Obama says he 'absolutely' wants to know what UFOs are, and he's hopeful

The former president hopes alien contact could unite the Earth, but yeah, he knows people would freak out.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

Barack Obama familiarizes himself with a telescope during an Astronomy Night in 2015. 

Getty/Chip Somodevilla

Isn't one of the benefits of being president that you get to know all the secret dirt on UFOs and aliens? Yeah, throw that movie cliche right out the window, apparently. Former President Barack Obama chatted with Ezra Klein on The New York Times' Ezra Klein Show podcast and said he "absolutely" wants to know more about those headline-making "unidentified aerial phenomena."

Videos of the mysterious objects have surfaced ahead of a highly anticipated unclassified Pentagon report, expected to be delivered to Congress this month.

While the former president finds the thought of alien contact "interesting," he also says "it wouldn't change my politics at all."

Obama said his entire idea of politics "is premised on the fact that we are these tiny organisms on this little speck floating in the middle of space." He even used it as an example with his staffers, the former president said.

"When we were going through tough political times, and I'd try to cheer my staff up, I'd tell them a statistic that John Holdren, my science adviser, told me, which was that there are more stars in the known universe than there are grains of sand on the planet Earth," he told Klein.

He'd like to see contact with aliens bring the planet together, Obama said, but he's also realistic.

"I would hope that the knowledge that there were aliens out there would solidify people's sense that what we have in common is a little more important," he said. "But no doubt there would be immediate arguments about like, well, we need to spend a lot more money on weapons systems to defend ourselves. New religions would pop up. And who knows what kind of arguments we get into? We're good at manufacturing arguments for each other."