Alexander Wendt on why we should take UFOs seriously

He has more than just the usual hand-wringing, here is one excerpt:

Sean Illing

…What’s the Occam’s razor explanation for these UFO sightings?

Alexander Wendt

To me, the Occam’s razor explanation is ETs.

Here is another:

Sean Illing

If some of these UFOs are the products of alien life, why haven’t they made their presence more explicit? If they wanted to remain undetected, they could, and yet they continually expose themselves in these semi-clandestine ways. Why?

Alexander Wendt

That’s a very good question. Because you’re right, I think if they wanted to be completely secretive, they could. If they wanted to come out in the open, they could do that, too. My guess is that they have had a lot of experience with this in the past with civilizations at our stage. And they probably know that if they land on the White House lawn, there’ll be chaos and social breakdown. People will start shooting at them.

So I think what they’re doing is trying to get us used to the idea that they’re here with the hopes that we’ll figure it out ourselves, that we’ll go beyond the taboo and do the science. And then maybe we can absorb the knowledge that we’re not alone and our society won’t implode when we finally do have contact. That’s my theory, but who knows, right?

Here is the full piece, interesting and intelligent throughout.


I for one will let thes UFOs fly on by ;-)

The key word in UFO is unidentified. It could be a reflection on water vapor in the air. It could actually be a military plane that they won't talk about. In 1965 I worked in a secret facility and I was giving a few dignitaries a tour. I took them into the display room where the radar and other signal sources were displayed and monitored. One of them asked what a specific "display" on the screen was. The officer simply replied "that's just one of those things we don't talk about". What is was, was a SR71 returning from it's weekly fly over of China. It was a UFO to the rest of the world.

I just hope everyone is pronouncing it U-Fo, as in

It says U - F - O

I like that they address the "Columbus meets Native Americans" analogy - but keep in mind that's a contact within the SAME SPECIES, where motivations and subjective experience of the other are much easier to understand, and pragmatic shared interest is greater than with aliens. "They're already here, so they must be peaceful" also doesn't fare so well in the context of a better analogy, to interspecies contact - the mice that colonize a basement might realize only after a fair bit that there are other beings there. These are not new thoughts of course, and I support more actual data, but I disagree that we have any good reason to be optimistic if we're actually seeing aliens. Arguments that "the aliens are smart, therefore must be civilized" are similarly not at all adherent to Occam's razor.

The argument isn't that they must be peaceful because they're smart, its that they've managed to survive.

An advanced species with access to technology like we seem to encounter with ufo's would also likely be a lot older than human civilization, and would already have passed through various extinction threatening bottlenecks.

To accomplish this its assumed they also figured out better ways to organize their societies than the one's we currently take for granted in a capitalist world still haunted by colonialism and imperialism.

Personally, I would presume that to be some form of anarchist communism, but for the purposes of argument you could also make it some kind of libertopia or anarchist capitalism, whatever you liked.

There's nothing that special in the Earth if you have technology that can somehow break the light speed limit, the universe is filled with potential resources, presumably planets where there isn't the inconvenience of a sentient species already living there. I find it unlikely that there'd be anything really to gain from conquest, which was not the case with Europeans discovering the Americas.

Okay, so each time you post about this, a commenter links to the debunker who chalks the Go Fast video, in particular, up to parallax. His graphics seemed convincing and thorough to me. No? So: is the idea that it is even crazier to suppose that nobody at the Pentagon or in the Navy was familiar with the concept? Help me out here, folks. Is the debunker the conspiracy theorist parading as a rationalist?

robin hanson has rationalist cred to spare and he seems to think the question is worth spending many millions to investigate.

I'm with Peri. Those parallax videos are convincing.

Conjectures into the psychology and motivations of aliens -- who may not even exist! -- are not convincing.

And Robin Hanson is one of the last people on earth whose policy prescriptions we should follow.

That being said, yes of course efforts such as SETI should continue, including research by national governments, the military should continue investigating UAPs, etc.

Yes, nothing wrong with SETI, especially if it involves exoplanets. We learn more about the universe, someday we may even visit these exoplanets.

