Sightings of UFOs may challenge our entire worldview, but the facts are too compelling to ignore, and they’re not going away. So, it’s time to wash off the sticky stigma and engage in serious discussion about the evidence, and its implications. 

Most UFO sightings are attributable to man-made objects like experimental aircraft or satellites, innocent misidentifications of Venus and other celestial objects, or outright hoaxes. However, we now know that in a minority of cases, there appears to be something else going on: something quite extraordinary and beyond our current comprehension. 

According to the U.S. Department of Defense, there are objects of unknown origin, evidently under intelligent control, which behave in ways that seem to challenge our understanding of physics. These objects don’t just “fly” without any apparent lift surfaces or means of propulsion; according to some military testimony, they would appear to be the fastest technological objects on Earth, capable of accelerating so quickly that they should create sonic booms, superheat the air around them into a glowing plasma, and instantly kill any occupants on board. 

Instead, they silently maneuver with perfect agility through the atmosphere and, according to some eyewitness reports, underwater, as if basic rules of inertia and friction simply don’t apply to them. 

There’s general acknowledgment that these phenomena have been documented in America since at least the late 1940s, and probably much earlier. Hence, many longtime UFO advocates, as well as those newer to the subject, are now asking why it has taken 70 years for government offices to openly regard UFOs as a subject of serious inquiry. This is a question that deserves a lengthy public discussion. 

Today, serious researchers are beginning–sometimes grudgingly–to admit that UFOs (or UAPs if you prefer the rebranded version) are a valid area of study, and pockets of scientific enthusiasm are emerging. After the New York Times made the revelation of a secret Pentagon UFO study their front page story, the Department of Defense subsequently admitted that leaked UFO videos were in fact real (and that it has others it’s not showing us). Since that time, a NASA UFO research initiative headed by Princeton’s former chair of astronomy has been launched, former Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb’s Galileo Project wants to determine if the strange phenomena are extraterrestrial. The Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office is now investigating UFO phenomena across all the branches of the military; the US Navy has revised its protocols to counter stigmas against UFO reporting and encourage sighting reports by pilots (like this one); and there have been briefings in the US Senate and House regarding the more than 650 sightings now being studied by AARO, marking an almost singular point of bipartisanship in a traditionally fractured Congress.

This explosion of interest and influx of expertise, credibility, and funding into UFO research will create a flow of ideas between old-hat UFO researchers and establishment newcomers to the subject. As some scientific communities shift to incorporate the nascently-legitimate subject of UFO research, they may have to accommodate elements of the other’s conceptual frameworks, methodologies, and research agendas, and this will require questioning old assumptions about what sort of evidence actually exists and how to interpret it. Likewise, it is the perfect moment for UFO-interested folks to pause and evaluate their own assumptions about the subject, many of which seem to have been in place since the very beginning of the Flying Saucer craze that in 1947 began simultaneously in both America and Canada. As career researchers and academics (like me) join the conversation, the contours of the conversation itself will inevitably shift–I think for the better. 

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