Mick West, who has long studied UFOs (or Unidentified Aerial Phenomena as the US government calls them) is not impressed with the recent flurry of reports that have given hope to believers that the ‘truth is out there’ that we are being visited by extraterrestrials. (I wrote about a recent New Yorker article that profiled a credulous journalist.) The seeming support, if qualified, given by high profile individuals has added to the expectation that the report that the US government will release later this month will vindicate their beliefs. West says that upon closer examination, these mysterious events invariably turn out to have mundane explanations.
In 2017 I helped solve a UFO case. Using a hi-tech infrared camera, the Chilean navy had recorded video of a mysterious object in the distance. The black-and-white footage showed a bizarre black shape flying across the sky, and at one point it seemed to emit plumes of hot gases. A special group was formed of military personnel, scientists and other experts. Over two years they carefully studied the case, eliminated all mundane possibilities, and finally concluded that this object was a “genuine unknown”. A real UFO, certified by a national military.
Three days later I, and others, identified the plane as Iberia flight 6830, departing Santiago airport. The “hot gases” were just contrails, and the odd movement was the result of a low viewing angle and a powerful zoom factor on the infrared camera. The glare from the engines obscured the plane and created the unusual shape. Radar data confirmed that the exact location of the plane matched the UFO. Case closed. UFO enthusiasts were annoyed.
The evidence is underwhelming. We are told there is secret, classified data we can’t see that proves something. But the people telling us this are the same people who gushingly promoted these videos as compelling evidence to the media. (Several of the New York Times’s much-discussed recent UFO pieces were co-written by Leslie Kean, who was so impressed by the Chilean case.) The History Channel’s pop-science television series Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation adopted a similar approach, trotting out “experts” to express amazement and puzzlement at what was ultimately quite explicable.
I expect the Pentagon’s forthcoming UAP report to be more of the same. It’s a government report, but with no real funding the report will probably rely on work previously done as a pet project of former senator and UFO enthusiast Harry Reid – something the Pentagon does not want to talk about because it’s a bit silly.
I can understand the motivation behind this interest. Many people (myself included) would be fascinated if we make contact with extraterrestrials. The media outlets know that this topic generates great interest. That combination almost guarantees that anything that qualifies as a UAP will get a lot of publicity.
But the fact remains that it is extremely unlikely that what has been observed is anything more than something that is terrestrial-based. It just does not seem reasonable that beings from another planet that possess such advanced technology would come all this way just to play peek-a-boo with us.