Why not think about the fact that there are lots of MIT grads who like to spoof people without access to their knowledge and gizmos? And the MIT grads are just the Americans who would do such a thing, there are a dozen countries with their own MITs.

seriously, give me about 2 million dollars, a few acres of real estate in the Pacific, and access to any type of metals or fuels I want, and I could hire 20 MIT grads who would make you think we are on the verge of an alien invasion.
Or 10 Caltech grads.
I am assuming there are people in Peking and Tokyo and Geneva and Capetown and Rio who could say the same, ceteris paribus.

"I could hire 20 MIT grads who would make you think we are on the verge of an alien invasion. Or 10 Caltech grads."

That might be west coast bias. Or it might be accurate, Caltech is just about one-fifth the size of MIT at both the undergrad and graduate levels, and Caltech's undergrads are arguably what you'd get if you took the top one-fifth of MIT's undergrads. Not so much the smartest one-fifth, but the nerdiest and most science-oriented (Caltech grads are far more likely to go on to earn PhDs than MIT grads are, who are more likely to opt off of the academic track for jobs in industry).

The other potential scenario could be that the Pentagon and Navy know it's just a visual illusion but they want there to be questions around it due to some benefit they get from the confusion.

rem acu tetigisti

Maybe someone with domain knowledge in this area could chime in but quite possibly the UFO faux-confusion on the Navy's part is just the excuse they are using to show how well their tracking systems work. Tracking a Canadian goose (aka "Go Fast") from kilometers away while flying Mach 1 or whatever is pretty slick-looking to this layperson. Is China impressed?

What’s more likely, that the camera reaches the limits of its panning range or that it was an alien spacecraft that can defy the laws of physics as we know them? I don’t see how Occam’s razor favors the alien explanation (ever really, but in this case in particular).

" . . . I think if they wanted to be completely secretive, they could. If they wanted to come out in the open, they could do that, too. My guess is that they have had a lot of experience with this in the past with civilizations at our stage. And they probably know that if they land on the White House lawn, there’ll be chaos and social breakdown. People will start shooting at them."

Sounds like no sound application of Occam's Razor to this non-philosopher: sounds much more like poor rationalistic fideism.

Do people that believe in UFOs representing alien visitors have high GRE scores? No one wants to waste time having a discussion of UFO models presented by people with low GRE scores.

The best music to listen to when reading about UFOs -

The only thing between us and the aliens is SID, Skydivers and Mobiles, and the valiant tracking and interceptor personnel stationed at Moonbase.

Well said.

Every species we are familiar with, and those are obviously terrestrial, doesn’t expend energy gratuitously. It’s usually about acquiring food (energy), or a mate, or territory... or information.

A highly intelligent species with, let’s say, a nearly unlimited supply of energy might want entertainment. Certainly many species engage in “play”, and some like to be entertained. So IF extraterrestrials are around, perhaps they are seeking entertainment and we’re providing it?

However I believe it’s more probable that we’re talking about reconnoitring, and collecting information.

"reconnoitring, and collecting information"

Right, by playing silly games in the atmosphere.

A better explanation is that this is the alien equivalent of cow-tipping.

"Every species we are familiar with, and those are obviously terrestrial, doesn’t expend energy gratuitously."


That gratuitous comment definitely refuted the comment it was replying to in one word. Well done.

Also, I don’t understand why Tyler is being so gullible about this. ‪Why isn’t this dispositively persuasive on the “Navy UFO” videos?

Why do they allow themselves to be seen at times?

I was in the Army for more than 2o years and have a couple of thoughts based on that. 1) Orders given by the HQ can be interpreted slightly differently in the field. 2) Sometimes equipment goes haywire and you have to improvise. 3) Sometimes you have to take a risk -- low on fuel so you take the short route, even though you might be observed. 4) Sometimes terrain or weather force you to take less than optimal actions. 5) Sometimes folks make honest mistakes.

And sometimes a young red-blooded alien male just wants to show off to female of his species!

So, the most terrifying thing about the aliens, might be that they are organised and behave in ways very similar to us? Wonder what an alien code red would look like? Either way, I think we're entitled to the truth...

