Just when you thought the alien abduction craze was history along comes a survey, commissioned by ITV, that claims 3% of Britons say they have been space-napped.
And if the findings are to be believed, the extra-terrestrials much prefer to pick up punters in Birmingham, leaving folk in Northern Ireland well alone.
The phone poll for This Morning’s Paranormal Week asked 2000 people if they believed in a range of weird stuff including ghosts, angels and the obligatory aliens/UFOs.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, around one third of the responses collected by OnePoll said they believed aliens existed and almost one fifth said they had visited Earth. Similar responses were obtained for questions on belief in ghosts and angels.
But the surprising result wasn’t the 7% who had seen a UFO; this is what we would expect from previous surveys (for example IPSOS Mori for The Sun, 1998). It was the 2.8% (56 people) who responded ‘yes’ to the question ‘…have you ever been abducted by an alien?’
Even more significant is that 7% of 18-24 year olds responded ‘yes’ to the abduction question. This compares with just 1% of the over-55’s.
Is this because aliens are more interested in probing teenagers than their more cynical elders ?
Or is it more likely that some of the younger respondents were the type of student wag who might indicate Jedi Knight as their religion on the census form?
Surveys of this size might be accurate gauges of present attitudes (with +/- 2%) but they don’t require their subjects to take lie-detector tests. And the construction of the survey is very important, particularly if leading questions are asked.
For example, ‘Have you ever seen a UFO?’ might be simply interpreted by some as ‘….have you ever seen something odd in the sky?’. Others may interpret the question as ‘have you seen a flying saucer from outer space?’
But there’s no way of telling which it was from the results.
Nevertheless, equally intriguing was the breakdown of results by gender and region. Women, it seems, are more likely to accept paranormal beliefs than men, but while women are more likely to believe in ghosts and angels they are less likely to believe in aliens and UFOs than men.
And if you live in Northern Ireland it seems you’re less likely to believe in or claim to have experienced UFO or alien phenomena. As the pollsters did not include the Republic of Ireland in the poll we don’t know if this ambivalence is particular to Ulster folk, or just reflective of the fact that Irish people don’t need to believe in aliens because they have their own traditions of little folk who take people away in the night
On the other hand, aliens appear to love Brummies. According to the OnePoll survey, if you live in the West Midlands you are far more likely to believe aliens have visited Earth – and eight times more likely to have been abducted by them – than if you live in Belfast.