Sep 07 2023

Journalists Fail on UAP Story

Nothing about the recent resurgence in interest in UFOs (now called UAPs for unidentified anomalous phenomena) is really new. It’s basically the same stories with the same level of completely unconvincing evidence. But what is somewhat new is the level of credulity and outright journalistic fail with which the mainstream media is reporting the story. I’m not talking about fringe media or local news but major news outlets. Take this recent article in the Washington Post, for example.

The main point of the article is that in the US information about UAPs is often classified, but this is not the case in many other countries. Author Terrence McCoy then focuses on Brazil, telling some of the UAP stories that have come out of this country. McCoy breathlessly tells these stories without capturing the real context here, missing the significance of his own premise. He begins:

Early one August evening in 1954, a Brazilian plane was tracked by an unidentified object of “strong luminosity” that didn’t appear on radar. Two decades later, a river community in the northern Amazon jungle was repeatedly visited by glowing orbs that beamed lights down onto the inhabitants. In 1986, more than 20 unidentified aerial phenomena lit up the skies over Brazil’s most populous states, sending the Brazilian air force out in pursuit.

The stories are not the ravings of a UFO buff. They are official assessments by Brazilian pilots and military officers — who often struggled to put into words what they’d seen — and can be found in Brazil’s remarkable historical archive of reported UFO visitations.

This pretty much sets the tone for the article. There is a reason the US is very protective of a lot of information that winds up in UAP reports – we have a vast intelligence and monitoring network. Our military and intelligence officers do not want other countries to know the details of that network – so often, what the government is hiding is not the content of the monitoring but the mere fact of our monitoring capability. Then, of course, throughout recent decades there have been many classified military systems, the kind that can create UAP sightings, and the government is not about to say – “That wasn’t an alien spacecraft, it was our new super secret spy plane.”

But most other countries do not have such programs or intelligence concerns, so yes, they are more free to release any UAP reports without having to redact anything that might give away secrets. What McCoy misses is that the UAP reports coming from these other countries are of the same low quality and those originating in the US. It’s not as if Brazil has shown the world alien bodies, or a captured alien spacecraft. It’s just more of the same – hoaxes, misidentified terrestrial or natural objects, or the information is simply of too low quality to make a positive ID.

One of the central tenets of the UFO community is that the US government is hiding absolute knowledge of alien visitation. They have the smoking gun – multiple smoking guns – but a deep state, secret (and possibly illegal) cabal are keeping it all under wraps. This narrative often pretends that the US is the only country in the world. McCoy is correct to point out that there are other countries, covering a lot of territory. So why haven’t we seen smoking gun evidence coming from any of these countries? If Brazil is so open – where’s the beef? The fact that these countries have nothing to offer but the same low level ambiguous evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there are no alien visitations and that UAPs are simply a manifestation of terrestrial phenomena and a cultural belief that has taken on a life of its own.

Despite all the attention, all the hand-wringing, the stunning testimony, there is one central fact of the UAP phenomenon – there is not a single verifiable picture or video of something clearly alien (or non-terrestrial), there is not a single piece of demonstrable physical evidence. If we were being visited by aliens either we would have no idea, because of their technological superiority, or over time some unambiguous evidence would emerge. There is no plausible scenario where we would have this constant overturning of ambiguous evidence. That pattern is consistent with what I call the psychocultural hypothesis – no aliens, just vivid imaginations.

Time has been the enemy of UAP believers. In the 1950s you might have credibly argued that the government was hiding something, or that aliens were being coy in order to prepare us for the big reveal. There is always this belief in the UFO community that the big reveal is right around the corner. But it never happens. It’s like the Great Pumpkin. As the decades tick by, the notion of a government cover-up becomes exponentially less plausible. As cameras and videos become more and more common, the notion that the government can swoop in and take control of any UAP event becomes increasingly ridiculous.

Why hasn’t there been the equivalent of the Pentagon Papers for the government UAP cover-up? Do alien ships never crash in countries that don’t have a government capable of covering it up and the desire to do so? Does this conspiracy survive every regime change, every administration change, spanning many countries and generations? It is inherently implausible. You have to have orders of magnitude more confidence in government (and just human) competency than I do to maintain this narrative.

At this point readers who tend to be predisposed of the UAP narrative are saying to themselves (and will likely write in the comments) – but what about this case? But the fact is, if you do a deep dive on any one case you find that it does not hold up. Many cases, especially those with pictures of literal flying saucers, are demonstrable hoaxes. Many have more plausible explanations in mundane objects. And others are just reports without evidence, or blurry photos that can be anything. Most cases are eventually identified, and those that remain are because the quality of the evidence is extremely poor. There are no cases that remain unidentified despite high quality evidence, because the object itself is so unusual. The ambiguity and blurriness is the phenomenon.

I remain open to being convinced by high quality evidence, but I have also been following the UFO phenomenon for 50 years. Interest in UFOs tend to cycle, because the public eventually gets bored of the lack of smoking gun evidence or the “big reveal” that never comes. Journalists will lose interest, and the lack of a story will not be news. But eventually a new generation is ready to go through the process again. This current wave of interest will pass, and I predict we will be in the same place, with the same level of low grade evidence and nothing but increasingly implausible stories.

No responses yet