Green-blooded, you mean.

“Well, it’s true that the evidence we have is very vague. Most of it is anecdotal. It’s not scientific.”
Again, no evidence is explained by “ well they don’t want to scare us, they want us to get used to the idea there are aliens out there “
Endless conjectures + bunk,. Sorry I don’t think that’s smart. I think that’s more like I need to believe no matter what.
People just need to believe, the rationalization comes with it.

Wouldn't the Occam’s razor explanation for UFO sightings simply be atmospheric effects we haven't understood yet?

ET's requires a bundle of additional 'entities' to be multiplied:

Alien life entity
Alien technology to come here entity
Alien purpose entity - what exactly is being gained from randomly flying around briefly that couldn't be gained from, say, a set of telescopes located a few million miles away?

Right, it is stupid to assume two or three grainy videos make convincing evidence. Occam’s razor says don’t assume additional entities, what could be more additional than an entire new civilisation? Honestly this lowers my opinion of Tyler that he posts this stuff, what’s next, flat earth videos?

Also note since the videos do not show what seems to be the same thing, we have to assume even more entities. Multiple ETs or at least multiple crafts.

Of course, I would love the Navy to give a standing order that next time a pilot sees something like this to try to get as close to it as possible and track it.....

But then Captain Kirk will employ the slingshot effect, go back in time, and erase real evidence of their presence.

I don't care about Tyler, so it's fascinating when people think I'd care about something even further removed -- their opinion of Tyler.

Maybe I'm alone.

atmospheric effects we haven't understood yet?

Moisture on the camera lens.

One piece of evidence in favor of advanced civilization aliens watching us is that there was a major outburst of UFO sightings in the late 1940s. Now some of those were observations of US secret military stuff such as sightings around Roswell, NM, and others have said it was a contagious hysteria in the aftermath of the atomic bombs being used in WW II.

But the alternative is that presumably there are certain thresholds of technological advancement that would bring forth heightened scrutiny by such super-advanced aliens, advanced enough to have overcome the speed of light limit on easy interstellar travel. That would indeed be that very use of atomic weapons in war, an obvious crucial threshold for a global civilization to achieve. They would want to keep a closer eye on us, which may have tapered off since we have not used any more such weapons in war again.

We've dropped thousands in testing since though...

And we keep being visited!

If there is an alien civilization that can not only see us testing weapons in real time from a great distance, but can also travel at light speed to check it out because it might be a possible threat in millennia, then why would they bother not destroying our planet? It would be easy and "cheap" for said civilization and safer than waiting for us to become an imminent threat.

(Borrowing logic from The Three Body Problem novels)

We have a long way to go to threaten them.

Occam's razor is they are artifactual. All this footage looks the same: non-color video of a distant something from the extruded perspective of a camera mounted in a fast-moving jet way up in the air. No energy signature, no simultaneous people on the ground going whoa what was that bizarre thing, etc.

The aliens are not coming to save us, nerds.

Religious people would say the Occam's razor explanation for this is just proof of the existence of god. And since they're the majority, they obviously would win the vote. So I wouldn't lose too much sleep over these sightings.

Religious people would say the Occam's razor explanation for this is just proof of the existence of god.

No, they wouldn't. You evidently don't know many.

Slow day at MR.
Also for me.
Thanks TC, UFO fanbois are always good for a few chuckles....

A Friday afternoon when journalists are going through released transcripts showing our overlords' latest malfeasance (with the Chicken Littles taking more heat on the Deep State Hail Mary Fever multiplier) is always a good time to throw up a UFO post. It's like when you get on Twitter and the blue-checkmark midwits are arguing over asinine stuff like whether a hot dog is a sandwich. That's when it's time to check the news, something big is going down and they don't want to call attention to it.

What do the aliens find so fascinating about US Navy aircraft? No Air Force pilots, or Israeli or French military pilots, or passengers/crew on commercial airliners have seen anything?

