In a 2017 interview with 60 Minutes, Robert Bigelow didn’t hesitate when he was asked if space aliens had ever visited Earth. “There has been and is an existing presence, an ET presence,” said Bigelow, a Las Vegas-based real estate mogul and founder of Bigelow Aerospace, a company NASA had contracted to build inflatable space station habitats. Bigelow was so certain, he indicated, because he had “spent millions and millions and millions” of dollars searching for UFO evidence. “I probably spent more as an individual than anybody else in the United States has ever spent on this subject.”
He’s right. Since the early 1990s, Bigelow has bankrolled a voluminous stream of pseudoscience on modern-day UFO lore—investigating everything from crop circles and cattle mutilations to alien abductions and UFO crashes. Indeed, if you name a UFO rabbit hole, it’s a good bet the 79-year-old tycoon has flushed his riches down it.
But it’s also a good bet that Bigelow would see this differently. After all, both the media and Congress are now solemnly discussing a supposed massive UFO cover-up by the U.S. government. There’s even proposed legislation to open the X-Files! “The American public has a right to learn about technologies of unknown origins, non-human intelligence, and unexplainable phenomena,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York harrumphed in a recent public statement.
This legacy of plutocrat-backed fringe science comes as political partisanship, corporate propaganda, and conspiracy mongering continues to sow distrust in science. One lawmaker, Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee, recently said, “The devil’s been in our way,” claiming a “cover-up” of UFO reports by military and intelligence agencies.
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