What should we do with the highly disorienting UFO story?
If your mom says she loves you …
So … who do you think? Who are you doing want to to believe
One of my old editors used to quote this journalistic aphorism: âIf your mom says she loves you, you better check it out.
The public could do the same by scrutinizing the perspectives of both true believers and rationalistic skeptics.
For those who have fallen head over heels in love with the idea that we are being visited by aliens, or that the United States or some foreign power has such advanced technology that it could just as easily be alien, it can be be wise to keep in mind that just because the media is piling up on a particular story doesn’t necessarily mean it’s true. One could even imagine a scenario in which the 2021 boom in UFO stories looks more like the The Theranos media debacle come 2022.
On the one hand, the story is currently being driven by a few key people. First and foremost is journalist and author Leslie Kean, who wrote what is considered the definitive collection of the best recorded UFO cases, some of which are summarized in the New Yorker article. It was Kean who got the ball rolling when she reported to The Times the story of the Pentagon secretly studying an unexplained aerial phenomenon.
Buried in the New Yorker article is this passage:
“Kean is unwavering in his belief that she and an insider [Louis Elizondo] exposed something great, but a former Pentagon official recently suggested that the story was more complicated: The program she leaked was of little importance compared to the one she set in motion. Widespread fascination with the idea that the government cared about UFOs had finally inspired the government to care about UFOs. “
Kean’s follow-up book, which received less attention, was called “Surviving Death: Journalist investigates evidence of an afterlife. In this book, Kean examines the evidence for reincarnation, near-death experiences, and contact with the dead through psychics, and finds them quite robust. In one chapter, she interprets certain events as clear messages from her deceased brother; she also claims to have made contact through a medium with her late friend Budd Hopkins, himself a controversial researcher of alleged alien abductions.
While none of this means that Kean is not a good reporter, it does indicate that she is perhaps more open than the average reporter to esoteric interpretations of certain experiences.
Two other people who are important in the current wave of UFO stories are Christopher Mellon and Louis Elizondo, former defense intelligence officials. Both worked with the To the Stars Academy, a UFO research organization co-founded by Tom DeLonge, the former frontman of rock band Blink-182.
This organization also has an entertainment division, which produced a 14-episode television series titled “Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation”, shot in a reality TV style and starring Elizondo and Mellon, listed as “to throwÂ»On the show’s website. Not necessarily the most sober vehicle for revealing paradigm-shifting material.
The New Republic recently published a dismantling of the building excitement over history, called “How Washington became addicted to flying saucers“, delineating the chain of events leading up to our national UFO moment. The story involves hotel mogul Kean, Mellon, Elizondo and Nevada, paranormal enthusiast and future space entrepreneur Robert Bigelow – the last of them would be a friend of former Senator Harry Reid, who, you will recall, convinced the Pentagon to look into UFOs in the first place.
Seen in this light, one could understand why some see only a nonsense connection in the current reports of many mainstream media.
And yet, the subject of UFOs is more complex than what demystifiers reflexively insist. While books on UFOs can be stored in your bookstore alongside those on ghosts, astrology, cryptozoology, and witchcraft, none of these topics have generated enough interest to have been. investigated by the air force for two decades, not counting the most recent programs.
It wasn’t a squadron of, say, ghosts that would have entered restricted airspace over the White House in 1952, visible to both pilots and radar, prompting the Air Force to organize a press conference to calm the public.
It was not the Loch Ness monster that a parliamentary minority leader and future President of the United States urged Congress to hold hearings.
It was not to Bigfoot that a future Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was speaking when he wrote a note about a phenomenon he called “something real and not visionary or fictional”.
And it wasn’t Santa Claus and the reindeer accompanying him that one of our first astronauts had in mind when he Talk about meet strange flying objects as a fighter pilot in Europe.
And now we have the current group of former military and intelligence officials – more Harry reid – floating the possibility of aliens among us. Reid seems to be fully – or at least three-quarters of the way – on a potential blockbuster of a conclusion.
