After several video leaks and a lot of media feedback last year, U.S. lawmakers mandated that the government submit an open report on what a Pentagon poll learned about UFOs, the popular unidentified flying objects. The result should be presented later this month and should bring exactly what you would expect from it: almost nothing.
According to government officials interviewed by the New York Times, the report will indicate that the sightings and records did not reveal any evidence of extraterrestrial technology, but it cannot be ruled out either. The document will admit that many of the properties of these objects, such as speed, acceleration, maneuverability and immersion, are not easily explained. And it will suggest that the vast majority of the more than 120 encounters that have occurred over the past two decades were not due to US military or technological activity.
Emphasis on “predominantly”. This suggests that some of these appearances are from advanced U.S. equipment. It is also possible that some others may have come from the activities of other countries with advanced military capabilities. It is no coincidence that the report will have a secret appendix.
The document echoes what former President Barack Obama said on a talk show on CBS last month. After making a few jokes (seriously playing around), he said, “What is true, and I’m really serious now, is that there are videos and recordings of objects in the sky that we don’t know exactly what are.”
For the US to officially admit this is contrary to what has been said for decades, where 95% of observations had trivial explanations and authorities rounded the number to 100%. But it doesn’t help much in solving the puzzle. It does not allow to distinguish technical objects from natural phenomena, nor to identify clear signs of intent or evidence of extraterrestrial origin. And that with highly qualified military equipment for observation and recording.
This is exactly why ufology will never be a science. It does not allow the repeatability of observations, nor does it test hypotheses, nor does it offer much more than a series of anecdotes that we can fill with anything our heart desires – from strange atmospheric phenomena to an alien invasion. Psychologists have long been concerned with this “filling in gaps” and can be traced back to Carl Jung’s work on flying saucers. But we won’t find any evidence of off-earth life there.
If we are really visited by aliens in fantastic spaceships, we must congratulate them on the unprecedented ambiguity with which they present themselves and accept that these appearances will likely fall into the category of unsolved mysteries forever.
This column is published in Folha Corrida on Mondays.
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