Apr 28 2020

Pentagon UFO Videos

Several alleged UFO videos have been circulating for the last few years, and now the Pentagon has officially released them, in order to dampen public speculation about their authenticity.  There is now no question that the videos are genuine Navy videos of unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). But of course, the core questions remains – what are they?

The temptation, of course, is to leap from “unidentified” or unknown to “alien.” As I have discussed before, this also happens with astronomical observations, although professional astronomers tend to be more cautious. Every time we encounter a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon (starting, famously, with pulsars that were originally nicknamed LGMs for “little green men”) someone speculates if we can be seeing an alien artifact. So far the answer has been no.

The Pentagon has a program, previously secret but now acknowledged, to seek out, document, and examine UAP. The concern was not alien visitors, but foreign technology. Do the Russians have spy drones we might want to know about? Or perhaps we can detect testing of new weapons. Out of this program, these three released videos emerged. So let’s step back and ask the question everyone wants to ask – what is the probability that one or more of these videos represent alien technology visiting the Earth? I would argue that the answer is – extremely low.

Part of the reason for this answer is that rare things are rare. So far we have no confirmation that aliens are on or near the Earth. We have no confirmation that alien technological civilizations exist within feasible travel range to the Earth. They have not made their presence known, and there isn’t a single piece of objective or undeniable evidence. So the chance that some unknown phenomenon represents a specific, new, and unlikely phenomenon is inherently unlikely. This factor is often neglected, especially by believers. What are the odds that that indistinct blob verifies your specific beliefs?

But the reason I first journeyed from UFO believer to UFO skeptic is different (I only later appreciated with representativeness heuristic and the role of statistics and other factors). In my younger days I wanted to see solid evidence of aliens, and scoured the available literature and evidence looking for the best. I was perpetually disappointed. Belief simply became unsustainable in the face of endless crappy and disappointing evidence. Anything juicy was eventually revealed to be a hoax, or clearly identified as a known terrestrial phenomenon. Eventually my doubt was crystalized by something Carl Sagan said in a Cosmos episode – that even after decades of searching, there isn’t one piece of unambiguous evidence.

Looking back, and after years of skeptically analyzing countless paranormal and fringe claims, I see a definite telling pattern to such evidence. Alleged evidence of such things is also in that perfect gray zone, enough to be tantalizing but never enough to positively identify what is being viewed. Why are all the UAP videos blurry and indistinct? Because the ones that are in focus are identified – and they are mundane, or at least not alien. In other words, they are unidentified not because they are alien, but because they are blurry. Blurry evidence may be enough to spark interest, and even sustain it for a while, but eventually you get tired of it. Eventually you realize that Sasquatch is Blobsquatch – the phenomenon is the blurry photos, not what is allegedly in the photos.

I would also now argue for the judicious application of Occam’s Razor – the simplest explanation, the one that introduces the fewest new assumptions, is this. If you have a program gathering together all the unusual videos, photos, radar signatures, and sightings, there are going to be some that, by chance, are particularly unusual and difficult to identify. Even in a world without alien spacecraft buzzing around, any such program is going to produce video like the ones we are seeing, ones that defy definite identification. There will always be a residue of “unnkown,” but unknown does not mean aliens, any more than it means extradimensional visitors, time travelers, psychic bigfeet, angels, or any other specific phenomenon.

Looking at these three videos my main response is to yawn. They are the same thing I have been seeing for decades, blurry indistinct objects without good reference to tell us size, distance, or speed. They are the UFO version of Blobsquatch. The white dot moving along the waves could be a bird. I don’t know that it is, but I also don’t know that it isn’t. Are the others drones? I don’t know – they are black smudges. To what extent is a trick of perspective or lighting playing a role? Who knows? At this point they are not even interesting to me. Like the Pentagon, I would only be concerned that they represent foreign hostile technology. If the Pentagon is reassured that they aren’t, then they are likely not anything interesting.

But the observers were pilots, some will say. Who cares. They are still people with the same neurology as you and me. But they were moving in usual ways. First, unusual for what? Second, we don’t know that because the whole point is we can’t be sure what we are seeing, and we don’t have a good reference to definitely characterize their movement.

For me the only interesting phenomenon here is psychological and neurological. If we could somehow positively identify these objects, then great. They are overwhelmingly likely to be yet another great example of how easily fooled humans are, and how unreliable our senses can be in unique or unusual circumstances. We already have plenty of examples, but more are always welcome. It won’t change anything, but I will throw them on the mountainous pile of former examples.

I would be as interested as anyone if we genuinely had evidence of alien visitors or made contact with aliens. Call me when that actually happens.

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