Then I think his answer to the "why are they being so coy" question is OK, but we sent out a space probe that says "hi aliens!", we've culturally suggested a nice isolated part of Nevada for them to land...if they are waiting for something cute like banning meat-eating before proclaiming us worthy then this is going to be a not-in-our-lifetimes wait.

Homoerotic beach volleyball?

"Take us to your leader"

The same kind of UFO encounters with military planes were reported in the UK, Belgium and even Iran. This is nowhere near exclusive to the US Navy.

My skeptical and perhaps overly cynical view is the Pentagon and Department of Defense see the gusher of fiscal stimulus and would like to get a piece of marginal spending while the ''deficit doesn't matter'' sentiment prevails. Curious about the timing of the release of these videos. Good reputations will demand a nice premium right now to lend credence to the possibility of ETs - who will bat an eye if DoD appropriates ten or twenty billion to study alien contact when the federal budget is increasing by the trillions?

His razor is making the assumption that in a universe trillions of years old, where intelligent life on this planet has only existed for a tiny slice of the time that life has existed here, these aliens are close enough to us in development that they have any interest in making contact. Instead of being tens of thousands or millions of years more advanced.

Apes or angels, never men.

Human beings are obsessed with finding out every bit of information we can about every creature on this planet, despite often granting them little to no reverence or respect, we just find them fascinating. I don't think its that unlikely an advanced species might have the same kind of drive with life in the universe generally.

Once you're past scarcity what else is useful is there to do but seek out knowledge? Life is one of the most truly unique physical phenomena we know of.

This explanation has been given for at least 40 years. In that time UFO sightings have not changed qualitatively and quantitatively they’ve only gone down, even though we have much more, and much higher quality, observation abilities. Explain that.

The fact that sightings have decreased as our observational prowess has increased makes sense and in fact is a boost to the UFO theory. Our knowledge of atmospheric conditions, radar, aerodynamics, video capture, and so on, is dramatically better than it was 40 years ago.

Much easier now to weed out clearly false cases but it makes the potential true cases much more compelling.

Doesn't change the fact that it's a fucking goose and these people are making fish of themselves.

The clearly false cases have not increased in quantity or quality either.

A fierce internal debate has been in progress amongst the New Alien Times editorial board for the past 80 years (5 weeks in alien time): better to let the terran tribes remain uncontacted and pristine, or allow humanitarian airdrops of fusion reactor plans and stable tachyons?

Nothing to see here.

No matter what kind of hypothetical technology you imagine, the atmosphere remains the boring, low-tech atmosphere.

Something moving through the atmosphere at hypervelocity would trail a shock wave of ionized particles behind it, like the Apollo capsules. Plus, there would be shock waves coming off the front, which there aren't.

It's some optical trick making an ordinary object look super fast.

Seems like a very 21st century Earthling understanding of aerodynamics.

These guys track stuff in the sky for a living. If it shocks them, it's probably more than swamp gas or a glitch.

What shocked them was how their weapons systems were capable of tracking something as small as a goose. Not that the goose was a bloody space alien.

Well, it is a 21st century Earthling atmosphere, after all.

I have friends who did their PhD work in hypersonics. "Shock cone coming off the front" and "Trail of ionized gases" feature very prominently.

If aliens do exists and have the technology to fly around the universe, which I'd bet is highly likely given the expanse and timeline of the universe, the only question I think worth considering is...why come here? If it is just chance, cool. Hopefully they leave without doing anything too terrible. If it is because we tipped them off with our own noise, radio signals and atomic bombs what have you, then we should shut up and hope nobody else is listening. If they are coming because they know Earth and they've been here before, we've got a problem. I won't begin to list all the reasons they might know about this place and be returning. I will say that I don't think any of them are particularly good for us. We cannot assume that we would understand their morality or that they'd even have something we'd comprehend as morality. Given that, recognizing us as a lifeforms that has any reason or right to exist should not be assumed. And we cannot place any faith in benevolence, even if current actions mostly seem like information gathering.

So in short, I think aliens exist. And I think they have ships that can get them to other planets. And I don't like any of the reasons why they'd be here. So we should definitely take this seriously.

They're looking for mulp. It's time to take him home.

'Comedy Friday' today?

