If you thought that we were about to finally get the truth about UFOs, think again. At the end of last year, a US government bill that would have mandated the controlled release of all classified documents and artefacts relating to UFOs was significantly watered down at the last minute so that it would get through Congress.

Interest in unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), the new term for UFOs, reignited in June 2023 when ex-US intelligence agency whistleblower David Grusch told the Debrief website that during his official duties he had discovered the US had indeed been retrieving spacecraft of non-human origin for decades. The claims led to a congressional hearing, in which Grusch and others described what they had gleaned of this super-secret project, or seen with their own eyes during military service. Their testimonies resulted in the new Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Disclosure Act, authored by a bipartisan group of five elected representatives, led by Democrat majority leader Chuck Schumer and Republican senator Mike Rounds.

While it is easy to focus on the extraordinary nature of the subject or the credibility of those witnessing UAPs, the prospect of alien spacecraft raises serious issues that go beyond whether we’re alone in the universe. Lots of scientific work is under way not only to look for signs of extraterrestrial life, but more recently to ask what it would mean psychologically for us if aliens really do exist, and – potentially worse – if the authorities have been lying to us about what they know.

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