Our busy brains have a lot of questions. Our minds wander — and wonder — about many unrelated topics. Where some of these thoughts come from is often a mystery. If you go to the internet and click on “Did You Ever Wonder,” you will encounter a broad collection of mind wanderings of people from all over the world. The topics are wildly different from the silly to the serious, with a lot in between. Some examples:

• Why isn’t there a mouse-flavored cat food?

• When you are sleeping and dreaming about exercising, do you burn calories?

• Can you cry under water?

• Did you ever wonder if people would like you more or less if they could see inside of you?

• Did you ever wonder what all those symbols on your clothing tags mean?

• Did you ever wonder what your dog is thinking?

• Did you ever wonder what technology is doing to your brain?

Curiosity in humans and animals alike is a driving force and has been through the millennia. Young children are open about seeking answers to their many questions about the world around them. Adults remain curious, but at a certain age, probably starting at adolescence, this curiosity goes underground, often relegated into daydreaming. Those mental wanderings are believed to significantly increase our ability to access information from different parts of our brains. This mental activity is believed to enhance our creativity and problem solving. When adults have been questioned about their daydreaming, it was found that a whopping 79% of adults reported that they would share a humiliating experience rather than disclose their daydreams. One has to wonder what, exactly, are they thinking?

Among the countless number of topics filling our heads, we mortals reflect on the wonder of the world around us. Who among us, young and old, hasn’t looked up at the stars on a cloudless night, and thought, “I wonder if there is life on other planets?”

For generations, people from all over the world have reported sightings of flying objects. All those reports have been discounted by the government.

The term “UFO” was coined in 1953, by the U.S. Air Force. This term was for “any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics or unusual features does not conform to any presently known aircraft of missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object.” The Air Force was interested for potential security issues. Ultimately, the government deemed that those reports were not worthy of scientific pursuit.

There was a Project Blue Book headed by Capt. Edward J. Rupolt, which was established in the 1950s, to investigate all alleged UFO sightings. Most studies found that the majority of such sightings were aircraft, balloons, satellites, planets, meteors and bright stars. A small percentage was classified as hoaxes. Less than 10% of reports remained unexplained after proper investigation.

The reports of sightings are fascinating, but our government closed down the Blue Book Project in 1970, though it seems investigations still continued but went underground. UFOs got relegated to movies and books about humans being abducted by aliens who were extraterrestrial creatures, often depicted as green. Taking UFOs seriously has been dismissed for decades; that is until now.

On May 26, The New York Times came out with an article “‘Wow, What is That?’ Navy Pilots Report Unexplained Flying Objects.” These reports have been from U.S. Navy pilots on sightings of strange objects for several years. Everything was hush-hush until now. These pilots went on record with their claims of what they saw. “In late 2014, a Super Hornet pilot had a near collision with one of the objects, and an official mishap report was filed. Some of the incidents were videotaped, including one taken by a plane’s camera in 2015 that shows an object zooming over the ocean waves as pilots question what they are watching.”

Two days later, The Washington Post printed “UFO’s Exist and Everybody Needs to Adjust to that Fact,” by Daniel Drezner. This article emphasizes that now the government is acknowledging that UFOs actually exist and are encouraging pilots and other personnel to report encounters with unidentified aircraft.

Mark Twain has left us with many timeless tidbits to ponder. In 1897, he wrote “Truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction is obligated to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” Lord Byron, in 1823, penned in a poem, “tis strange but true; for truth is always strange; stranger than fiction; if it could be told, how much would novels gain by the exchange.”

Throughout history, our inner curiosity has tweaked and propelled progress in the sciences and all aspects of human development. It sometimes happens that our curiosity can be risky and triggers anxiety when we step outside our comfort zone. Advice, sometimes given, is to balance the scary stuff off with the feel-good material.

What do you believe is real? Be assured that you have lots of company in whatever lurks in your deepest thoughts. You are not alone.

Pinter is the founder of Psychological Services Inc., with offices in Sunbury, Bloomsburg and Danville.

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