In the courtroom, eyewitness testimony can lead to a life sentence in jail. But in science, such testimony is of limited value. Science mandates quantitative measurements by instruments, removing the subjective impressions of humans from the balance scale of reliability. This is for a good reason. Some people truly believe in a reality that does not exist, either because of hallucinations or as a consequence of deep psychological forces that drive them to ignore facts, especially those that are not flattering to their forecasts or ego.
Similarly, one-time events—miracles, for example—do not have scientific credibility. Science rests on reproducible results that can be replicated by creating similar circumstances over and over again.
The nature of credible scientific evidence is particularly critical in the context of unidentified flying objects (UFOs). Past reports constitute a mixed bag, containing eyewitness testimonies and low-quality instrumental data. In a recent interview about my book Extraterrestrial, a journalist referred to the astronomical discovery of the weird interstellar object ‘Oumuamua as if it were a UFO report.
I clarified that the two are of very different natures, because the data on ‘Oumuamua was obtained through scientific observations on fully equipped state-of-the-art telescopes, whereas even the best UFO reports stem from a jittery camera on a fighter jet maneuvering along an unknown path. Such a report does not constitute a standard scientific measurement in a reproducible setup. Any supporting testimonies by pilots are vulnerable to the subjectivity inherent in human experiences. We must humbly recognize that a complete quantitative knowledge of the conditions in an experimental setup is a fundamental prerequisite for scientific data to be credible.
With this principle in mind, the Pentagon report that was delivered to Congress on June 25, 2021 is intriguing enough to motivate scientific inquiry towards the goal of identifying its unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP). But policy makers or military personnel have insufficient training in science and no authority over unexpected phenomena in the sky.
Rather than dismiss the Pentagon evidence as insufficient, scientists should be motivated to replicate it with better instruments. This is the rationale for the new Galileo Project that I initiated recently to scientifically explore the nature of UAP. The primary objective of this research endeavor is to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures of extraterrestrial technological civilizations (ETCs) from accidental or anecdotal observations to the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research.
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