UFOs for real?

May 18, 2021 • 1:15 pm

UPDATE: I had forgotten that in 2020 I put up a post dealing with these very same videos and offering naturalistic explanations. Color me red for forgetting! Anyway, check out my earlier post. This just goes to show that your host is both forgetful and a bit credulous. And worse: so is CBS News!

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The new acronym for UFO’s (“unidentified flying objects”) is UAPs (“unidentified aerial phenomena”). And you may have heard in the past few years that some of these phenomena are seen quite regularly by Navy and Air Force pilots.

This week’s “60 Minutes” show on CBS highlights some of these sightings, and they appear to be by reputable people and have no easy explanation, even by the U.S. government.  In particular, two pilots and a government official are interviewed, as well as Senator Marco Rubio (you can dismiss him, but I wouldn’t advise ignoring him because he’s a Republican).

At any rate, if you click on the screenshot below you’ll see the entire 14-minute “60 Minutes” episode, complete with videos of the UAPs.  Now I’m not going to sign on to a conspiracy theory that the government is hiding alien spacecraft from us, but we scientists have to be open minded, and so I find this interesting. I once thought that these represented images of glare from jet windows, but I’m not so sure. Watch for yourself and comment below.

It is important to figure out what these things are, for if they’re some kind of object, they are flying over restricted U.S. airspace. And they’ve baffled the Pentagon.  As a skeptic, I tend to favor a purely naturalistic (i.e., non-alien) explanation, but I’m not ruling out other possibilities.

Here are three possibilities laid out in the program:

Secret US technology (this seems to be ruled out by Those Who Would Know)

An adversary’s spy vehicle (this would involve remarkable technology)

Something otherworldly (seems improbable)

So what’s going on?

Click below to see the show, which I recommend watching:

 

h/t: David

106 thoughts on “UFOs for real?

  1. I saw this program and the first thing I thought is why didn’t they interview any astronomers,
    physicists and other scientists involved in space research? Pilots are fine but the one scientist they interviewed is more of a populariser who has been criticized in the past for being loose with the facts.

    1. That is a good point. Sadly, I think the answer is that the managers and producers who run these kinds of programs don’t care about edifying audiences—they care about generating attention and ad revenue. They want simple narratives and clean, sellable soundbites.

      In American journalism, turning a profit is the name of the game. Delivering useful information rooted in fact comes in a distant second place.

    2. I think it would be outside the scope of a 60 Minutes show. It’s not something that could be covered adequately for the general public in 14 minutes. Plus, it doesn’t sound like they really know much more than what was presented in the show.

    1. The UFO’s are either “real” or equipment glitches. The military undoubtedly experiences thousands of glitches with electronic and optical equipment, most all of which are identified and corrected. Equipment malfunctions resulting in ghost phenomena that fix themselves before technicians can find the problem are blamed on the Russians, the Chinese, or extraterrestrial Green Lizards.
      After an uproar, the public loses interest and the military gets back to the real problem: The secret ray guns the Russians are using to disorient our overseas diplomats. In my view, unless and until some hard evidence comes to light, it is all bs on the level of QAnon.

  2. Astrophysics and cosmology are so over my head that my speculation may seem completely naive but if the earth is about 4.5 byo and the universe is almost 14 byo, maybe that leaves a lot of time for other civilizations to evolve into something much more advanced?

    1. Welllll, there are good reasons for thinking that there weren’t sufficient “metals” (elements formed inside stars, rather than those formed in the Big Bang – it’s an annoying astrophysicist’s language quirk, but you should at least be aware of it, even if you don’t use it yourself) in the star/ planet forming mush until the universe was about half it’s present age – say 7 gigayears ago.
      But yes, in the astronomical world (and the planetary science which overlaps most strongly with my geological field) the expectation is totally that “they” are “out there”. But that is a completely different thing from believing that “they” have got here, or even sent any messages to us.
      The recent (last decade and a half) demonstration that planets are common around other stars (check up on the “Kepler” and “TESS” missions) has made it even more likely that “they” are somewhere. But we still haven’t seen any evidence of them existing. The field is moving on to a degree to thinking more closely about what signs of life (or technology) we could actually detect, from Earth (and our space-borne technologies), and differentiate from non-life explanations. We still simply have not detected any life which did not come from Earth.
      Speaking with my geologist hat on, the likelihood is very high that any external civilisation which we detect will have been “civilised” (well, technological) for thousands of years more (or less) than we have. Maybe millions of years. Which looking at our history covers literally everything from discovering fire to sending robots to other planets. Plus the next several million years of technological development. Which is … whatever.
      Personally, I don’t think that we’ve properly digested the effects of agriculture, which was a mere 10,000 years ago. Whether our species survives that remains an open question. Our successor species may have another opportunity at “reaching for the stars” in a couple of hundred thousand years, but I see no guarantee that they’ll last any longer.

