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    • Chris

      All my life when I heard the word UFO I instantly thought "sure, the earth is flat and the moon landing was faked."

      Last week a woman whom we know as skeptical and very well read told us that, hard as it is to believe, she and a group of women saw one and have never been able to deny it. Eh? I wondered if she had some crazy gene that makes her seem reasonable on every other topic but this one.

      And then her smart engineer husband sent me some links, like this one from The Washington Post: The military keeps encountering UFOs. Why doesn’t the Pentagon care? It's by Christopher Mellon, deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations. Wait, what? Is there really some legitimacy to UFO research?

    • yaypie

      The dream of the 90s is alive again!

      The X-Files is on TV, the president is embroiled in sex scandals, and everyone's super into UFOs. What's next? A Friends reunion series? 🤔

    • adam

      I like to day dream about the what-ifs in the universe. It's such a vast, infinite unknown.

      Personally I like to believe in UFOs. Us, as a species, like to dismiss them as extra-terrestrial (not of this earth) because we simply don't have the capacity to understand. We also happen to be incredibly narcissistic as a whole, so if we can't figure out a way to do it ourselves, we assume nobody else can.

      My thoughts are:
      - UFOs are "real" - they are objects we simply don't know what they are
      - They could be a government or private enterprise testing something out
      - They could be natural phenomnom
      - They could be "aliens" sending a drone from a distant star, to research many planets (not just Earth)
      - My personal favorite idea: They are actually extra-dimensional beings. They aren't really traveling all that far distance wise. Instead, they have figured out a way to hop across either a parallel universe (sharing the same space), or to pop in from another dimension to observe us lesser beings.

      Either way, it's fun to think about.

    • adam

      One of the biggest disappointments of Hillary Clinton losing in 2016 was the fact that she had promised her chief of staff, John Podesta, that she'd release all of the UFO and Area 51 files. He is a big UFO junkie. How cool would that have been?

    • yaypie

      I'm not sure I'd include that in my list of biggest disappointments about that election, but...yeah, I guess it would have been fun. 😄

    • Felicity

      Not to be that HEY LISTEN TO THIS PODCAST person, but...hey! You might like this episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Backstory, where the historian-hosts dig into the history of UFOs in America, what they mean to Americans, etc. One academic they talk to does think they are some kind of real experience -- perhaps Adam's interdimensional beings -- and talks about the parallels with experiences that would have been called spiritual in a lot of other times and places.

      I found the section on African-Americans' radically different traditions/experiences around UFOs and close encounters most intriguing, especially after Black Panther came out :)

    • Keenan

      When I was about 11 or 12, I started a club with my friends called the AIU, which stood for “Alien Investigation Unit”. This involved us looking at very simple (and probably awful) CD-ROM software that documented all known crop circles through 1994. Sometimes we’d venture out onto the World Wide Web for extra scoops.

      Needless to say, I was very into into UFO’s. And still am for the most part, although I’ve never actually seen one myself.

      This story from the NYT last year still blows me away. Summarized here via CNN: http://www.cnn.com/2017/12/19/us/pilot-david-fravor-ufo-jim-sciutto-outfront-cnntv/index.html

    • ji

      They had a great point on one of the latest X-Files episodes, about not really needing to hide the truth anymore, since the whole idea of truth has gotten murky. A UFO could land tomorrow in a public place, and you'd have half the country calling it fake news.

    • Chris

      Welcome Jimi! I don't know whether to laugh or cry about your comment, so I did both.

    • martha

      Hmmm... I think I know that woman (ahem) ;-). That woman has told *her* story only occasionally in the decades since the viewing, knowing that *she* sounds nutty. What prompted the recent retelling was this article in the New York Times; in particular, these lines made the hair stand up on the back of *her* neck, since this perfectly describes the behavior and appearance of the weird thing *she and her* sisters (plus one ultra-skeptical, male MIT student who was also in the car that night) saw: 

      It accelerated like nothing I’ve ever seen,” he said in the interview. He was, he said, “pretty weirded out.” 

