It’s a failure of the imagination.
By Phil Hall
The US military defense establishment has now admitted that UFOs are real. Let that sink in. Did the penny drop? Scientists can and must try to explain the phenomenon of UFOs, not simply attempt to debunk it. It has become crystal clear now that some UFOs are not swamp gas or weather balloons or Venus, or even drones. They’re powered craft. And by the way, the US is not the first defense establishment of a country to admit the reality of UFOs.
From the New Yorker (April 30, 2021):
John Ratcliffe, the former director of National Intelligence, emphasized that the issue was no longer to be taken lightly. “When we talk about sightings,” he said, “we are talking about objects that have been seen by Navy or Air Force pilots, or have been picked up by satellite imagery, that frankly engage in actions that are difficult to explain, movements that are hard to replicate, that we don’t have the technology for, or are travelling at speeds that exceed the sound barrier without a sonic boom.”
These unidentified flying objects are powered by a technology that no nation currently possesses. It is a technology that enables strangely boring, grey, lozenge shaped machines to travel at speeds of 16,000 miles per hour. They can operate in the air or in water, and they enter and exit the earth’s atmosphere with aplomb.
UFOs are not swamp gas or weather balloons or Venus, or even drones. They’re powered craft.
The New York Times is now reporting on UFOs in all seriousness. So are the Washington Post, CNN, 60 Minutes and a host of other US news outlets. Even Scientific American is trying to hold its nose and discuss the phenomenon in a more reasoned way. Britain, however, lags behind the USA. Most of us here still chuckle when someone mentions UFOs. Some of you are having a little chuckle right now:
Yuk yuk yuk.
Well, more fool you, because things have changed. Perhaps you just haven’t been paying enough attention.
The problem here in Great Britain is that those of us who are more or less educated and trust in our reason don’t trust the UK press or TV. Rightly so! The UK is wallpapered in toxic, lying right-wing newspapers.
Unfortunately, however, when UFOs are actually reported here, they are usually reported (it pains me to say their names) in The Daily Express and The Daily Mail; the worst of the worst.
Admittedly, The Independent, a liberal newspaper, has also published a few stories on UFOs that weren’t completely snarky. The Mirror is coming round.
Those parts of the press or TV that we trust slightly more have, apart from one or two snide little pieces, been ignoring the serious side of this UFO story, a story that is now huge in the USA.
The Guardian, for example, is on rocky ground. It has lost the affection of most of its loyal UK left readership. To print a serious opinion piece on the reality of UFOs would erode their credibility even more, so they have only reluctantly reported on the sightings confirmed by the Pentagon.
Previously, the Guardian did actually publish one article on the reality of this phenomenon. Thirteen years ago I wrote an article for the Guardian on the way in which people most people seem to censor themselves once they have seen a possible UFO. I wrote something about witnessing UFOs. Perhaps I am the only one they let through.
Avi Loeb is probably the world’s leading astronomer. He has written a book where, like Sherlock Holmes, after eliminating the possible, he has decided that what remains, the impossible, is true. Oumuamua was a piece of space junk. Now, Avi Loeb is shocked by the vituperative, irrational response he has had from some colleagues to his careful piece of professional deduction. From the Scientific American (February 1, 2021):
To say that if you arrange for similar circumstances, you get similar outcomes is, to me, the most conservative statement imaginable. So I would expect most people to endorse that, to hug me and say, “Great, Avi, you’re correct. We should look for these things because they must be very likely.” Instead what I see is a backlash that shows a loss of an intellectual compass—because how else can you explain working on string theory’s extra dimensions or the multiverse when we have no clue for their existence? But that is considered mainstream? That’s crazy.
The scientistic minded, the strangely fanatic, nerdy proselytisers of big science, have a phrase they repeat endlessly: They say:
It’s never aliens.
Now, the debunkers have theological reasons for disliking the idea of aliens. They dislike the religious implications. They argue against an ordered universe which, against the flow of general entropy, can generate sentient life in abundance, and through sentient life powerful intangibles like psychology, morality and culture, all of which, themselves introduce order into the cosmos.
Avi Loeb was shocked by the response to his careful deduction.
