Only 56 percent of respondents believed in extraterrestrial intelligence at that time compared to 66 percent this year. In 2010, less than half of those surveyed thought that intelligent life on other planets existed.
"I'm pleased at these new poll results, but not surprised," Nick Pope, a journalist and former unidentified flying object (UFO) investigator for the now-defunct British Ministry of Defense, told Daily Mail.
"They reflect the newfound respectability that the UFO subject is enjoying. The topic has come out of the fringe and into the mainstream, due to a stunning series of revelations in the last three years."
CBS News polled 1,009 Americans over the phone between March 23 and 28. Besides the figure above, it also shows that 32 percent of the respondents believe that contact with extraterrestrial intelligence would occur in their lifetime. Meanwhile, 10 percent believe that contact was already made.
Another 24 percent think that contact will happen in the next 100 years while six percent believe humanity will never make contact with aliens.
The poll also shows that 73 percent of the respondents think that the U.S. government knows more about UFOs than it is letting on, a figure that Pope said was "particularly striking."
While acknowledging that the figure might partly reflect general cynicism about governments, he surmised that it was mainly a reaction to recent events illustrating the federal government's lack of transparency regarding unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), which is its preferred term for UFOs.
Pope noted that the government denied any official interest or involvement with UFOs. For instance, he said, it claimed that investigations ceased at the end of 1969 when it shut down Project Blue Book, the code name for the Air Force's systematic study of UFOs that started in 1952.
But a federally funded effort called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP) had actually been operating in secret from 2007 to 2012, leading people to realize that the government lied to them, Pope stated.
"The conspiracy theorists who claimed there was a secret government program had been right all along," he added. (Related: F-18 fighter plane captures stunning UFO on video... government admits UFO research is real.)
The New York Times reported the existence of the AATIP in 2017, but the shadowy program was virtually unknown before this. The news outlet said that this was exactly how the Department of Defense (DOD) wanted things to be, noting that the $22 million spent on the program was nearly impossible to find in the Pentagon's annual budgets.
The DOD confirmed the existence of the AATIP in response to questions from The New York Times and maintained that the program folded in 2012. But Luis Elizondo, a former career military official who headed the program, disclosed that the department continued to probe UFO sightings even after the program ended and its $22 million budget had been used up.
Elizondo admitted that he continued to work with Navy and CIA officials after the program's closure. He also worked out of his Pentagon office until he resigned in 2017 in protest of the government's excessive secrecy and internal opposition, he said.
A July 2020 report from the New York Times showed that a unit dedicated to investigating UFOs continued to operate under a different name – the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force. Its primary objective was to standardize collection and reporting of UAPs.
The program appeared in a June Senate committee report that outlined spending by the nation's intelligence agencies for the coming year. Its establishment was then approved two months later.
This comes as the Pentagon and other intel agencies are expected to submit a report next month on what they know about UAPs. The report would be unclassified but would also contain a classified supplement.
Learn more about the extent of the government's UFO cover-up by reading articles at Truth.news.