I don't know if I ever posted this to BoingBoing before, but...
To cover all the incidences of people reporting "unidentified flying objects" (aka "military test flights"), our military pretended to leak "secret documents" discussing space aliens.
Our military then pretended to cover up these leaks.
This fed into the emergent religion of UFOlogy. And our noisy fringe responded by making so much noise, they obscured any signal the Soviets were getting about our aerospace research.