Edwin Hubble disliked the idea of a ‘Big Bang’ because it means everything came from nothing. A ‘Big Bang’ doesn’t make sense, they don’t understand why or how it happened. And just because you say something has happened doesn’t mean you understand it. Giving names to things doesn’t make them yours. Scientists can’t explain the Big Bang, they can just observe some of what happened afterwards. Some scientists, like Neil Turok, still don’t agree it actually happened. ‘What banged? he asks.
The accurate correlation of Genisis with the Big Bang offended Hubble’s atheistic sensibility. People argue for a so called multiverse for the same reason; to avoid the notion of an inexplicable Big Bang making a whole universe appear out of nothing. Truth be told, this is a war of theologies, a religious war that is being fought between scientism and religion. In a war there is always collateral damage.
Well, perhaps it isn’t aliens, after all, but it is certainly irrational to dismiss and ignore what are real, observable physical phenomena. It has been confirmed that these sightings took place. To all appearances, according to very reliable observers, the objects observed are powered craft. Their behaviour cannot be explained with reference to any known technology. The response of our vain, self-appointed priesthood is to avoid even discussing the phenomena.
Of course, to suppose such things are real is almost impossible for us to believe. Some of us have weak belief muscles. Bob Lazar’s claims, for example, seem crazy. They are so far outside the normal run of things.
When there is no evidence or information available, then our most reliable guide to what is real or possible must be our informed imaginations.
The controlled imagination is vital to science; it generates hypotheses which can be tested, or falsified.
Our imaginations are chimeric; they produce many different scenarios. Sometimes they are expressed through through stories we tell ourselves, sometimes through we make, sometimes our imagination uses symbols. Then some of the chimera fade and we are left with those scenarios or ideas that we either prefer or believe to be true. We can take them or leave them. No harm is done.
In science too, the imagination has a place. The controlled imagination is vital to science; it generates hypotheses which can be tested, or falsified.
What shocks me, when you dive into the murk of the information available, is just how close to fantasy, to the science fiction imagination some of these recent revelations about UFOs are. Take the example of Bob Lazar. We should be creative and brave enough to entertain the possibility, only the possibility, that he is saying something indicative and interesting when he claims that he worked on a 10,000-year-old flying saucer in a secret US military base. Let’s not bolt at mere hypotheticals. Let’s calm down and try to entertain the possibility.
So … Bob Lazar – in the documentary made by Jeremy Corbell – suggests that the US government has a 10,000-year-old flying saucer that was found during an archeological dig. That’s hard to swallow if you haven’t been reading science fiction for 50 years as I have. Science fiction has prepared the ground. I can swallow Lasar’s story.
UFOs are real. Deal with that!
What do I think? Well, hypothetically, if what Lasar says is true, then there isn’t that much archeology to be had in the USA. So, I imagine the craft was dug up from somewhere in Mexico and then I imagine it was ‘acquired’ or stolen by the US government. My guess is that it was discovered at a site near a volcano in central Mexico. I give myself permission to think hypothetically. Do you?
We imagine things are so and it seems that they cannot be so. It seems impossible that they are so, but, very, very occasionally, things are indeed the way we imagine them to be.
We have to let ourselves be guided, at least initially, by our imaginations. We have to allow ourselves to think hypothetically. Later on, if we are lucky, we can find out if there is some truth, some reality in what we imagine.
For me, people who have not read mountains of speculative fiction are illiterate. At the very least we should all have read, H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, John Wyndham, Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, Stanislaw Lem, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Iain M. Banks, Larry Niven, Gregory Benford, Philip K. Dick, Doris Lessing, James Blish, Philip Jose Farmer and Stephen Baxter.
People who have never been fans of legends, myths and tall stories, are people who have weak imaginations and they are generally incapable of understanding the world properly precisely because they have weak imaginations. Often, they are like people who haven’t travelled. They think their small little circumscribed world is the measure of everything.
The US government’s report on the phenomenon is coming out in three days time on June 25.
UFOs are real. Deal with it!
Phil Hall is a university lecturer. He is a committed socialist and humanitarian. Phil was born in South Africa where his parents were in the ANC. There, his mother was imprisoned and his father was the first journalist from a national paper to be banned. Phil grew up in East Africa and settled in Kingston-upon-Thames. He has also lived and worked in the Ukraine, Spain, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Abu Dhabi. Phil has blogged for the Guardian, the Morning Star and several other publications and he has written stories for The London Magazine. He started Ars Notoria in May 2020.