For the past two weeks we’ve got Naruto upside down in an alien epidemic.
An upcoming unclassified report, expected to be submitted to US Congress by June 25, has renewed interest in UFOs, alien visits, and government cover-ups. The report, which was written by a crack team of experts from the Pentagon, the FBI and the Office of Naval Intelligence, is said to contain references to “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP).
So aliens are back in vogue. Her popularity is nearing a level not seen since the Storm Area 51 raid in 2019 when a Facebook viral event became a meme and turned the city of Rachel, Nevada, on its head.
If you jump onto social media, you’ll find an endless stream of grainy video evidence and wild theories trying to explain exactly what these UAPs are. Planes? Balloons? Drones? Some even suspect the life of other planets.
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Our appetite for aliens only increased in the course of 2021. On April 30th, The New Yorker published an article on the Pentagon that took UFOs seriously. On May 16, an interview with Lt. Cmdr. Alex Dietrich, a US Navy fighter pilot who aired on US news program 60 Minutes, discussed firsthand evidence of their strange encounters with unidentified flying objects.
The stories keep coming as we near the release of the unclassified report. With each new headline, worldly truths are buried with a hype about airplanes performing impossible feats of physics that only hint at extraterrestrial tourism. We take an inch-long flying saucer and walk an intergalactic mile.
You may have heard former US President Barack Obama say, “There are recordings and recordings of objects in the sky that we don’t really know what they are,” leading to headlines like, “Barack Obama is up to something * a lot.” * Interesting things said about UFOs “led. You may have seen The Telegraph on Friday, which said, “The Pentagon Believes UFOs Could Be”, claiming that the US government is now “taking aliens seriously.”
Media coverage may be picking up, but are we getting closer to the truth?
“I think the media is giving him far more interest than it deserves,” says Mick West, who debunked conspiracy theories on his website Metabunk.com and analyzed the leaked UFO material.
“There really isn’t any high-quality evidence.”
Expectation versus reality
I’m not here to tell you to stop believing in UFOs. On the contrary! Unidentified objects in flight are real. That’s a fact. There is no need for further discussion.
The problem is, UFOs – “things in the sky that we can’t explain” – have become synonymous with extraterrestrial visits. Many dictionary definitions contain references to extraterrestrials under “UFO”. It is probably time to update these definitions.
There is no doubt that the Pentagon has investigated UFOs and UAPs in the past. A covert program was carried out between 2007 and 2012, which has since been dissolved. The Office of Naval Intelligence continued to investigate the UAP, and in August last year the Department of Defense announced that it had established a UAP task force.
Given that unidentified aerial phenomena could pose a national security concern, this is a wise thing to do. Defense agencies around the world fear that UAPs could be a rival nation’s spy planes, for example. Examining reports makes perfect sense.
“UAPs are a real problem in terms of airspace intrusions, drones, and the challenge of identifying things that are too far away,” West said.
But there is a gaping gap between seeing something in the sky that cannot be explained and believing it came from another planet.
Yet more and more publications are seriously entertaining the idea of ET without rigorously evaluating the available evidence. In an article that was not an April Fool’s joke, the Washington Post published a column earlier this year suggesting, “Perhaps we must at least consider the possibility that these UAPs could also be extraterrestrial in origin”.
These kinds of claims make the scientific method seem pointless and create a wrong balance.
Do you remember the monoliths? They weren’t aliens.
As far as we can tell, there is no life in the solar system (despite the opinion of some Mars fanatics), and at the moment there is no evidence of life outside the solar system either.
Here are some tough questions: Where did the spaceship come from? How did you come here? Why didn’t we see them arrive? Why are you here? Is there evidence in other countries? What are these aliens trying to do? Has our entire understanding of the laws of physics been broken?
Despite our ever-growing inventory of camera phones with triple-digit megapixel resolutions and zooms, we still rely on grainy footage from years ago, captured by naval vessels offshore, for the strongest evidence of aliens. Nonsense. Shit.
If aliens came here now in the 21st century, someone would have encountered inexplicable debris somewhere in the desert and been vaporized by the latent gamma rays it contains. Or there would be a children’s birthday party in Passo Fundo with shaky shots of them strolling through a window.
And speaking of parties, no.
Where are they?
I’m not here to tell you to stop believing in ET
Science is about gathering evidence with repeated observations. Ideas have to be verifiable. It is perfectly reasonable to ask for further investigation into UFOs or UAPs, but our current understanding of the universe should lead us to believe that there are some pretty simple explanations for them.
West, the skeptic at Metabunk.com, has provided a plethora of reasoned argument and analysis of the UFO videos, including the two videos reported by the New York Times and another that was reported by To The Stars Academy, one organization founded by Blink-182 singer Tom Delonge was published. He explains them succinctly, suggesting that the tic tac-shaped objects could be balloons, distant planes, and infrared glare from engines. And recent reports of “pyramid UFOs” in the sky were probably just airplanes, too.
Tom Delonge, pop-punk king and also very into aliens.
Jeff Kravitz / Getty
There are of course critics. Often times, according to West, UFO enthusiasts are very passionate and dislike when their experience is questioned. His research on other conspiracy theories, such as chemtrails, didn’t get quite as much warmth. “I have far more hatred from parts of the UFO community than from other conspiracy theories,” he says.
“Even the Flat Earthers are nicer.”
We saw the dire consequences of misinformation and pseudoscience during the pandemic. Overhyped media reports that give legitimacy to booth science have led to real consequences.
Belief in alien UFOs doesn’t seem as dangerous on the surface as the discredited belief vaccines cause autism, but as theories gain momentum they can mutate into something more problematic. Just look at Pizzagate.
Even so, the Pentagon report is only a few weeks away. The “truth” will be out there – on your Twitter feed, in your news apps, and on your local TV station. Will it prove that we are not alone in the universe? I doubt it, but the headlines might lead you to believe.