Occam’s Razor is a philosophical principle stating that “entities should not be multiplied beyond necessity” or, as more commonly put, “the simplest explanation is often the correct one.” When you apply this principle to the question of “what are UFOs,” it seems some people believe the simplest explanation is that they are human time travelers from the future. In a recent interview with the popular show Good Morning Britain, European Space Agency astronaut Tim Peake stated that he had heard theories that “potentially, in the future they’ve developed time travel. Is it something that’s come back from the future?”
To be fair, British astronaut Tim Peake was clear that this was not his specific theory or that he necessarily believed that UFOs were actually far future time travelers. In fact, he specified that ultimately no one knows what unidentified flying objects are (because they are, you know, unidentified). However, a few years ago Montana Technological University professor Michael Masters published a book titled Identified Flying Objects: A Multidisciplinary Scientific Approach to the UFO Phenomenon, in which he posited the possibility that what we commonly think of as aliens visiting Earth in spacecraft are in fact, far-evolved versions of humanity that have taken on the role of time travelers to visit the past.
Professor Masters’ essential justification for this theory is the idea that we already know humans exist on Earth, so positing that future humans have developed technology that allows them to become time travelers and observe their ancestors is in fact less fantastic than the idea of unconfirmed extraterrestrial life having developed interstellar travel and used it to visit our planet for unclear reasons. In fact, Masters goes on to theorize that some aspect of far-future human time travelers visiting the past is a form of tourism and/or archaeological research. It is also worth noting that this is an idea that was been previously explored in science fiction, as in author John Varley’s 1983 novel Millenium (in which far future time travelers abduct humans throughout history to repopulate a devastated Earth) and its poorly-received 1989 film adaptation.
The idea of UFOs as time machines and aliens as future human time travelers comes at an interesting time for UFO researchers. In recent years, the United States government has de-classified a shocking amount of information regarding confirmed experiences with UFOs (or as they call them, UAPs or unexplained aerial phenomena because it is not like there was already a perfectly good acronym). Though the various historic events of the last several years have managed to somewhat drown out the news that the US government full-on admitting that astronauts and aviators have been straight-up seeing UFOs for decades, the Senate is at least doing some investigation into what that is about. As astronaut Tim Peake said, we do not currently have any known way to confirm whether we are experiencing alien visitors or future time travelers or just really weird weather balloons, so all those theories belong in the pot for now.