Allow me to start with a confession: although the topic of UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, previously called UFOs) has always fascinated me, my reaction to confronting much of the related literature—beyond the safe harbour of a few serious authors—has been one of considered dismissiveness. In my view, a significant portion of the published material could benefit from greater rigor, empirical grounding, theoretical clarity, and logical reasoning. This field often appears to diverge from the standards of intellectual precision and level-headed analysis that hold in academia. However, recent developments over the past six or seven years invite us to re-examine the subject from a more open and inquisitive perspective.

Because there are so few—if any—consensus launchpads for such a polemical topic, I must explicitly justify each step of my thinking and, thus, cover a lot of ground in this long essay. I shall start, below, by motivating the validity of the mystery: UAPs are no longer just tall and questionable tales shared on social media, accompanied by grainy, out-of-focus cellular phone footage. Enough has been officially acknowledged since 2017 that the topic is now undoubtedly deserving of serious treatment. After laying foundations for my argument, I will then proceed to elaborate on what I currently consider to be the most level-headed and plausible account of the phenomenon. And to anticipate a question you are bound to be already asking, no, I don’t think it is aliens from Zeta Reticuli; the facts may be a lot more surprising and closer to home than that.

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