My Uninterest in UFOs

No, I don’t mean disinterest.

I’ve mentioned before that people who are unfamiliar with science fiction, or with science fiction writers and fans, tend to assume that SF folks are credulous along the lines of “believing” in UFOs, where “believing” means having reached the conclusion, or simply assuming, that they must be spacecraft run by extraterrestrial aliens. (Not to the mention assumptions of “belief” of claims about psychics, ancient astronauts, etc. etc.)

Nothing could be further from the truth. (Nonsense, all of it.) SF folks are in general far less credulous and gullible than the general population. In part because they (we) know more about science and reality, and know the difference between evidence-for-belief and wishing-to-believe.

I discussed some of my thoughts about UFOs, and my brief, early fascination with them at about age 13, in this post from April, and made the point about credulity way back in Dec 2017.

So without repeating those points, at least for today I will walk through this opinion piece about the latest Congressional hearing on the subject.

CNN, Jason Colavito, 28 Jul 2023: Opinion: Congress is too credulous on UFOs

Over the course of 25 years, 11 seasons, 218 episodes and two movies, FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully attempted to unravel a government conspiracy of extraterrestrial proportions on “The X-Files” as an all-powerful Deep State covered up research on non-human biological matter and alien murders of Americans.

(I never watched “The X-Files” except maybe once, since I gathered that it always played for the credulous conspiracy theories, for its audience of folks who “want to believe.”)

How foolish of them, when in real life all it seemed to take was one whistleblower talking on a second-tier cable news channel earlier this summer about hearing someone else’s stories of dead UFO pilots for Congress to hold a hearing in order to expose the whole conspiracy on its own!

On Wednesday, former military intelligence officer and so-called UFO “whistleblower” David Grusch testified to a House Oversight subcommittee that he had heard from other unnamed officials that the US government has a secret program to recover and reverse engineer non-human spacecraft.

The gist of the piece is that all the “evidence” presented is hearsay, with no actual new physical evidence.

Congress and UFO enthusiasts have been all too willing to accept witness reports at face value when we know eyewitness testimony is unreliable. This problem has been compounded by the fact that much of this testimony comes from seemingly unassailable military pilots who are trained to observe airborne threats. This dynamic has been a problem from the dawn of UFO investigations last century until the present day.

The CNN article goes on with how claims of physical evidence of alien spacecraft, and even “biologics” of alien beings, go back decades, but never amount to anything. Some of them were deliberate hoaxes. It concludes,

When there is not enough data, they remain unsolved. However, unsolved doesn’t automatically translate to alien, only to a lack of information. Since the majority of solved cases have normal explanations, we would need extraordinary evidence to suggest that low-information cases are anything but the same.

Perhaps most telling, in response to direct questions at the hearing about his cable TV and other media interviews, Grusch under oath did not re-state, or he attributed to others, his own most dramatic claims about dead aliensVatican meddling and murder plots.

Grusch may well be telling the truth about hearing these stories, but the stories were old when “The X-Files” was new. Congress must do better than take them at face value.


Actually, I’m uninterested in these recurrent UFO stories, but not disinterested in them. They’re nothing new, but they are fascinating for revealing yet again and again the psychological biases of people, most of whom live their lives by stories and ideology and refusal to accept evidence for things in their faces that contradict those things, while at the same time so eager to accept and believe things which may have psychological appeal but for which there is scant actual evidence. (This all cycles around to my recent themes of the ancient tribal mentality and morality, in contrast to the emerging global mentality and morality that will be necessary if our species is to save itself.)


David Brin has made some of these points, but let me lay out a few general reasons to be suspicious of the “UFOs are Aliens” claim.

  • In all these decades, since the 1950s when the UFO craze began, none of the photos gotten any clearer.
  • Recent video of sightings from jet fighters, where the “UFO” is located *precisely* in the center of the screen, are by that indication obviously, it seems to me, artifacts of electronics. Similarly all the claims of UFOs veering in their courses at impossible velocities and changes of course. If they seem to be impossible, then they probably are impossible, and are misleading evidence of electronics and not actual alien spacecraft.
  • The science perspective considers the vast distances between stars, the difficulties to traveling over interstellar distances, and the likely relative rarity of intelligent species who might build such spacecraft. And the unlikelihood that, having managed to travel those distances, they nevertheless broke down and crashed into the southwest American desert. (Claims of UFO sightings and crashes are far lower in other countries.)
  • And furthermore, the tendency of people to see what they’ve been trained to believe is true. Thus the many testimonies throughout history of miracles, of angels, and even fairies. (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, believed in them: Cottingley Fairies.)
  • And finally, the ability of science fiction writers to come up with so many more plausible ideas about the interaction of humans and extraterrestrial intelligences, than the UFO scenarios in which they’re flying spaceships just like the one we imagine.


Now to David Brin, who has been keeping up. From his latest blog post.

Contrary Brin, 29 Jul 2023: Those who would be our new lords and kings – part 2. Plus a note re UFOs. [His formatting]

FIRST A BRIEF NOTE: For weeks I’ve been parrying online salvos from the “I need to believe!” cult, enraged by my caustic skepticism toward the latest UFO Craze. Although I’ve spent my whole life examining every conceivable aspect of ‘the alien’ – from astrophysics and SETI to vastly-varied sci fi ruminations – the standard attack claims that I ‘lack imagination.’ Riiight.

For sixty years I’ve watched these frenzies of wishful illogic erupt, about twice per decade – with all the same mantras and nearly identical ‘testimony’ by pathetic third-raters who never, ever, ever name-names or show a scintilla of evidence. Hence, I can be forgiven some ennui. Always the same drivel, that thousands of humanity’s best and smartest would have studied alien super-tech for eighty years without a single palpable outcome, nor having any reason to keep it secret that we’re being buzzed by mischievious space-elves.

 I’ve pointed at the number of active cameras on Earth, now a million times as many as in the 1950s; yet the images keep getting fuzzier. (Here is my own ‘cat-laser’ theory about so-called ‘tic-tacs.’) I’ve also made it clear that I leave an open slot on my idea shelf for silvery space-jerks buzzing us while breaking every known physical law. A small slot.

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