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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#240 UFOs

This week Linn and Matt have a chat about UFOs, UAP, ETH and Flying Saucers. Is it science, is it fantasy? Are we being visited by Aliens?

"Each wave of sightings adds to the accumulation of reports which defy analysis by present methods... An investigative process in depth is necessary here, after twenty years of confusion"

Josef Allen Hynek (May 1, 1910 – April 27, 1986) was an American astronomer, professor, and ufologist. Hynek acted as a scientific advisor to UFO studies undertaken by the U.S. Air Force under two projects: Project Sign (1947–1949) and Project Blue Book (1952–1969).

He conducted his own independent UFO research in later years, developing the "Close Encounter" classification system. He was among the first people to conduct scientific analysis of reports and especially of trace evidence purportedly left by UFOs

In 1972, Hynek brought out his studies by publishing The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry. The book is most famous for introducing the "Close Encounter" classification: A Close Encounter of the First Kind entails the spotting of an unidentified aircraft; the Second Kind includes accompanying physical effects, like the sudden malfunctioning of equipment; and the Third Kind includes the sighting of life forms on or near the aircraft.

History nuggets

  • Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) or unidentified flying object (UFO) is any aerial phenomenon that cannot immediately be identified or explained

  • The extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) proposes that some unidentified flying objects (UFOs) are best explained as being physical spacecraft occupied by extraterrestrial life or non-human aliens, or non-occupied alien probes from other planets visiting Earth

  • Historically one argument that runs and runs is whether they should be studied at all. Some argue that it is an area of legitimate scientific interest and others that say “nothing to see here”

  • The biggest rise of sightings coincides with the boom in Sci-Fi and TV of course.

  • Funny how now everyone has a ridiculously good camera in their pocket, we don’t get any UFO pictures anymore. If you drew the graph of UFO Pictures against cameras owned they are going in the wrong direction. ….it's pretty indicative of an artefact issue don’t you think.?

  • The term "foo fighter" was used by Allied aircraft pilots during World War II to describe various UFOs or mysterious aerial phenomena seen in the skies over both the European and Pacific areas

    • They thought they were NAzi secret flying machines.

    • The word foo is a nonsense word from a cartoon from the ‘30s

    • Radar operator in the 415th Night Fighter Squadron, Donald J. Meiers, coined the phrase F’ing Foo Fighters

    • From 1944 these were being formally reported.

  • Early 50’s the USAF brought in regulation 200-2 in 1953 to report UFOB

    • The term "UFO" (or "UFOB") was coined to serve as a catch-all for all such reports.

    • Initial definition, the USAF stated that a "UFOB" was

"any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object"
...after investigation.

Air Force interest in unidentified flying objects is two fold:

  1. possible threat to the security of the United States and its forces

  2. determine technical aspects involved.

The regulation demands that all incidents are reported, shows how it is to be done, and releases info to the public.

  1. The possibility exists that an air vehicle of revolutionary configuration may be developed.

The Swedish military investigated the ghost rockets (1946–1947)

  • About 2,000 sightings were logged between May and December 1946, with peaks on 9 and 11 August 1946.

  • 200 sightings were verified with radar returns, and authorities recovered physical fragments which were attributed to ghost rockets.

  • Initial thoughts were that they were Russians testing V2 Rockets, or perhaps cruise missiles as some were reported to be manoeuvrable.

  • This seemed unlikely as they didn’t coincide with launches from the known Russian test site, and also there were no rocket fragments ever recovered.

  • Swedish Army, therefore, decided to put a press embargo on locations so as to not help the Russians with their research.

  • The US stepped took a look and officially said nothing to see here, although top-secret documents suggested that at least one investigator believed them to be of extraterrestrial origin.

"we are inclined not to discredit entirely this somewhat spectacular theory [extraterrestrial origins], meantime keeping an open mind on the subject"
  • Not only the Swedes noticing these things but also British and greek army units based in the area

  • One highly eminent Greek weapons designer tried to investigate but was shut down, he says, by the US. “officials were afraid to admit of a superior technology against which we have "no possibility of defence"

  • The most likely explanation is meteors as many of the sightings happened during meteor showers and some of the debris ended up being meteorites

Obviously, there have been countless sightings over the years. Too numerous to go into. UFO and UAP are definitely a thing ...but there is a world of difference between something being classed as a UFO and being the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH)

The Big UK Investigations into UFOs

The UK's Flying Saucer Working Party published its final report in June 1951, which remained secret for over fifty years.

