While you’re enjoying the summer, the US government has decided they’re really interested in UFOs.

New federal interest — new research and new disclosures on UFO reports rebranded as “unidentified airborne phenomena” (or UAPs) — is the latest in a series of years of breathtaking cable television coverage. It follows documentaries, declassified fighter pilot video releases (and news reports), and inconclusive reports. From US intelligence agencies and congressional hearings all over strange objects seen in the sky.

The result is a new era of “UFOology”, a field groping toward legitimacy (or at least funding) and whose proponents have long been in denial. “My guess is that a small group of people with good ties to the media and intelligence agencies have managed to fundamentally change the way the UFO issue is talked about publicly by releasing previously classified information. did,” said Andreas Anton, a sociologist who studies public attitudes. Refers to a highly publicized military jet video released in 2017 about aliens and the occult at Germany’s Albert Ludwig University in Freiburg. , there was no public talk about this. This is now changed. ”

In August, the Senate Intelligence Committee directed the Department of Defense to create a Joint Program Office for Unidentified Aerospace and Undersea Phenomena to coordinate UFO counting and investigation efforts. “The cross-domain transmedia threat to U.S. national security is growing exponentially,” said a bill expressing disappointment with the efforts of the Pentagon in July. It comes just weeks after naming a former Intelligence Agency scientist head of the UFO Investigation Office, in June NASA launched a small $100,000 study to capture data on UFOs worthy of further study. announced. A NASA official told agency officials that the investigation could be completed by October, saying it was a “high priority.”

new ufology

The UFO community seized the moment with intrigue and excitement at the recent congressional rhetoric. Elizondo called on Monday to turn UFOology into a legitimate science. “I want to instill rigor, discipline and professionalism rather than a Wild West approach,” he wrote for his UFO news site Liberation Times.

Some astronomers and astrobiologists receiving support from NASA to study potential life on Mars, Jupiter’s moons, and other solar system planets are less enthusiastic. Caleb Scharf, in his Science report on a new UFO discovery project led by Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb, criticized the mix of legitimate scientists and marginalists. That project he signed on to Elizondo as an advisor.

Loeb, author of Extraterrestrial Life: First Signs of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, dismisses this criticism as narrow-minded. The Galileo project, which he started to scan the night sky for strange objects, began collecting observations in January and was completed within a year, revealing the true frequency of unexplained events in the sky. He said we need to present open data. He points to recent discoveries of meteors and comets from other solar systems to explain the scientific interest in UFOs. The best known is Oumuamua, likely an interstellar comet that approached Earth at 196,000 miles per hour in 2017. Loeb suggested (to some criticism) that it was an alien spaceship.

“We could be trying to accelerate the learning process,” says Loeb. “But it could go in the direction of learning: ‘Oh, all we see are birds and planes and all that,’ nothing else.”

But scientists who choose to study UFOs, like Loeb, are overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the existence of aliens, and the risk of bias in their studies is very high, says UFO video analyst and author of Escapeing. (West is best known for his rants in videos like Navy jets and the “Pyramid” video released by the Pentagon.) The quality of evidence available for research is very poor.” he said. “Why would they spend time and money on it?”

In addition to its low quality, the widespread distribution of cellphone and cockpit UFO videos brings another major scientific bias. “Pilots see millions of confusing things out their windows every day that they don’t hear because they’re not fun,” he says. “It’s usually too blurry to give you anything you can’t easily explain.” They end with the news. Also, mysterious mirages, optical illusions and “radar angels” have been described for centuries after sightings in the skies and on water, but they are not really within the realm of any particular scientific discipline. . expose them.

Summer of the Flying Saucer

In the spring of 1909, observers across Great Britain and Ireland began reporting sightings of Zeppelins, Germany’s newly invented technology, on their islands far narrower than the English Channel. During his Edwardian days, his fear of UFOs was consistent with the temperament of the time, including fear of new technology and conspiracy theories about aliens. Early summer was also the traditional ‘silly season’ for British newspapers, giving them a certain license.

