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The UN alien ambassador that wasn’t

October 19, 2010Comments No comments

On September 26, 2010, English newspaper The Sunday Times published an article under the title If Mars attacks, she’s our leader, telling the story about how Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman was to be appointed First Ambassador for alien contact by the United Nations. Several media outlets and blogs reported on the story and it soon spread like a wildfire over the Internet. As it turns out, however, the story was completely false.

The Guardian reached out to Othman to comment on the story and could publish an article the next day, September 27, quoting Othman as saying “It sounds really cool, but I have to deny it”.

On Tuesday, September 28, The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), made a statement describing The Sunday Times story as “nonsense”. The story was officially dead.

Still, on certain blogs and forums, voices are being raised about disinformation and the UN denying the story in an attempt to hide something that shouldn’t have been made public in the first place. You see this all the time when it comes to UFO stories—people doubting official statements and the mainstream media. In certain groups it is commonly thought that any media coverage relating to UFOs are either a cover-up or an attempt to divert attention from what’s really going on.

And sometimes media do get it wrong. Recently I wrote about the faked image that was used in stories covering the UFOs over New York (Why we should question mainstream media). But aside from poor journalism, do we always have to doubt everything that is being relayed through the media and official organizations? Is there a balance somewhere—or better yet—any signs that can help us to better distinguish true from false in what is being reported by the media?

I ask this, because looking back at the past few weeks of UFO coverage, many of us sure could use some guidance.

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