„Quantum Mind and Social Science” is the title of the book by Alexander Wendt And it says all. I am tempted to say UFOs and E.T. are just soooo much more propable than direct link between quantum physic and social science, so maybe that is his road to rationality?

The US government has confirmed there are UFOs, using that term literally and, I believe it's fair to say, in the colloquial sense. That train has left the station. The only topic for debate is whether the confirmed UFO sighting discloses evidence of aliens or alien intelligence. While it may be the case that many, if not most (if not almost all) of UFO sightings are questionable, at least one such sighting is no longer up for questioning. All that remains is your belief as to what it signifies.

Really? The "simplest explanation" is that aliens figured out a way to bend space-time and come to our planet to hide from us at this particular space and time? Are there not many more simple explanations, like some sort of earthly phenomenon that we don't yet understand?

I'd say so. I think 'hubris' is a far simpler explanation than a whole, made-up fantastical set of assumptions about other civilizations so distant and different that all our known laws of physics must be sidestepped to explain their presence here and now. Hubris because we just assume we've mastered all the simple stuff... and we haven't.

UFO's definitely real.
ET's definitely real.

ET's as a reasonable explanation of UFO's in earths atmosphere Complete and utter fantasy

TC just does this for clicks right?
By commenting (or even visiting using an add blocker) I am feeding the troll that is TC arn't... shame on me!

I’ll say it again. Tyler enjoys sharing some stories just for the comment section. It’s a fun game to play. Especially if you are a daily reader and can recognize the pattern. My personal favorites are the times he deliberately trolls Alex.

I don’t think we can comprehend ET’s reason for these appearances. Maybe these extraordinary craft are highly intelligent sentient AI’s, connected to a hive mind by a physics that has mastered the universe’s source code. Or maybe they are just scouting us for their next anal probe victim. Without an exerted effort to systematically investigate the phenomenon we’re all late night college dorm room bullshitters.

U.F.O.'s, Bigfoot, and Nessie are afraid of cellphone cameras.

Videos debunked

ufos are a straussian georgina moon misdirection technique used by the elites.
keep your orbs focused on the fbi

Why are they in black and white in this day and age.

They were in color until a few years ago when the Navy started going through a retro phase after watching a bunch of old Woody Allen movies.

It's not black and white, it's a thermal camera that works during the day or night.

I spent an evening a few months ago reading all of the articles about this looking for a simple explanation. I think one or a few of the articles in The Drive mention that an AEGIS system or something like that was always in the area when these observations occurred. So I came to assume that a radar or other technology (maybe some of the video is IR?) usually used for looking/seeing has been advanced so that it can also project ‘phenomena.’ This aligns with simple geometric shapes, the crazy physics-defying motions, and calling these UAPs. Militaries are full of secrets, there’s no reason to believe that pilots know close to everything. Instead they’ve been shown the technology informally. They can be asked with a wink if they saw ‘anything interesting today?’ The ability to spam an adversary as they look for targets is clearly valuable.

But it theres seems to be a (dis-)information game at play as well. Letting the videos leak, involving the Blink 182 guy, knowing that this will be referred to as UFOs.... It seems aimed to use American culture as a medium of dispersal and reinforcement: our folklore and scifi traditions about UFOs are tiggered. And this in turn gives the whole story extra inertia as adversary nations digest the tale: viral tales of UFOs propagate through broad channels among the masses, while the elites understand more but are befuddled with what exactly they are facing spending lots of money chasing after whatever this is.

+1, second para. On a blog that spends so much time with the word 'Straussian'...

False alarm. It's just a bird

I call bullshit (again). The simplest and most parsimonious explanation is new Chinese or Russian military tests.

Likely he's hoping that this type of work positions himself to be a possible point of contact if ET is the explanation.

Every time I read UFO articles I get drawn back to the Three Body Problem books.. be quiet, very quiet..

Its not obvious to me that occam's razor is of any help this situation, under its common conception of "favor the simplest solution, all else being equal".

