May 24, 2021

UFOs

“U.S. intelligence agencies are expected to deliver a report on “unidentified aerial phenomena” to Congress next month, sparking renewed interest and speculation into how the government has handled sightings of mysterious flying objects — and if there's any worldly explanation for them. NBC News

UFO stands for “unidentified flying object.” The US Navy prefers to refer to such objects as UAPs, or “unidentified aerial phenomena,” rather than UFOs. Washington Post

Many on both sides express concerns about national security:

“A number of reports — including an investigation by The Drive, based on Freedom of Information Act requests — suggest that UAPs are interacting with U.S. ships with alarming frequency. Such incidents are potential national-security threats, yet pilots seem reluctant to discuss them for fear of being stigmatized. As a report from the Senate intelligence committee warned last year, there’s also no standardized way to report or analyze them. The committee called for the creation of an interagency process, involving representatives from across the military and intelligence agencies…

“Such an approach — formal, bureaucratic, extraordinarily dull — is precisely what’s needed. It should lend sobriety and legitimacy to any findings, while ensuring that various parts of the government are sharing information. If necessary, it should also allow for a coordinated response.”
Editorial Board, Bloomberg

“We are expected to believe that not only the crews of two F/A-18F Super Hornets but the officers and technicians of an entire carrier battle group and the multiple radar systems they employed were unable to figure out that they were looking at a distant 737 that was potentially wandering too close to restricted airspace? Or a bird? Come on… if nothing else, we’ll find out that the Russians have massively leapfrogged us in technology. Either way, wouldn’t you like to know?”
Jazz Shaw, National Review

“The most compelling UFOs, those UFOs which lack conventional alternative explanation after exhaustive investigation, give credible indication of being highly advanced, intelligently controlled vehicles. The government's confidence that these most compelling UFOs are vehicles versus amorphous ‘things’ takes root in data returns from multiple sensor platforms. These platforms include satellite, sonar, radar, full-spectrum electromagnetic, and trained military observer witness reports (such as Air Force and Navy ground and flight crews)…

“The intelligence community's first responsibility is to gather and corroborate information that can be used to inform the nation's national security leadership. As directed by Congress, as with this report, Director Haines and the intelligence community have an obligation to provide people with the best assessment of the available information. The possibility that something extraordinary is occurring is no longer a legitimate excuse for deflection.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“The vehicles observed and recorded by U.S. Navy fighter pilots seem impervious to altitude or the elements; they are able to maneuver above 80,000 feet; they can hover and then instantly accelerate to supersonic and even hypersonic speeds; they have very low radar cross-sections and use a means of propulsion and control that does not appear to involve combustion, exhaust, rotors, wings or flaps. Since the Navy asserts these are not U.S. aircraft, we are confronted by the daunting prospect that a potential adversary of the United States has achieved the ability to render our most sophisticated aircraft and air defense systems obsolete…

“I’ve interviewed numerous active-duty and retired military personnel who have encountered these mysterious vehicles. Without exception they express grave concern for their colleagues and near disbelief that our government is not reacting more vigorously… Indeed, examination of major US intelligence failures — from Pearl Harbor to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Iraqi WMD — shows that, in each case, we had information that, properly analyzed and acted upon, could have prevented disaster. We’re at a similar place today, with ample warning lights flashing but no effective effort to pool relevant data from the myriad services and agencies that possess it.”
Christopher Mellon, The Hill

Others on both sides express skepticism:

“If it flies like a duck, is the size of a duck, and quacks like a duck . . . it probably isn’t an alien spaceship or ultra-advanced drone from a foreign power. But headlines such as ‘U.S. Navy Pilot Spots UFO” generate more clicks than ‘Pilot Sees Goose on Infrared Camera.’…

“The U.S. government has a long history of letting the public imagination run wild with extraterrestrial conspiracy theories to divert attention from classified projects or accidents. The DOD only confirmed the videos’ authenticity because of a stunning number of Freedom of Information Act requests regarding the leaked videos; providing any additional clarification might risk revealing military secrets…

“In the 1950s and ’60s, the Air Force and CIA often intentionally called sightings of highly secret U-2 spy planes ‘UFOs’ to hide the true nature of the aircraft. It helped that when the planes’ original silver paint reflected sunlight, they took on an otherworldly, fiery appearance. A CIA official who worked on the U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy plane project later attributed over half of all UFO reports in the period to those two aircraft.”
Andrew Follett, National Review

