On Halloween, NASA and intelligence agencies that study UFOs appear to be gearing up to downplay them

Just in time for Halloween, US intelligence agencies were due to deliver a classified UFO status report to Congress on Monday, along with an unclassified summary of the report that should be released. posted later this week. Earlier this month, NASA also announced the 16 members of its new unclassified independent team, made up of eminent scientists, an astronaut and a science journalist, to examine the phenomenon from a “point of view”. scientific view”.

Monday’s report comes after Congress called for the creation of a permanent office to study UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, the government’s new improved term for UFOs) at the Pentagon last year, then held its first public hearing on the subject in more than 50 years this spring. This hearing discussed an unclassified report released by a Department of Defense task force in 2021.

There is precedent for the Department of Defense with scientists and the media downplaying UFO reports rather than prioritizing a truly open scientific investigation.

Many proponents of the UFO investigation like myself were disappointed by the Pentagon’s 2021 unclassified report, which offered an explanation for just one of the 144 incidents the department said were under investigation. But at least he correctly acknowledged that he couldn’t rule out any explanation, including extraterrestrial origins. After all, in some of the incidents, Navy pilots have publicly stated that they encountered exotic objects that were “not of this world” and “accelerated like I had never seen”.

But leaked details and communications from officials ahead of Monday’s report and the announcement of NASA’s new team suggest some in government are eager to resolve the issue without a full and open-minded investigation – just like during the last open attempt. to get to the bottom of the phenomena in the 1960s.

It’s especially frustrating that NASA seems to be jumping to conclusions before it’s even really started. In his tweet announcing UAP panel members 10 days ago, NASA said: “There is no evidence to support the idea that UAPs are of extraterrestrial origin.” This statement seems to prematurely signal its findings, so no one will be surprised when the final report repeats the same finding.

Meanwhile, the headline of a New York Times article published on Friday based on what it said was classified information from the intelligence report read: “Many military UFO reports are just spying alien or airborne waste”. Nodding at Halloween time, the article’s author, Julian Barnes, tweeted what might have been the subtext: UFOs are nothing”scary or hypersonic” — in other words, just ordinary stuff, there’s nothing to see here and it’s time to move on.

What the Times headline ignores are the specific cases that are, well, actually scary and hypersonic. Of the 144 incidents, the Pentagon identified 18 incidents that exhibited unusual flight characteristics. Five observables, elucidated by Lue Elizondo, the whistleblower who until 2017 was in charge of a secret Pentagon program studying UFOs, are sudden, instantaneous acceleration with no visible signs of propulsion, anti-gravity lift, signatureless hypersonic speeds, low observability (or cloaking), and trans-medium travel (going from the ocean straight into the air, for example).

Unfortunately, there is precedent for the Department of Defense with scientists and the media downplaying UFO reports rather than prioritizing a truly open scientific investigation. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Air Force created a UFO task force named Project Blue Book and commissioned an independent scientific study of the phenomenon. Led by Professor Edward Condon of the University of Colorado, the study’s final report published in 1969 concluded that UFOs warranted no further study; the headlines it generated were used as justification for shutting down Project Blue Book later that year.

But Northwestern University professor J. Allen Hynek, a key consultant to Project Blue Book, stepped forward to say that much of the project’s work was to debunk UFO reports rather than understand them. Hynek attacked the Condon report, saying its findings were “singularly biased” because it only looked at easily explained cases. Moreover, more than a third of the cases remained legitimately unexplained.

The accusation of data-gathering has been repeated by others, including famed atmospheric scientist James McDonald, who accused the committee of being primarily a whitewash, continuing a disinformation process started by the CIA in the 1950s to convince the public and scientists that UFOs were nonsense. . McDonald also pointed to a leaked memo from the project administrator that assured colleagues that the conclusion was predetermined.

There is now a danger that the NASA study, which is also intended to be objective, will not live up to this scientific ideal. For one thing, the NASA study only looks at unclassified data. “Most of the interesting data from the past is classified,” Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb told me in an email. Loeb is the head of the Galileo project, one of the few university projects that tries to generate new data on UFOs. (Disclosure: I am an advisor to Project Galileo and other UFO-related projects, although I receive no financial return from them.)

While some NASA brass top and study team members tried to reassure the public that they had no pre-conclusions, others have already raised concerns. Loeb points out: “Some panel members expressed explicit opinions against scientific research on UAP. Their selection raises concerns about the neutrality of the panel.

For example, panelist Nadia Drake, a science journalist, made her position clear in a tweet thread before she was nominated for the panel: “I don’t buy for a second that anyone involved reasonably expects to find evidence of extraterrestrial technology here.”

Seriously objective scientific inquiry would welcome different viewpoints and should not rule out any possible explanation. This includes the possibility that these objects did not come from a foreign adversary and could represent extraterrestrial or non-human technology: “We are quite convinced that this is not Russian or Chinese technology,” Elizondo said, and a former Pentagon staffer told CNN the technology could be 100 to 1,000 years ahead of us.

Members of Congress, the former Director of National Intelligence, President Barack Obama and even a former CIA chief have said the same thing: that there is something not yet explainableand dare I say it on this Halloween, even scary, flying around our night sky. Einstein himself used the scary term when confronted with a science he didn’t understand or believe in – quantum entanglement, which turned out to be real and this year was rewarded with a Nobel Prize.

In order for the NASA panel to avoid stigmatizing the study of UFOs and to stimulate the science needed for thorough investigation, my request to the members is simple: please try not to prejudge the conclusions of the study, which is what any science should be. Also, at some point, NASA will need access to classified data.

It is often said that those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. If the government and academia don’t do it with UFOs, we could end up with another independent scientific group in 50 years, but we won’t be any closer to the truth.

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