It is a wonderful experience to get the opinion of a very selective group of people at an international level and get them together giving answers to just 8 questions referred to the Unusual Aerial Phenomena.
We give a big thanks to all those colleagues who are answering our survey and we are very pleased to present to you their ideas. We hope that what they say would be useful to you in your own work with the UAP and that their criteria would help to shape your own one.
We continue today the publication of the answers of these colleagues, and we are doing so in the order they were received.
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Throughout the years, different labels have been used to refer to name the phenomenon comprised by reports of things seen in the skies that people are unable to recognize. First, there were flying saucers. Soon the term UFO was coined by the US Air Force as a more reserved alternative and its nature less implicit. More recently, civilian and government-related study groups prefer the acronym UAP (Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena) as a more scientific equivalent. Considering that after 70 years of reports, we have already a clue about what’s going on (that is, there is no clear-cut evidence of flying saucers), the question of the proper naming seems of little relevance. For practical reasons, I use UFO, and the Spanish translation of “ovni” (in lowercase).
2) Have your ideas about UFOs changed over time?
Yes. This is probably the vital path experienced by most unbiased, neutral researchers. At the start (usually at a young age), you are inclined to believe what you read in books (i.e. flying disks come from the outer space). Then when you ponder and probe the cases yourself, you realize that most events can be explained if enough inquiry is invested and enough documentation exists. Your level of skepticism increases exponentially until you arrive to the intellectual conviction that the only existing UFOs come from the inner space. In certain periods, I held the view that there was a systematic residue of unsolvable reports for which the ETH (Extraterrestrial Hypothesis) was the most likely. However, as Dr. Félix Ares de Blas wrote 30 years ago, the residue theory is a fallacy. There are outstanding reports (i.e. cases that are still unexplained) only because the background data was corrupted at the point of origin, the investigation was deficient, or basic data are missing.
3) Should the UFO investigator become an expert in IFOs?
Yes, by necessity. During the process of researching UFO events you conclude that there are multiple phenomena and causes that produce visual or technological misinterpretations, i.e. IFOs. Understanding well how a UFO turns into an IFO is a key to properly solving incoming reports.
4) If there were still some unexplained phenomena remaining, what are some possible explanations?
In our closest collection of reports, we all know certain incidents that we have been unable to settle. The UFO literature is replete of events that, as presented, cannot be resolved. Incompetence, lack of proper knowledge or skills, faulty or limited analysis, unmanageable information, etc. ally and confabulate to create permanent unknowns. None of these cases possess features that define them as anomalies in the physical environment, even less that they are spacecraft from other planets, universes, or dimensions.
5) How do you consider this issue in general? What do you think about the whole subject?
I have devoted 50 years attempting to answer this question. At this point in time, I favor the psychosocial model as an all-encompassing explanation for the nature of UFO phenomena. UFOs are but a contemporary legend, or myth about visitors from far-away galaxies resulting from unfortunate treatment of the reports by the mass media, a process of uncritical replication by unskilled observers, terrible management by the editorial world, the creation of a lucrative niche for writers, the appeal of sensational news to the public, the theme attraction for the movie industry, a convenient cover for advanced weapons tests, etc. The combination of all these factors has resulted in a global non-event, that is, the belief that there are aliens visiting earth.
6) Is it possible to do something effective to bring the truth to the public and to change the mind of those who still proclaim or believe that extraterrestrial beings are living with us on Earth?
The world is dominated by sensation-vendors, as we can clearly see from the behavior of several TV channels which expand the most absurd stories directly or indirectly related to the UFO subject. There is a market for preposterous ideas and many are willing to absorb fantastic and farfetched conspiracies as truth. The conjugation of this all will unfortunately ensure the continuation of a post-truth tale to feed popular thinking. On the other hand, in the academic milieu, the UFO phenomena will be understood as a myth of our times, and provide a rich field of study for psychologists, sociologists, historians, journalists, anthropologists, and other university scholars. In the same way that space research does not stop because there are people who believe we never reached the Moon, more and more factual, serious, enlightened, purist research will be developed, both by professional and citizen scientists. This research will add force to the demonstration that coupling UFO to the ETI is only fueled by imagination.
7) Do you think SETI and similar searches are valid pursuits?
Yes. The fact that certain people correlate UFO sightings to examples of extraterrestrial life, have nothing to do to with the logical possibility of life (microbial or technologically advanced) existing elsewhere in the universe. Distances in the universe make space travel incompatible with the typical UFO close encounter scenario. But, truly, SETI or CETI are interesting fields of investigation for both established scientists and amateurs.
8) What are your ideas about multiple universes?
This is a speculative question best left to astrophysicists.
Next publication: answers from Robert Powell