Globe Editorial

Extraterrestrials: N.H., phone home

August 1, 2011

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Plenty of historical plaques in this region mark spots where English settlers encountered Native Americans or Colonial troops encountered the British, but New Hampshire deserves points for originality in marking a close encounter of the third kind.

Back in 1961, Granite State residents Betty and Barney Hill reported being abducted by aliens while driving near Lincoln, N.H. With the 50th anniversary of the event nearing, the state’s Division of Historical Resources has put up a plaque that - to the consternation of some skeptics - declares matter-of-factly that the Hills “experienced a close encounter with an unidentified flying object and two hours of ‘lost’ time.’’ Their account was the first of many with similar details: hovering spacecraft, aliens with gray skin, intrusive physical exams. These accounts, in turn, have inspired countless films about grabby extraterrestrial visitors.

The skeptics are probably right. Isn’t it little fishy that, in a world where more than a billion people carry camera phones, no one has yet caught the aliens on video? Or have they just lost interest in us? But that’s beside the point. Indirectly, the New Hampshire plaquecommemorates the birth of an entertainment genre. But it would have been better to just say that.