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UFO-Forschung - Blick in die Presse: The Pentagon’s UFO Report -Update-2

10.06.2021

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Quelle: Schwäbisches Tagblatt

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Quelle: Südwestpresse - Haller Tagblatt

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Update: 11.06.2021

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I study UFOs – and I don’t believe the alien hype. Here’s why

Mick West

This month the Pentagon will release its much-awaited UFO report. Extraterrestrial buffs think they’ll be vindicated - but they’ve gotten a bit ahead of themselves

An image from an unclassified video taken by US Navy pilots depicting ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’.
An image from an unclassified video taken by US Navy pilots depicting ‘unidentified aerial phenomena’.Photograph: DoD/AFP/Getty Images
Fri 11 Jun 2021 11.10 BST
 

There is a tidal wave of interest building up around an imminent Pentagon report on the subject of UFOs, or, as they are often referred to now, UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena). A sense of heady enthusiasm has swept over the UFO community, whose members, after suffering years being marginalized as harmless eccentrics, finally feel a sense of vindication and excitement for the coming disclosure.

I’m a science fan, and a science fiction fan. I grew up reading Arthur C Clark, Poul Anderson, Eric Frank Russell, Robert L Forward and Larry Niven. The idea of contact with aliens has always fascinated me, and I’d like nothing more than to find evidence of extraterrestrial life. But this current flap isn’t it.

In 2017 I helped solve a UFO case. Using a hi-tech infrared camera, the Chilean navy had recorded video of a mysterious object in the distance. The black-and-white footage showed a bizarre black shape flying across the sky, and at one point it seemed to emit plumes of hot gases. A special group was formed of military personnel, scientists and other experts. Over two years they carefully studied the case, eliminated all mundane possibilities, and finally concluded that this object was a “genuine unknown”. A real UFO, certified by a national military.

The research group released their conclusions and published the enigmatic video. The writer Leslie Kean wrote an effusive article in the Huffington Post lauding the development as a “groundbreaking” and “exceptional” discovery based on video and accounts from, her Chilean government sources said, “highly trained professionals with many years experience” and the “full participation” of academia and the armed forces. The UFO community rejoiced.

Three days later I, and others, identified the plane as Iberia flight 6830, departing Santiago airport. The “hot gases” were just contrails, and the odd movement was the result of a low viewing angle and a powerful zoom factor on the infrared camera. The glare from the engines obscured the plane and created the unusual shape. Radar data confirmed that the exact location of the plane matched the UFO. Case closed. UFO enthusiasts were annoyed.

Something similar seems to be playing out with the current situation with the US navy. UFO enthusiasts claim that there’s amazing evidence of UAPs, representing something incredible, and that a special group has been investigating this for years. As with the Chilean case, we are shown blurry video from military-grade infrared cameras as highly compelling evidence that has, apparently, resisted analysis.

But again, when the supposed evidence is subject to public scrutiny, the claims made about it fall away. I, along with many others, have performed deep analysis on the black-and-white videos that have served as backdrops to hundreds of media stories on UFOs. One video, codenamed “Gimbal”, seems particularly impressive: it shows what looks like an actual flying saucer skimming over the clouds.

But my experience with the Chilean UFO immediately suggested a more mundane explanation: the infrared glare from the engines of a distant jet. Some investigation confirmed this was a very likely hypothesis. I looked up the camera’s patents; these revealed a de-rotation mechanism used to correct for “gimbal roll”, which would inevitably mean glares would rotate in the manner seen in the video. This is also probably why the navy gave it the code name “Gimbal”, rather than, say, “Flying Saucer”.

Other, less impressive videos (which UFO buffs also describe as being remarkable) have quickly succumbed to analysis. “Go Fast” was not actually going fast, and was consistent with a balloon drifting in the wind. “Tic Tac” did not show a craft moving like a ping-pong ball, but instead looked more like a distant plane with the apparent movement caused by the camera switching modes and performing gimbal rolls. “Green Pyramid” looked like “the best UFO footage of all time” for two days, then I pointed out it looked exactly like an out-of-focus airliner shot in night vision with a triangular aperture.

