Axios and Aliens

65% of Americans believe in aliens, new poll finds

Miriam Kramer, author of Space

Alien under spotlight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fifty-one percent of Americans believe UFOs reported by military personnel are likely evidence of intelligent alien life, according to a new poll released by Pew last week.

Why it matters: Questions about whether smart aliens have come to visit Earth have been asked for decades, and these results show that curiosity — which can sometimes verge into conspiracy theory — persists.

What they found: The new poll surveyed 10,417 U.S. adults in June ahead of the release of a UFO report mandated by Congress and made public at the end of June.

  • About 65% of respondents said they think there is intelligent alien life on planets other than Earth, and about 87% said UFOs aren’t a security threat to the U.S. at all or only represent a minor one, Pew found.
  • According to the poll, only 12% of American adults had heard or read a lot about the UFO report before its release.
  • “Some segments of the public are more likely than others to believe that intelligent life exists on other planets,” Pew wrote in a release. “This view is especially pronounced among younger Americans. About three-quarters (76%) of adults under age 30 say intelligent life exists on other planets, versus 57% of those 50 and older.”

The bottom line: In all likelihood, evidence of alien life won’t come in the form of a grainy video taken high above an ocean, but will instead be the discovery of tiny, fossilized microbes on Mars, or some other little creature swimming through an ocean engulfing a distant moon.