By Frank WarrenMerriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary gives the following definition(s) for the verb, “believe”:
The UFO Chronicles
The UFO Chronicles
1 a : to have a firm religious faith b : to accept as true, genuine, or real -ideals we believe in- -believes in ghosts-
2 : to have a firm conviction as to the goodness, efficacy, or ability of something -believe in exercise-
3 : to hold an opinion : THINK -I believe so-
1 a : to consider to be true or honest -believe the reports- -you wouldn't believe how long it took- b : to accept the word or evidence of -I believe you- -couldn't believe my ears-
2 : to hold as an opinion : SUPPOSE -I believe it will rain soon-
not believe : to be astounded at -I couldn't believe my luck-“Intransitive,” by the way means: not transitive; especially: characterized by not having or containing a direct object.
When associating the verb, believe or the noun believer, "one who has a firm religious faith,” or “one who accepts something as true or genuine,” etc., with any given subject, it puts the “onus” on the “individual”; that is it gives rise to “doubt,” it leaves room for skepticism, contestability—it isn’t accepted as an established fact.
More often then not, when one comes across a “news report” concerning a “UFO,” by a “main stream media source” (one of the networks, CNN etc.) it usually “melds” the verb, and or noun, “believe, believer(s)” into the story. Those of us who pay attention see this as a common theme, and for the layperson who can recall anything on UFOs, I’m sure you remember the connotation implied.
Although the acronym UFO for “U.nidentified F.lying S.aucers” can be found in “declassified Air Force documents,” (prior to 1952) it is “Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt,” Chief of the Air Force's Project Blue Book who takes credit for making it the popular “official” term, for then, “Flying Saucers.”
The underlying importance of this action is that the “description” of what was flying in US airspace (as well as all over the world) at the time went from being a “definitive object,” i.e., a “flying craft” in the shape of a “flying saucer,” to that of an “unknown.”
There is most certainly a psycho-sociological impact when an “administrative body” (particularly back in the 50’s) in essence goes from describing what these objects are, to stating, “they’re unidentified.”
Of course we later would see the Air Force’s transparent objective in giving a “conventional explanation” to these “now” unknown objects. To that end, it is much easier to argue that an “unknown” was actually “ball lightning e.g.,” then to change a “flying saucer” into the same.
Many Ufologists have theorized that this “seemingly small” word change was indeed a calculated “psychological move,” in part to de-emphasize the “unusual activity over American skies—whether this is true or not, there certainly was an impact nonetheless.
Although the “term,” UFO was introduced to the American lexicon in the early 50’s, it’s sibling “Flying Saucer” wasn’t quick to leave—in part because of so many reports describing a “disc” or “saucer” shaped craft in regards to “UFOs.”
I think it important to note that the media in the early days of Ufology took the subjects of UFOs very seriously, which was of course was a direct reflection of our society; in fact the largest press conference post WWII was in July 1952, and the topic was, you guessed it UFOS!
In a previous article ("UFO Ignorance") which describes the a fore mentioned event (UFOs flying over Washington for weeks) a reader wrote in to say:
"I was fascinated by your account of the 1952 UFO flap around DC. I'm 68 now, but at age 13, I was there, living with my family -- temporarily -- in the sedate, colonial Alexandria home of my mother's sister and her husband. (My father was an Army officer. En route to Bogotá, Colombia, Dad was going through Pentagon briefing.) What I recall as most striking about this flap was the ubiquitous excitement on local television, newspapers, and so forth. You didn't mention this in your piece, but individual sightings seemed to be all but continuous. Cars were piled up along the shoulders of the Mt. Vernon Parkway. Crowds gazing out across the Potomac toward DC and National Airport came and went. [Emphasis added]. I remember my grown cousin -- Jim (a broker in the family real estate business) -- arriving at the house one day all but breathless with excitement over a sighting.
As a sociologist I've long been fascinated by how civil authorities are able to virtually erase the direct experience (in this case) of literally hundreds of witnesses. Years would pass before my own inquiries would lead me to understand that "UFOs" represent a vital dimension of the human picture -- hidden though it is behind smoke, mirrors, disinformation and sheer ignorance."
It’s safe to say that the “media” back then didn’t associate the phenomenon with terms, such as “believe, believers enthusiasts” etc., they reported the events as they happened, in a “clear and concise manner.” And as evidenced by the declaration from the reader above—it was quite a hair-raising experience!