The evidence is underwhelming. We are told there is secret, classified data we can’t see that proves something. But the people telling us this are the same people who gushingly promoted these videos as compelling evidence to the media. (Several of the New York Times’s much-discussed recent UFOpieces were co-written by Leslie Kean, who was so impressed by the Chilean case.) The History Channel’s pop-science television series Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation adopted a similar approach, trotting out “experts” to express amazement and puzzlement at what was ultimately quite explicable.

I expect the Pentagon’s forthcoming UAP report to be more of the same. It’s a government report, but with no real funding the report will probably rely on work previously done as a pet project of former senator and UFO enthusiast Harry Reid – something the Pentagon does not want to talk about because it’s a bit silly.

This is not to say there’s nothing for the military to be concerned about. There are real issues regarding unidentified sightings – drones being a major one. A distant drone, even a domestic one, is difficult to identify, and we know foreign adversaries have a strong interest in developing and using novel stealth drones for espionage and probing our defenses. There are other genuine issues, too – like anomalous radar returns and inexplicable eyewitness sightings – but there’s no evidence of aliens. There isn’t even really any good quality evidence of flying objects displaying amazing technology. There are, however, many people who want UFOs to be “real” and who feel like promoting the story will make it real. They present weak evidence as strong evidence. Don’t be fooled.

 

Mick West, a UFO video analyst, is the author of Escaping the Rabbit Hole

Quelle: The Guardian

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UFOs Aren’t Visitors from Space, Government Says. Can We be Sure?

BU security expert Jack Weinstein and astronomer Thomas Bania weigh in

The truth is out there, but for now, it doesn’t involve extraterrestrial visitors. It could, however, be a foreign power’s technology. 

So concludes a forthcoming US government report, whose broad findings leaked earlier this month, on unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP), the current, less X-Files–sounding term for UFOs. The investigation followed sightings and videos recorded in recent years, by fighter aircraft instruments and pilots’ naked eyes, of objects flying at seemingly impossible speed and doing seemingly impossible maneuvers

UFOs aren’t just the playpen of conspiracy theorists and sci-fi fans: NASA awards grants to reputable scientists seeking real-life ETs, and we’ve been scanning the heavens for signs of artificial signals for decades, says Thomas Bania, a College of Arts & Sciencesprofessor of astronomy. He researches the possibility of life elsewhere, along with many in his field. (“Carl Sagan…owes me money,” he says, a debt he knows he won’t collect, as his celebrity colleague died in 1996.)

Bania and Jack Weinstein, a Pardee School of Global Studies professor of the practice of international security and a retired Air Force lieutenant general, offered their takes on the government’s conclusions to BU Today.

Q&A

WITH THOMAS BANIA AND JACK WEINSTEIN

BU Today: Any doubts about the government’s reported conclusion that the recent sightings aren’t extraterrestrials?

Jack Weinstein: I have no expertise in UFOs except for watching Men in Black. I never flew for the Air Force—I was a nuclear and space guy. [Never] did we track something that we thought was a UFO.

My concern with the report is that [it] stated it could be a foreign power’s technology. The UFO sightings dating back into the 50s and 60s were never technology that we were able to see later on from a foreign power. That never materialized later into a foreign nation having a capability like that. I can’t comment on whether they’re UFOs or not, because I don’t want to look like a kook, to be blunt. All I’m saying is that if a foreign power developed technology, then later on, we’d see technology like that from them, either in operation or testing.

Thomas Bania: Do any of us believe these are actual flying saucers from outer space? No. [But] there really isn’t enough information to evaluate what is going on.

[The government] shows images of these objects, and they have ruled out extraterrestrial technology. Yet they then say these things have enormous speeds and do maneuvers that are impossible to replicate by our technology. All of those claims require that we know the distance to the target. Think of an airplane—if you look at a 747 in the sky, it doesn’t appear to be moving very fast. It’s going 600 miles an hour, but the rate at which a film of that plane would look [like it’s going] depends on the distance. And [the government’s] not telling us whether they know the distance. These are not [reliable] measurements of speed and acceleration unless they know the distance to the object, and they’re not telling us.

