Right off the bat, let me say this: I have no idea what UFOs are, where they are from, or who or what is guiding or flying them.
But there’s one thing I’m absolutely certain of—there are seemingly solid objects in our skies which defy our current scientific understanding of physics and aerodynamics. They are intelligent or guided by some form of intelligence and can physically affect biological systems and machinery.
In short, what we call UFOs are most assuredly real—as real as the monitor you are reading this on.
I have been fascinated by UFOs since I was a kid, thanks to my father’s interest. He left books lying around the house—Flying Saucers – Serious Business, Incident at Exeter, Flying Saucers are Real, and other classics—and I devoured them. But my father also taught me a very essential way of parsing unusual or difficult to understand phenomena: rational, but open-minded skepticism. The word skepticism, unfortunately, has been co-opted by a particularly closed-minded brand of irrational and dogmatic debunkers in the mode of the departed magician James Randi. But those who attempt to disprove things because they can’t possibly exist, ignoring abundant evidence and expert testimony, are not skeptics by any definition—they are, in fact, true believers of the sort they demonize.
Scientific skepticism is defined by Wikipedia thusly:
A scientific (or empirical) skeptic is one who questions the reliability of certain kinds of claims by subjecting them to a systematic investigation.
And that’s about as clear as it gets.
Now, try to recall the last time you saw a sober, intelligent, informed discussion about the subject of UFOs. If you’re like most people, perhaps you saw a short clip on TV news about a sighting. And you probably also saw what has become a reflexive response to all such stories—the anchor, male or female, or the reporter on the scene, after detailing the facts of the story, smiling or smirking and adding something about little green men before cutting to the next story. I call it the LGM phenomenon, and it’s almost as if an unwritten script has been hardwired into anyone involved in news reporting—the subject of UFOs must be turned into a joke.
And so, despite decades of expert testimony and physical evidence, for many people, it remains a joke.
Now, however, that could finally change, thanks to the work of investigative reporter Leslie Kean and her new book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record. I am nearly finished reading it, but already I have recommended it to everyone I know who has a genuine interest in the phenomenon, whether he or she is a debunker or a believer or somewhere in between. In fact, I would challenge anyone to read this book and not come away convinced of the physical reality of UFOs.
Kean doesn’t claim they are extraterrestrial objects, but neither does she say they aren’t. She simply presents the absolute best, irrefutable evidence from military and civilian pilots, aeronautics experts, high-ranking government officials from around the world, as well as declassified documents, to make an airtight case that objects of unknown origin are doing extraordinary things in our atmosphere. She details sightings by multiple trained pilots and ground personnel with radar confirmation and documented mechanical interference of aircraft instrumentation—these aren’t temperature inversions, swamp gas, or misidentifications of Venus. And the firsthand written reports by government officials from across the globe—in countries more open to frank discussion of the subject—put to rest any myth that only crackpots talk about such things seriously and intelligently.
One hopeful sign of a new openness is the frank and calm foreword to the book by former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, who currently runs the Center for American Progress and was co-chair of the Obama transition team—hardly a raving, tin-foil hatted saucer nut. Kean’s book, he says, “clearly leaves the taboo against taking UFOs seriously with no leg to stand on.”
If you have ever wondered about UFOs, but have been put off by the abundance of unbalanced and sensationalistic reporting, I recommend that you get this book. It’s truly the nail in the coffin of the professional debunkers, and it’s a wake-up call that we, as a society, should take UFOs seriously. There’s no need to accept the reality of extraterrestrial visitors (though there’s certainly no need to rule out the possibility), but the overwhelming physical evidence should finally, once and for all, be acknowledged. Only then can we ask the serious questions: What are these things? Where (or when) are they from? And what is controlling them?
Those questions could be the most important our species has ever asked. And that’s no joke.
Postscript: I’m working on an account of my own sighting of two UFOs in 1990, which I’ve never before written about under my real name. Stay tuned.