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Aliens and UFOs

May 9, 2019
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For more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Defense has been quietly cataloging and investigating scores of bizarre encounters—most from the U.S. Navy—of ships and fighter jets tangling with, or being tailgated by, unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Beginning in 2017, videos and eyewitness accounts of these weird sightings found their way into public view, ultimately spurring Congress to demand that the Pentagon produce a report summarizing all that the U.S. government knows about so-called unidentified aerial phenomena, or UAP (an alternate term with considerably less stigma than the much maligned “UFOs”).

Produced under the auspices of a Pentagon group called the UAP Task Force, an unclassified version of the report is expected to be released later this month (Friday, June 25). Upon establishing the task force, the DOD released an accompanying statement explaining the justifications for its existence: “The safety of our personnel and the security of our operations are of paramount concern. The Department of Defense and the military departments take any incursions by unauthorized aircraft into our training ranges or designated airspace very seriously and examine each report. This includes examinations of incursions that are initially reported as UAP when the observer cannot immediately identify what he or she is observing.”
Meanwhile all this strangeness has garnered considerable media attention, from front-page stories in the New York Times to 13,000-word articles in the New Yorker, as well as prominent coverage on 60 Minutes and other prime-time television programs. Through it all, a sizable contingent of true believers have steadily proclaimed, “We told you so,” insistent in their conviction that, whether called UFOs or UAP, the entities seemingly slipping through our skies are actually alien spacecraft—and have been visiting Earth for a very long time.

Those deeply entrenched public beliefs, paired with the apparent reinvigoration of investigative interest in these incidents at the highest levels of government, can lead to dazzling speculations. Might we be on the verge of a formal disclosure—backed by irrefutable evidence—that humankind is not alone and is indeed being monitored by extraterrestrial civilizations? Or could it be that UAP are entirely homegrown products of revolutionary and clandestine technological advances, whether by other countries now challenging American airspace or by the U.S. itself as part of some supersecret domestic program meant to detect flaws in the nation’s defenses? The mind boggles.

Although the task force’s unclassified assessment is not expected until June 25, the New York Times provided a cursory preview of its contents in an article on June 3. Citing anonymous senior officials familiar with the report’s contents, the story said that the assessment has come up short of explaining what UAP are and that it provides no evidence to link them with any putative alien visitation—despite reviewing more than 120 incidents from the past 20 years. The report’s firmest conclusion, it seems, is that the vast majority of UAP happenings and their surprising maneuvers are not caused by any U.S. advanced technology programs.

Lastly, according to the New York Times article, the final report includes a “classified annex” of information deemed unsuitable for public release—leaving more than enough room for die-hard UFO advocates to remain convinced that the U.S. government is hiding the truth.
NO “BIG REVEAL”

Andrew Fraknoi, an astronomer at the Fromm Institute for Lifelong Learning at the University of San Francisco, echoes the widely held sentiment among scientists that, for decades, the media has lavished too much attention on sensational claims that vague lights in the sky are actually extraterrestrial spacecraft. “Recently, there has been a flurry of misleading publicity about UFOs [based on military reports]. A sober examination of these claims reveals that there is a lot less to them than first meets the eye,” Fraknoi says. Given sufficient evidence (which, arguably, many of the recent reports fail to provide), UFO sightings can essentially always be tied to terrestrial or celestial phenomena, such as lights from human-made vehicles and reentering space junk, he adds.

There is not going to be any “big reveal,” says Robert Sheaffer, a leading skeptical investigator of UFOs. “There are no aliens here on Earth, and so the government cannot ‘disclose’ what it does not have. Some people think that the government knows more about UFOs, or UAP, than the public, but it’s clear that they know less on the subject than our best civilian UFO investigators, not more.”

The DOD employs some very competent photographic analysts and other technical experts, “none of whom obviously were consulted in this comedy of errors,” Sheaffer says. “The Pentagon has already suffered enough embarrassment from the [apparent] incompetence of its UAP Task Force.” He says it is time to rein in such “rampant foolishness” and ensure that proper experts will shape the task force’s conclusions rather than “clueless, self-important people who don’t even recognize out-of-focus images when they see them.”

