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Nearly a fifth of university boffins have personal knowledge of UFO sightings, a new survey has revealed.
Of 1,460 academics 19% said they or someone they knew had witnessed an unidentified aerial phenomenon – aka UAP.
More than a third believe UFO research is 'very important' or 'absolutely essential'. While 64% think academics like them should be commissioned to investigate sightings.
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Around 37% said they would be personally interested in conducting UFO research.
The study – published in the journal Humanities and Social Sciences Communications – revealed society's brightest minds are intrigued by the possibility ET may be visiting Earth.
Boffins from 133 US universities across 14 academic disciplines were asked about their perceptions, opinions and experiences of UFOs.
Of those who believe either they or a pal may have seen one 39% said they did not know what could explain these sightings.
A total of 13% believed they were devices of unknown intelligence. Only 4% of the sample admitted they had researched close encounters.
But 43% said would be more likely to investigate if another reputable scholar in their discipline went first.
While 55% said they would conduct research themselves if they could secure funding.
Study author Dr Marissa Yingling, from the University of Louisville in Kentucky, US, said: "The findings suggest that many academics across disciplines consider academia's involvement in research into UAP to be important and may be cautiously willing to engage with research into UAP particularly if others they consider to be reputable within their field do so.
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"Open discussions of UAP among academics could enable greater academic involvement in UAP-related research.''
Investigators from the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office are probing 650 reported close encounters involving military personnel – including Top Gun pilots – spanning seven decades for an inquiry ordered by the US Senate.
US Government adviser Dr Garry Nolan stunned an international conference last week by revealing America has retrieved wreckage from crashed UFOs.
The pathology professor at Stanford University School of Medicine, who has published more than 300 research articles and holds 40 US patents, told thought think-tank Salt iConnections in New York engineers had worked on `reverse-engineering downed craft'.
That means attempted to recreate them from debris.
Dr Nolan, 62, said he was '100%' sure not only has extraterrestrial intelligence visited Earth but 'it’s been here a long time…and it’s still here'.
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