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It's been pretty clear for some time now for those who study the facts that there is a very good chance there are real objects in the sky that maneuver in ways that conventional aircraft are unable to and cannot be explained adequately as other observed phenomenon. The taboo around this subject due to the common hypothesis they are due to extraterrestrials is a shame because there's been plenty of documented evidence that not only has this been going on but that governments around the world take it seriously enough to investigate it.

I found this book to be a good take that avoids hyperbole and tries to stick to the evidence and facts:

https://www.amazon.com/UFOs-Generals-Pilots-Government-Offic...

If you were to ask me to guess, my bet is that current and past government programs to investigate these objects have concluded that a) they are non-threats to US national security and that b) performing further invasive means to investigate them past our current level of understanding is too risky to pursue. So (again if I had to guess) the consensus is, theories of their origin aside, "don't look into it further, and be assured that there will be no harm in not doing so," which is why you can see a program like this shut down without necessarily assuming that it was a waste or a wild goose chase.




People lack depth perception in the sky which makes it easy to wildly misunderstand things.

A great example shown by some UFO show was a side camera from the space shuttle. The footage has a nice curvature of the earth, with lot's of little specks that seem to be orbiting it way out in the distance. You see a maneuvering thruster fire then in slow motion a few heartbeats later these specks shoot off in a new direction.

Now, if you assume they where large objects far away they must have been moving incredibly quickly and have insane acceleration. However, if you realize they are flecks of paint etc/ near the shuttle pushed out of the way by the maneuvering thruster then they where not actually moving fast relative to the shuttle at any point.


That’s why the FA-18 footage is so compelling to me. This is not the easily fooled human eye we’re talking about: Radar tracking and thermal vision almost completely eliminates simple optical illusions from the list of natural explanations.

Even more bizarre is how the craft appears totally cold, while there is a warm thermal halo of some kind around the craft, with a pattern very reminiscent of high energy fields.


The object in the video is hot. Most military FLIR devices can be toggled between "white hot" and "black hot". If you look in the lower left corner of the video, there's an indicator that says "WHT" and the object appears white. At about 12 seconds into the footage, the coloring is inverted and the indicator changes to "BLK" because the pilot toggled it.

The halo is an artifact of the FLIR device. Every FLIR I've ever seen does that in areas where there's a high temperature contrast.


Thanks for the clarification, that makes sense! In that case I suppose the main strangeness of the video is the shape of the object. Makes you wonder if these might be some secret experimental military craft or drones that happen to be weirdly shaped.


Hot is consistent with artificial. The second law of thermodynamics says if you are using energy you must dissipate heat. As far as we know this would still apply even with some kind of hypothetical exotic propulsion system.


> Hot is consistent with artificial.

I never said it wasn't.


Your analysis is one of the more obvious explanations and as such it has been considered thoroughly before for the cases that remain unexplained. Typically these cases include radar signatures or other corroborating evidence.


If the F-18 HUD footage in OP is real, that would indicate the avionics picked it up, tracked it, and reported the heading and velocity. This is also interesting because the FLIR showed the object as mostly black: not emitting heat as a jet would.


The object is hot. Military FLIR devices can be toggled between "white hot" and "black hot" settings. You can see the BLK/WHT indicator in the lower left corner of the footage. The pilot/observer toggles it at about 12 seconds into the video.


The most compelling sightings are by people like pilots, multiple witnesses, or are radar confirmed. Radar+visual rules out a ton of illusions.

I too place little stock in random untrained people seeing lights in the sky or lenticular clouds or taking videos of such with cell phone cameras.


Part of the problem is all the crazy mythology around the subject. But strip that off and it has always seemed to me that there is an interesting residue of facts. It's not enough to prove anything but it's enough to be intriguing.

One possible answer to the Fermi paradox is that they are here but are just not making overt obvious contact. If this were true we'd probably be talking about a "post-singularity" super intelligence. It would be nearly immortal and thus very patient. Contact protocols might take thousands of years.


After reading "The Dark Forest" I've leaned towards the idea that we are under pervasive observation (likely by hard-to-detect autonomous AI agents of some form, the origin of which is relatively inconsequential) and once the probability tilts towards a non-zero value that we are a threat beyond a certain blast radius we'll be wiped out.

If that were true, and the message of that being the case were delivered somehow to our governments, the general status quo around these phenomena and the propaganda steering people away from caring about them would be explainable. People have barely gotten used to the idea of mortality, but to know your race was doomed to extinction with certainty would almost certainly cause massive civil unrest and a major disruption to almost all human institutions and culture that assume our collective future is unbounded.

Perhaps this is too tinfoil but it's an internally consistent story, perhaps with the exception of how or why these agents would be detectable at all, when they surely could conceal themselves completely -- perhaps it's just probabilities though since there would not be much downside of detection by a primitive civilization such as ours.