REAL ISSUES

Skeptical science writer Mick West has taken on the chore of analyzing the spate of UAP videos released by the U.S. military, steadfastly investigating how some of the incidents could merely be mirages from flaws in newly deployed radar systems, as well as various sorts of well-understood visual artifacts regularly seen in cameras. Despite his work to debunk the recent claims, West maintains that reports of mysterious aircraft stalking military assets should be taken quite seriously.

“Firstly, there’s a set of very real issues that could be grouped together as ‘UAPs’ or ‘UFOs,’” West says. “Any time something unidentified shows up in restricted airspace, then that’s a real problem that needs solving.” There have been many reports of drones above or near restricted areas, he notes. “We know that drones have been used for terrorist attacks, and drones will very much be a significant factor in future conflicts,” West says. “So we need to figure out how to identify and mitigate such things.”

Another real issue is that pilots sometimes see things that they cannot readily identify, West says, and they may misidentify such objects. Regardless of what such pilots actually observe, this is a problem. “If something there is hard to identify—like a novel drone—then we need to figure out how to identify it,” he says. “If the pilots are making mistakes, then we need to figure out why.”

THE “DISCLOSURE” FEEDBACK LOOP

“The advocates of alien disclosure are encroaching on these real issues of UAPs,” West says. These believers take mundane videos of incidents that are simply unidentified, he says, then reframe them as evidence of extraordinary technology—which, of course, is intended to mean “aliens,” even if enthusiasts for that hypothesis will not explicitly say so. This cultivates credulous media attention, which in turn creates a feedback loop of public interest, more media and then pressure on politicians to “do something.”

“All the while, the military makes no comments, because that’s their modus operandi. Military things are assumed classified by default, and there is nothing compelling them to clear things up,” West says. In the end, he hopes that the forthcoming report represents the views of serious people finally stepping in to clear up what is—and is not—going on.

“I expect much discussion and information about the real issues of unidentified flying objects. But I do not anticipate it will have much that will please the UFO enthusiasts,” West says.

WAIT AND SEE

One person who is taking a “wait and see” attitude about the upcoming report is Ravi Kumar Kopparapu, a research scientist in planetary studies at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The history of scientific studies of UAP in the U.S. is not limited to the recently released video snippets, which is a good reminder to avoid painting the whole phenomenon with one broad brush, he says. Additionally, this is not a U.S.-specific issue, nor is it limited to observations by U.S. armed forces.

“There may not be a single explanation to all such observations. What I would suggest is that we not leap to any conclusions when the findings of the report are made public,” Kopparapu says. “The report would be immensely helpful if the data that informed it are made publicly available so that more experts and scientists can look at it and hopefully reach a scientific consensus on the nature of some of the unexplained events. Otherwise, there will always be conspiracy theories shrouding, and inhibiting, a proper scientific investigation of UAPs.”

A similar view is held by Mark Rodeghier, scientific director of the Center for UFO Studies, who says openness should be prioritized as much as possible in future investigations. “We don’t know whether the UFO problem is an intelligence one, due to foreign adversaries, but we do know, from its long history, that it is absolutely a scientific problem that deserves serious attention,” he says. “In a subject that has been too long ignored, downplayed and ridiculed, the government and scientific community should study UFOs openly and, importantly, with an open mind.”

WANTED: SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY

Harvard University astrophysicist Avi Loeb says the significance of the UAP Task Force report will depend on the evidence it discloses, which at the moment remains mostly unknown. “But this focus on past reports is misguided,” he says. “It would be prudent to progress forward with our finest instruments rather than examine past reports. Instead of focusing on documents that reflect decades-old technologies used by witnesses with no scientific expertise, it would be far better to deploy state-of-the-art recording devices, such as cameras or audio sensors, at the sites where the reports came from and search for unusual signals.”

Loeb goes a step further, saying he is willing to sign up to help unravel the UAP/UFO saga. “Personally, I will be glad to lead scientific inquiry into the nature of these reports and advise Congress accordingly,” he says. “This could take the form of a federally designated committee or a privately funded expedition. Its most important purpose would be to inject scientific rigor and credibility into the discussion.”

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF

For some seasoned investigators, such as William Hartmann, a senior scientist emeritus at the Planetary Science Institute, headquartered in Tucson, Ariz., the current dustup over an influential government report on UFOs is a reminder that, eventually, everything old becomes new again.

