If you're inclined to really, really distrust the government, this might be the ultimate Area 51 conspiracy theory. What if all those mysterious goings-on at the site — and the official refusal to admit the base's existence — actually were part of an intricate misdirection hoax? It could well be that the government long ago moved its secret research to other, even more remote, locations, while subtly encouraging public curiosity about Area 51 to keep us all looking in the wrong place [source: Stooge].
But that's not all. British journalist and filmmaker Mark Pilkington has argued that the entire UFO-believer subculture has been the victim of an elaborate, ongoing propaganda operation. Over the years, he claims, the U.S. Air Force and the intelligence community quietly have worked to spread the belief that UFOs have crashed on American soil and that the government has been concealing and stockpiling advanced alien technology. It was all intended to divert attention away from the actual experimental spy aircraft and other gadgetry that the government actually was developing. The Air Force, he says, collected reports of UFO sightings and then compared them to the schedule of U-2 spy plane flights, in order to gauge whether the aircraft was visible to ground observers [source: Kingsbury]. Now, how's that for being devious?