  3. I really don’t have a compelling hypothesis for what might be behind these sightings, but there is something kind of captivating—even delightful—about unexplained phenomena like this.

    Given what we *know* about the universe (that there isn’t another civilization in our solar system, that the next nearest solar system is light years away, and the speed of light puts a hard cap on travel rates), it would be truly wild if these things turned out to be visitors from some other planet. But we also only know a sliver of what’s likely possible—so, I guess, a hesitant maybe to aliens.

    That all said, the fact that people jump from “unidentified” or “unexplained” to “therefore aliens” is a baffling leap. It would be swell if folks could be a little more humble and circumspect about this stuff. “I don’t know” is not a hole that should be plugged with anything that happens to fit.

    1. it would be truly wild if these things turned out to be visitors from some other planet.

      It would also require that the “visitors” have found some way around the “speed of light [..] hard cap” which you accept.
      Or they have some form of “suspended animation” which is far beyond what we have a conception of how to produce in our physiology.
      “Aliens” is a very, very low probability answer, in my book.

      1. Neither faster than C nor super suspended animation are necessary. The local galaxy could be explored and as wished, colonised over a few million years by Von Neumann machines.

        1. By von Neumann machines, do you mean anything different than physical universal computers in the sense of computability theory, with a potential infiinity of memory? If so, that is really what a digital computer is, such as what I’m typing on; and it should more accurately be called a Turing machine (not that term’s technical mathematical meaning). It would need some way of adding to itself occasionally surely, but fine, if it can get even anywhere just within our own galaxy, there’s enough other problems to solve than the infinite memory to be too worrisome.

          If something else is meant, I’d be very interested.

          But Martin Davis’ famous 2002 book, ‘The Universal Computer: the road from Leibniz to Turing’, makes clear that if one insists on a single individual as the answer to ‘Who invented the computer?’, the answer has to be Turing, not Johnny, not Babbage nor Ada Lovelace, not etc.

            1. Thanks for the detail.

              Had his idea 70 years ago, going beyond his universally adopted architecture for building computers, worked out in the past 7 decades, surely we’d have one ourselves by now, possibly to our own peril. I doubt the recent progress in that (different from earlier) artificial intelligence will help much. But aliens really understanding intelligence in a thorough way won’t from that be able to overcome the speed limit for information transmission.

      1. We humans are a danger to ourselves and to all life on Earth, plus we have spacefaring ambitions — nascient as we may be.

        Any sufficiently advanced species would, I imagine, see it that way as well, and thus decide to eliminate the inevitable threat.

        1. One reasonable (but wildly unlikely) hypothesis is that humans live in areas which are wildly too dangerous for the aliens.
          Most of the volume of the Solar system, and perhaps half of it’s surface area, is in places where nitrogen is a “triple point” material (can exist as solid, liquid or gas within the environment ; water is the equivalent for us). If you conduct your (bio-)chemistry in a nitrogen solvent, then anywhere closer to the Sun than about Neptune is a wildly hazardous place.
          These “they” wouldn’t see our region as remotely desirable, and as likely to attempt extermination as we are to try to sterilise the surface of Venus. We can barely get there!
          (Yes, SF has probed these spaces, but not that often. They’re too alien for shows like “Wagon Train in space”.)

  4. … Senator Marco Rubio (you can dismiss him, but I wouldn’t advise ignoring him because he’s a Republican).

    I wouldn’t ignore Rubio because he’s a Republican; I ignore him because he’s a spineless, mendacious hypocrite.

      1. Maybe it’s the time I spent studying The Daily Racing Form, but I tend to put credence in past-performance charts.

    1. When my wife and I watched this on TV Sunday, and Rubio came on, I turned to her and said, “Isn’t it sad that when I hear him, the first thought I have is that OF COURSE he’s all for ‘investigating’ UAPs–it’s EXACTLY what appeals to the GOPers who embrace Q, covid conspiracies, and massive election fraud.”

      Because he’s such a serial liar, I AUTOMATICALLY discredited him.

  5. The three videos that this refers to have been thoroughly debunked. I think Thunderfoot did some detailed videos on each one. Like for example the object that seems to move super quickly over water is actually just a bird locked in with a gimballed IR camera on a fast moving jet which creates the parallax effect. The other two can likewise be explained by camera optics.