“It is not clear if the UFOs we encountered could have been built by foreign adversaries, if the visual perception of our pilots in certain encounters was somehow distorted, or if we really have credible evidence of extraterrestrial visits. Â», He wrote in a recent New York Times Editorial.
He is not alone. Last year, former CIA director John O. Brennan said on a podcast that the current crop of videos was “raised eyebrows.”
“I think some of the phenomena that we are going to see remain unexplained and could, in fact, be a type of phenomenon resulting from something that we do not yet understand and that could involve a type of activity that some might say constitutes a form. different lives, âhe said.
One of his CIA predecessors, James Woolsey, also seemed more than willing to Go over there recently. âI’m not as skeptical as I was a few years ago, to put it mildly. Something is happening that surprises a series of experienced pilots of intelligent aircraft, âhe said in a statement. podcast titled The Black Vault.
Most of these cases are what astronomer Seth Shostak calls examples of a logical error that he believes is prevalent in the UFO world: argument from authority, In where the powers of witnesses or providers from a particular point of view take precedence over the data. As Shostak said of the pilots’ accounts of unexplainable objects, “It’s true because these guys went to flight school,” isn’t exactly determinative.
âJust because someone says it’s true doesn’t mean it’s true,â he told me. “Even though it’s Einstein. I mean, you know, look, where’s the data? Show me the data.”
Add to this the problematic nature of now having the assessment of this phenomenon in the sole hands of an American military intelligence apparatus which has itself shown itself capable of push the reality of certain threats beyond data this has, sometimes helped by a compliant media.
Journalism, of course, pretty much works on the authority argument. On a subject like this, almost universally flouted by the scientific community, all we have to do is the accounts and opinions of credible witnesses and the limited data that comes to light.
But while journalists can rely on arguments from authority, scientists, of course, do not. And at present, the scientific consensus is that no matter who think they may have seen in the sky, they are wrong. To those who insist, they would respond like Shostak: “Show me the data.”
no scientist who is looking at the data is Garry Nolan, professor of microbiology and pathology at Stanford. Nolan and other scientists pissed off some ufologists a few years later sequence DNA a 6 inch tall skeleton with an elongated head found in the Chilean desert, demystify the idea that he was an alien.
Nolan told me he became interested in UFOs after people representing the government and an aerospace company approached him to analyze the medical conditions of people who had come in contact with “some kind of an anomalous device.” .
He is currently analyzing the wreckage of an alleged UFO crash in 1945, provided to him by Jacques VallÃ©e, a longtime UFO researcher. But if people “expect a spectacular smoking gun,” he said, they are going to be disappointed.
âThe goal is to take even some of the most jaded cases and just create a pipeline of how it should be done to demonstrate to people that you don’t need to come up with a dramatic answer,â he said. he declares.
Nolan says he knows dozens of scientists across the country working on UFO issues who don’t want to publicize their involvement.
âPeople do it with a penny and a dime, in their spare time, paying for it themselves,â he said. “And I think when people say, well, there’s no real results, it’s because nobody funded the issue properly to get the results.”
Nolan says that while he hasn’t seen anything “must-see” yet to prove the existence of something otherworldly, he thinks there is “something really interesting” to study here. .
So … what do you think? What do you do want to to believe?
At the end of New York podcast Of the magazine’s huge UFO story, reporter Gideon Lewis-Kraus laments: âThe vast majority of the time the reporting experience describes a familiar arc, from almost complete ignorance to at least performance. of a certain expertise on a subject. But my experience here has been quite the opposite. That I feel like the more I look at this, the less I know. The more I talk to people, the more confused I get. It is a subject that my experience in bringing this piece back has not been that of unraveling a mystery, but of deepening it. “
What we have is a very disorienting set of events to consider, presenting what could turn out to be an epistemological dilemma of immense proportions. I only know, until now, what I want to to believe.
Carl Sagan said that “extraordinary allegations require extraordinary evidence”. In this case, it would seem not only prudent, but critical.
If the truth is there, we don’t have it yet.
Where is the data?
Maybe we will get it.