Media coverage cited experts who doubt foreign technology could have been invented without our knowing it and that it could have been kept secret.

Weinstein: I won’t go that far. China has developed some good technology much faster than we thought they were going to. To go back: if we think a foreign power has developed a technology, we would have then seen that technology later on in use or in testing.

Bania: I agree with Professor Weinstein that until these recent reports, there has never been any evidence to invoke foreign technology [as UFOs]; 90 percent of UFO reports have always had prosaic, natural explanations. 

The point is, how do you interpret what these experts are responding to—the enormous speeds and maneuvers? If that’s the case, I agree we would know if somebody had developed some device that could do those maneuvers. I am questioning that interpretation of the data; without knowing the distance, there would be no evidence for enormous accelerations and avionic capabilities in terms of maneuverability.

No new technology is required here [to explain recent sightings]. We know how to build things, drones, complex electronics. So do our adversaries. You’re talking to someone who’s responsible for more than half of the UFO reports in Bergen County, N. J., in the late 1960s—my Explorers Boy Scouts specialized in creating UFOs.

Vladimir Putin claimed to have developed a super cruise missile. Is it possible he wasn’t blustering?

Weinstein: I don’t trust anything Vladimir Putin says. I put everything in the “bluster” category. If a country has developed a technology that they can use militarily that they don’t want anyone to know anything about, no one is going to ever say anything. We want to surprise the adversary on the battlefield.

Bania: I don’t think you can stealth a cruise missile to radar to the extent that you could a small drone, things the size you could buy at Micro Center in Boston.

What’s your best guess as to what these pilots saw?

Weinstein: It could be truly a UFO. I never want to say something could never be. It could be a phenomenon caused by nature—just a weather phenomenon. We learn something new every day, we’re flying at higher altitude than we’ve ever flown before, so maybe we’re seeing things that would look differently at a lower altitude. 

My bottom line is: I think everyone who believes in UFOs will see a conspiracy if the government doesn’t say they are UFOs. I can’t believe we’re the most intelligent life-form in the entire universe, ’cause that means the universe is pretty dumb. If I’m an extraterrestrial and I can travel from other planets, I would think they would be smart enough to evade radar. 

Bania: It’s just a pure guess, but I would think these things would be electronic warfare. They’re trying to get intelligence of exactly what our weapons systems are capable of doing, the frequencies they use, the encoding of radar transmissions, things they could use to develop countermeasures to render themselves invisible to radar. It would be either Russia or China. I’m more worried about China. 

What it isn’t is little green men. If these were extraterrestrials, and they had the technology to traverse the stars and get to Earth, they would play these games? To what end? Land on the goddamn White House lawn and say hello.

Quelle:Boston University’s BU Today 

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Update: 13.06.2021

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'Truth embargo': UFOs are suddenly all the talk in Washington

After 75 years of taboo and ridicule, serious people can finally discuss the mysterious flying objects, and even skeptics say that's a good thing.
 

WASHINGTON — Stephen Bassett and Mick West don’t agree on much. Bassett has devoted much of his adult life to proving UFOs are helmed by aliens, and West has devoted much of his to proving they are not.

But they both agree on one thing: It’s good that, after nearly 75 years of taboo and ridicule going back to Roswell, New Mexico, serious people are finally talking seriously about the unidentified flying objects people see in the skies.

 

“If you look at the level of public interest, then I think it becomes important to actually look into these things,” said West, a former video game programmer turned UFO debunker. “Right now, there is a lot of suspicion that the government is hiding evidence of UFOs, which is quite understandable because there's this wall of secrecy. It leads to suspicion and distrust of the government, which, as we’ve seen, can be quite dangerous.”

Later this month, the Pentagon is expected to deliver a report to Congress from a task force it established last year to collect information about what officials now call "unexplained aerial phenomena," or UAPs, from across the government after pilots came forward with captivating videos that appear to show objects moving in ways that defy known laws of physics.

While those who dabble in the unknowns of outer space are hoping for alien evidence, many others in government hope the report will settle whether the objects might be spy operations from neighbors on Earth, like the Chinese or Russians.