> the message of that being the case were delivered somehow to our governments,

That would make a fun plot for a movie. But having worked with the government and then also having observed leaks of top secret information and tools coming out the supposedly most secretive government institutions, I cannot believe they would be competent enough to keep that information under a tight lid for long.

Someone, somehow would have ex-filtrated some proof by now.

What I can see happening the government not necessarily encouraging but perhaps not discouraging either these rumors from spreading in order to divert attention from say testing of experimental aircraft.


>But having worked with the government and then also having observed leaks of top secret information and tools coming out the supposedly most secretive government institutions, I cannot believe they would be competent enough to keep that information under a tight lid for long.

What I find interesting is that certain government programs are very leaky and others we have not seen any leaks. For instance we know the NSA has cryptanalysis programs, yet no leaks of US cryptanalysis have occurred. The Snowden documents have very little information on these programs.

Large numbers of people knew about ULTRA across many nations on both sides of the iron curtain. ULTRA was kept secret for 42 years, well past the point that the main utility of keeping it secret has passed.

Why? What makes one program more leaky than another.

>What I can see happening the government not necessarily encouraging but perhaps not discouraging either these rumors from spreading in order to divert attention from say testing of experimental aircraft.

There so many motivations for a disinformation campaign here.


We're also assuming Snowden was not an intentional leak. Spy games get weird and complicated. They don't call it the "puzzle palace" for nothing.


That sounds similar to the plot for The Day the Earth Stood Still (in particular the original 1951 version), except that it wasn't a secret message.

I seem to remember reading a story that was more similar to what you were describing, but can't remember the name or much about it.


I loved the books but Dark Forest theory makes little sense to me because it more-or-less assumes aliens have no concept of morality (the Trisolarans in the book literally have no morality).

If we became super-advanced, it's hard to imagine given our past (including sci-fi like the series) that we'd just go head and decide to wipe out anyone we encounter, even if we did consider them lowly. Largely for the same reasons there exist animal rights groups, etc.


Morality is a human construct, tied to self-awareness which isn't necessary for (super)intelligence. There are theories that posit self-awareness as an evolutionary dead-end.

If the stars are teeming with "machinic" intelligence, something far more probable than any sort of biological intelligence, then anthropomorphizing is not going to lead you outside the maze.


Ever heard of antibiotics, pesticides, rat poison, cockroach sprays and mosquito mats?

Humanity is done playing the morality game a few thousands of years back. There were a few socio religious movements in India, which focussed on these things and they more or less concluded these things were beyond impractical.

And yes, even today rats and other animals are used for experiments in manufacturing drugs for humans.

What is to say they don't see as rats?


What's to say they necessarily do see us as rats, is my point.


I think this is the least tinfoil of theories in this thread. After I read Three Body Problem it's become impossible for me to see the Fermi paradox in any other way. In fact , every other theory about how aliens might be on earth all seem so charming now. As if they haven't read the 'news' about what really happened.

Obviously this isn't the case but I just feel the Cixin Liu layed out this theory so convincingly that, at least for me, it might as well be.


Why not wipe us out now though? Observing you risk missing the "danger" point in our evolution, wiping us out now eliminates that risk. I suspect there's more to it than that.


They are betting on us like greyhounds in a cosmic TV show back at ther ship


Why not just annihilate us now then? That would minimize risk, since there is always a non-zero probability that we might suddenly make some powerful discovery or other circumstances might change.


I never understand why we always assume that it's extra-terrestrial.

For example, let's say time travel will be possible at any given point in the future. Well, if it were possible in the future, we might expect to see it happening across time, including the past and present.

It would of course represent technology thousands of years more advanced than the observers of the phenomenon, but not millions of years away, as might well be the case for civilizations from planets evolving quite differently from our own. It would also represent technology that evolved from our own developmental progress.

It would also address the issue of spatial proximity - of course we don't detect life outside Earth, because the "extra-terrestrials" come from Earth.

I'm not suggesting it is absolutely time travelers, but I'm quite surprised I never see that suggested on a similar frequency with the whole aliens angle when discussing UFOs.


Another theory is that we're being visited be entities from a parallel dimension.


The ET speculation is the most popular because we know for a fact that other stars and other planets around those stars exist and we know for a fact that it's (theoretically) possible to travel between at least nearby stars with sufficient technology.

We do not know for a fact that time travel is possible and there are good physics-based reasons to think it isn't. We definitely don't know that there are parallel dimensions or universes that are actually inhabitable. Dimensions and parallel universes may be mathematical artifacts. In math a dimension is just a degree of freedom. A penny is five-dimensional if you count temperature and electrical charge as dimensions.

Another speculation you run into is the "ultra-terrestrial" idea-- that they might be from Earth itself. Maybe they live deep underground or under the ocean, etc. This one is pretty implausible too. I could believe that there are unknown species, sure, but not an unknown species with an industrial infrastructure capable of producing flying machines. No way. Even deep underground we'd detect its vibration and EM emissions.