“Behind the creamy pages of high-end magazines and the marble columns of the Capitol, the media elite and Congress are being played by a small, loosely connected group of people with bizarre ideas about science

“We know the consequences of embracing bad science and replacing facts with conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. Stalin’s embrace of Lysenkoism ravaged Soviet science for decades… we shouldn’t let enthusiasts of space ghosts have the run of Washington to steer money and policy in the direction they want. If they insist UFOs are a national security threat, then the national media must take them at their word. No more chuckles. No more rhapsodies about mystery. We must hold Team Space Poltergeist to the levels of skepticism, seriousness, and scrutiny it pretends to demand.”
Jason Colavito, New Republic

Still others on both sides urge us to focus on more immediate issues facing humanity:

The most likely possibility is potentially a paralyzing one: that we are alone in the infinite dark. It’s an unbearably lonely idea. Maybe the Fermi paradox is right. Either aliens are real, but are so distant from us that they cannot reach us if they even cared to try; or they simply don’t exist, and we are all that may ever be… That knowledge may be depressing. But it contains the seeds of hope. If there’s really nothing out there, we are obligated to become our own saviors. There are exceptions to all the bloody truths of Earth. A repressive state will generate violence but it will also produce dissent. There are streets to reclaim, systems to overthrow, and tyrants to bring down low. Why wait? No one’s coming. Probably.”
Sarah Jones, New York Magazine

“As I write this there are millions of Americans who are homeless or addicted to drugs or both, people who are mentally ill, the elderly, the homebound, the handicapped, untold thousands in so-called ‘detention facilities,’ and goodness knows how many unborn children who, as far as the rest of us are concerned, might as well be from outer space… We indulge ourselves with golden visions of interstellar tourism even as we accept that the science fiction future that awaits us looks a great deal more like WALL-E, with its obese screen-addicted masses being entertained by the devices they cannot escape than, say, The Empire Strikes Back

“Why, apart from our reluctance to accept that this earth is the stage upon which the romance of human life will begin and end, are we still looking to the skies for answers, especially when we have no reason to believe that the officially unidentifiable black dots we have all seen are anything else but meaningless blots on screens that have nothing to do with the ordinary business of men and women and children and families?”
Matthew Walther, American Conservative

Other opinions below.

See past issues

From the Left

“Steven Dick, the former chief historian for NASA, has argued that indirect contact with aliens — a radio signal, for instance — would be more like past scientific revolutions than past civilizational collisions. The correct analogy, he suggests, would be the realization that we share our world with bacteria, or that the Earth orbits the sun, or that life is shaped by natural selection. These upheavals in our understanding of the universe we inhabit changed the course of human science and culture, and perhaps this would, too…

“There’s a school of thought that says interplanetary ambitions are ridiculous when we have so many terrestrial crises. I disagree. I believe our unsolved problems reflect a lack of unifying goals more than a surfeit of them. America made it to the moon in the same decade it created Medicare and Medicaid and passed the Civil Rights Act, and I don’t believe that to be coincidence. A more cohesive understanding of ourselves as a species, and our planet as one ecosystem among others, might lead us to take more care with what we already have, and the sentient life we already know.”
Ezra Klein, New York Times

From the Right

“My personal favorite explanation—and I’m being serious here—is the Biblical one. The known universe, that we’re allowed to see by the laws of physics and our position in space-time, has massive holes in it. Dark matter, weird energy we can’t fit into our math, and strange quantum effects like ‘spooky action at a distance’ (quantum entanglement) vex us but push our imaginations and drive to experiment in new directions. It’s the best part of humanity, and it is the thread in the needle that unites us in the curious quest for knowledge…

“God put that there. He gave us a need to know Him, but not to blindly trust Him. He gave us the tools—our minds, our imagination (math is pure imagination), our ability to accumulate and pass on great stores of information—and the ability to explore the universe… And because there’s a God outside the limits of our mortal and material existence, what we call ‘supernatural,’ there are also other beings that God created who exist there… If you believe the Bible, then that makes sense. If not, then it’s just as good an explanation as fuzzy video, global NDAs, and government conspiracies can offer. Either way, it’s fun discussing aliens.”
Steve Berman, Racket News

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