Genuine evidence for UFOs/UAPs?

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Why UFOs and UAPs are ignored by the scientific community

A thoroughly thinking and serious-minded UFO researcher asked me this question recently:

Marc, I’m interested to read your thoughts about decent evidence. What do you specifically include inside and what do you suggest as an acceptable way forward ? nobody will argue that it is extraordinary unlikely there could be a new phenomena to investigate; it is just that a lot of people including the majority of scientists don’t accept the label usually associated to the field (i.e E.T)…

This was my answer.

Hi, thanks for your terrific question!
I define a UAP as an aerial phenomenon not accountable for by our CURRENT and PUBLICLY available knowledge.
As I made it clear, this is hardly a synonym for „space aliens in action“.

So for me, believing in UAPs amounts to believing in the existence of aerial phenomena which we cannot explain at the moment.
Following this definition, meteorites, ball-lightnings, sprites etc. were all UAPs in the past.

A ball lightning (white glowing ball) is hovering slightly above the ground.

Ball lightnings are UAPs of the past. And they were also denied as such by a large part of the scientific community.

A majestic and bright sprite lightning having several arms.

Sprite lightnings are amazing luminous phenomena taking place in the upper atmosphere.
They too were seen as UAPs in the past. Pilots reporting them in the past were sometimes even forbidden to fly because their mental health was called into question.

Interestingly enough, their existence was outrightly denied in a way very similar to the methods of modern debunkers.

Likewise, secret experimental aircrafts are UFOs according to my definition.

Triangular military aircraft flying across a blue sky.

B2 bomber. Former UFO.

As you emphasized yourself, I think that the main reason why UFOs/UAPs are ignored by the scientific community is self-replicating ignorance.
Owing to the huge number of crappy self-proclaimed Ufologists dominating bookstores and the Web, the large majority of scholars conclude that there is really nothing to the whole topic.

One example of junk-ufology. Faked videos are enthusiastically accepted by strong believers who often don't even consider checking them.

One example of junk-ufology. Faked videos are enthusiastically accepted by strong believers who often don’t even consider checking them.

(As I said, it was my case as well in the past.)

Consequently, they will naively trust the explanations offered by debunkers without critically examining them.

Calling into question pseudo-skeptical / debunking explanations

It was really Jacques Vallee and J. Allen Hynek who opened my eyes to the existence of decent evidence for UAPs/UFOs.

Hynek and Vallee wearing elegant suits.

Dr. Allan. J. Hynek was one of the most serious ufologists having ever lived. His colleague Jacques Vallee is still alive.
They ended up viewing UFOs (or at least a considerable percentage of them) as part of a larger paranormal realm.

I myself went into some incidents where I think that the evidence would be deemed conclusive and perhaps even compelling in mundane fields of inquiry. See for example [1], [2], and [3].

Or let us consider the famous French case of Valensole.

A French peasant is facing a UFO in Valensole. Two aliens are standing in front of it.

UFO encounter in Valensole. A witness everybody would have believed under other circumstances.

If Maurice Masse had reported sighting the helicopter of drug traffickers, nobody would ever seriously draw hallucinations or false memories into consideration, even if he only dared tell the whole story several days later.
I could multiply such examples.
To my mind, all of this shows that the popular conception that there isn’t a „shred of evidence“ for UAPs is plainly wrong.
There is decent evidence something unexplained is going on.
Debunkers reject that evidence by resorting to a flurry of untested and far-fetched hypotheses which would look ludicrous in respected scientific or scholarly disciplines (See for instance my links above [1], [2], and [3].).
To my mind, the way forward would be to establish just that: the evidence for UFOs/UAPs is as good as that for many other phenomena whose existence is largely recognized (such as earthquake lights as I’m going to argue in an upcoming post).
Therefore, rejecting them requires arguments showing their strong initial implausibility.
The structure of modern ufologic research is light-years away from that goal, alas.
Countless new cases are being collected, superficially analyzed and then used as airtight support for the ETH by strong believers or dismissed out of hand by other people.
Of course, this is profoundly unscientific because the existence of an anomaly can only be shown by proving that ALL known explanations are very unlikely.
Some people like Dr. Bruce Macabee or Richard Haines do the hard work and spend a considerable amount of their time explaining why alternative hypotheses (such as those put forward by debunkers) fail to a significantly extent.
Unfortunately, many other Ufologists claim victory without having ever begun to engage the true battle against competing explanations.
So while gathering new cases is crucial, it is far more important to delve deeply into some of them and critically examine all conceivable explanations.
This is a task I am extremely willing to contribute to.

Application to the Belgian UFO wave

A F-16 fighter aircraft pursues one of the triangular Belgian UFOs.

Belgian UFO wave. Even if this artistic creation may not represent what truly happened back then, I suspect that something anomalous was involved.

Let’s consider the beginning of the Belgian UFO wave as a concrete example.
Skeptics argue that many people misidentified conventional helicopters during that day.
Let’s critically examine the implication of this hypothesis.

  • The same day, at least two or three unrecognizable helicopters were flying at a very low altitude while making almost no noise (or a weak noise in some of the cases).
  • One of them seemed to have changed its direction for avoiding a confrontation with Gendarmes.

  • They were sighted by hundreds of independent witnesses at different places

Now how LIKELY is it that all of this happened during such a short time period?
It is possible (albeit rare) that the noise of a conventional helicopter gets masked by a variety of factors. But how likely is it that it occurred several time in such a short time span?
How likely is that these helicopters would fly so low (as if to avoid detection) despite the risks involved?
How likely is that none of the witness was able to recognize one of them for what it really was? (An interesting related question would be the frequency of conventional helicopter sighting in that region under the same circumstances).
And how likely is it that all these helicopter pilots would NOT reveal to the army or to the medias they were the „culprits“ if they were normal citizens having nothing to reproach themselves?
Regarding the number of sightings, there are only two possibilities:
1) they stemmed from a relatively great number of independent privates helicopters. How plausible is that all of them would display BY CHANCE similar strongly unusual features?
2) they stemmed from a small number of helicopters FLYING AROUND (or even orbiting) in the region.
How likely is that average citizens would do that while remaining almost noiseless and unrecognizable?
I think that BOTH 1) and 2) are incredibly far-fetched.
If one considers all these facts together (instead of isolating or „picking and choosing“ them), I think it’s fair to say that the most mundane explanation many Skeptics defend doesn’t hold water.
To my mind, if debunkers want to avoid „exotic“ explanations, they should conclude that an incredibly sophisticated hoax went on that night. A hoax one can only call „psychological warfare experiment„.
This too would fall into my definition of an UAP.
Interestingly enough, the late French skeptic Renaud Leclet (who spent a huge amount of his time dealing with the Belgian wave) ended up speaking of an experience of „military incursion“ which isn’t too far from that conclusion.
Now, I haven’t yet examined all these cases in great detail. So I could be wrong about that.

I meant this as an example of how to critically question mundane explanations put forward by debunkers.

Conclusion: challenging the orthodoxy

What I outlined here is what I see as a promising approach to establishing (to open-minded researchers) the existence of an anomalous phenomenon.
Ruling out all known explanations with a high degree of certainty.

A man is eminent as long as he is orthodox. When he begins to think for himself, he becomes a crank.   Dr. Walter R. Hadwen, M.D.

Challenging the orthodoxy might be required by honesty.

It goes without saying I remain open to the possibility of being wrong about the inability of mundane explanations to account for everything.

But at the moment I’m under the rather strong impression that some of the sightings cannot be conventionally explained.

I do consider it likely they may have very different causes, some of them being unknown natural phenomena.

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