Editor’s note: We endeavor to bring you the top voices on current events representing a range of perspectives. Below is a column arguing that recent UFO sightings could be solid proof of the existence of aliens. You can find a counterpoint here, where Michael Montagne argues that UFOs are definitely not aliens.
As a recent piece in the New Yorker suggest, the Defense Department has started to take the UFO phenomenon seriously. UFOs, or, as the Pentagon now refers to them, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs), are objects spotted in the skies that, at least at first, have no ready explanation. Several naval aviators, encouraged for the first time in decades to report such objects, have come forward. A number of videos taken by military personnel have surfaced that show objects behaving contrary to the laws of physics, some of them in restricted air space. An unclassified report on what the military knows about UAPs is due to be released as early as June, according to the Navy Times.
The UFO issue has always been contentious. The vast majority of strange objects in the sky have turned out to be mundane phenomena such as atmospheric disturbances or unidentified aircraft. But a tiny percentage of UFOs, or UAPs if one prefers, have remained unexplained.
Two theories compete with each other, regarding the tiny percentage of sightings that remain unexplained. One is that they are secret, experimental aircraft, either from the classified world of the United States military or from some foreign power, i.e., Russia and/or China. The other theory is that the UAPs are alien in origin.
The argument that the UAPs observed by military personnel and recorded on video are of alien origin stems from their behavior. At one moment some of these objects have been seen hovering in midair. Then, at another moment, they have been seen moving at supersonic speeds, moving from motionless to Mach 3 or so instantaneously. Some UAPs have been seen to disappear entirely. The objects are not behaving like aircraft created in the early 21st century. They suggest a technology that is centuries ahead of even the most advanced nation.
The idea that aliens have been visiting the Earth has been around at least since the Roswell Incident of the late 1940s. Alien visitations have been the well mined subject of TV shows such as “The X-Files” and movies such as “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” The idea that aliens have been observing the Earth, flying vehicles in the atmosphere and even conducting landings, has been the object of both hysterical hokum and serious study. Now the United States military is conducting serious study of the phenomenon, which is enough to give one pause.
One interesting aspect of the UAPs has not been well discussed. If they are alien in origin, the operators of such craft must mean for them to be seen. Any civilization capable of crossing the interstellar gulfs to study a relatively primitive civilization such as ours must have something like a warp drive as depicted in “Star Trek,” It follows that they would also have access to another technology from the classic universe of TV shows and movies, the cloaking device.
It further follows that the aliens, if they are the source of the UAP phenomenon, want us to know that they exist and, more importantly, for us to know that they know. The motivation for such behavior can only be the subject of uninformed speculation.
If the UAPs are alien in origin, we can only hope that the aliens are benevolently disposed to us Earth humans, more like ET from the movie of the same name than the violent invaders from “Independence Day.” The late Stephen Hawking suggested that any advanced alien civilization might have an evil intent. He noted instances in Earth history in which a more advanced culture encountered a less advanced one. If you doubt the danger, just ask any Native American or inhabitant of the African continent.
If we are being visited by aliens, we can only hope that Hawking is wrong and that they have evolved away from the aggressive, imperial tendencies that have so blighted Earth’s history. If they do not adhere to a Star Trek-style prime directive at least it can be hoped that they come in peace.
Mark Whittington, who writes frequently about space and politics, has published a political study of space exploration entitled Why is It So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? as well as The Moon, Mars and Beyond, and, most recently, Why is America going back to the Moon. He blogs at Curmudgeons Corner. He is published in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, The Hill, USA Today, the LA Times, and the Washington Post, among other venues.