Hartmann was a photography consultant and a co-author of the University of Colorado UFO Project’s report Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects. Funded by the U.S. Air Force from 1966 to 1968, that investigative effort was led by physicist Edward Condon, and it had dismal effects on subsequent scientific investigations. The extensive study of UFOs, Condon and his co-authors concluded, is simply not a fruitful field in which to seek major discoveries and “probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.”

Reflecting on his work for the project, also called the Condon committee, Hartmann says that none of the photographic evidence he examined could establish anything extraordinary about the observed phenomena. “We proved that some of [the cases], including classic photos still being trotted out, were fake,” he says. “That fact alone makes it extremely difficult to apply straight scientific techniques because we know some, not necessarily all, of the data we were given were carefully prepared to delude us. [That is] not quite like astronomy, where we can assume that the photons coming through our telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii are not put in there by a hoaxer.”

“To put it another way, if you think there could be a real alien spaceship among a pile of photos you are given, but you know that some of the photos are fakes, then it is very hard to prove that any single one of them is proof of an alien visitation,” Hartmann says. “I’d want to see multiple, clear photos or detections by witnesses who don’t know each other, from multiple cities, viewing from multiple directions, before getting very excited.”

Still, he adds that ever since his experience working on the Condon committee, he cannot escape “the feeling that there may be electromagnetic phenomena in the atmosphere that we still don't understand.”

THE TRUTH IS OUT THERE

Sarah Scoles is author of the recently published book They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers. Although the report’s full details remain to be seen, she senses it will not be as revelatory as some hope.

“At various times during the 20th century, the military has undertaken studies of UFOs to determine, largely, whether what people are seeing represents a national security threat,” Scoles says. “This report doesn’t, then, seem seminal, because it’s doing a 21st-century version of that same thing.”

That said, Scoles feels an unbiased analysis of available data could shed light on the true frequency of UAP observations—and perhaps on the characteristics and possibly identities of these sightings. “One problem with UFO/UAP research is that it often doesn’t resemble traditional scientific research in terms of rigor,” she says.

The task force report could quantify and analyze a wide swath of data, Scoles hopes, with the requisite background knowledge of sensor capabilities, current domestic and foreign military capabilities, and so on. If so, that would be a welcome change from previous high-profile studies, she concludes.

Where does this leave us? The truth, of course, is somewhere out there, whether or not it appears in the pages of the UAP Task Force report. But for now, the odds seem to be against the U.S. government knowing what it is, let alone revealing it anytime soon.

 
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Prison Mike

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I would be terrified if I actually saw a UFO just because we really don't know what would happen at that moment. People like to say aliens wouldn't harm us because they were able to achieve interstellar travel but how do we know they wouldn't manipulate a relatively less intelligent race such as ourselves? I'm not saying it wouldn't be fascinating to see an alien or UFO but I think it's only natural we would be cautious as well.

oke, lol
 

triplestation

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if I saw some lulzy looking space craft in operation id automatically think it was military

until the ayy lmao shows up it's all man-made

if there is a lifeform I'd watch it like watch some deep sea fish, I'd look for movement and behavior that shit would be highly fascinating
 
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Cybrwzrd

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A race capable of traveling across the space would be to us just the same as we are to to insects.

For the most part I agree with this. Then I read "The Road Not Taken" by Harry Turtledove.


Maybe we developed weapons technology that is more powerful than a space faring civilization because we missed something simple.. That's probably not the case, but you never know.

I do wonder about all the recent science we have though when it comes to detecting exoplanets. I get the theoretical science behind it, but it also feels like we can know too many details about these planets from what is observable. Almost that we are being primed for acknowledging that we aren't alone and have access to technology or info that is beyond our current technological limitations.
 

Nymphae

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I don't believe in aliens anymore, and I think it's kind of funny how widespread the belief is considering the evidence available (basically none) Questionable home video recordings and anecdotes are about all there are. Individual accounts are unreliable, and image media is a poor evidential basis. Are things in the sky now and then that we can't identify? Of course. Aliens? Show me the proof.
 

Evil Calvin

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With the over-abundance of people, cameras, phones and other media why have there not been any clear video of 'ufo's' or 'aliens'. The only stuff I see is photoshopped crap. If 'ufo's' were really out there you would think that people all over the world would be posting this stuff left and right. Usually we only get a few dodgy pictures and clips of military aircraft.
 