    There really isn’t anything to see here. Like even Elon Musk noted, we’re living in an era where everyone has a high resolution cameras in their pockets and yet all the UFO ‘evidence’ is still limited to blurry black and white images that look like they were taken 60 years ago.

    1. Yeah, if they’re talking about Nimitz, Go Fast, and Gimble, then they’ve been explained. Here is a summary, which also has links to more comprehensive explanations.

      The first one in the guardian clip, IIRC, can be shown to be an optical camera effect by carefully analyzing the background when the object rotates. Many of the background pixels rotate too. Which means it’s not an object at all, it’s an artifact of the high-tech camera turning and adjusting.

    2. Yeah, that is my thinking on it. Optical effects like lens flares are the most common reasons for these phenomena. Lens flares move as fast as the camera pans b/c its an image made in the camera. Not visible on radar. they move thru air, space, and water with equal ease b/c they are not really ‘out there’.

      So the best way to investigate this phenomena is
      to not look for them so much as to try to reproduce them.

    3. Yes, I imagine this man who is reputed by himself to have seen UFOs most days (I didn’t watch it, but read something–NYTimes?) should surely need to buy a much bigger house to store all his pics, etc. Unless of course he was obliged to hand them in to USAF, in which case we’re back to government suppression conspiracies. Or perhaps he found it too boring–until now where there may be some money to be made–to bother bringing along a camera.

  6. I watched this the other day and the best I could come up with is – The military should take this more seriously and do a bit more investigating. If it is aliens from another world however, there is not much to be done about it. They would be so far superior to us, there is little or nothing we could do.

    I think this falls into the category of something you cannot properly investigate within, by your own. You need to have an outside group or firm that investigates this stuff. It is kind of like the police department. You cannot investigate yourself and satisfy anyone. The Air Force or now the Space Force I think they call it, should not be the ones to decide or investigate.

  7. If any real objects accounted for the sightings, there’s no reason those objects wouldn’t also be detectable from the ground, either by eyesight or with instrumentation. If the sightings are largely coming from pilots during flight, that’s a strong indication that they’re related to aircraft, or human perceptions in flight, even if we’re not sure yet what the mechanism is.

  8. That was an embarrassing segment: more like a plea for increased wasteful Pentagon funding. They did not interview a single skeptic for the piece. What, was Joe Nickell or Steven Novella busy? See Novella’s 28 April 2020 Neurologicablog “Pentagon UFO Videos” post for a palate cleanser.

  9. As was said by Ashen, the dark shape that they spend some time discussing, has been shown to be the overexposed image of a companion jet’s hot dual tail pipe. It shows up as an optical reflection in the camera’s lens and the rapid ‘acceleration’ is simply the reflection moving quickly, as the jet responsible changes its position.

        1. In the absence of any physical evidence for the existence of aliens, either on Earth or on other worlds, observer error/misinterpretation, equipment glitches, or fraud is a much more likely true explanation of the facts.

          1. Yes. But the eyewitness testimony (which is available on the internet) still needs to be dealt with, and most commenters above are ignoring that. I imagine you do agree with the other part of my comment; there is nothing unnatural about an explanation that involves aliens, even if such an explanation in not likely to be the best explanation of most of today’s sightings.

            1. Eyewitness testimony is always suspicious and as it is only backed up by videos that are easily debunked I wouldn’t give it any credence. Especially if there is a profit motive.

              1. Personally, being contacted by an alien would be highly insulting, the equivalent of a spam call: “You think I’m gonna believe that? And no one at Fermilab was answering their phones? Really?”

  10. “Secret US technology (this seems to be ruled out by Those Who Would Know)”
    – however unlikely, it is way more likely than alien visitors

    “An adversary’s spy vehicle (this would involve remarkable technology)”
    – however unlikely, it is way more likely than alien visitors

    “Something otherworldly (seems improbable)”
    – improbable seems way too weak to me

    On top of the extraordinarily unlikely chance it is an alien visit, there is the extraordinarily unlikely chance that aliens would come all this way and then do that. “Now that we have arrived, let us activate the cloak of invisibility so no one knows we are here, and then make a few momentary appearances on military radar screens” is not a very likely game plan. It just isn’t.

