For some time, expressing interest in unidentified flying objects, or UFOs, has been deemed mostly unacceptable in wider society. But attitudes appear to be changing in America this week, with luminaries from Barack Obama to the former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal sharing their thoughts.

Obama was asked about the issue of UFOs during an interview on Tuesday, the former president confirming “footage and records” of unidentified objects exist.

Much of the newfound, and newly sincere, interest in UFOs, this week appears to stem from a report on CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, which tackled “the US government’s grudging acknowledgment” of UFOs.

With the defense department and intelligence agencies due to deliver a much-anticipated official report on mysterious aerial sightings next month, 60 Minutes interviewed a number of credible witnesses, including a former navy pilot who said he had seen unidentified aerial phenomena – the government’s preferred term – “every day for at least a couple years”.

That prompted Obama’s discussion of aerial phenomena.

“What is true, and I’m actually being serious here, is that there’s footage and records of objects in the skies, that we don’t know exactly what they are, we can’t explain how they moved, their trajectory,” Obama told CBS.

“They did not have an easily explainable pattern. And so, you know I think that people still take seriously trying to investigate and figure out what that is. But I have nothing to report to you today.”

Tucker Carlson, the rightwing Fox News host whose most recent work has seen him dabble in anti-vaccination conspiracy theories, also saw the 60 Minutes report, and played a clip on his show on Monday. UFOs, it seems, are pretty much the one thing Obama and Carlson might agree on.

“The Pentagon admits it doesn’t know what in the world this is,” Carlson said, after he showed his viewers footage of a UFO. “From a national security perspective, that is a very big problem.”

As is his wont, Carlson went on to spin the issue of UFOs into a specious criticism of Joe Biden’s administration, but even so, it was another example of relatively serious discussion of UFOs taking place.

On Monday, O’Neal shared his experience of seeing a “flying saucer” with ABC, while CNN interviewed a former combat pilot who told of how she had spotted a UFO off the coast of San Diego.

The interest in UFOs will probably only grow as the US prepares to release its report at the beginning of June. In March John Ratcliffe, Donald Trump’s former intelligence director, said the disclosure would reveal that there have been “a lot more” sightings of UFOs than have been made public.

This content was originally published here.