So yeah, space aliens are the most reasonable hypothesis if these things were to actually be artificial and not made by humans. That's the big "if" of course. Like I said elsewhere there's some intriguing evidence out there but nowhere near enough to draw such a conclusion.


> One possible answer to the Fermi paradox is that they are here but are just not making overt obvious contact

Exactly.

There's simply no reason to, except maybe sheer curiosity or some legal issues. What would we want from an uncontacted Amazonian tribe?

But even if they wanted, from the political point of view, who would you even talk to? People of the planet Earth, bypassing their governments? Every government of every country?

Plus, what about the possible social upheaval? They would be guilty.

No matter how you spin it, it's more trouble than it's worth. It is, however, essential to keep a potential competitor under surveillance, especially when they are rapidly developing.

Being spotted though, that I find improbable. There are numerous ways we could eliminate signs of contact with a society at the level of, say, X century, and that's just one thousand years gap. With a greater gap, it would probably be like competing with wild baboons over a Nobel prize.


I'd imagine it just would try to maximize utility -- remaining undetected in all scenarios may come with its own costs and risks.

Alternatively, maximizing utility may require a certain minimal level of detection. It's hard to predict what cost function is being optimized.

Given what is now common knowledge about AI game theory, it's super hard or impossible to actually ascribe any form of motives, ethics, intent, etc to the underlying system or intelligence that is controlling these objects if they are not natural and have no association with human culture or intelligence.


> I'd imagine it just would try to maximize utility -- remaining undetected in all scenarios may come with its own costs and risks.

That's true, and there could be "rogue actors" who care less about the detection. But - again, borrowing the X century analogy - there's a lot of tools that can be employed to eliminate the witnesses and such.


There's a great article called something like 'a biologist's take on the Fermi paradox'. Worth reading because it challenges some core assumptions.



Yes I think so


When I first read the program or its funding had ended, I, like you, also concluded that this was an indication that the Pentagon saw no reason to take it further. But then I jumped into the deep end: who knows the program('s funding) has been discontinued? It could live on in more secrecy, with the discontinuation of its more public form as a decoy.

Am I being tinfoil hatted here? It's what I would probably do if I were the Pentagon and found out the program has merit.


Or more likely, if alien UFO visitation is real (a huuuuge IF), it’s more likely that programs like this have existed since the 1950s, and are now deeply entrenched within the government as “black programs” with unlimited “black budgets”, and likely some connection to the pentagon etc.

The countless stories and admissions of former military and intelligence officers blowing the whistle on deep shadow governments always sound so crazy, but the sheer number of them over time is... disturbing. As a skeptic to conspiracy theories, I don’t know what to make of it.

In any case: The pentagon shutting down a new independently started investigation group (in this hypothetical world where alien UFOs exist) would totally make sense, as it would be redundant to the extremely secret programs already in existence and only a liability for possible interference. They also wouldn’t be able to tell them why they’re shutting it down or cutting off funding, because th secrecy level of such a thing would go so much deeper.

It’s hard to believe this has any credibility at all, but if this NYT article is genuine and the claims of real progress made by a small and brief program are real, I don’t know what to think to be honest.


Well...they filed reports. You go to your local PD and you can find someone pointing at file cabinets full of all kind of reports. You will also find someone there ranting about how he is not getting enough funding to do his job well.


This article was co-written by the author of that book.

I also recommend that book for those who are curious about evidence-based, well-researched accounts. Written by a journalist. It leaves aside the question of extraterrestrial origin as unprovable and only attempts to answer the question, "Is this phenomena real?"


In the early 90s in southern OH, me and my brother watched an object exactly like those in the article, while 4 (IIRC) fighter jets attempted to intercept it. Unlike in the article, they did fire on it, and the object moved and accelerated faster than the missiles. They missed several times, until it disappeared and the jets turned back.

I think how close they got in the article is the limits of our tech. We happen upon them randomly, and the crafts are so much more advanced than ours that it's impossible to knock one down to study it further.


This is highly unlikely. There have been no occurrences of US military aircraft firing missiles at unidentified threats over Ohio, ever. To put it clearly - this did not happen. You didn't see what you think you saw.


It’s pretty clear that people see UFOs all the time. The problem is when they are identified. My daughter sees one nearly every car ride, something in the sky that isn’t shaped like a plane, and certainly doesn’t move like one. Guess what? when we get closer it’s always an airliner, or a helicopter, or a balloon.

It’s easy to get mislead by the light, the perspective, the shadows, the distance, etc.

The really dumb part is the grandiose idea that aliens traveled immense distances to hide from us. The amount of energy needed to reach the a nearby star in any reasonable time is greater than the total of energy mankind has ever generated.