  11. They are real, to the extent that they are “unidentified” – but I’m not anticipating a little green man landing in the garden any time soon demanding “Take me to your leader”. (If one does, I’ll point him in Boris Johnson’s direction, although only in return for a cut of the ensuing lucrative government Covid-19 contract, of course…)

    1. UAP will never replace UFO’s. UFO is embedded in our culture, and “UAP” just doesn’t have the same cachet.

  12. If I were running this investigation, I would start with identifying all the vendors involved in making the equipment. Everything is digital these days so some software engineers having a bit of fun isn’t outside the realm of possibility. It’s an “easter egg” of sorts.

    Although one of those interviewed said that he’d looked into this being the result of some secret government project, I suspect he was talking about projects for creating experimental aircraft. Instead, it might be a secret program to test the reactions of pilots and electronic warfare personnel to UAPs. These would be created digitally by software that the pilots and operators know nothing about.

  13. When it comes to aliens, I used to believe in them, because I wanted to believe in them. As I got older, I believed less and less. Then, 8 or 9 years ago, I read a piece on WEIT by Ben Goren who went into great detail as to the physical demands, energies needed, time needed, technology needed, etc. for light speed travel to be possible. After reading his critique I decided traveling for light years (which would be needed for any aliens to visit) is impossible. I guess the only phenomena that might make it possible is “worm holes” which have never been proven to exist. I wish I still had Ben’s comment, there have been a few times that I wanted to reference it.

    1. traveling for light years (which would be needed for any aliens to visit) is impossible.

      If travelling for light years was impossible, then every drop of printer’s ink expended on 1I/`Oumuamua, 2I/Borisov and the tens of thousands of “pre-solar” grains identified in dozens of CAIs within meteorites has all been wasted on non-existent subjects.
      I think you mean that “travelling for light years AND maintaining a carbon-based biochemistry is impossible”, or something closer to that.
      Actually, engineering designs are out for public debate that could get us to about 0.1 c using undergraduate physics and realistic extrapolations (e.g. tens of square kilometres of solar power array in space or on the Moon). Payload up to a gram or so would allow both a biological payload, and something to protect it from the vacuum. Can’t protect it from radiation though.

      That makes me think. It’s been over a year since we saw an interstellar object (comet or asteroid, “meh!”). There should be another along soon. I’m going to make a prediction, and using experience from the “earthquake prediction wingnuts”, I’m going to put a time limit on it. I predict that a large (100sq.m illuminated area or larger) interstellar object will be reported closer to the Sun than Mars, within the next … oh, pick a date … before the coming solstice. (That’s the night of June 21/22.)

      1. Yes, I was talking about biological entities traveling light years.
        6/21-6/22…OK, write it on your calendar. 🙂

        1. In my calendar.
          More than half seriously, “human” technology could be in orbit around one of the Alpha Centurii stars before this century is out.
          Human technology working as vonNeumann machines to build a telescope and signal laser from “small bodies” … that’s a bit more of a stretch.

            1. What? That there have been interstellar visitors? Or that I can make a reasoned probabilistic projection of when the next one will be identified? (I put my chances of being correct in my look-ahead at about 10%.)

      2. If I’m not mistaken, a large fraction of the consolidated matter in the Universe was around long before the Earth came into existence ~4.5 bya. Despite this, radiometric dating has not found a single Earth, Lunar, or Martian artefact significantly older than the Earth. There is no radiochronological evidence that anything from outside of the Solar System, natural or (Ódin forbid) manufactured, has ever arrived here space or was left over from the before formation of the Solar System. Chunks of solid matter do not seem to migrate easily between stars.

        1. Yes, there is no evidence of material stuff residing in our solar system that did not originate here. And no doubt it is not easy to migrate between stars. But there is quite a bit of evidence of extra solar objects moving through our solar system. Of course there is no good reason to think any of them have anything to do with alien intelligence. But it does demonstrate that moving between stars is a routine phenomenon in our universe.

      1. Yeah, he was knowledgeable in many disparate subjects, wrote extremely well and had a great sense of humor.

      2. Comments by Ben Goren and by Sastra were what really got me hooked on this site long ago (plus the cats of course). I miss BG too, and am grateful Sastra is still here.

      1. Last we heard here at WEIT he got married and “moved on to other things.” I miss him too.

    1. Isn’t there a Sagan-ism that “that which is presented for clickbait can be dismissed without evidence”. Something like that.
      That’s 60 minutes seeking clickbait, and you being caught by their performance. It’s their job, and they’re better at it than you are.

