Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) are coming in from the cold. It is no longer taboo to speak about them. The Pentagon has made them a respectable subject for discussion.
On June 25 2021 the Office of the Director of National Intelligence published its Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. "UFOs" are now to be called "UAPs". Republican Senator Marco Rubio (Florida) added a request for such a report in the 2020 financial authorization legislation. At a time when Republicans and Democrats are feuding in Congress, his request received bipartisan support.
The report says little but symbolizes a lot. The document (freely available on the Internet) is only nine pages long. It acknowledges the limited amount of high-quality reporting on UAPs. But it does admit that some UAPs cannot be currently explained.
The significance of the report is that the taboo on even mentioning them has now been lifted. After all, even the US military have problems explaining some of the occurrences.
Professor Alexander Wendt (University of Ohio) is one of the US's leading theorists in International Relations. Over a decade ago he called for the lifting of the taboo on UFOs as a subject for academic research. He acknowledged it could cost him his standing in IR.
Rarely does any university research money go into funding UFO research. Academic bodies tend to be very conservative and here we could see that conservatism writ large. Any funding has come from private sources, willing to go where conservative academics will not.
Professor Wendt's controversial campaign has now been vindicated. I agree with his approach: we need to find out just what is happening with the reporting of UFOs/UAPs.
This is not an automatic endorsement of the existence of alien life or that the planet is somehow under threat. It is simply a request for research to be done. Research would normally be the lifeblood of academics but on this subject they have been spineless.
Now the Pentagon has provided a spine. It is no longer taboo to talk about the need to examine the claims about the sightings of UFOs/UAPs.
First, there is a need to standardize data collection. There have been thousands of sightings in the last 70 or so years. There are documents scattered across government files; a report is made and then – because of the taboo - just filed away.
Many observers are skilled military personnel. They know their aircraft. We now know that some have seen UAPs but have not reported them because of a fear of being laughed out of the barracks. That will now change.
The National Archives of Australia is an example. In July 1960 at the secret Maralinga British nuclear test facility in South Australia, Constable Hubert Scarborough reported on seeing a strange object. Investigations were made, but then the document was filed away. It is now in the public domain.
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