There’s Got to Be Something Out There: Seeking the Truth about UFOs

The government has been secretly researching UFOs for years. Why are they hiding it from us?

Composite image of a black hole

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An electrifying image flashed around the world on April 10, 2019, from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and other observatories. It showed a fuzzy orange doughnut with fiery-yellow highlights aglow in the inkiness of space. It was the first ever capturing of nature’s biggest question mark — a black hole, an incomprehensible cosmic drain where light, space, matter, and time disappear, sucked into oblivion by infinite gravity, a possible clue to the ultimate fate of all creation.

The object, as massive as 6.5 billion suns, lay in a galaxy far, far away — Messier 87 in the constellation Virgo, some 55 million light years from Earth. With light traveling a little over 186,282 miles per second, that’s almost 5.88 trillion miles per year multiplied by 55 million.

Yet even at that unimaginable distance scientists were able to map its shadow and snap, or rather compile, the picture — “a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity,” in the words of New York Times cosmic affairs correspondent Dennis Overbye. The image combined data from radio antennas spread over four continents, a telescope array as big as Earth itself. The results, too voluminous for transmission even over the internet, were recorded on hard discs for analysis in Germany and the Haystack Observatory of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Almost 18 months before this, in December 2017, I and two colleagues writing in The New York Times broke the story of a secret Defense Department UFO unit — the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. Funded with $22 million starting in 2007, it investigated a series of earlier close encounters with what resembled giant rounded white Tic Tacs by F-18 fighter jets from the aircraft carrier group Nimitz off the coast of San Diego in 2004. One of the objects appeared to be underwater. Ominously and mysteriously, military officers quickly scooped up the radar logs and other evidence of the encounters. In response to our reporting, the government insisted the secret program had ended in 2012. “It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding,” a Pentagon spokesman said dismissively.

But despite the government’s avowal of the program’s demise, it later emerged that it continued under a new name, the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force in the Office of Naval Intelligence, into at least 2021, after an even more puzzling series of encounters from 2013 to 2015 came to light through a History Channel documentary.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt was on maneuvers along the east coast of the United States when its Navy pilots captured on radar and using their thermal-imaging systems — and in a few cases eyeballed — a menagerie of hypersonic otherworldly objects. These included what looked like a spinning top or gyroscope, a flying suitcase, and a sphere-encasing cube. Some flew so close to the F-18s that pilots feared a crash and later filed official hazard reports. Creepily, the objects seemed to follow the carrier group as it cruised into the Persian Gulf on a Syrian war mission.

Why hasn’t the government used its incredibly sophisticated technology — the kind that enabled capturing a black hole for posterity — to help determine the nature of UFOs like these and the hundreds that have been sighted for decades?

Despite its decades of secrecy, we know the government has not been incurious about UFOs. Going back to the 1947 crash of something at Roswell, New Mexico, the Pentagon has continued to track at least the hardware of UFOs, if not also who, or what, may be behind the wheel, pursuing some deeply classified research, including persistent if so far unconfirmed reports that it has sequestered fragments of downed nonhuman craft for reverse engineering to unlock their secrets. That the intelligence services have fomented disinformation campaigns to unnerve global adversaries and overzealous hobbyists has multiplied the confusion.

But so far as we know, little if any of the taxpayer billions spent on investigating black holes and the spawn of creation have gone to understanding what so mystified abduction researchers like Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard professor John E. Mack (the subject of my book The Believer) — the otherworldly experiences of seemingly normal people that went against every known concept of reality.

Surely there is fertile ground for research in areas of the human brain that might harbor special powers we have yet to understand, or in studies of the cell structure and DNA of people supposedly exposed to anomalous objects and beings.

Credible, highly trained observers and the most sophisticated military technology have confirmed, at least, that there is something very strange and physically real out there. But after years of reporting, I’m nowhere closer to a satisfying explanation than I was at the beginning. It may not be surprising that science doesn’t yet know the truth about UFOs. But after almost 75 years of cover-ups and denials, from the administrations of Presidents Truman through Biden, it’s impossible not to be puzzled, to say the least, about just what it is the government is so desperate to keep hidden.

Excerpted and adapted from The Believer: Alien Encounters, Hard Science, and the Passion of John Mack by Ralph Blumenthal. Copyright © 2021 High Road Books, an imprint of the University of New Mexico Press.

Featured image: Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration

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  1. After reading this, I’m still totally mystified and confused, but my confusion is now on a much higher plane.

  2. Why should we be surprised if there are alien life forms of some type that stop by Earth on occasion to take a look at us? Our own progress into outer space is in its infancy. If there are other beings elsewhere visiting Earth the chances are that they are so far, far advanced technologically that we are nothing to them but than a curiosity.
    Hollywood has always portrayed visitors from outer space as coming down to conquer us or eat us or something nefarious of that sort. Why?
    We know, for example, that there are tribes of peoples in the deepest parts of Amazonia that are essentially about as advanced as the Stone Age, if that. Yet we do not send our air force down to wipe them out. Why? They don’t pose a threat to us. We don’t send people down there to establish diplomatic relations. Why? Because there is no basis upon which we could have meaningful dialogue or learn anything of usefulness. At best, a National Geographic plane flies over once every few years takes a picture and avoids direct contact lest they infect their civilization. The same very well may be true with respect to alien beings visiting Earth.

  3. This is a very fascinating topic Mr. Blumenthal. The 2nd paragraph is too much for me to truly comprehend, hard as I may to try. The government (I believe) does take it seriously but tries keeps it under wraps to simultaneously not scare the American public, or be ridiculed by them.

    There are so many unbelievable things they do in Washington, D.C. (and nationwide) everyday that defy any kind of intelligence or explanation, so who’s to say anything about UFO’s or alien life not being real out there in the massive universe with all those millions of miles?

    There’s a YouTube channel I like called ‘Paranormal Post’ with Clayton Morris that certainly makes the case for UFO’s being real, pets vanishing without a trace, ghosts and more. ‘Somewhere in the Skies’ podcast series is interesting too. The mainstream corporate media wants to keep us in the dark because it’s in their best interest to do so, not ours.


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