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Gargus

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I don't believe in aliens anymore, and I think it's kind of funny how widespread the belief is considering the evidence available (basically none) Questionable home video recordings and anecdotes are about all there are. Individual accounts are unreliable, and image media is a poor evidential basis. Are things in the sky now and then that we can't identify? Of course. Aliens? Show me the proof.

I believe there are other life forms out there. The universe is too big.

The problem is they could be close to use but our relative size to the universe puts them out of reach for us. Like say if an ant as tiny as it is if it walks by a human being can it from its size actually even recognize us as a human? Or look at the lifespan of a fruit fly, to the fly it lives a full life but to us it only lives 48 hours, now the United states is small to us but to a fruit fly it couldnt cross the United states in its entire lifetime or even its children's children couldnt do it. Now compare our slow travel and short lifespans against the size of the universe and its age, there could be lots of aliens out there we simply arent able to reach any of them. To a fruit fly in ohio a kangaroo in Australia would be an alien on a alien world but it can't ever reach it despite us being to do with easily.

Or we could be inside an impossibly large alien. Our planet is simply a cell of some sort and space to us is just the distance between other cell planets and mitochondria stars.

Or after the big bang we really are the only real life. We simply are so simple of organisms that we developed first and over countless years other life will develop in the universe. Much like anything else the simplest organisms are the first to develop and the lay the road for more complex organisms.

But I most certainly do not believe in aliens that people claim to have seen or being covered up and so on.
 

Wheeljack539

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I don't believe in aliens anymore, and I think it's kind of funny how widespread the belief is considering the evidence available (basically none) Questionable home video recordings and anecdotes are about all there are. Individual accounts are unreliable, and image media is a poor evidential basis. Are things in the sky now and then that we can't identify? Of course. Aliens? Show me the proof.

When you see a saucer shaped object floating in the air with no sound and only noticed just caused you happened to look in that direction you start to question a lot of things in life. Especially when you double check and confirm its not a helicopter or blimp.

I did when I was younger. Whether it be aliens or advanced military tech it really changed in just what do I believe in this world.

But its also as you said. No one really believes anyone when they mention this since they can't show anything and the ridicule is absolutely frustrating so in many ways why bother.

I will say though bollocks on the cameras. I have a Galaxy S9 and can't even get a fucking clean shot of the moon or even regular aircraft in the air.
 

Nymphae

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I believe there are other life forms out there. The universe is too big.

In my opinion this is the best "proof" available, and it's seriously lacking for me. "Well, they must exist!" does not convince me. I haven't even been convinced that life somehow emerged from base elements here on Earth, let alone in other places we have never set foot on or been able to view clearer than a smudge of light.
 

Nymphae

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I can't view this at work, what's so special about this one? The Pheonix Lights were pretty cool too, still doesn't convince me of extraterrestrial life.

Are things in the sky now and then that we can't identify? Of course. Aliens? Show me the proof.

Edit:
The Australian Skeptics described the object as potentially having been an experimental military aircraft.

I could buy that, for most of these types of sightings.
 
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MilkyJoe

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I can't view this at work, what's so special about this one? The Pheonix Lights were pretty cool too, still doesn't convince me of extraterrestrial life.



Edit:

I could buy that, for most of these types of sightings.

The video is the US Navy FLIR footage of the "craft" they were chasing.




Experimental aircraft in 1966 is a pretty tall order.
 
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MilkyJoe

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I can think of a few other things in the 60's were pretty tall orders...but yeah, unidentifiable aerial phenomenon do not for me provide adequate proof of extraterrestrial life.

No one will ever believe it until they see it with their own eyes. Look at Rendalsham. A whole US Airforce base, personnel walk right up to it, touch it, draw it, photograph it , copy the hyroglifs on the side and still people say "it was a lighthouse" it's the way people have been wired by society
 

Nymphae

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Look at Rendalsham.

If you have some good info sources to share, that would be great. Googling this thing doesn't make it appear any different than many other famous sightings like Roswell where physical items were looked at as well. Wow, markings on metal.
 
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MilkyJoe

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If you have some good info sources to share, that would be great. Googling this thing doesn't make it appear any different than many other famous sightings like Roswell where physical items were looked at as well. Wow, markings on metal.

It didn't crash, it landed.

 
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Nymphae

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It didn't crash, it landed.