The highly anticipated report is expected to settle little, finding no evidence of extraterrestrial activity while not ruling it out either, according to officials, but it will jumpstart a long-suppressed conversation and open new possibilities for research and discovery and perhaps defense contracts.

“If you step back and look at the larger context of how we've learned stuff about the larger nature of reality, some of it does come from studying things that might seem ridiculous or unbelievable,” Caleb Scharf, an astronomer who runs the Astrobiology Center at Columbia University.

Suddenly, senators and scientists, the Pentagon and presidents, former CIA directors and NASA officials, Wall Street executives and Silicon Valley investors are starting to talk openly about an issue that would previously be discussed only in whispers, if at all.

“What is true, and I'm actually being serious here, is that there is footage and records of objects in the skies that we don't know exactly what they are," former President Barack Obama told late-night TV host James Corden.

The omertà has been broken thanks to a new generation of more professional activists with more compelling evidence, a few key allies in government and the lack of compelling national security justification for maintaining the official silence, which has failed to tamp down interest in UFOs.

In a deeply polarized country where conspiracy theories have ripped apart American politics, belief in a UFO coverup seems relatively quaint and apolitical.

'Truth embargo'

Interest in UFOs waxes and wanes in American culture, but millions have questions and about one-third of Americans think we have been visited by alien spacecraft, according to Gallup.

But those questions have been met with silence or laughter from authorities and the academy, leaving a vacuum that has been filled by conspiracy theorists, hoaxsters and amateur investigators.

West, the skeptic, thinks the recent videos that kicked off the latest UFO craze, including three published by the New York Times and CBS’ “60 Minutes,” can be explained by optical camera effects. But he would like to see the U.S. government thoroughly investigate and explain UFOs.

The government has examined UFOs in the past but often in secret or narrow ways, and the current Pentagon task force is thought to be relatively limited in its mission and resources.

In a new, leaked video, an unidentified object flies around a Navy ship off the coast of San Diego.
In a new, leaked video, an unidentified object flies around a Navy ship off the coast of San Diego.U.S. Navy via Jeremy Corbell

West pointed to models from other countries like Argentina, where an official government agency investigates sightings and publishes its findings, the overwhelming majority of which are traced to unusual weather, human objects like planes or optical effects.

“This is something that we could do here,” West said. “But right now we're left with people like me, who are just enthusiasts.”

John Podesta, a Democratic poobah who has held top jobs in several White Houses, has called on President Joe Biden’s White House to establish a new dedicated office in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy, which would help get the issue out of the shadows of the military and intelligence community.

Podesta, who has harbored an interest in UFOs since at least his days as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, recently told Politico, “It was kind of career-ending to basically talk about this subject. That has clearly switched, and that's a good thing.”

Believers are unsurprisingly thrilled by the culture shift.

“The ‘truth embargo’ is coming to an end now,” said Bassett, the executive director of Paradigm Research Group and the only registered lobbyist in Washington dedicated to UFO disclosure. “I am elated to finally see this movement achieving its moment.”

Bassett is convinced the government is covering up proof of extraterrestrial life and that everything happening now is elaborate political theater to make that information public in the least disruptive way possible — a view, of course, not supported by evidence or most experts.

“This is the most profound event in human history that's about to be taking place,” he said.

But you don’t have to be a believer to believe that poorly understood things should be investigated, not ignored.

"We don't know if it's extraterrestrial. We don't know if it's an enemy. We don't know if it's an optical phenomenon," said new NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, a former astronaut and Florida senator, in a recent CNN interview. “And so the bottom line is, we want to know."

Two former CIA directors — John Brennan, who served under Obama, and James Woolsey, who served under Clinton — recently said in separate podcast interviews that they’ve seen evidence of aerial phenomena they can’t explain. John Ratcliffe, who was the director of national intelligence under then-President Donald Trump, told Fox News in March there were “a lot more sightings than have been made public.”

Cold War and fish farts

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, pushed the government to conduct the UFO report. For him, it’s a question of national security and understanding whether rivals like China or Russia have developed advanced technology we don’t know about.

