Mar 12 2024

Pentagon Report – No UFOs

In response to a recent surge in interest in alien phenomena and claims that the US government is hiding what it knows about extraterrestrials, the Pentagon established a committee to investigate the question – the All-Domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). They have recently released volume I of their official report – their conclusion:

“To date, AARO has not discovered any empirical evidence that any sighting of a UAP represented off-world technology or the existence a classified program that had not been properly reported to Congress.”

They reviewed evidence from 1945 to 2023, including interviews, reports, classified and unclassified archives, spanning all “official USG investigatory efforts” regarding possible alien activity. They found nothing – nada, zip, goose egg, zero. They did not find a single credible report or any physical evidence. They followed up on all the fantastic claims by UFO believers (they now use the term UAP for unidentified anomalous phenomena), including individual sightings, claims of secret US government programs, claims of reverse engineering alien technology or possessing alien biological material.

They found that all eyewitness accounts were either misidentified mundane phenomena (military aircraft, drones, etc), or simply lacked enough evidence to resolve. Eyewitness accounts of secret government programs were all misunderstood conversations or hearsay, often referring to known and legitimate military or intelligence programs. Their findings are familiar to any experience skeptic – people misinterpret what they see and hear, fitting their misidentified perception into an existing narrative. This is what people do. This is why we need objective evidence to know what is real and what isn’t.

I know – this is a government report saying the government is not hiding evidence of aliens. This is likely to convince no hard-core believer. Anyone using conspiracy arguments to prop up their claims of aliens will simply incorporate this into their conspiracy narrative. Grand conspiracy theories are immune to evidence and logic, because the conspiracy can be used to explain away anything – any lack of evidence, or any disconfirming evidence. It is a magic box in which any narrative can be true without the burden of evidence or even internal consistency.

But the report is devastating to those who claim the government has known for a long time that aliens exist and are in possession of alien tech. It also means that in order to maintain such a belief, you have to enlarge the conspiracy, give it more power and scope. You have to believe the secret program is secret even from Congress and the executive branch, and that it is either secret from the defense and intelligence communities or they are fully involved at every level. At some point, it’s not really even a government program, but a rogue program somehow existing secretly within the government.

This is how grand conspiracy theories fail. In order to be maintained against negative evidence, they have to be enlarged and deepened. They then quickly collapse under their own weight. Imagine what it would take to fund and maintain such a program over decades, over multiple administrations and generations. How total would their control need to be to keep something this huge secret for so long? There have been no leaks to the mainstream press, like the Pentagon papers, or the Snowden leaks, or even the Discord fiasco. And yet, some rando UFO researchers know all about it. There is no way to make this story make sense.

I also don’t buy the alleged motivation. Why would such an agency keep the existence of aliens secret for so long? I can see keeping it a secret for a short time, until they had a chance to wrap their head around what was going on – but half a century? The notion that the public is “not ready” for the revelation is just silly. We’ve been ready for decades. If they want to keep the tech secret, they can do that without keeping the very existence of aliens secret. Besides, wouldn’t the principle of deterrence mean that we would want our enemies to know – hey, we have reverse-engineered alien technology, so don’t mess with us?

Also, the conspiracy theories often ignore the fact that the US is not the only government in the world. So do all countries in the world who might come into possession of alien artifacts have similarly powerful and long-lived secret organizations within their government? Some conspiracy theorists solve this contradiction by, again, widening the conspiracy. This leads to “secret world government” territory. Perhaps the lizard aliens are really in charge, and they are trying to keep their own existence secret.

I’ll be interested to see what the effect of the report will be (especially in our social-media post truth world). Interests in UFOs wax and wane over the years. It seems each generation has a flirtation with the idea then quickly grows bored, leaving the hard core believers to keep the flame alive until a new generation comes up. This creates a UFO boom and bust cycle. The claims, blurry photos, faked evidence, and breathless eyewitness accounts all seem superficially fascinating. I got sucked into this when I was around 10. I remembering thinking that something this huge, aliens visiting the Earth, would come out eventually. All the suggestive evidence was interesting, but I knew deep down none of it was conclusive. At some point we would need the big reveal – unequivocal evidence of alien visitation.

As the years rolled by, the suggestive blurry evidence and wild speculation became less and less interesting. You can only maintain such anticipation for so long. Eventually all it took was for me to hear Carl Sagan say that all the UFO evidence was crap, and the entire house of cards collapsed. Now, 40 years later, nothing has changed. We have mostly the same cast of dubious characters making the same tired claims, citing mostly the same incidents with the same conspiracy theories. The only difference is that their audience is a new generation that hasn’t been through it all before.

Perhaps the boom bust cycle is faster now because of social media and the relative short attention spans of the public. I suspect the Pentagon report will have the effect of forcing those with a more casual interest off the fence – either you have to admit there is simply no evidence for alien visitation, or you have to go the other way an embrace the grand UFO conspiracy theory. Or perhaps the current generation simply does not care about evidence, logic, and internal consistency and will just believe whatever narrative generates the most clicks on Tik Tok.

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