Is the Government Lying About Area 51?

Area 51, believed by some to be an alien related private property, is owned by the government and located roughly 70 miles away from Las Vegas. It is popular due to the secrecy surrounding its purpose (Pappas 1). It is closed off to the public and guarded by security 24/7. Area 51 is surrounded by a group of mountains in the middle of the Nevada dessert. People are forbidden to walk anywhere near it, and any sign of their trespassing will have them chased down by guards and arrested (Ugc “Area 51”). Conspiracy theories about area 51 began around the 1950s and are still being contemplated today. Some of these conspiracy theories surrounding area 51 include, that the government is hiding alien beings inside as well as that the moon landing was actually a hoax and it was filmed at area 51.

The extraordinary belief that the government is hiding aliens from Americans began in 1954 with the establishment of area 51 as a secret training and testing site for the U-2 project to advance USSR missions. The secret military base began tests with U-2 (a high-tech American aircraft) in the summer of 1955. Shortly after these tests began, people started to claim they saw UFOs. Specifically, pilots of commercial airlines spotted these flying objects in the Nevada air region and reported them (Blitz 1). People then began to claim a flying saucer (which the U.S government said was a weather balloon at the time) that had crashed in 1947 was actually an alien spacecraft that was then taken to area 51 and reengineered into U-2 (Pappas 3). The government later claimed it was actually a nuclear monitoring balloon. So, should the government be trusted? Because area 51 is so secretive, there is little known information about its use today. People have dedicated years of their life searching for information about area 51 with little success, but there have been CIA reports published on the topic, such as “Developing the U-2,” which was released in 2013. If the government is lying about the existence of aliens, they would be hiding essential information that could lead to a whole new world of knowledge. However, there is no real evidence of the existence of aliens so a conclusion cannot be made of whether they do or do not exist.

Before information about the U-2 project was released to the public, people’s want to believe in aliens lead them to think that extra-terrestrials were visiting Earth. Without the knowledge of what was going on at area 51, confirmation bias, the tendency to search for information that confirms someone’s belief, contributed to the misinterpretation of what U-2 actually was. People also may have misinterpreted evidence due to the circumstances in which they saw these flying objects in. For example, if it was dark and they saw strange flashing lights in the sky, their cues to depth and distance would have been reduced which may have led to seeing ambiguous shapes of ambiguous sizes in the sky. Without important visual cues, it is hard to decipher what is being seen, so the assumption was made that the government was flying Alien spacecrafts. Now, UFOs are very real, but it cannot be assumed that belong to aliens (Van Zandt).

People could also have been misinformed due to social influences surrounding the belief of UFOs. When pilots began to report these UFOs, the media hopped on it immediately. Newspapers all over began to include exciting information about these UFO reports. Also, doctored photos and hoaxes contributed to people’s beliefs as well (Van Zandt). People who believe in extraterrestrials come from all over America and even other countries. Those who believe in the conspiracy theories surrounding area 51 often have trust issues with the U.S. government. Some believe because they want to think there are other forms of life in the world, but others believe due to personal experiences that they have had, such as if they claim they were abducted by aliens (which can usually be explained by sleep paralysis).

Most extraordinary beliefs surrounding area 51 have been proven false by the government, but some people still question whether the government is being completely honest about the purpose of area 51. People who believe or did believe in the conspiracy theories surrounding area 51 likely sustained their beliefs due to the confirmation bias phenomena. The media as well as reduced depth and distance cues and hoaxes could have also contributed to people’s beliefs.

Works Cited
Blitz, Matt. “The Real Story Behind the Myth of Area 51.” Popular Mechanics, Popular Mechanics, 25 Apr. 2018,
51-history/. Accessed 26 Mar. 2019
Pappas, Stephanie. “15 Far-Out Facts About Area 51.” LiveScience, Purch, 13 Nov. 2017, Accessed 26 Mar. 2019 Ugc, Mikel. “Area 51.” Atlas Obscura, 12 July 2009,
Accessed 26 Mar. 2019
Van Zandt, P. (2019).Perception [PowerPoint slides].

18 thoughts on “Is the Government Lying About Area 51?

  1. The first time I ever heard about Area 51 was through movies about how aliens were being hidden there which is probably how this belief was spread in current times. People just gain interest, look it up, and then stumble upon conspiracies theories. I feel that a lot of people must’ve felt uneasy that the government had an area that was hidden from the public which led them to believe that the government must be hiding something. However, if it was so heavily secured then it must be something big, right? I think this is where the notion that aliens or the set of the moon landing is hiding in area 51. I also feel that people who claimed to see UFOs saw a UFO because they wanted to see one, so they interpreted it as such. In lecture,Trish talked about how UFOs are real but that doesn’t mean they belong to aliens just as you mentioned in your blog. I feel this comes from the belief that UFO MUST be connected to aliens and that is it.

  2. This article reminds me of a travel notes talking about 51 area, which basically describe how they encounter a bunch of people who’re searching 51 area. They say when they approach their estimated location of the area, a group of police stopped them and recorded their name, physical appearance and id numbers. I don’t know if that experience is true, or is it really related to the authenticity of 51 area, but this theory really left people a strong impression that attract many to seek the evidence of it.

  3. Hello!
    This was a great choice of topic for a blog post! I think when people think about alien conspiracies they think about area 51! I think its a very interesting topic because people know so little about it but that makes it the perfect example to make crazy stories up about it! When we don’t know things, we assume wild things are hidden or try and piece together some story of what is going on. I remember discussing in class about the balloon UFO incident and I’m sure people were convinced that something is being hidden from the public. I would think if aliens really were out there, it would be a huge story that we would want everyone to know about and would solve so many space missions looking for life other places!