“I want us to take it seriously and have a process to take it seriously,” Rubio told “60 Minutes.”

For others, like Ravi Kopparapu, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and Jacob Haqq-Misra, a research scientist with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, it’s about discovery.

"For too long, the scientific study of unidentified flying objects and aerial phenomena — UFOs and UAPs, in the shorthand — has been taboo," they wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. "If we want to understand what UAP are, then we need to engage the mainstream scientific community in a concerted effort to study them."

Scharf looks for life on other planets and is a bit tired of people asking him if alien life has visited us on ours, but he said looking more at the skies could yield information about how our own world works.

A mysterious object hovers over a Navy ship in night vision video.
A mysterious object hovers over a Navy ship in night vision video.U.S. Navy via @JeremyCorbell

“Stuff like this has a scientific interest not because we're necessarily thinking we're going to find aliens, but maybe there's an unknown phenomenon or a collection of phenomena that are giving rise to some of these sightings,” he said. “There's never been a systematic effort to categorize and catalog stuff that people see, and from the past, we know that some of this stuff sometimes turns out to be interesting.”

The history of science is filled with accidental discoveries and incidents where the hubris of religious or scientific authorities dismissed something as ridiculous that later proved true. Scientists didn’t believe meteorites really came from space until the early 1800s, for instance.

Government secrecy can lead to confusion and misunderstanding that might be cleared up with the help of a wider circle of experts and investigators.

Sweden spent years futilely chasing what it thought were Russian submarines off its coast. But when the navy let civilian researchers listen to a recording of the alleged submarine, they figured out it was actually the sound of schools of fish farting.

Important people have had an interest in UFOs for a long time; they just didn’t really talk about it.

Former President Jimmy Carter claimed to have seen a UFO while he was governor of Georgia and even filed two formal reports of his observations. Former President Ronald Reagan allegedly told people he saw one too while riding in a small plane, according to the pilot, who was quoted in a book by John Alexander, the former Army colonel whose paranormal investigations were featured in the book and movie “The Men Who Stare at Goats.”

As the Cold War intensified in the 1950s, U.S. officials worried the Soviet Union would use a UFO hoax to drum up fear in the American public. Civilians started seeing what they believed were UFOs but were actually secret spy planes, like the U-2, so the government settled on a policy of silence and denial.

''Over half of all U.F.O. reports from the late 1950s through the 1960s were accounted for by manned reconnaissance flights,” according to a secret CIA study that was declassified in the late 1990s, The New York Times reported then. ''This led the Air Force to make misleading and deceptive statements to the public in order to allay public fears and to protect an extraordinarily sensitive national security project.''

The very real government stonewalling fed bogus conspiracy theories, which came to dominate the study of UFOs and made the topic even more off-putting to serious scholars.

A new generation

In recent years, though, a newer generation of activists has been at center of recent high-profile disclosures thanks to a more professional, careful and credible approach. They include people with serious national security credentials like Christopher Mellon, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence, and Luis Elizondo, the former Army counterintelligence special agent who led an earlier Pentagon team to investigate UFOs.

The budget for Elizondo’s team — a modest $22 million in the scheme of defense spending — was secured by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, a powerful ally who has helped drive the resurgence of interest in UFOs.

An unidentified aerial phenomenon in a U.S. military video.
An unidentified aerial phenomenon in a U.S. military video.DoD via To The Stars Academy of Arts & Science

The newer activists have worked with mainstream news outlets to deliver evidence and eye witnesses that meet their high editorial standards and are careful when speaking to general audiences to avoid talking about aliens — though Mellon and Elizondo have appeared on controversial podcaster Joe Rogan’s show as well as "Coast to Coast A.M.," a long-running radio program devoted to conspiracies and the paranormal.

Both the skeptics and the believers don’t expect the Pentagon report to settle anything. Instead, they hope it will start something new.

“The idea of some super powerful aliens coming to visit us is a very compelling story,” West said. “So if you get even a tiny little taste of something like that, it really spices up the story.”

Quelle: NBC News

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