The government’s highly anticipated report on “UAPs,” commonly known as UFOs, was widely viewed as a disappointment.
The nine-page report, released on a Friday night in the heat of summer, seemed almost designed to leave as little impact as possible. There is, admittedly, a lot of random debris floating in the sky, and people make mistakes, no matter what their professional reputation; the report confirms that the vast majority of sightings have trivial and logical explanations.
For UFO enthusiasts, however, there were a few takeaways that offered a silver lining, such as the recognition that many UFO sightings go unreported, due to fear of embarrassment and damage to reputation.
Now that such reports are taken more seriously, we are likely to see a massive increase in sightings. And to be frank, there have already been many – the report only cites sightings between 2004 and 2021, but the modern UFO phenomenon has been around for over a century.
Oddly enough, the report confirms that some of these sightings not only lack explanation, but exhibit seemingly impossible flight patterns. There are no less than 18 incidents where UFOs “appeared to hover in high winds, move upwind, maneuver abruptly, or move at considerable speed, with no discernible means of propulsion.”
Of course, unexplained sightings do not constitute evidence of advanced alien life – when diagnosing patients, doctors often say, “When you hear hoof beating, think of horses, not zebras.”
Dull, earthy explanations, like the deflated balloon cited in the report, are infinitely more likely than fantasy sci-fi stories.
But for UFO enthusiasts who really, really “want to believe,” the report was somewhat encouraging, legitimizing a question believers have often been branded for asking (funny enough, X-Files creator Chris Carter was not impressed with the report).
Maybe there is only one way to look at the unexplained sightings, and that is through a simple thought experiment – if an alien civilization was advanced enough, to the point where it can travel faster than light itself, why does their spacecraft continue to be seen, filmed and photographed by the great apes of Earth? And why are photographs and images always so grainy?
The number of UFO sightings (including notable and unexplained sightings) is so high that it suggests that alien spaceships have whistled around our planet, repeatedly, for several decades. Didn’t they collect enough data the first time around? What makes our planet so special, our species so interesting, our sphincters so inviting to probe?
Believers, of course, have already thought about this and have their own explanations. Some of them get pretty wild, some are fun and harmless speculation, and some embrace the worst excesses of pseudo-scientific thought and feverish conspiratorial suspicion.
Carl Sagan, the famous astronomer, is unfortunately no longer there to give his opinion. But I believe his thoughts on the UFO phenomenon, when it first exploded in popularity, remain relevant.
Sagan was incredibly excited about the possibility of advanced alien life (he was heavily involved in the creation of the Golden Record, launched into space in the hope that an alien could listen to him), but he always emphasized the importance of “extraordinary evidence.” ”
Sagan viewed the collective desire to believe in UFO sightings and extraterrestrial visits as a psychological phenomenon, akin to religious belief.
Referring to the anxieties of the Cold War, Sagan said:
“… people were, deep in their hearts, worried that the human species would not get away with it.” What more comforting belief that aliens would intervene? “
This simple but profound observation rings especially true today, in an era of climate degradation, global pandemic, political turmoil and mass disinformation. No one, it seems, descends from the sky to take responsibility for taking care of Earth and keeping human civilization away from us, in the hands of adult aliens.
The desire that someone, anyone else be in charge of the fate of mankind is not the only motivation for believing in UFOs. But there is a big difference between believing in extraterrestrial life (which seems almost a certainty, according to astrobiologists), and believing that said extraterrestrials regularly come to visit us.
Instead of scouring government reports for clues of a X-Files cover-up, we might be wise to ask ourselves why we really want to believe in the first place.