Sunday, December 24, 2017

Pentagon Confirms UFOs Exist

To be clear, in my mind there was never much doubt. I refer you to Robert Anton Wilson, who once commented that of course he believe in unidentified flying objects, because he encountered unidentified non-flying objects all the time just going about his day. So I'm not necessarily saying that I believe that alien spaceships are visiting Earth, but rather that weird stuff that defies identification happens and that some of those phenomena happen to be flying ones. At any rate, last week the Pentagon confirmed that it has been funding the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program - that is, a military program that hunts for and tries to identify UFOs. It was previously thought that the government shut down that line of investigation when it ended Project Blue Book in 1970.

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

On CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth. Working with Mr. Bigelow’s Las Vegas-based company, the program produced documents that describe sightings of aircraft that seemed to move at very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift. Officials with the program have also studied videos of encounters between unknown objects and American military aircraft — including one released in August of a whitish oval object, about the size of a commercial plane, chased by two Navy F/A-18F fighter jets from the aircraft carrier Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004.

Mr. Reid, who retired from Congress this year, said he was proud of the program. “I’m not embarrassed or ashamed or sorry I got this thing going,” Mr. Reid said in a recent interview in Nevada. “I think it’s one of the good things I did in my congressional service. I’ve done something that no one has done before.” Two other former senators and top members of a defense spending subcommittee — Ted Stevens, an Alaska Republican, and Daniel K. Inouye, a Hawaii Democrat — also supported the program. Mr. Stevens died in 2010, and Mr. Inouye in 2012.

While not addressing the merits of the program, Sara Seager, an astrophysicist at M.I.T., cautioned that not knowing the origin of an object does not mean that it is from another planet or galaxy. “When people claim to observe truly unusual phenomena, sometimes it’s worth investigating seriously,” she said. But, she added, “what people sometimes don’t get about science is that we often have phenomena that remain unexplained.”

I also am unconvinced that space aliens are currently visiting Earth. But I will say that this shoots a hole in the capital-S skeptics who basically assume that anybody who reports a UFO sighting is just lying, and that nothing is really out there. Something is clearly happening, and even though I think most of what people are seeing are experimental flying vehicles of one sort or another, to my way of thinking this is how we should be investigating paranormal events. Instead of wasting a bunch of time trying to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that paranormal events sometimes happen, we should go ahead and investigate apparently paranormal observations to see what is going on, whether they turn out to be paranormal or not.
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