  • The Working Party concluded that all UFO sightings could be explained as misidentifications of ordinary objects or phenomena, optical illusions, psychological misperceptions/aberrations, or hoaxes.

"We accordingly recommend very strongly that no further investigation of reported mysterious aerial phenomena be undertaken, unless and until some material evidence becomes available"

A secret study of UFOs was undertaken for the Ministry of Defence between 1996 and 2000 and was code-named Project Condign.

  • The resulting report, titled "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Defence Region", was publicly released in 2006

  • The report confirmed earlier findings that the main causes of UFO sightings are misidentification of man-made and natural objects.

"No artefacts of unknown or unexplained origin have been reported or handed to the UK authorities, despite thousands of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena reports, There is no evidence that any UAP, seen in the UK Air Defence Region are incursions by air-objects of any intelligent (extraterrestrial or foreign) origin, or that they represent any hostile intent."
  • Another conclusion of the report was that a novel meteorological plasma phenomenon akin to ball lightning is responsible for "the majority, if not all" of otherwise inexplicable sightings, especially reports of black triangle UFOs!!!

On December 1, 2009, the Ministry of Defence quietly closed down its UFO investigations. The Guardian reported that the MoD claimed the closure would save the Ministry around £50,000 a year.

This is in contrast to these 3 events

The Churchill Coverup

Records released on August 5, 2010, show Winston Churchill banned the reporting for 50 years of an alleged UFO incident because of fears it could create mass panic.

  • The incident involved a Royal Air Force (RAF) reconnaissance aircraft returning from a mission in France or Germany toward the end of World War II. It was over or near the English coastline when it was allegedly intercepted by a strange metallic object which matched the aircraft's course and speed for a time before accelerating away and disappearing.

  • The aircraft's crew were reported to have photographed the object, which they said had "hovered noiselessly" near the aircraft, before moving off.

  • According to the documents, details of the coverup emerged when a man wrote to the government in 1999 seeking to find out more about the incident and described how his grandfather, who had served with the RAF in the war, was present when Churchill and U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower discussed how to deal with the UFO encounter

  • The files come from more than 5,000 pages of UFO reports, letters and drawings from members of the public, as well as questions raised in Parliament. They are available to download from The National Archives website.

In the April 1957 West Freugh incident in Scotland,

  • Two unidentified objects flying high over the UK were tracked by radar operators. The objects were reported to operate at speeds and perform manoeuvres beyond the capability of any known craft.

  • Also significant is their alleged size, which—based on the radar returns—was closer to that of a ship than an aircraft.

In the Rendlesham Forest incident of December 1980,

  • U.S. military personnel witnessed UFOs near the airbase at Woodbridge, Suffolk, over a period of three nights.

  • On one night the deputy base commander, Colonel Charles I. Halt, and other personnel followed one or more UFOs that were moving in and above the forest for several hours. Col. Halt made an audio recording while this was happening and subsequently wrote an official memorandum summarizing the incident.

  • After retirement from the military, he said he had deliberately downplayed the event (officially termed 'Unexplained Lights') to avoid damaging his career.

  • Other base personnel are said to have observed one of the UFOs, which had landed in the forest, and even gone up to and touched it.

Pluto Discoverer Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, admitted to six UFO sightings, including three green fireballs, supported the Extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs and stated he thought scientists who dismissed it without study were being "unscientific". One thing is for sure there will always be unidentified flying objects. It’s pretty obvious that we will occasionally see this that are outside our normal experience, or tricks of our easily tricked minds. But one thing I just don’t get is this. I don’t know what that object is, so therefore it must be an alien craft. That is a ridiculous conclusion to jump to. Why?

In some ways, I blame Sherlock Holmes.

