UFO report: Not so splashy, but more to come

UFO report: Not so splashy, but more to come

Helpful changes have resulted from attention to unexplained aerial phenomena.

Source: Star Tribune

The government’s UFO report has come and gone, and if little else it provided a diversion from the planetary drumbeat of disease, malaise, conflict and tragedy.

Last Friday’s release was perfunctory, just nine pages, full of impenetrable acronyms. It added a bit of detail, though not a lot, to what was already known about what the government now prefers to call “unexplained aerial phenomena,” or UAP. Some who walk among us might have wished for more of a big reveal, a deus ex machina to propel the plot of humanity forward, whatever the implications of that might be. But history is rarely so obliging about the timing and particulars of its dramatic turns. Government, likewise.

In the end, the report hewed to what can be documented and interpreted rationally with current knowledge: That U.S. military personnel sometimes encounter things they don’t expect while in the air. That sometimes these objects move in ways that defy explanation. That at least 80 such reports describing incidents between 2004 and 2021 “involved observation with multiple sensors.” That there are five prospective explanations: “airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, [U.S. government] or U.S. industry developmental programs, foreign adversary systems, and a catchall ‘other’ bin.” But that “limited data leaves most UAP unexplained.”

So whatever truth is out there remains elusive. Fair enough. If we humans had no mysteries, what would be left for us to do?

Nevertheless, the run of attention to this particular enigma has brought about three practical if nonbodacious developments:

• It has removed the stigma for members of the military reporting such sightings. “We were ridiculed and mocked by so many, so now it feels nice to have people ask good questions and to have them really be interested in getting to the bottom of it,” Alex Dietrich, a former Navy pilot who observed a UAP in 2004, told National Geographic. The report directly acknowledges the challenge of “sociological stigmas” in gathering good data.

• It has focused concern on pilot safety. The National Geographic article on the government’s report notes that “before any flight, pilots are briefed on every environmental nuance, from the air humidity to bird sightings,” but that Navy training flights commenced “with no mention” of known aerial anomalies. The report itself states that “UAP clearly pose a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security,” and it mentions “11 reports of documented instances in which pilots reported near misses with a UAP.”

• It has inspired efforts to collect better data. “Efforts are underway,” the report says, “to standardize incident reporting across U.S. military services and other government agencies,” including what might be shared by civilian pilots with the Federal Aviation Administration. “An initial focus will be to employ artificial intelligence/machine learning algorithms to cluster and recognize similarities and patterns in features of the data points.” Still, the report acknowledges, some gains in understanding will simply require “scientific advances.”

That the government did not explicitly rule out the possibility of visitors from outer space is intriguing. But that’s an all-bets-are-off outcome if it ever occurs. Of more tangible concern is that foreign governments may be using advanced technology for spying or, perhaps, for “spoofing” instrument readings to render confusion.

Given the increasing prominence of cyberattacks — two of which recently discombobulated the U.S. gasoline and meat supplies — we’d throw hackers into the worry bin as well. Electronic warfare is a threat that requires no stretch of the imagination.

Source: Star Tribune

David Aragorn

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