      And this one:

      “I have no idea what I saw,” Commander Fravor replied to the pilot. “It had no plumes, wings or rotors and outran our F-18s.” (emphasis mine)

      So -- was it extraterrestrial? A military experiment? Who knows, certainly not *that* woman. Only that it was nothing *she* had ever seen, before or since. And if it was the military, ours or another country's, they have been good at this technology for a long time, since this incident happened in the mid-1970s. So -- it is a thing that various people have seen, and none of those people knows what it is, so it remains an unidentified flying object until someone steps forward and names it for certain.

      [And for the record, none of the occupants in the car had been drinking, smoking pot, or anything else that night; *they* were driving home from a hockey game in Boston.]

    • Chris
      Chris MacAskill

      Fascinating, Felicity. I listened and was struck by how much we are products of our time. How you imagine UFOs is influenced by current technology. It's also interesting that some of the most credible accounts seem to be observing things they wouldn't seem to imagine or understand.

      Martha, thanks for weighing in! For people like me who are now getting interested in this story, here's a surprisingly thorough NYMag story about it from yesterday.

      I heard Neil deGrasse Tyson in an interview a few months ago do some math about the size of the universe, how many habitable planets there must be and the chance of life on some of them. He basically said the chances that we're the only planet with life is infinitesimally small.

    • Us

      Roger the "quality" we need here :) Art Bell is done/retired in 2007, but the show I think goes on. Coast to coast radio.
      He would be an interesting invite though! :)

    • Chris

      Okay, I invited him!! Maybe we have to become more famous before he joins, but if you don't ask you don't know.

    • Chris

      Mashable just did a story on what astronauts think about UFOs. Basically, the chances of all the things combining like they did on earth to sustain life are so small that no, there are no UFOs. But the universe is so unimaginably huge with so many stars and planets, that yes, there must be UFOs.

    • Dave

      Who better to listen to than the scientists who study this for a living and have likely had interest in this their entire lives? Their assessment makes complete sense, the universe is so unfathomably vast that it is impossible to claim one way or the other simply because of the lack of evidence and empirical data.

      To answer your question, I do think that the research has become legitimate, but also that there was always legitimate research being done. Of course there are many out there willing to hoax things just to get their 15 minutes of fame, but surely there are those who truly believed in these experiences. Unfortunately because of the hoaxes, legitimate research like SETI gets overlooked and the scientists who dedicate their time to this research are seen as second rate and illegitimate.

      -Dave

    • cvdavis

      There is no credible evidence thus far that any alien craft or beings have visited earth. That being said, it'd be a high payoff thing if one were found. I guess the money spent on ufo research is like buying a lottery ticket. Waste of money but what if... My concern is that too many people don't understand critical thinking and so as a taxpayer my money is wasted on this kind of thing.

    • Us

      Göbekli Tepe, maybe there are not any new ships to be found? But I am fascinated by the these ancient structures with seemingly impossible build quality and tooling exist without some sort of "other" help.

    • martha

      There are soooo many UFO hoaxes. And I know that a lot of what people think are UFO's are explainable natural phenomena or human-made objects. I think the people who are into the Area 51 and "the pyramids were built by aliens" theories are a little ... unusual. So I understand why I get that "gee, I thought you were a RATIONAL person" look when I describe the experience I had in the 1970's. But really -- the thing I saw wasn't something found in nature (white and red lights on it being a big clue); and if it was earth-based technology, it's super-secret. No wings, no rotors, no propellers, no noise, hovered completely motionless, accelerated instantly, at incredible speed. Could not identify it as any flying machine on earth. So -- it was unidentified. And it was flying. And was an object. This is all I know. And I know that the Navy pilot in the article I read a couple of months ago described the same type of object. I'm OK with having it revealed as a super-secret military technology, but no one has as of yet.

    • AceRph

      Holy smokes! Art Bell might be here! I used to listen to Coast-To-Coast AM (broadcating from the Land of Nye) once in a while. AB was never judgmental when an obvious wacko called in. He would ask questions and let the caller carry on. Great entertainment!

    • Chris

      Hahaha, I've been called wacko many times too. I remember working for Steve Jobs at NeXT and pretty much I was a wacko all day every day, and so was Steve.

      It was before our agency invented this paragraph, but this paragraph reflected Steve so much I think that he thought he invented it:

      Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They're not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can't do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

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