“Disclosure has happened. … I’ve got stacks of generals, including Soviet generals, who’ve come out and said UFOs are real. My point is, how many times do senior officials need to come forward and say that this is real?”
— John Alexander, US Army Colonel
There is no consensus on what UFOs are. The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis suggests they are literal aliens in spacecrafts. The Inter-dimensional Hypothesis suggest they are native to Earth, but from a different dimension and/or time. And the Psychosocial Hypothesis of course, states that all of these are psychological and social phenomenons.
There is also cultural tracking— the tendency for UFO related phenomenon to change their appearance and nature over time (UFOs appeared as airships pre-19th century, Rockets/Supersonic Travel in the 1940’s, and so forth) and to different cultures. Consider how in prior times, events like fairy sightings, fairy abductions, and encounters with demons were quite common. Yet with the ascent of the modern age, “aliens” quickly replaced these phenomenons. Fairies were of course, Christianized versions of pagan deities and spiritual experiences. Spiritually rich, non-Christian nations in the world today still retain culturally unique phenomenons like: abundance of ghost encounters and mythology, shamanism, spiritual possession by gods, encounters with spiritual beings in woods and mountains, dragon sightings, etc. In the inter-dimensional hypothesis, cultural tracking can also be explained via the possibility that the “aliens” are only slightly more advanced (explaining why their technology were always only slightly ahead of our own).
But the public is largely confused at this point, due to decades of pop culture, hoaxes, celebrity scientists, youtube pundits, and conspiracy theories. There is also a strangely naive faith in the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis over the lesser known (but in my opinion much more likely) Inter-dimensional Hypothesis and Psychosocial Hypothesis.
Because of this, the quieter news of declassification and admittance by various governments that yes, “UFO phenomenons are real, and no, we don’t know what they are” were constantly ignored (except by the crackpots of course). There is an unspoken taboo, by the culture, and by academia, to not engage in the study seriously. They continue to ignore the fact that these phenomenons (whatever it may be) needs serious study and examination. As a result, the field is taken up by Ufologists, and half of them are crackpots. The professionals need to wrestle this field back from the domain of the conspiracy theorists.