  4. Area was always kind of interesting to me and suspicious. I do believe there is other life form out there but not entirely convinced they have visited earth before. But even if they have and happen to be kept in area 51, why is it a secret. Wouldn’t this be a great discovery and that we could learn from them. Also, I know that they have 24/7 security keeping watch on the perimeter but what about in the sky? Has no one ever flew over area 51 to get a better look at the area?

    • The air space above Area 51 is restricted, which is why people can’t fly over it, besides U.S. government.

      • In addition to air traffic restriction over Area 51, I have grown up thinking that trespassers would be shot. I’m not sure if that is my imagination or if that is actually true. I was trying to do a little research on what happens to trespassers, and I found it may depend on how far you trespass. A guard may smirk if you put a toe across the border, but if you barge across and shoot for the hills, then you might get a gun or two pointed at you and probably worse.

  5. I must say that this is one of the few extraordinary beliefs that I think quite fondly of. True or not, I’ve always loved the notion that the government is hiding the identity of aliens. When I was growing up, I loved star gazing, and the idea of UFOs traveling the expanse of the night sky was captivating to me as a young, imaginative boy.

  6. an interesting topic about how people transform their fear of government into an extraordinary belief. Such story always act as an symbol that the public lack of trust for government. And area 51 is so undeniable since it’s about aliens which makes this belief more popular

  7. I think government conspiracies are always interesting, this in particular is fascinating because compared to many of the posts on this site it is arguably less extraordinary (still out there, but granted). After all, there is obviously something very important occurring there, the degree of secrecy is certainly intriguing, but I’m not sure if I can make the jump to alien life.

  8. I’ve always found Area 51 to be so cool. i think a big part of this is because of how little we know about what goes on there. I think the government definitely plays a role in “hyping” up this conspiracy. By keeping the area so tightly restricted, of course people are going to assume its some big secret. While I don’t necessarily think they are harboring aliens out there, I do hope that one day we will be able to know what goes on out there.

  9. This notion that the government is hiding Area 51 has been around for quite some time, and I find it really interesting that there might be hidden extra-terrestrial aircraft/aliens on our very planet! Whether there is any evidence for this or not, I personally believe that there HAS to be some other form of life out there besides humans on earth. There’s just no way that we are the only intelligent life-forms traveling around space and living on one single planet! When I was younger this idea of Area 51 was taken and written as a Scooby-Doo cartoon movie called, “Scooby-Doo and the Alien Invaders” where they try to use a satellite beacon to interact with so-called “aliens” and meet face to face. Of course in the end the whole gang realizes that the aliens are phonies, but Area 51 and aliens alike have been somewhat embedded into our culture. It wouldn’t surprise me if the government was hiding some sort of evidence that proves alien life exists, but how comfortable are humans going to be if this evidence is revealed? It’s tough to say how we would react, but I do hope that sometime in the near future we’ll be able to have that exposure for what really goes on in Area 51 behind closed doors. What a great post!

  10. I love hearing about Area 51. When I was younger I always believed that there were aliens and UFO’s being held there because that was what I had seen in the movie. One of my roommates lives in a town near Area 51, and I always ask her if she knows anything, but there isn’t too much for her to know. To me, it seems like when people don’t understand something or aren’t given all of the facts they go searching for explanations. These explanations though often appear to be extraordinary and misleading. If I hadn’t done any research on this topic, or taken this class, I too might have fallen prey to the trap of believing in Aliens at area 51!

  11. The first time I heard about Area 51 was through a fictional movie addressing the conspiracy theory, called District 9. I was very young when I saw this film so it really freaked me out. This is one of the only theories that I believe there could be some legitimacy to, but I interpret the theory with a grain of salt. The government definitely keeps secrets from the public, and I believe that this is for good reason, because the public has a tendency to exaggerate and create mass panic. I believe in the existence of Area 51, also known as a United States Air Force facility, but not necessarily that it contains aliens.

  12. Area 51 has always been an interesting topic because it is used as the basis of plot lines in so many TV shows and movies.
    Part of the reason I would understand the government would lie or withhold information about aliens is to prevent panic within the community. Many people would believe there are aliens because of the content they view on the internet or overexaggerated stories they hear.

  13. The myth of area 51 is something I feel like we have all heard over the years. Many films have been created about its secrecy, further assuring the people their thoughts are true. However, like you mentioned no factual evidence has been shown to support or disprove this theory. Personally I do not think area 51 is a government conspiracy to keep the people in the dark about aliens. I feel this way because the discovery of alien life would be so important to science, and why would we not want to share that information. Perhaps they feel fear will take over and it would cause mass chaos. I do think though that the secrecy surrounding that building is odd.

  14. Whenever people are talking about the Alien, they definitely will associate it with Area 51. I think the people make this conspiracy theory because they believe the Alien really exists, so they must find a place where can provide evidence. Therefore, more mysterious the Area 51 is, more they think they hide Alien there. The government, of course, hides a lot of secrets from the public, and I believe most of them are not good for our society.

  15. It has been talked during our class that when people have fear and uncertainty toward something, it is more likely to generate conspiracies. In addition, many mysterious events in this one: aliens, UFO, secret area… connect each other to have a simple explanation about the event. It could be also taken as an inspiration for sci-fi films to fulfill people’s imagination.

  16. I think a couple of things that really attribute to the whole ‘alien secrecy’ of Area 51 is how little the public feels they know about it. We know that you can be shot at for trespassing too far past the boundary of the facility. But I think what’s more incredible is that a lot of our information comes from people who claim to have previously worked at Area 51, and report wild details that the government wants to keep hidden. I remember watching some documentary as a kid where a former scientist of the facility came was talking about seeing weird figures masked in white sheets and I was astounded!

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