O UFOs, Where Art Thou?

Thu, 05 Aug 2021 12:00:00 GMT
Scientific American - Science

Five reasons why sorting all of this out is so scientifically challenging

Just before the release in June of the much-anticipated Pentagon report on unidentified aerial phenomena, I sat down to try to create a list of the greatest hurdles to UAPs' scientific analysis.

Although only nine pages long, that report turns out to be thorough, careful and scientifically accurate in that it fully expresses how little certainty can be drawn from the data to hand.

As the Pentagon report states: "Limited data leaves most UAP unexplained." Limited, anecdotal and nonrepeatable are hardly the words you want to use, but they apply here.

Challenge No. 2: There is nothing systematic in how incidents are recorded or reported.

Again, the Pentagon report states effectively the same point: "The limited amount of high-quality reporting on unidentified aerial phenomena hampers our ability to draw firm conclusions about the nature or intent of UAP." The report then goes on to suggest a potentially useful task of: "Consistent consolidation of reports from across the federal government, standardized reporting, increased collection and analysis, and a streamlined process for screening."

We don't know how often pilots or other observers see something unexpected but then, a minute later, figure out what they're witnessing and consequently don't report anything.

The report does discuss the "Stigma" surrounding personnel or observers reporting UAPs, but it also states that out of the 144 reports that were studied, only 18 incidents appeared to demonstrate "Advanced technology," inasmuch as there was an appearance of unusual aeronautical behavior in movement.

As for all the times that nothing was reported, either because something was quickly identified, or a pilot just chose not to, that remains a total unknown.

The Pentagon report also provides an outline of ongoing efforts, and possible future directions, for trying to improve all analyses.

Where does all of this leave us? Well, the Pentagon report does suggest ways to improve data collection and analysis, as I've described.

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