At least that is apparently the case according to some of the outlandish claims made on this evening's The Great UFO Conspiracy. Part of an aliens night on More4, comedian Dan Schreiber takes us on a potted tour of Britain's UFO conspiracy culture to get the low down on the latest conspiracies out there.
We then meet with Timothy Good, the Godfather of contemporary UFO conspiracy theories thanks to his 1987 book, Above Top Secret. Based around a "leak" of documents purporting to be sourced from the US military, these 'Majestic 12' files "prove" the existence of a secret military cabal determined to cover up all things alien. For instance, did you know Armstrong and Aldrin saw alien craft on the Moon? No, nor did I. Apparently these aliens have access to world leaders and, most shocking of all, the Catholic Church are in on the act. The virgin birth, the fantastic powers ... proof positive that Jesus was an alien, a secret the church is determined to protect. Also, our Timothy claims to have met one of "them". In an Arizona diner in 1963, he spotted a young girl in the queue. There was something about her that struck him, and he began wondering where she could be from. Shortly afterwards, she walked by his table, did a bow, and wandered off. Obviously evidence of a telepathic extra terrestrial, I'm sure you would agree.
The next "expert" was Miles Johnston, who Dan notes has probably been to more alien/UFO conventions than anyone else. Tony and Timothy were, if we put it charitably, pretty much out there, then Miles is totally off the page. His contention is that a conspiracy exists (between evil aliens called the Nephilim, and the military of perfidious Albion) and their joint aim is a cyborg humanity that will see us enslaved. Yet such is their confidence that they act in plain sight. The stuff about aliens is a false flag operation - instead of scouring the skies they're here and acting right in front of us.
This story found corroboration (of sorts) in the tale of Max Spears. His interests include the use of genetically engineered, part-human super soldiers (just like The X-Files), and scrutinising the minds of our hidden rulers. His is a variant of the David Icke conspiracy, that the world is run by dynasties of shape-shifting reptilians from 13 bloodlines. However, they don't particularly care about keeping themselves secret because they know how absurd their existence sounds. Instead, they like to toy with the humans they rule by liberally sprinkling culture with evidence of them. This evidence includes Superman's 'S' symbol, because that is obviously a serpent. Ditto for McDonald's fame golden arches, and the fact the company became what it is under Ray Kroc. The motif of torches, which figure prominently in Western culture (that held by the Statue of Liberty, the Olympic flame, the torches lit at JFK's and Diana's funerals, etc.) denote the lizards' belief in the eternity of their rule, and so on. Well, that's enough to convince me.
We meet with Miles one last time after he learned Dan had met with Mark Pilkington, the screenwriter for the Mirage Men film, a work that cogently and convincingly argues that the conspiracy - if it can be called that - was to sow disinformation about top secret American military projects. It's not that the government are covering up ETs, it's that, effectively, aliens are keeping black operations and top secret technologies from public view. There were even some suggestive files from GCHQ on this matter dumped by Edward Snowden onto the web. It's by no means a new theory. Fox Mulder was suggesting it twenty years ago. Nevertheless, it's heresy as far as Miles goes. Pilkington is "in on the conspiracy" and we will "try and programme you". Reasoned argument based on evidence is dangerous, it seems.
The truth, as Miles understands it is this. During the Falklands War, the British found a black goo that responded to electricity, and shipped it back to Blighty for weaponisation. Further experimentation revealed it to be sentient and, for whatever reason, they ended up dumping the stuff in the sewers. Since then it has penetrated every living thing, and if we don't sort ourselves and the planet out, it will delete us. Yikes.
We've been here before. As Dan observes, conspiracy theories anchor the world in a particular way. Uncertainty and chance is crowded out by a conscious, hidden totalitarianism. The world therefore is rendered terrifying yet knowable and predictable all at once. The centrepiece is an insight or idea that is worked backwards, in which "facts" are disembedded from the rules of evidence and reinserted in a new discourse that proves the theory. This, of course, isn't a property exclusive to conspiracy theory, but is the most extreme manifestation of mistaking the frameworks with which we understand the social world as the world itself. The possibility of rational argument is forever foreclosed because anyone critical has to be in on the conspiracy too.
Ultimately, for all their outlandishness conspiracy theories, be it about aliens, fake Moon landings, September 11th - take your pick - are profoundly conservative. Only hidden elites and other worldly powers have agency. The rest of us are mere sheeple too thick or too complicit to ever change. We're passive and powerless, doomed to be eternally duped. Thankfully the world is not like that and we have the potential to forge it anew, if the great mass of people will it.