When the Aliens Come, Will Their Arrival Destroy Our Faith?

Friday was the moment I knew you were all waiting for. Yes, I’m speaking about the release of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s preliminary assessment of “unidentified aerial phenomena” (UAP is the government’s term for a UFO). It’s a fascinating document, and I love the Associated Press’s summary: “A long-awaited U.S. government report on UFOs released Friday makes at least one thing clear: The truth is still out there.”

Between 2004 and 2021, the government chronicled 144 UAP reports and were able to identify only one with “high confidence” (it was a deflating balloon). As for the rest? The mystery remains. What I find particularly interesting is that 80 reports “involved observation with multiple sensors.” In other words, we mostly weren’t dealing with unreliable human narrators but rather with some of the most sophisticated instruments the military possesses, and even they can’t make sense of what they’ve seen.

The military posited five potential explanations for the UAP: airborne clutter, natural atmospheric phenomena, government or industrial development programs, foreign adversary systems, and (my clear favorite) “other.” Here’s how the report described “other”:

Although most of the UAP described in our dataset probably remain unidentified due to limited data or challenges to collection processing or analysis, we may require additional scientific knowledge to successfully collect on, analyze and characterize some of them. We would group such objects in this category pending scientific advances that allowed us to better understand them. The UAPTF intends to focus additional analysis on the small number of cases where a UAP appeared to display unusual flight characteristics or signature management. (Emphasis added.)

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