The scientific canon of 20th century science held that all intelligent life ends at Earth's geostationary orbit. The penalty for any professional not toeing this scientific line was probable loss of professional status and potential harassment by government authorities.
However, one bright spot marks the beginning of change in official terrestrial attitudes toward other species of intelligent life. In 1978, the UN General Assembly approved a revolutionary decision, inviting "interested member states to take appropriate steps to coordinate on a national level scientific research and investigation into extraterrestrial life."
In 2007, countries are now making public formerly secret information about their records of extraterrestrial craft visiting Earth. The big question is: Why now?
What Americans Believe about ETs
According to a 2002 Roper poll, most Americans appear comfortable with and even excited about the thought of the discovery of extraterrestrial life:
67% believe in the existence of intelligent life in the universe.
48% believe that intelligent off-planet cultures are now visiting Earth.
72% believe the U.S. government is not telling all it knows about extraterrestrial craft visiting Earth.
14% say they have had a close encounter.
For details on the poll, which was prepared for the Sci Fi Channel, visit www.scifi.com/ufo/roper .
On March 22, the French Space Agency announced it was making public its secret files on possible extraterrestrial sightings. The New Scientist reported that among the 1,600 cases registered since 1954, nearly 25 percent are classified as "type D," meaning that despite good or very good data and credible witnesses, experts have been confronted with something they can't explain.
On May 2, the United Kingdom's Ministry of Defense announced it was releasing up to 7,200 secret extraterrestrial sightings files going back to 1967, collected by DI55, a secret unit within the ministry. Other countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Chile also have released classified extraterrestrial reports.
Since 2000, former government officials also have given public evidence to the presence of extraterrestrial civilizations on Earth. In 2001, more than 100 high-level governmental, political and military-intelligence witnesses gave testimonies to the presence of extraterrestrial civilizations during a Disclosure Project press conference in Washington, DC.