      There’s an “advance search” function in Google which you can use to limit searches to a particular site. Save that URL and you should be able to check your back catalogue in seconds instead of having to plough through a less-targeted search.
      EDIT
      (I don’t generally use Google myself, but appending “site:whyevolutionistrue.com” to your search term works on both Google and DuckDuckGo, and may work on other search engines. It’s a fairly natural way to phrase your query.)

    2. At least our host acknowledged an honest mistake. Sadly, many others (Daily Mail, I’m looking at you!) do a quick “reverse ferret” and carry on as though nothing had happened.

    1. Thanks, JohnH – as I suspected, “unidentified” means exactly that (initially, at least) and of course the Pentagon has to investigate such reports, however unlikely an extraterrestrial explanation might be.

      1. Just yesterday, I learnt that a vulture had set the avian flight height record when it collided with an airplane at an altitude of seven miles! Pilots clearly need to expect the unexpected (and in that case, they did and made an accurate identification).

  14. I’m a private pilot and I have flown small single engine aircraft over Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks of North Carolina for twenty years, sometimes between five and ten thousand feet altitude. I don’t have radar and gun cameras, but I still have 20/20 vision and I’ve never seen anything unusual.

  15. I was going to make a similar point as Ashen.

    1) Grainy videos where it is very difficult to tell what you’re really seeing.

    2) The objects all look very different. One’s a triangle, one’s kind of a classic flying saucer shape, and one’s a tic tac?

    I agree that one should keep an open mind and these phenomena should be investigated. But is this evidence really that much better than garden variety UFO or ghost evidence (ghosts only come out at night and UAPs only come out when you’re flying at 1500mph)?

    Kind of reminds me of the videos of “UFOs” lined up at night and not moving which are really planes getting ready to land at a major airport and are lined up in the sky which looks pretty strange from the right angle.

    1. The triangle is an out of focus plane with other reflected triangles visible following the same course.
      It is a phenomena of the camera diaphragm, low light , out of focus internal barrel reflections.

      Fast mover is probably a bird

      The others are distant jet plumes.

      Etc.

  16. Oh dear, this. I’ll start here :

    “… they are flying over restricted U.S. airspace …”

    that tells me someone in the air force, NASA, a national lab, or something like that, is – at this moment – laughing their a$$es off, having pulled of a prank to ridicule the – apparently – top brass.

    more down to earth, I would point out the essential factor of this and other such stories – the notion that “nobody knows” what this is.

    As we know, the key to stories like this – that make the heart flutter – is to _ignore_ everything else we are presented with. Specifically, what is the chance the USAF does not know a _whole_host_ of phenomena? 100%. The question then is, so what? I bet we would all be bored to sit through a seminar on every single thing the USAF has not explained.

    … I wish Feynman or even Click and Clack were here to set us straight – I suppose we must wait for Neil DeGrasse Tyson.

    My 2 cents.

      1. In body but not in spirit :^)

        But don’t ask me which one – I’m not sure anyone knows….?

  17. The latest edition of Skeptic magazine deals with these claims. All are easily explained by natural causes.

  18. The first thing I noticed while listening to the broadcast was the commentator’s overbearing use of the Pregnant Pause (“it was aerial, and it was… [pregnant pause]… UNIDENTIFIED!” Cue theremin music, woooo…
    Out where I live in the Rocky Mountain West of USA, extraterrestrials are frequent visitors. They travel across the unspeakable gulfs between the stars in order to … [pregnant pause]… collect the soft tongues and genitals of dead livestock, much as (indeed, precisely as) do vultures, ravens and magpies. This is called “cattle mutilation,” and is a favorite activity of highly intelligent extraterrestrials. They also every so often crash their advanced interstellar vehicles, constructed of Mylar sheeting, aluminum tubing and balsa wood, into our planet.
    It seems plain that anything that would sail the dark reaches of the galaxy in such delicate craft in search of such unattractive bits of livestock, and in such an inept fashion as to crash into big planet-sized stuff with sufficient frequency to rate special secret US military facilities to contain their litter – why, they can’t be anything BUT… [pregnant pause]… ET in origin. I mean, who on Earth would bother?
    I’ve seen “UAPs” (unidentified aerial phenomena) all my life. Although they were different one from another, they all shared two characteristics: they were all up in the air, and they were all… [pregnant pause]… unidentifiable by moi.
    I’m giving all this a hearty Meh. But if Chairman Xi and Vlad Putin are behind any of it, I’m guessing USA has plenty of similarly unidentifiable stuff patrolling THEIR skies as well, and perhaps even… [pregnant pause]… flying off with interesting bits of their dead livestock.

