The Roswell incident -- the flying saucer story that refuses to die -- is commemorated with a Google Doodle game today featuring a saucer and a bald alien with big, dark eyes. It's the 66th anniversary of the crash of a mysterious object in New Mexico that spurred claims of a massive cover-up.
The government had its story from Day One: It was a weather balloon. There were no little green men. And it stuck with that version of events even as a local newspaper reported that a flying saucer was recovered and conspiracy theorists began their own reporting. Second- and third-hand witnesses claimed there were alien bodies.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence, the incident took root in the American psyche. Sci-fi films reflected the hold Roswell had on our imagination --"Independence Day," "Avengers," "Battle Los Angeles."
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A CNN/Time poll released in 1997 -- 50 years after Roswell -- showed that 80% of Americans thought the government was hiding knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrial life forms.
The Los Angeles Times' Matt Pearce wrote on the 65th anniversary of the Roswell incident, in 2012:
"Perhaps the idea of aliens among us is resilient because it activates the anti-authoritarian gland in American politics -- a deep current of popular skepticism that believes the government is always hiding important information from us, a belief not really helped by the fact that the government usually is."
That article, of course, was written before Edward Snowden revealed the National Security Agency had been intercepting a vast amount of global communications -- emails, texts, videos and more -- for years. Can you blame the American public for having trust issues?
In truth, the incident likely doesn't have a skinny alien leg to stand on, but it's still good for a sci-fi shiver and a "what if?" Scroll through some of the "proof" online -- wood that allegedly wouldn't burn and featured "hieroglyphics," plus thin aliens with big heads. A government report from 1997, at 231 pages, included "alleged" witness testimony: "When we got up to it there were four bodies there. ... These creatures, all of them, were, oh, about four foot tall, four and a half feet tall."
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