The differences between ufology and SETI.


I once discovered aliens! I was really excited for about two days.

It turned out that my “aliens” were actually a subtle glitch in the camera and telescope we were using that took some time to track down. I was embarrassed in private, but luckily I hadn’t told anyone outside of my team until we figured it out. This caveat came from the fact that as a SETI scientist (or alien intelligence seeker) I am a professional skeptic. I always treat my results – especially my “huge if true” results – with the most skepticism possible.

I am often asked what I think of UFOs. In fact, UFO enthusiasts often tell me that I should study them because they could be aliens, and it’s silly for us to use telescopes to find aliens when they might be here in the atmosphere. ! Shouldn’t my professional curiosity as a SETI scientist lead me to learn a lot more about them? I have also been accused of being proud, closed-minded and incurable because I will not study them or admit that they might be foreigners.

But in fact, I thought about it a lot and decided: I will pass, for several reasons. You see, there are some big differences between SETI and the study of UFOs as a potential alien spacecraft. (By the way, some of the people who work on UFOs call them “unidentified aerial phenomena” or PAN, and many say they care about them no matter what they turn out to be: an experimental US military aircraft , foreign surveillance). drones, or whatever. And, of course, there are probably various different explanations for the many mysterious lights in the sky.)

First of all, SETI is based on the premise that all alien technology follows the laws of physics. as we know them. We use these laws to infer ways to detect this technology.

People who argue that UFOs could be alien spaceships usually do so because the videos and sightings appear show planes performing maneuvers that no man-built plane could – things like accelerating to supersonic speeds in the blink of an eye without producing shocks, signs of propulsion, or sonic booms, which, to our knowledge, is impossible. So in that sense it is the contrary by SETI. This is not what I do.

Second, SETI proceeds to extreme skepticism. Things like my alien sighting happen all the time in astronomy: we see an anomaly, we get excited, track it down, and find out it’s nothing. Sometimes we never know what it was or keep track of it, but if it could reasonably have been something mundane like an improperly calibrated detector, then we shrug and move on, calling it “one.” of these things “. As a result, the field contains very few signals or objects that we think have good reason to believe they might in fact be aliens – in fact, I would say we hardly have any.

UFO studies, on the other hand, are teeming with applicants, and these applicants linger long after there is nothing we can do to collect more data on them. A particularly compelling photograph or video or fighter pilot testimony will be repeated and discussed over and over again, even after a debunker offers a plausible explanation. It’s a different standard of proof for what counts as a good candidate for alien technology, and one that I’m not comfortable with.

Third, SETI is based on astronomy and related fields. We astronomers have very little skill set that translates into the areas needed to study UFO sightings: military aircraft camera design and operation, meteorology, advanced aeronautics, human perception and psychology, and more. I’m no better qualified than any other scientist to study and weigh in on these videos, so I really don’t have much to offer.

Fourth, it seems to me much more likely that the aliens, if they are out there, will be in space than in our atmosphere. Right now we don’t have a very good grasp of things in space because they are so far away. The space could be completed with civilizations and alien signals, but it’s such a big haystack you would have to be very lucky to have found a needle again (unless it is really obvious!).

The atmosphere, on the other hand, is something we know enormously better. We’ve studied it for millennia, and there just isn’t much room for alien spaceships to mostly hide from meteorologists, air traffic controllers, and everyone on Earth with a cell phone and always be barely detected as they are.

You see, if I find something that looks like aliens, I ask: how many weird things would have to be true for it to be aliens, and how many weird things would have to be true for it not to be aliens? For UFOs to be aliens, that’s a tall order: First, they have to be visiting, of course, which would be pretty amazing. Corn too it’s an odd tendency that they’re always just on the edge of detection, even as our cameras are improving and becoming more ubiquitous every year. It’s also weird that it’s mostly a very recent and very American phenomenon. It is not only aliens who visit, but that they visit in a very specific way.

It’s also strange that they can apparently break the laws of physics just like science fiction alien spaceship do. Of course, there are laws of physics that we do not yet know, and I am not claiming that we have understood them all. But it would turn out to be a very big coincidence if the way we have gone wrong in physics so far pass to match how it has to be fake to make the technology relied on in sci-fi a reality. After all, ships like this one in science fiction exist as fireworks so that the story can move quickly among the stars – how lucky these writers have guessed!

So what’s on the other side of my probability ledger? What do I think they could be?

Well, I’ve seen the videos, I’ve seen the arguments they show of advanced crafting, and I’ve seen the debunking videos. And, as I wrote, I’m not really qualified to say it, I’m not an expert on these things. But when people ask, I tell them I’ve never seen anything that makes me think they’re aliens. If I had to guess, I would say that some are just flaws or malfunctions of instruments, others are real objects whose actual movements and shapes are misinterpreted because the camera is moving, or because these detectors highly. Specialists can do strange things, or because the distance is very difficult to assess, even for an expert pilot with the best equipment.

In principle, all kinds of PANs can be scientifically studied, whether they are extraterrestrial or not, and I would have no problem with such research! But in this case, I don’t need to get involved as it has nothing to do with SETI. In fact, I would be surprised if there was were not more studies of these things by government and aerospace companies than we have heard of.

I also appreciate how persuasive these videos can be, especially when presented in a professional manner by people who want to present the strongest possible case to the aliens. It is not at all surprising or revealing to hear of senators or former presidents or generals who think that something very strange is going on. I wait There will be a lot of revelation about these studies in the months and years to come, and many more pilots and government officials will be talking about frightening and hard to understand UAPs, especially after a Pentagon report is released soon.

But those things that come out won’t change my position that this is not part of SETI, or my belief that they are alien spaceships, or that they apparently violate the laws of physics. . Only real data verified by independents, skeptical the experts will.

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