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I read that New York Times story last weekend on my phone. You know, the one about Navy aviators encountering UFOs that seemed to travel around San Diego at speeds of 24,000 miles an hour. The story had details about a secret government program that studied phenomena like this. It was the pride of Harry Reid to fund it; he always struck me as not quite human himself. There was also the crony Pentagon contractor who had collected mysterious and scientifically unidentifiable “alloys.” The report said that people who got near the alloys experienced “physical effects” and researchers were studying them. The story had corroborating video narrated by a Navy pilot. I closed the browser and tried to enjoy the rest of my evening, which I was spending with my extended family. My phone’s battery was dying. Maybe it would be our last like this, I wondered. Because like anyone with my imagination, I had worked through the thought experiment about the effects of such a credible-sounding report and accompanying videos. I wondered if most of my fellow citizens would not share my skepticism, and if by the next day’s mid morning there might be rioting across major cities, reports of mass suicides, and the sudden appearance of new doomsday cults. Maybe Trump would tweet that he was communicating with the aliens. Or it would be admitted that they were communicating to us through him. However it was going to play out, I was anticipating some potential for generalized scream-until-you-need-to-gasp-for-more-air-to-scream-again panic.

But so far this week people are getting on with their lives like nothing happened. I’m wrapping presents and making long-term plans.

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