US civilians during the cold war sometimes witnessed extremely classified experimental technologies, technologies the US did not want leaked to anyone (especially foreign governments)
Outright censorship is tough, but "guiding the truth" can be easier, that's how "cognitive infiltration" works
I'll link the film in a separate comment, but here's a good summary of a classic "Mirage Men"
The real Men in Black, Hollywood and the great UFO cover-up
Mirage Men's chief coup is to land an actual man in black: a former Air Force special investigations officer named Richard Doty, who admits to having infiltrated UFO circles. A fellow UFO researcher says: "Doty had this wonderful way to sell it – 'I'm with the government. You cooperate with us and I'm going to tell you what the government really knows about UFOs, deep down in those vaults.'" Doty and his colleagues fed credulous ufologists lies and half-truths, knowing their fertile imaginations would do the rest. In return, they were apprised of chatter from the community, thus alerting the military when anyone was getting to close to their top-secret technology. And if the Soviets thought the US really was communing with aliens, all the better.
The term "UFO" traces specifically back to the cold war when the US and Soviets competed to develop competing spy planes, and kept pushing for radarr-proof (or other detection proof) aircraft
"Unidentified flying object" (ie aircraft) directly alludes to this
So if you are a tracker looking for potential spyplanes flying overhead in your radarr, and you notice a series of anomolies including radarr signals for non-existent aircraft, that would be listed as a "UFO"
The NEW term for this phenomena is "UAP"
Area 51 Veteran And CIA Electronic Warfare Pioneer Weigh In On Navy UFO Encounters
Having worked on some of the most highly-classified aerospace programs in the world, all this new UFO talk sounds very familiar to these two men.
BY TIM MCMILLAN
NOVEMBER 25, 2019
...“This takes me back to circa the 1960s when the CIA designed and was building the Mach 3 A-12 Blackbird to replace the U-2,” says Barnes. At the time, the CIA was gravely concerned that the Soviet Union’s new P-14 “Tall King" radar system would be able to detect the A-12 flying over their airspace. To combat these concerns, the CIA launched an audacious program to develop technology that could electronically generate and interject false targets into the Soviet radars, to trick them “seeing” and tracking non-existent “ghost aircraft.” The project’s codename was PALLADIUM.
In 1960, when the Soviet Union moved a Tall King radar system to Cuba, the CIA began covertly using PALLADIUM to trick Russian air-defense radars into thinking unidentified aircraft were flying towards and even into Cuban airspace. As one of the few members of the PALLADIUM team, Barnes served as the air-defense artillery (ADA) and electronic/electromagnetic countermeasures (ECM/ECCM) officer for the classified program.
“Using an electronics-laden C-97 [EC-97G], we could make Soviet radars believe they were tracking any number of aerial objects,” mused Barnes. “At one point, a Russian MiG-15 pilot even claimed he could see the target and had a lock on it.”
...When it comes to the more recent Navy UFO encounters, Barnes says, “I don’t have the answers to what the Navy aviators saw, but in my mind, I’m thinking, we are doing it again.”
Back to the previous summary of "Mirage Men" and one of the victims of psychological/information-warfare:
The classic case, well-known to conspiracy aficionados, is Paul Bennewitz, a successful electronics entrepreneur in New Mexico. In 1979, Bennewitz started seeing strange lights in the sky, and picking up weird transmissions on his amateur equipment. The fact that he lived just across the road from Kirtland air force base should have set alarm bells ringing, but Bennewitz was convinced these phenomena were of extraterrestrial origin. Being a good patriot, he contacted the Air Force, who realised that, far from eavesdropping on ET, Bennewitz was inadvertently eavesdropping on them. Instead of making him stop, though, Doty and other officers told Bennewitz they were interested in his findings. That encouraged Bennewitz to dig deeper. Within a few years, he was interpreting alien languages, spotting crashed alien craft in the hills from his plane (he was an amateur pilot), and sounding the alert for a full-scale invasion. All the time, the investigators were surveilling him surveilling them. They gave Bennewitz computer software that "interpreted" the signals, and even dumped fake props for him to discover. The mania took over Bennewitz's life. In 1988, his family checked him into a psychiatric facility.
There's plenty more like this. As Mirage Men discovers, central tenets of the UFO belief system turn out to have far earthlier origins. Mysterious cattle mutilations in 1970s New Mexico turn out to have been officials furtively investigating radiation in livestock after they'd conducted an ill-advised experiment in underground "nuclear fracking". Test pilots for the military's experimental silent helicopters admit to attaching flashing lights to their craft to fool civilians. Doty himself comes across as a slippery character, to say the least.
Doty almost admits to having had a hand in supposedly leaked "classified" documents, such as the "Majestic 12" dossier – spilling the beans on a secret alien liaison committee founded by President Truman. But he denies involvement in the "Project Serpo" papers – which claimed that 12 American military personnel paid a secret visit to an alien planet in the Zeta Reticuli system – only to be caught out as the source of the presumed hoax. The Serpo scenario, it has been noted, is not unlike the plot of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters Of The Third Kind. Does that suggest that the forgers lazily copied the movie? Or that the movie is based on real events and Spielberg was in on the conspiracy?
...In the cold light of the post-cold war, the evidence is starting to look pretty shaky for UFOs. Numbers at UFO conventions and clubs are dwindling. The UK's Ministry of Defence closed its UFO desk in 2009, and, like many countries, has declassified its UFO documents. If there was any smoking gun, you'd imagine it would have been found in our current golden age of leaks and disclosures – but so far there's only been more smoke.
On a Guardian webchat in 2010, relating to Wikileaks' release of the US embassy cables, Julian Assange asserted that "many weirdos email us about UFOs" but he'd come across nothing concrete. There were references to UFOs in the cables, he noted, but mostly to do with UFO cults rather than UFOs themselves – in the same way that GCHQ's Art Of Deception slideshow references UFO cults.
Perhaps the most useful thing about "UFO beliefs" is that they are weaponized to discredit the proponent in society at large, in the press, and especially in court
I cite this because here's the thing: there was factual, true information witnessed by a civilian named Paul that could have been in the public interest in some way
He later came to interpret this true event in a way that drew his interest but led him down a nonsense (maliciously created) rabbit hole for the purpose of self-destruction
His case and the cases in Mirage Men are hardly outliers, and ex-soldiers are one of the most common targets/victims of information warfare tests, because they are a good candidate to represent potential enemy soldiers vulnerabilities
I think it's very important to remember that Paul wasn't a particularly stupid or malevolent person, he was an open minded and reasonably intelligent fellow who was taken advantage of. A lot of Pauls skeptical critics (that he was making shit up, or experiencing his own psychosis for its own sake) were also wrong, he WAS encountering unknown and very unique/real experiences.
But the nonsense pushed on him drove him insane, just like any one of us could end up if we are not careful
"PsychoWarfare"'s goal is to act as a pre-emptive vaccine to inoculate dissidents from the targeting done this way
Going back to Bennowitz
They gave Bennewitz computer software that "interpreted" the signals, and even dumped fake props for him to discover. The mania took over Bennewitz's life.
He was not a stupid person, he was not an ill meaning person, and he did in fact witness unique/interesting things the public would be interested in hearing about at the time
His insanity is something that developed slowly, much like a virus, and therefore could have been stopped by the same model