  19. Meanwhile back here on Earth the largest political party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party has elected to the posts of First Minister and Leader two Young Earth Creationists ( YECs ) Yeah, 6,000 years and all that! That makes even Rubio look good.

  20. I suppose the average person in 1400s who didn’t live on the North American continent occasionally wondered if there might be intelligent life far beyond the seas. The idea of dramatically advanced civilizations is intriguing, and yet it’s depressing to wonder about worlds that might be, say, just a brief time behind ours and roiled by horrors like the Dark Ages, world war, the Holocaust, or mass shootings. Would a species advanced enough to master light speed even need a physical conveyance, much less navigational strobes on it?

  21. As soon as i mentioned this to my oldest kid, he asked me to watch the following video-
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pvjgIxuVdo4

    I won’t say that some things don’t remain “unidentified”, but I once asked my Dad about alien visitors. He was in a position to have seen anything the government had. He told me that if he had classified knowledge of aliens, he would not be able to tell me. But he could tell me that he did not personally believe in alien visitors.

    1. Whatever’s out there, they should learn to identify it quickly, as with personal drones, flying jet packs and whatnot will end up being available to the average consumer.

      And didn’t a guy in a lawn chair with balloons confuse the heck out of the authorities awhile back, just because they didn’t think he’d even be able to get off the ground?

  22. How many here have read Fred Hoyle’s 1957 sci-fi novel ‘The Black Cloud’? Are we perhaps being a tad too anthropomorphic? Do these aliens, able to get here from lightyears distance away, really have such shitty photography that they need to come swooping in to under 100,000 feet to have a look? Did they learn what they needed as far as heat shields are concerned back home before leaving?

    Surely, anything like hostile aliens behaving ‘badly’ —> there wouldn’t be a single human alive before anybody knew what hit them. Sounds like it might be a good way to go for someone like me pushing the age of 80–well I’m planning on 106 at least and a big bear doing the job on me from behind on the nordic ski trail—except of course the undesirable (to say the least!) demise of the rest of the human species!!

  23. Aliens traveling thousands of light years and navigating through interstellar space end up hitting a telephone pole in the desert and crashing.

    1. Hey, by now maybe that advanced technology has also become available to their average consumer market. Maybe not all of their aliens are smart or read the manuals.

  24. The triangular ones were a puzzle to the Soviets in the seventies, and admitted to be French weather balloons…actually spy satellites balloons, that were released into the Jet Stream, and whirl around the earth at high altitude and high speed. Frankly, when you are old enough, you have seen these things before, along with their explanations. There may be millions of tons of debris whipped-up by storms. If you have seen a windstorm passing through a campsite, you see tents, trampolines, towels, swimming rings, parasols, and all manner of things sail high in the air and out of sight. After every State Fair you see processions of silvery helium balloons, high enough to catch the setting sun, in slow procession, moving East. And have you ever seen ball-lightening, moving with slow and human-like deliberation across the landscape? It really looks like it is searching for something.
    In the UK the police have a recording of a man phoning to report a bright light above his garden. He rings later to admit that his wife told him it was the full moon. People leaving smoky London to go into the countryside often report strange lights in the sky. They are usually called ‘stars!’
    Unobservant people and natural phenomena make for great UFO stories.

    1. I live on the border of Joshua Tree National Park, where UFAPOs are seen very often. On account of the strong Energy Vortex here you see.
      Well, that and:
      1. The Marine Corps combat training base across the highway, with its assorted copters, Ospreys, drones, fighter jets, and (especially) wicked bright parachute flares, and who knows what-all else.
      2. Mylar balloons, which arrive from civilization at the approximate rate of one per square km of desert per month.
      3. Tourists from the LA metro sprawl seeing the night sky for the first time. It’s dark enough here to easily see satellites (including the space station) with the naked eye, plus meteorites etc. Last week a string of 50+ Venus- bright lights travelling fast in a straight queue freaked ME out for a minute until I recalled Musk’s starlink project.

  25. When I watch this kind of unsubstantiated reports I find it useful to marvel at the vastness of my own ignorance (on physics, astronomy, optics, etc.) and the gullibility and hubris of my fellow men, and to re-read Hume’s “On miracles”.

  26. You laid out three possibilities:

    Secret US technology
    An adversary’s spy vehicle
    Something otherworldly (seems improbable)

    What about the fourth and final possibility: It’s something else we hadn’t thought of- or could not have thought of.

    1. It would also be interesting to assign or estimate the probability of each one (and not assume they are equal).

    2. “What about the fourth and final possibility …”

      Which itself would be a host of possibilities

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