August 1947 Gallup Poll

Reports of "flying saucer" sightings filled newspapers during the summer of 1947, but there was little speculation about what these "saucers" might be.

In August of 1947, barely two months after the birth of the modern UFO phenomenon, the Gallup Organization undertook a poll asking the question: "What do you think these saucers are?"

August 1947 Gallup Poll

"What do you think these saucers are?"

No answer, don't know   33%
Imagination, optical illusions, mirages, etc.   29%
Hoax   10%
US secret weapon, part of atomic bomb, etc.   15%
Weather forecasting devices     3%
Russian secret weapon     1%
Searchlights on airplanes     2%
Other explanations     9%

Total   102%


"(Adds to more than 100% because some gave more than one answer.)

"Guesses ranged all the way from practical to miraculous. Among the latter was a woman, citing biblical text, who said it was a sign of the world's end. A man in the West thought the discs were radio waves from the Bikini atomic bomb explosion, while another man saw in them a new product being put out by the 'Dupont people.'

"A few people smelled a publicity or advertising stunt, while others felt sure that the saucers were after all only some kind of meteor or comet."

Informal newspaper polls from 1947 support the general line shown above.

Interestingly enough 90% of Americans had heard of flying saucers, while only half had heard about the Marshall Plan, or 61% about the Taft-Hartley Labor bill.

- Jan L. Aldrich

1947 INDEX
Return to MAIN PAGE