Opinion

UFO ‘news’ is just clickbait

Yes, UFOs and “little green men” are fun and have inspired tons of entertaining fiction. But the US intelligence community was entirely right to dump all over the conspiracy theories and “They’re really out there” nonsense in its report on sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP).

NASA boss Bill Nelson admitted that we may not be “alone” in the universe, but the odds are overwhelming that any intelligent “neighbors” are far, far away.

The report didn’t explicitly rule out extraterrestrial activity as an explanation for the 144 UAP sightings by military pilots and other federal workers since 2004, but it also provides zero evidence supporting alien theories.

Connected crackpots and cranks have gotten a few politicians to force the Pentagon to investigate the issue several times and even to hire “believers” for some of the work. One such nut-or-cynic, Luis Elizondo, claims that higher-ups ignore and actively suppress evidence of alien encounters. But the only “evidence” for his claims is a UAP file detailing sightings with no clear explanations.

That’s hardly enough to convince anyone grounded in the real world that it’s time to start making tinfoil hats.

The latest report was required in one of last year’s relief bills (another example of how pet projects get snuck into even emergency legislation). It looks at cases like the “Tic Tac” incident of 2004, when a Navy pilot reported a giant breath-mint-shaped craft flying at a high speed with no visible means of propulsion, as well as a series of strange intrusions involving nine Navy warships in the Pacific in July 2019, some caught on video.

The analysis confirms that some phenomena were likely physical (not optical illusions or camera tricks) as they showed on radar and other sensors. But beyond that, its cautious conclusion was that a lack of high-quality reporting “hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent.”

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator Bill Nelson
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson admitted that we may not be “alone” in the universe.
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

That still leaves them all as near-certainly just 1) airborne clutter, 2) natural atmospheric phenomena, 3) output from government or industrial programs, 4) drones (foreign surveillance craft) or 5) some other normal thing not yet understood by science.

Tellingly, of the 144 incidents, only 18 of those showed flight patterns outside what is typical of objects in the first four categories.

Even most of the politicians and scientists advocating an investigation into these occurrences cite national security as their focus, not an attempt to make contact with any space neighbors.

Astrophysicist Adam Frank, who has received a grant from NASA to look for advanced technology outside our solar system, admits that the videos of these supposed extraterrestrials are most likely footage of drones from Russia or China or “more prosaic explanations.”

If any other intelligent life forms are out there somewhere, they’re not hovering around the Pacific waiting to be taken to our leader.


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