The Big Question: Is Anybody Out There?

From a post on by science editor Victoria Jaggard headlined “The Big Question: Is Anyone Out There?”:

As a high-schooler in the early 1990s, I had a fairly consistent Friday night routine: Come home from school, microwave a burrito, and scare the buttons out of my mom by tuning in to The X Files. My adolescent brain reveled in the dark and gritty tone….

I want to believe that some form of alien life exists, perhaps even in our solar system, but my money is on tiny microbes and not advanced civilizations.

So imagine my raised eyebrow when news broke that the Pentagon had spent $22 million to investigate UFOs. The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program was set up in 2007 to scrutinize odd sightings by military personnel, and it bubbled away quietly until news reports blew the lid off its existence in 2017. In the wake of this disclosure, the U.S. Congress mandated an unclassified report from the Department of Defense detailing what we know about unexplained aerial phenomena, or UAP. That much-anticipated report is slated to land later this week….

As Nadia Drake reported in 2017, this is hardly the first time the U.S. government has spent money searching for aliens. That’s been happening since the 1940s, and it’s nothing to get mad about. The key thing with science is that it’s a constant balancing act between skepticism and following the evidence wherever it may lead. So far, the alien hunters have come back empty-handed, but when stuff happens that rational minds can’t explain, it’s worth checking things out, just to be sure. That’s what I appreciate most about this latest effort from the Pentagon….

A few leaks about the pending Pentagon report suggest that, after reviewing more than 120 UAP sightings, the objects in question remain unexplained. There’s no conclusive evidence they are alien hardware—but there’s no conclusive evidence for what they really are, either, the New York Times revealed….

A 2018 study found that public reaction to news that aliens exist would trend positive. Heck, we’ve already invited them over for a visit in the form of a map designed to point the way to Earth, which is now whizzing through interstellar space aboard the Voyager spacecraft.

Still, the Scully in me says that based on past experience, odds are your standard flying saucer will eventually turn out to be a top-secret military vehicle, or exhaust from a missile test, or maybe even a Mylar party balloon.


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