It can seem like "a rare weather or optical phenomenon that we don't have a good model of" should be the simpler solution when compared to "advanced ETI flying around our planet, wanting to show itself kind of but not really". This pretty much amounts to saying that p(ET) < p(weird weather or optics). But who can actually demonstrate that? The whole point is that we really have no idea of p(ET) to any useful approximation, which makes the inequality underdetermined. (I get that probability != complexity, but in this case whether or not a weather explanation is simpler really does depend on p(ET)).

I do think its plausible (though definitely not certain) that any ET that can solve interstellar travel probably also has the ability to hide itself from our instrumentation, or reveal itself if it wants to. I also buy that for any ET that would visit us, it would be unlikely (though not impossible) that such contact would be their first rodeo. More broadly, I find it plausible that if ETs were common (relatively speaking) then it would be difficult for us to detect those of them who are significantly more advanced than us. Given that our species has only been able to really look for ETs for a few decades, it seems plausible that if p(ETI) = 1, many of them have had a long, long time to develop ways to not stick out like a sore thumb. So I find it hard to put much weight on EITHER the evidence to date or the lack thereof.

But all of that is conditioned on p(ET) = 1, so could just be counting angels. Right now it seems to me that the ET question is in a similar class to reality-is-a-simulation. We don't know what the evidence is, and we don't even know what the evidence would look like, besides (the probably really narrow) range of scenarios found in sci fi.

We know that 'rare weather or optical phenomena we don't have a good model' of exist.

ET's require the assumption that ET's exist. And then there are a ton of follow-on assumptions - that they have the technology to get here, that they have a reason to come here, etc.

The simpler explanation - in that its the one that requires the fewest assumptions - is that its an optical phenomenon, not that there are aliens.

That doesn't require us to know whether or not aliens exist, only that we have more evidence of optical phenomena that we don't understand than we have evidence of the existence of aliens.

Why isn't anyone here connecting the UFOs and the virus?


The simple answer
For these UFO sightings
Is that it is
Alien Epidemiologist are
Studying and picking up
Strange radio waves
From economists on earth.

does anybody (else) have wolves/hear wolves in the evenings?

Rasmussen poll- "liberals more likely to snitch"

And, of course, 5G towers controlled by Bill Gates and his lover Soros.

I'm with XKCD on this one

I'm beginning to get the idea that Mercatus is staffed with the kids from Galaxy Quest grown older.

My newest theory is that it's just kids burning rubber to scare the old Krechmescr faction. Nothing to worry about.

Oh, lord.

The Occam's Razor explanation of a handful of anomalous videos is not "everything we know about physics is wrong and there are members of an alien civilization buzzing us."

This is a case of someone imagining that "The lady down the street is a witch; she did it" is the simplest explanation for why objects on Earth fall at an acceleration of 32 feet per second per second, without noticing that they have failed to provide an explanation for either how witchcraft works or why a witch would pick that rate for objects to fall.

He's a crank and a fool, and should be dismissed as one. And Vox should be shamed for giving him a platform. And Tyler Cowen should be shamed for calling this tripe "interesting and intelligent".

With you until "Vox should be ashamed."

No. People should be ashamed for reading or linking to Vox.

This article is NOT below them.

Read again, sir.

I did not say "Vox should be ashamed". "Ashamed" is an internal emotional state. I don't care at all about the internal emotional state of Vox. I said they should be shamed, which is to say, derided as shameful, treated as acting scandalously, called out, exiled from polite society.

It's the difference between "Vox should blush" and "Vox should have a dunce cap put on its head".

I'm just gonna choose to believe that Tyler is posting this as a Straussian dig at Vox and political scientists.

This person wouldn't know Occam’s razor if he cut himself shaving with it.

The insane amount of "and thens" needed for it to be little green men instead of the myriad of logical terrestrial explanations is astounding.

Simplier explanations include:
Hacking of instruments
Holographic Projections
Top secret military projects
Government knows and won't say
People lying or fabricating evidence

And many, many, many more.

Even if there are little green men, the anthropomorphising of "them" is only outdone by religions.

One of the closest incidents we ever had to nuclear war was when a Soviet early warning satellite mistook reflections off a high altitude cloud for multiple nuclear launches.

