Like many long-time readers of The New York Times, I was shocked when the staid old paper published, in 2017, a front-page article on Pentagon investigations of unidentified flying objects, or UFOs. This article, plus a shorter sidebar and a 2019 follow-up, heartened those who believe that extraterrestrials have visited us and annoyed skeptics like my friend journalist Keith Kloor. Last December, I met journalist Leslie Kean, a co-author of the Times articles and sole author of the 2010 bestseller UFOs: Generals, Pilots, And Government Officials Go On The Record, at a week-long symposium on challenges to conventional scientific materialism, about which I wrote here. At the meeting, which took place at the Esalen Institute in California, Kean talked about the possibility of life after death, a topic she explores in her 2017 book Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife (which includes chapters from other contributors). Kean and I hit it off. I told her that, although I have a hard time believing in ghosts and alien visitations, I admire the courage and professionalism with which she investigates these topics. I also enjoy talking to smart people whose views diverge from mine, like renegade biologists Rupert Sheldrake and Stuart Kauffman. So last week, after the Times published yet another UFO story by Kean and her collaborator Ralph Blumenthal—which triggered more pushback from Kloor--I emailed Kean a few questions. – John Horgan

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