Are there pictures and/or video of that landed craft? I don't particularly love those types of evidences, but surely if a craft landed for multiple people to view and take etchings off, they had time to snap some shots. I can't view your video links at work.
 
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MilkyJoe

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Are there pictures and/or video of that landed craft? I don't particularly love those types of evidences, but surely if a craft landed for multiple people to view and take etchings off, they had time to snap some shots. I can't view your video links at work.

USAF... You're lucky these recordings saw the light of day. Lieutenant Holt confirms the authenticity. It's well worth a listen, until the end you think "those daft yanks did just see a lighthouse" then it gets creepy.

1959 Avro VZ-9






The SR-71 was "publicly" introduced in 1966.

Until I see better examples of alien "proof", it will be military tech or other unexplained phenomenon, to me.

The Arvo car cannot fly and was soon abandoned, the SR-71 needs a mile long runway, so probably couldn't land and take off in a school yard.

I'm all for the real explanation, but when people wave away sightings with preposterous explanations they just reduce their own credibility.
 

Fated_Crimson

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My wife and I saw some UFO when driving home after a Christmas gathering a few weeks ago. One object may have been a plane. One of the objects moved and stopped too suddenly to be a plane. Both of our first thoughts were that it was a military vehicle of some kind from a nearby base. Aliens would be cool, but the most likely scenario is military aircraft.
 

MacReady13

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It didn't crash, it landed.


I love this case here. Credible witnesses that definitely saw an UNIDENTIFIED flying object. At a military base. I don't know what it is they saw but, much like the Westall case, many MANY years have passed and no one has been able to come forward and say exactly what these objects were... I mean, surely enough years have passed that if they were secret military vehicles they could release SOME info on what these witnesses saw. Westall was in the 60's and Rendlesham was early 80's.
 

kingbean

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I believe that we (humans) are the aliens (on Earth).

We probably came from Mars. This planet has had the same flora and fauna for billions of years except for one thing....humans. We just show up all of a sudden and rule over everything else on the planet.

The truth is out there.
Pretty sure that's the plot to doom 3.
 
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desertdroog

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USAF... You're lucky these recordings saw the light of day. Lieutenant Holt confirms the authenticity. It's well worth a listen, until the end you think "those daft yanks did just see a lighthouse" then it gets creepy.



The Arvo car cannot fly and was soon abandoned, the SR-71 needs a mile long runway, so probably couldn't land and take off in a school yard.

I'm all for the real explanation, but when people wave away sightings with preposterous explanations they just reduce their own credibility.
I pointed to tech that we know about that was designed before computers, and in the SR-71's case, still isn't outclassed by anything flying other than satellites in orbit.

We have tech that looks like magic back then and now. We just don't have full discloures, yet, which is how we get rampant speculation and appeals to authority used by those who want to believe.

Let me put it this way, science has neither confirmed nor denied Aliens, and the same goes for every government on this planet.
 
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MilkyJoe

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I pointed to tech that we know about that was designed before computers, and in the SR-71's case, still isn't outclassed by anything flying other than satellites in orbit.

We have tech that looks like magic back then and now. We just don't have full discloures, yet, which is how we get rampant speculation and appeals to authority used by those who want to believe.

Let me put it this way, science has neither confirmed nor denied Aliens, and the same goes for every government on this planet.

The SR71 was the absolute pinnacle of technology back then, and if you see one up close, you'll agree that it looks rickety as fuck. Back in 66 there was nothing, nor is there anything in the open now, that can explain the australia case.

Again, trying to brush away a mystery with a lesser fantasy doesn't solve anything.
 

desertdroog

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The SR71 was the absolute pinnacle of technology back then, and if you see one up close, you'll agree that it looks rickety as fuck. Back in 66 there was nothing, nor is there anything in the open now, that can explain the australia case.

Again, trying to brush away a mystery with a lesser fantasy doesn't solve anything.
Show not tell, that's what drives my belief. You don't have to agree, but it explains why skepticism on this specific subject is valid.
 
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MilkyJoe

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Show not tell, that's what drives my belief. You don't have to agree, but it explains why skepticism on this specific subject is valid.

I 100% agree, hence with the rendlesham recordings i posted, people still won't believe it, despite him saying there is a ufo hovering above the base, with a beam of light hitting the floor, and people are not interested. But at the same time nonsensical explanations are no more convincing to the witness, than the sighting is to the skeptic.