High end military technology still has a failure rate and if it can get wrong ICBM launches, I see no reason why it could not also account for sensor glitches.

After all, how many millions of hours of gimbal footage has their been? And yet, these reports are always at the margins of the sensor. Never a clear shot. Never close to clear contrasting terrain. And violating the laws of physics as we know them.

Sorry, but the simplest explanation is that this is some sensor malfunction, possibly driven by an interplay of atmospherics and human technology.

Misprogrammed, malfunctioning or hacked sensors.

Angels 👼, fairies 🧚, little green men 👽, witchcraft 🧙, aren't needed.

Sure, military-grade technology fails, but many of these sightings are picked up both on radar and visually by the pilots. What are the odds both the physical and biological hardware fails at the same time and under the same exact circumstances?

A cure for UFOitis is the book "Watch the Skies," which recounts periodic obsession with UFOs going back more than a century. Folks, the same stuff, the same cast of characters, the same theories and explanations repeat and fade away over and over again.

I think its very telling that almost none discussion of this discussion is about the actual claim. There's no discussion of balloons, or parallax, video artifacts, optical illusions, radar data....

The whole things is full of wtf.

"Do you believe in extraterrestrial life?

Alexander Wendt:
Well, it’s kind of like asking if somebody believes in God."

No. It isn't like that at all, but it is telling that he thinks of it in that way. The discussion almost entirely takes the form of assuming that the ET hypothesis is true, and then debating what that might mean, and the meta-epistemology of the debate.

I have looked into some of the discussion of parallax video, and one repeated theme I've seen is people claiming that radar data supports the high-speed UFO hypothesis, but unable to actually provide any support for that claim when challenged.

"There are UFO stories in the Bible, apparently, or at least stories that are interpreted that way. So I think they’ve probably been here a long time if they’re here."

"It explains all the cases just like that. And you don’t need a whole bunch of different theories or assumptions for all these different phenomena, right? Because the phenomena are different. "

In exactly the same way that God is the Occam's radar explanation for lightning and eclipses.

Anyone who knows the cultural history of the USSR will find it in bad taste that stories about UFOs are making the rounds at a time when the US is failing to cope with a major public health crisis. Bread and circuses, aliens and psychics...

Last summer played golf with a couple of friends and a guy I didn’t know, close friend of one of the other guys. Well this close friend, who is an adjunct business professor at one of our famous undergrad schools, after dinner and drinks, goes into this story about he and his friend had a close encounter with aliens when they were in their 20s. It was very embarrassing.

My cheap social observation was that he is someone who needs to be the center of attention.

Here’s my Occam’s razor. The subject’s not interesting to me and if I ignore it and don’t spend time on it it will make absolutely no difference in my life.

Just wondering: does anyone remember "Mayor Pete"?


Why, did the MIB finally get him?

For anyone reading interested in this stuff, the most likely use that intelligent, advanced aliens might put the Earth to would be a That's the plot of Thomas Disch's "The Genocides", where humanity is reduced to burrowing pests on a massive, planet-wide alien farm, with alien machines systematically killing all other forms of life ("pests and weeds") that might interfere with the growth of giant Plants that have created a network of root caverns with pulpy, licorice flavored fruit substance, harvested by giant football field sized alien orbs.

They will reveal themselves when it's safe; i.e. when Randy Quaid is no longer among us.

Thank you! This has been so obvious for years.

(And now I know who Randy Quaid is... thinking of someone else, but I trust your judgement.)

All of these Occam's razor posts positing much more likely explanations overlook the fact that the US Military has already considered them and still classifies the phenomena as unexplained. What does the US Military have to gain by publicizing videos as unexplainable that can in fact be explained?

I think mf's argument is most persuasive. These are some kind of military radar projections released as UFOs to baffle potential enemies.

It's not just that my prior on aliens is low, it's that the base rate on this sort of observation is so high. Puzzling observations in uncontrolled situations are fairly common. For that matter, even experiments that were meant to be carefully controlled often fail, and sometimes you never figure out why the results don't make sense. Every explanation you come up with has a fatal flaw. In the case of an experiment, you know it's something you did wrong, but still nothing makes sense. And yet it's not aliens.