If they have the technology and power to travel here, they have nothing to fear from us. We are ants to them. They only question is whether they’d even deign to contact us at all?


When we (biologists) study other species, we travel long distances to examine them in their habitat. We try to hide so we can see them in their natural state, without our interference. If one suggested that this were 'dumb' or 'grandiose', then they would be ridiculed, as they would have exposed their own ignorance through that comment. The thought that a species might travel far to investigate another species in situ while attempting to avoid contamination is reasonable to a non-zero number of biologists.


Except that biologists always are seen when in the field. Now imagine a biologist traveling to view a species using a vehicle which uses more energy than humankind has ever created. How easy is that to hide, and why would they hide from their equivalent to ants?


It would be easy to hide such a vehicle. Just do your final deceleration burn in the outer solar system. The gravity of Jupiter or Saturn would be useful for an interstellar capture maneuver anyway. At that distance we'd be very unlikely to see anything, especially if it happened in 1940.

The little things sighted as "UFOs" would not be interstellar craft. They would be probes or local runabouts. The interstellar transport might resemble the craft depicted in the film Avatar (which was actually a realistic design), or maybe a hollowed out meteor. The latter would look natural when not executing a major engine burn.

As far as hiding: if they knew they were here to observe an intelligence with conceptual thinking ability and language (even one much less intelligent than they) they would know any overt contact would radically and permanently alter the subjects behavior.

This is all incredibly speculative. I'm just saying that it can't be ruled out by easy superficial arguments. It can't really be ruled out at all. We just don't have enough evidence to rule it in either.


Look up project Orion. How hard would it be to hide its deceleration from the system it’s entering. Any successful interstellar ship has to emit at least that much energy, if not far more.


In Zubrin's book Entering Space he says in general you should use the radiation pressure of the destination star or the solar wind to decelerate, and I believe published the work to demonstrate its feasibility.


If you assume that this alien race can generate impossible amounts of energy, isn't it also reasonable to assume that they use a propulsion technology outside of our current level of understanding? Even if they use unfathomable amounts of energy, it could be completely outside of our ability to detect it.

Plenty of wildlife biologists do hide from their subjects when they know their presence will disturb the subjects. Why wouldn't an alien race do the same when observing humans?


I find it quite silly when after having done science seriously for less than 200 years we think we understand all of physics, especially when our models clearly have gaping holes and contradictions.

Nevertheless you don't even need new physics for this line of speculation. Fusion rockets will do.


Fusion rockets are easily detectable. Essentially they would decelerate by sending an HBombs amount of particles our direction every few seconds.


Only if we're looking that way. Space is called space for a reason, and radiation diminishes with the square of distance. Light the big candle out by Uranus and Saturn and we'd probably not see it.


To carry the analogy properly, it would be using a vehicle which uses more energy than the species we're studying has ever created.


Even us "ants" have stringent protocols to prevent interplanetary contamination.


Historically, Europe was decimated by something much smaller than an ant.

Additionally, in an unknown strategic situation, it is generally inadvisable to turn your situation with asymmetric information into one which informs the other players of your true state of play.

Now you might say, its would be pretty obvious that we're a comparatively primitive society. Maybe, maybe not. That makes a lot of simple assumptions about the nature of technology, instellar travel, and the possibilities of subterfuge and misdirection in a game with unknown players, unknown context, unknown goals, of unknown capability.

So from a purely theoretical perspective, I respectfully disagree.

The rational strategy is some function that trades off information-gathering directly against information-hiding on your own state of play.

Our species is arguably being the crazy ones sending out signals blindly into the ether without a care...


Now you might say, its would be pretty obvious that we're a comparatively primitive society. Maybe, maybe not.

https://eyeofmidas.com/scifi/Turtledove_RoadNotTaken.pdf


If they aren’t much more advanced they can’t Exeter the solar system without being detected. A project Orion vessel us easily detected from light years away.


We’d make a good case study of a civilisation negotiating a critical juncture. I’d dare say we’d be of interest to sociologists and historians, and given where we’re at there might even be something of a careless stampede to gather data before the idiot quadrupeds wipe themselves out. There can’t be that many civilisations going through the hockey stick/environmental catastrophe stage in this galactic neck of the woods at any given time.

As to contact - doubt it’s happened - it’d fuck up the data, and spoil the case study. So long as we keep on ignoring weird stuff because it’s weird the experiment is ok.

As to distances - well, that’s our perception of it - the best we can do is brute force through 3d space - and if they can manoeuvre as they appear to be able to, they may well have some means of travel that is, well, alien to us, such as some variety of extra dimensional travel.


How many species are at the hockey stick point is unknown...depends on what numbers you plug into the Drake equation variables. Could be rare or lots of us.

I think the rest of your comment is plausible.


Thanks for the book tip, bought it immediately.




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