written 23 May 2021
published 30 May 2021
The military recently acknowledged investigating "unidentified aerial phenomenon", formally known as "unidentified flying objects", or UFOs. The rebranding may be an attempt to distract from their previous policy of denial of UFO existence.
After WW2, there were several studies of UFOs, culminating with Project Blue Book, to investigate the national security threat and give a scientific evaluation. After 17 years, examining more than 12,600 events, including 700 that remained unexplained, Blue Book was concluded in 1969 with a summary that there was no security threat, no technological developments beyond modern scientific knowledge, and no evidence of extraterrestrial origin. However, service members were told to keep quiet on the subject, under penalty of court marshal and loss of benefits.
Keeping the public calm was one of the "reasons" later given for such secrecy. So much of our sociology and theology is rooted in the idea that we humans are the peak of evolution, or divine manifestation, that to even consider that there might be "others out there" was thought too risky for our fragile ego structures. Fear of the other is so deeply ingrained (look at politics today!) that even discussion of extraterrestrials risked widespread panic.
Much science fiction has been written about malign aliens encountering humans, including movies such as "War of the Worlds", "Mars Attacks", "Independence Day", "Cowboys and Aliens", and the "Predator" and "Alien" series. However, in the last few decades we've seen stories of beneficial alien encounters, like "ET", "Contact", "Arrival", "Close Encounters", "Paul", and "Avatar", perhaps opening our collective psyche to a very strange "other".
Because UFO sightings persisted, another formal, yet unpublicized, investigation began in 2007 called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, which later became the current Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force. Last summer, the Senate asked for a report. Last month, several videos showing UFOs near Navy vessel operations were confirmed as authentic, including multiple visual sightings, backed by video and radar recordings. The objects moved very quickly in air and water, executing extremely sharp turns generating high G forces, with no propulsion trails, wings, or control surfaces. The official concern is that these might be advanced technology from foreign adversaries, but it opens the discussion to include extraterrestrials.
Wikipedia lists UFO sightings back to ancient times, long before manned flight. The Nazca Lines in the high plains of Peru, dating back 2500 years, are drawings scratched into the earth, covering vast areas, best appreciated from high altitude.
In 1970's, Swiss farmer Billy Meier published photographs of numerous encounters with aliens, reportedly from the Pleiades. They told him that humanity had a naive understanding of space/time and gravity. He was denounced as a fraud at the time, but subsequent investigations have supported Meier. In the last half century, quantum physics has confirmed the non-locality of matter and recent research indicates the non-locality of consciousness.
In the 1990's, Harvard psychiatrist John Mack became interested in the hundreds of cases of people who believed they had been "abducted" by aliens, as reported in his books "Abduction" and "Passport to the Cosmos". He approached them as people who were seriously traumatized, without judging their beliefs about the cause. His work helped his clients, and on the other side of their initial terror, many discovered the alien's message that life is whole, and that humanity must evolve to embrace that wholeness at the risk of extinction.
Crop circles have been documented since the late 1600's, occurring regularly around the world since the 70's, challenging our complacent understanding of reality. While commonly dismissed as man-made hoaxes, deeper investigation has shown anomalies in the structures of the affected plant cells and resulting seed growth patterns.
Within the population open to UFOs, many have asked why aliens don't present themselves and help save us. I believe humanity is at a tipping point: evolved enough to unlock the atom, but still so tribally fearful we immediately nuked our neighbor. Like an oven timer going off, UFO sightings increased after those detonations. Perhaps they want to see if we are wise enough to survive this new understanding, but only as witnesses, not to intervene. If a person "helps" a chick struggle out of the shell, the resulting bird is too weak to survive long. We humans have to figure this out for ourselves, before we can become embraced as good galactic neighbors.