"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth"

Trouble is, you have to have a complete list of maybe possibilities. In real life, it is usually just a list of “things that we know can be possibilities”. There is no way to rule out “a possible thing we don’t know”.

The Null Hypothesis.

The null hypothesis cannot be excluded;

There are simply other more prosaic phenomena that cannot be identified due to lack of complete information or due to the necessary subjectivity of the reports. Perhaps, instead of accepting the null hypothesis, UFO enthusiasts tend to engage in special pleading by offering outlandish, untested explanations for the validity of the ETH, which violate Occam's razor. Of Course, violating Occam's Razor doesn’t mean they are wrong ...but they are very unlikely to be right. ...They can only be right really by sheer luck because they haven’t ruled out easier explanations. Worse still some UFOlogists claim that using Occams razor is how they choose the ETH. Lots of phenomena can be explained this way they say: crop circles, abduction, cattle mutilation, by this one phenomenon. They have misunderstood Occams Razor. It’s not the simplest explanation, it the one that requires fewer assumptions. ETH has the assumption, and it’s a big one, that Aliens have travelled the vast distance of space and time to piss about in cornfields. It’s certainly a bigger assumption that there are things about the atmosphere and things about the human brain we don’t really understand. In fact, these aren’t even assumptions we know this to be true. Worse is there is something circular about the reasoning. Crop circles, abductions all started because people started thinking about aliens and so of course alien visitations explain them. But it requires more assumptions than the knowledge we already have about culture and human physiology. Overall we have a failure to consider competing hypothesis and relying far too much on week forms of evidence.

God of the Gaps - Ad Ignorantium. ...It’s true because we don’t know that it isn’t true.

UFO is not a plane therefore it’s an alien spacecraft ...well you don’t know it isn’t.

Made worse by a slight misunderstanding of Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Well actually this should better be said as Absence of evidence is evidence for absence, but not proof of absence. You can’t prove a negative but you can keep looking deeper and deeper and making the assumption less and less likely. But never disprove it….annoyingly.

The latest Nimitz stuff

  • The Pentagon UFO videos are selected visual recordings of cockpit instrumentation displays from United States Navy fighter jets based aboard aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2004, 2014 and 2015 with additional footage taken by other Navy personnel in 2019.

  • Three grainy, black and white videos, widely characterized as officially documenting UFOs, were the subject of extensive coverage in the media in 2017.

  • The Pentagon later addressed and officially released the first three videos in 2020,

  • and confirmed the provenance of the leaked 2019 videos in two statements made in 2021

  • Easy to debunk the Gofast video is almost certainly a bird, and parallax is easy to show how it is.

  • The Tictac is also easy. The eyes silly concentration spot and metal is really reflective


Tim Peakes Urine UFO

Project Blue Book

J. Allen Hynek, a trained astronomer who served as a scientific advisor for Project Blue Book, was initially skeptical of UFO reports, but eventually came to the conclusion that many of them could not be satisfactorily explained and was highly critical of what he described as "the cavalier disregard by Project Blue Book of the principles of scientific investigation".[49] Leaving government work, he founded the privately funded CUFOS, to whose work he devoted the rest of his life. Other private groups studying the phenomenon include the MUFON, a grassroots organization whose investigator's handbooks go into great detail on the documentation of alleged UFO sightings.

Like Hynek, Jacques Vallée, a scientist and prominent UFO researcher, has pointed to what he believes is the scientific deficiency of most UFO research, including government studies. He complains of the mythology and cultism often associated with the phenomenon but alleges that several hundred professional scientists—a group both he and Hynek have termed "the invisible college"—continue to study UFOs in private

Scientific research

The study of UFOs has received little support in mainstream scientific literature. Official studies ended in the U.S. in December 1969, following the statement by the government scientist Edward Condon that further study of UFOs could not be justified on grounds of scientific advancement

The Condon Report and its conclusions were endorsed by the National Academy of Scientists, of which Condon was a member. On the other hand, a scientific review by the UFO subcommittee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) disagreed with Condon's conclusion, noting that at least 30% of the cases studied remained unexplained and that scientific benefit might be gained by continued study.

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