As opposed to their 2019 selves, more Americans now believe UFOs are alien spacecraft. This lines up with the mysterious aerial objects getting a scattering of reports in mainstream news outlets (theoretically making them less stigmatizing) during the same two-year timeframe. 

According to poll results published last week by Gallup, 41 percent of adults think UFOs come from other planets. That’s up from 33 percent of adults who were already thinking that back in 2019. The contrasting skepticism, that the objects are either related to human activity or are just natural phenomena, has dropped from 60 percent to 50 percent.

Gallup points out, as we noted above, that the attitude shift comes as mainstream publications started giving more serious coverage to incidents involving UFOs, including the coverage of the leaking of some bizarre footage taken by Navy pilots. The Department of Defense has not backed the idea that the footage shown from the craft of those pilots provides conclusive proof of an alien visitor, but government authorities did acknowledge that it was authentic.

Last year a task force was commissioned by the Pentagon to study “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP).

So how did this new Gallup poll work?

The opinion-gaging company conducted a phone poll from July 6-21, which means its questions to whoever’s Caller ID wasn’t working at the time came less than a month after the preliminary report regarding said UAPs was put out by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. That report, which got lots of media coverage, put questionable instances into five categories, namely “airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, [U.S. government] or U.S. industry development programs, foreign adversary systems and a catchall ‘other’ bin.”

Note that last (non-specific) one.

The survey that Gallup issued in 2019 came a couple of months after the Navy UFO footage first leaked out. 

Gallup has been tracking the American public’s views regarding UFO sightings since 1973, wondering if U.S. citizens think that they’re “something real,” or just the product of overactive imaginations. In 2019, 56 percent of people indicated they thought it was something real, but “real” wasn’t a very clear description, and could’ve meant things that are confirmed to exist (clouds, animals, drones, etc.), and not stuff from another planet. 

To fix that, Gallup began giving out a separate poll in 2019 that questioned respondents about UFOs being alien craft(s) without any preceding inquiries leading up to that question during the survey.

There was also a slightly larger increase amongst alien spacecraft believers in the male/middle-aged and college-educated adult demographics. 

The college grad belief level is still below the overall believer percentage, but it went up 10 points (from 27 to 37 percent) since 2019. 

The belief of adults with some college education rose from 40 percent to 49 percent.

As for people with no college education, the belief went from 35 to 39 percent. 

Breaking down the differences between men and women, 44 percent of men are now believers (that number was 34 percent in 2019) while 38 percent (up from 33 percent) of women are in the same group. 

The overall numbers are actually down from Pew results published in early July that reported 51 percent of Americans thought UFOs reported by military personnel show evidence of alien life. You can feel free to note the slightly different phrasing, or posit that a more skeptical view has taken over after more time has passed, or that Pew just interviewed different people (nothing can probably be drawn from the percentage difference in these polls other than the belief that aliens have visited/are visiting Earth is not exclusively held by the UFO-obsessed). 

For more (with graphs that make shit easier to digest) head to Gallup.