In the United States, the federal government has expressed concern about UFOs since the first “flying saucer” summer of 1947, the dawn of the Cold War. The current episode traces back to his 2017 video, which was revealed in The New York Times and is from a defunct program for the Department of Defense. The history of that program is truly bizarre, driven by the Sen of the time. is working with To The Stars Academy, an entertainment company led by Tom DeLonge, guitarist for . Academy consultants included former defense and intelligence industry figures with an interest in UFOs, including Elizondo, who edited the UAP video before retiring from the Pentagon in 2017. The news was everywhere, creating what Politico calls an “engineered feedback loop,” leading to both his channel programming on paranormal history and Congressional demands for last year’s report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on the UAP. rice field. That sparked a series of moves this summer toward UFO research at NASA and the Pentagon.

The story behind this backstory is even stranger and is detailed in the 2021 book Skinwalkers at the Pentagon. Here is an account by a former Department of Defense official on the origins of his Advanced Aerospace Weapon System Applications Program (AAWSAP) in 2008, prior to Elizondo’s efforts. AAWSAP decided to investigate a Utah ranch that is home to paranormal werewolves, dinosaur-sized beavers, blue lights, and, of course, History for his channel’s own show, Skinwalker Ranch Secrets. was intended. According to Science Magazine, one of the stars of that show, his Travis Taylor, is a non-conformist in his ODNI report on UFOs, as a sign of the amalgamation of the entertainment and defense industries that characterizes his UFO moments in the modern era. was the official Chief Scientific Advisor. Taylor told Las Vegas Television his journalist George Knapp, co-author of Skinwalker, that he was invited to work on the report. West — Pentagon officials are leading the effort. The Department of Defense did not respond to requests from The Grid to reveal Elizondo’s or Taylor’s employment status.

“A lot of this stuff has come into the public eye because we want to say it better and people want to be polite,” West said. Observations, authorized by the Department of Defense and the CIA, refer to past episodes such as a Special Forces team attempting to kill a goat with psychic powers, the CIA’s LSD “mind control” experiments, and the Air Force’s “teleportation” research. Nevertheless, it is to be taken seriously. “You can’t criticize military pilots because they are elite and they give their lives for their country, so we have to trust them,” said West. I was. “So basically there’s an accumulation of things that someone says they can’t doubt, or they say they’re qualified for, and we’re supposed to trust them.”

destigmatization

Outside the United States, recent moves to investigate UFOs have raised suspicions of a deliberate misinformation program intended to cover up classified military drone technology, according to German sociologist Anton. Reports of strange lights that occurred over Kirtland Air Force Base, Mexico in the late 1970s are part of his story of past U.S. cover for military research that has fueled UFO chaos ever since. Anton et al. Today, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency began testing hundreds of drone swarms.

“Actually, this was my preferred working hypothesis initially,” said Anton. But it was the entertainment industry in the form of To The Stars Academy that sparked interest in UFOs. In contrast, the Pentagon was belated in responding to Congress’ requests for more information and investigations into UFOs.

Anton added that this “condemnation” of UFO research could lead to “increasingly becoming a legitimate topic of scientific research.” “This is certainly a big step forward, and at best it could lead to new knowledge about UFOs.”

Penn State University historian Greg Aegigian said that from a historical perspective, the present moment most closely resembles the period from 1966 to 1969. That Project Blue Book sightings. The study concluded that there was nothing of scientific interest in the UFO reports, and UFOs have been the subject of avid wrath ever since. And things could go that way again.

A March congressional committee devoted to UFOs made an effort to highlight national security concerns that military pilots are being distracted by unexplained phenomena rather than being disgusted by aliens. did. And Scott Bray, a Pentagon official and Chief of Naval Intelligence, testified about the military’s record of his UAP observations, which now number 400 in all, and that none appeared “alien.” said cautiously. The new office’s primary purpose is to justify a pilot reporting his UAP, previously seen as a sign of psychological problems. (Rep. Mike Gallagher, a Wisconsin Republican, a retired Marine with a Ph.D. in International Relations, took the time to inquire about a highly dubious report claiming that a “shining red orb” (probably Mars) had closed. shot down a nuclear missile base in 1967, another hoax report that the government is hiding aliens.)

Even West, a video analyst and hands-on debunker, agrees that a more serious study of UFO observations could yield useful knowledge. “The reports of watching are a problem,” he said. “Why are these objects beeping on the radar? Radar anomalies or meteorological phenomena?”

“These are real issues worth considering,” he said. “But there’s also all the crazy stuff.”

Thanks to Lillian Barkley for editing a copy of this article.





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