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More than one third of Americans believe aliens have visited Earth

To the question of whether they believe aliens have visited Earth, 36 percent of Americans who were surveyed said they do, 48 percent aren't sure, and 17 percent said they don't believe so.

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This photograph purports to show a UFO over New Jersey in 1952.

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A new survey finds that 80 million Americans, or 36 percent of the population, believe UFOs are real. One in 10 respondents say they have personally witnessed an alien spaceship. And if aliens were to invade the country sometime in the next four years, 65 percent of survey respondents said President Obama would be better suited for handling the invasion than Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The market research company Kelton Research conducted the survey by polling a random nationwide sample of 1,114 Americans ages 18 and older, who were representative of the demographics of the nation as a whole. The survey was commissioned by the National Geographic Channel to promote its new series "Chasing UFOs."

To the question of whether they believe aliens have visited Earth, 36 percent of Americans who were surveyed said they do, 48 percent aren't sure, and 17 percent said they don't believe so. More than three in four Americans (77 percent) think there are signs that suggest aliens have visited the Earth, whether or not they've made up their minds about the question. 

The results align with other modern studies of UFO belief. For example, a 2008 survey of 1,003 adult Americans  conducted by Scripps Howard News Service and Ohio University also found that a third of adults believe it's either very likely or somewhat likely that intelligent aliens from space have visited our planet. One in 12 said they had personally seen a mysterious object in the sky that they thought might have been an alien spaceship. [7 Huge Misconceptions about Aliens]

More surprisingly, the new NatGeo survey found that a whopping 79 percent of people think the government has kept information about UFOs a secret from the public, and more than half (55 percent) believe there are real-life "Men in Black"-style agents who threaten people who spot UFOs.

Regardless of the government's methods, Obama won out over Romney in the category of readiness to handle an alien invasion. Incidentally, many survey respondents picture that invasion as an "Independence Day"-style attack on Washington, D.C.: Nearly one in five think the nation's capital is the most likely landing zone for a UFO. 

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