The worldwide rumour about Flying Saucers presents a problem that challenges the psychologist for a number of reasons. The primary question—and apparently this is the most important point—is this: are they real or are they mere fantasy products? This question is by no means settled yet. If they are real, exactly what are they? If they are fantasy, why should such a rumour exist?
In this latter respect I have made an interesting and quite unexpected discovery. In 1954 I wrote an article in the Swiss weekly, Die Weltwoche, in which I expressed myself in a skeptical way, though I spoke with due respect of the serious opinion of a relatively large number of air specialists who believe in the reality of Ufos (unidentified flying objects). In 1958 this interview was suddenly discovered by the world press and the “news” spread like wildfire from the far West round the earth to the far East, but—alas—in distorted form. I was quoted as a saucer-believer. I issued a statement to the United Press and gave a true version of my opinion, but this time the wire went dead: nobody, so far as I know, took any notice of it, except one German newspaper.
The moral of this story is rather interesting. As the behaviour of the press is a sort of Gallup test with reference to world opinion, one must draw the conclusion that news affirming the existence of Ufos is welcome, but that scepticism seems to be undesirable. To believe that Ufos are real suits the general opinion, whereas disbelief is to be discouraged. This creates the impression that there is a tendency all over the world to believe in saucers and to want them to be real, unconsciously helped along by a press that otherwise has no sympathy with the phenomenon.
This remarkable fact in itself surely merits the psychologist’s interest. Why should it be more desirable for saucers to exist than not? The following pages are an attempt to answer this question. I have relieved the text of cumbersome footnotes, except for a few which give the references for the interested reader.
C. G. JUNG