What do aliens want? To abduct Soviet children, apparently:

"To me, the Occam’s razor explanation is ETs."

We know that grainy video footage and eyewitness testimony are not always reliable. Occam's razor starts comes into play when these pieces of evidence are corroborated from other sources.

If ETs are sending UFOs to earth, have astronomers ever seen and documented these things in the days leading up to a sighting within earth's atmosphere? What speed were they measured at? If they were traveling at any respectable speed, did anyone notice them entering the earth's atmosphere and producing the fireballs and sonic booms that any spacecraft (or asteroid) would produce upon atmospheric entry?

To believe that the UFOs are ETs, you’d have to believe that the ETs have solved the theoretical and engineering “challenges” of traveling faster than light - a Star Trek like wrap drive technology that can bend and shape space time around an object. Not likely.

The distances between stars are too large to traverse with technologies that propel vehicles at great speeds. With this “more conventional” technology, the ETs would need to be able to survive the relativistic effects of accelerating and decelerating toward and away from the speed of light, e.g., increase/decrease in mass. Again, not likely.

I’ve made this comment to two people who engaged on UFO conversations with me, one of whom claimed that he had been subtly communicated to by aliens, who were within 50 feet of him.

The response you get, after a look of confusion is “yeah, but this one goes to 11.”

many of the above theories point to camera or radar failures of some sort.

i think those theories need to explain why the military would confirm and reconfirm the videos publicly if they had even an inkling that it might be a tech glitch.

but as long as we are spitballing theories: perhaps aliens have not revealed themselves due to an atmospheric issue related to biology. for some reason - toxic atmosphere, inadequate atmosphere, germs theirs or ours - they cannot leave their crafts. and also they cannot communicate in a way we can understand.

its like ultra deep underwater exploration - all you get is a few minutes down there - so they are left with wiggling around in the air with their spaceships for a while.

If you have advanced enough technology to somehow send spacecraft from distant stars, why would you put living creatures in those spacecraft? We have already figured out how to land rovers on Mars, drive them by remote control and even have them collect and analyze samples. And we have multiple unmanned spacecraft orbiting the Moon at any given moment taking pictures and collecting data. Why not just hang back a bit closer to home and have these probes send data back at the speed of light?

That's the dilemma with manned space exploration in general. If you have the resources and technology to send humans or ETs to planets millions, billions and trillions of miles away and get them safely back home, why not save some time and money in the long-run and allocate resources to build some kick-ass robots and AI to run the whole mission instead? Voyager 1 is still ticking and we are talking about 1970s era technology.

Fair question.

The answer may be the same reason we keep talking about MANNED space travel as the ultimate goal. Drones are but manned travel is still the prize.

Occam's Razor points to instrument\camera malfunction, not ETs. C'mon....

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"Montezuma could’ve prepared a lot better for Cortes than he did, had he only known Cortes was coming."

I think a lot of people have the idea that, historically, we thought we were alone, but as we have learned more about the universe, it has come to seem more and more likely that we are not alone. But, at best, it is more complicated than that. As soon as it became clear in the decades after Galileo that the moon, and the planets and their moons, were worlds unto themselves, it was assumed by many that these worlds would be inhabited just as ours is. Of course, there has always been a camp that would dismiss any such speculation as fanciful, but serious minds understood that life on these bodies was wholly plausible. And then, steadily over time, our understanding of the hostility of these worlds has grown. Sure, Europa and Enceladus are now candidates in a way we didn't realize half a century ago, but they are a pale replacement for ecosystems on Mars and Venus that were still imaginable a couple of decades before that.

And we have now actually been looking for extraterrestrial signals for some time, to no avail.

Some bored pilots tried locking their weapons system on a goose, and were amazed that it worked. Video was classified because it would expose U.S. tracking capability, then when the technology became widespread the video was declassified.

There is no mystery here, if you know what you are looking at.

Instead of asking a bunch of academics for their opinions on technical issues, I suggest next time asking some actual engineers and technicians who understand what they are looking at.

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