UFOs and Aliens: I Believe in Both/Where I Draw The Line

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05 Feb 2024, 10:16 pm

UFOs and Aliens: As a Scientist, I Believe in Both, But Here’s Where I Draw the Line

Reports of strange lights in the sky. What appear to be craft flying through the air following impossible trajectories. Radar and camera signatures of mysterious origins. Whatever you want to call them—Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) or Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs)—they are certainly weird. I get it; many of the questions we have about these bizarre occurrences do not have a satisfying answer.

But this is exactly why, as a scientist, I won’t say they’re aliens.

While reports of alien ships have been a part of our culture since we began training the first astronauts at the dawn of the space age, there’s been a resurgence in UAP curiosity over the past two years, with congressional hearings, NASA-led working groups, public databases, and more, all devoted to answering the timeless question: what’s that in the sky? And the supposed evidence is compounding, too, with recordings from military and civilian pilots and crew. They have released footage of (what appear to be) flying machines crisscrossing their field of view, or screens showing radar, infrared, or other remote imaging of objects exhibiting downright strange behavior.

Many of these sightings end up having mundane, technical explanations, like wayward drones, miscalibrated sensors, or incomplete information, all of which create the illusion of something unusual.

Admittedly, some sightings defy explanation. These are situations in which no team of experts has been able to identify a cause behind a strange UAP report. That’s why the Office of the Director of National Intelligence designated a UAP Task Force to try to explain 143 mysterious sightings from a 2021 report. For example, in one 2015 case, Navy pilots observed objects moving fast with great agility, in some cases appearing to plunge underwater. To date, there has been no commonly agreed upon explanation for those sightings.

And without additional information, scientists have to stop and say three simple words: “I don’t know.”

But that phrase doesn’t mean we live in a sea of ignorance. We can say that we don’t know the true origins of the most mysteries of UAPs, and we can also say that they are likely not aliens.

After all, mysteries abound not just in Earth’s atmosphere, but throughout the cosmos. We don’t understand what powers Jupiter’s giant storms. We don’t understand why the sun’s corona is so hot. We don’t understand how the first stars appeared in the universe ... and so on. Ongoing mysteries are the reason that scientists get out of bed in the morning. Because we suppose that aliens are intelligent and technologically sophisticated, we could potentially turn to them to explain everything: aliens are powering Jupiter’s giant storms, and heating up the sun’s corona, and creating the first stars.

To Prove the Existence of Aliens, You Need a Body of Evidence

Finding the answers to any of these mysteries requires incredibly high standards of evidence. You can posit any theory you want, with as much beauty and sophistication and force of argument as you can cram into it—but if it goes against the evidence, it’s tossed in the trash.

For example, the history of science is littered with ideas that sounded good, but ultimately did not live up to the evidence. We used to think that a mother’s stress levels caused birth defects, that the sun orbited around Earth, and that an invisible kind of fluid was responsible for causing heat. With more evidence, we now understand genetics, gravity, and thermodynamics, and so we left those old ideas behind.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/scienc ... nt-aliens/

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