year anniversary launch event on March 24, 2021.

The Heaven's Gate cult is one of many belief systems centered around celestial visitors and events. In this case, members committed mass suicide in order to reach a space craft they believed was following the Comet Hale-Bopp.
Wikimedia /
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The Heaven's Gate cult is one of many belief systems centered around celestial visitors and events. In this case, members committed mass suicide in order to reach a space craft they believed was following the Comet Hale-Bopp.
After the death of his wife and daughter, Guido Buffo built a temple in Córdoba, Argentina with frescoes depicting his loved ones in varying modes of ascension and celestial visitation.
Fundación Guido Buffo /
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After the death of his wife and daughter, Guido Buffo built a temple in Córdoba, Argentina with frescoes depicting his loved ones in varying modes of ascension and celestial visitation.
In 1957, the Domenica del Corriere reported a wave of flying saucers over Italy.
Fondazione Corriere della Sera /
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In 1957, the Domenica del Corriere reported a wave of flying saucers over Italy.
UFOlogists sometimes reinforce Eurocentrism and white supremacy by attributing geoglyphs, like the Nazca Lines, to extraterrestrials. This assertion falsely claims that non-Europeans were not capable of massive artistic and scientific achievements.
Diego Delso / Wikimedia
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UFOlogists sometimes reinforce Eurocentrism and white supremacy by attributing geoglyphs, like the Nazca Lines, to extraterrestrials. This assertion falsely claims that non-Europeans were not capable of massive artistic and scientific achievements.
A spinning ride at the Tennessee State Fair in 2007. While UFO culture is widespread, it remains on the margins of scientific inquiry.
Brent Moore /
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A spinning ride at the Tennessee State Fair in 2007. While UFO culture is widespread, it remains on the margins of scientific inquiry.

Copyright 2020 North Carolina Public Radio

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
Grant Holub-Moorman is a producer for The State of Things, WUNC's daily, live talk show that features the issues, personalities and places of North Carolina.