“A New Reality or Science Fiction?” The Complete Guide to This Week’s Pentagon UFO Revelations

 

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December 21 2017: Today's links to headline stories from around the world on the revelation of the Pentagon's secret UFO program and its implications. Coverage includes Alien Minds, AI Has Been Out There for Eons, Why Haven't We Found Aliens, You're Not Crazy If You Believe in UFOs, UFOs in Scientific Terms, What We've Learned from 60 Years of Probes, Gaian Bottleneck, The Great Filter, The Great Silence, The Tom DeLonge Radio Interview, John Podesta Interview, and more.

"You’re Not Crazy if You Believe in UFOs. Let’s Discuss in Scientific Terms"

 

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On December 16, the New York Times published two stories that read almost like science fiction. For at least five years, the Defense Department housed a $22-million, clandestine program to investigate UFOs. Military pilots had sent in reports of objects they observed that moved in unfamiliar ways; the mission of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, as it was called, was to investigate those claims to see if there was truly something otherworldly behind those sightings.

It’s unclear just how many reports pilots had filed to the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, but people who have come forward about the program have made it clear that there would have been a lot more reports filed if it hadn’t been for one thing: stigma. “The sightings were not often reported up the military’s chain of command, [former senator Harry Reid] said, because service members were afraid they would be laughed at or stigmatized,” one Times piece reads.

 
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American culture is steeped in depictions of what would happen if sophisticated aliens visited Earth, from E.T. to Arrival to Independence Day. Some are more hackneyed than others; some are downright terrifying. But outside the clear genres of fiction, most conversations about UFOs happen online, and with varying degrees of vehemence.

Let’s face it — believing in the paranormal has become shorthand for crazy.

“60 years of folklorization and Hollywood production have, in the minds of the general public, definitely trivialized the subject. It has become a ‘standard’ consumer product,” Jean-Christophe Doré, the technical manager for UFO-SCIENCE, the French association that aims to scientifically evaluate aspects of UFO phenomena, tells Futurism.

 But to some, that association might be changing. Luis Elizondo, the military official formerly in charge of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, told The New York Times’ Daily podcast:

"I think we’re entering an era of actual evidence. We’ve reached a moment of critical mass of credible witnesses, and these are witnesses that are in charge of multi-million-dollar weapon platforms with, in some cases, the highest level of security clearances and in some cases they’re trained observers. When these individuals are trying to report something, ‘Hey I saw this when I was flying,’ that can be turned around and people say ‘hey look if you’re crazy, there goes your flight status.’ Or all of a sudden commander so-and-so in charge of this very elite fighter wing will no longer be taken seriously. In fact, people are going to start to judge whether or not maybe our friend here might not be a little crazy, or maybe some loose screws. That’s always a threat to these people’s career. And let’s face it, these people have to pay their taxes, they have to pay their mortgages, they have families, they’re putting their kids through school. And frankly, they’re just really good patriots and they want to do the right thing. And that stigma is pretty powerful. It stops a lot of people from reporting something maybe they would normally report."

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"Alien Minds: Artificial Intelligence Is Already Out There, and It's Billions of Years Old" (WATCH Video)

 

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Susan Schneider of the University of Connectict and the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton is one of the few thinkers—outside the realm of science fiction— that have considered the notion that artificial intelligence is already out there, and has been for eons. "I do not believe that most advanced alien civilizations will be biological," Schneider says. "The most sophisticated civilizations will be postbiological, forms of artificial intelligence or alien superintelligence."

Her recent study, Alien Minds, asks "How would intelligent aliens think? Would they have conscious experiences? Would it feel a certain way to be an alien?"

 

 

While we are aware that our culture is anthropomorphizing, Schneider imagines that her suggestion that aliens are supercomputers may strike us as far-fetched. So what is her rationale for the view that most intelligent alien civilizations will have members that are superintelligent AI?

Schneider offers three observations that together, support her conclusion for the existence of alien superintelligence.

The first is "the short window observation": Once a society creates the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are only a few hundred years away from changing their own paradigm from biology to AI. This “short window” makes it more likely that the aliens we encounter would be postbiological.

The short window observation is supported by human cultural evolution, at least thus far. Our first radio signals date back only about a hundred and twenty years, and space exploration is only about fifty years old, but we are already immersed in digital technology, such as cell-phones and laptop computers.

Schneider's second argument is "the greater age of alien civilizations." Proponents of SETI have often concluded that alien civilizations would be much older than our own “…all lines of evidence converge on the conclusion that the maximum age of extraterrestrial intelligence would be billions of years, specifically [it] ranges from 1.7 billion to 8 billion years.

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What We've Learned From 60 Years of U.S.-Funded UFO Probes

 

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1947 Roswell (Project Mogul),1948-1952 Projects Sign and Grudge, 1952-1969 Project Blue Book, 1960 Project Ozma, 1970s and ‘80s CIA Investigations of Paranormal and Psychic Phenomena, 1976-1993 SETI/HRMS, 1990s to now and beyond NASA’s Astrobiology Institute.

As you can see from the listing above, the newly revealed Pentagon program is certainly not the first federally funded project to hunt for signs of advanced intelligence in the galaxy, says National Geographic in their comprehensive report by Nadia Drake triggered by the secret U.S. government program that studied unexplained aerial phenomena—more colloquially referred to as UFOs—that came as a surprise to many when stories describing it appeared almost simultaneously in the New York Times and Politico.

The Pentagon’s project, called the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program, was reportedly established in 2007 to investigate unexplained aerial phenomena that appeared to be using novel propulsive, hovering, or otherwise advanced technologies. A 490-page report detailing the program’s findings supposedly exists, though it has not yet been released.

Some may think that the very existence of this project supports the idea that aliens are visiting us, says National Geo, but that’s not a logical conclusion. The undeniable truth is that observations of a puzzling nature certainly merit investigation, as long as it’s done scientifically. And this project is not even close to the first U.S. government-funded search for evidence of advanced intelligence—so far, to little effect.

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Chasing Shadows –Alien UFOs, the Government, A Punk Rocker & The New York Times

 

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By Jason Koebler

Last weekend the New York Times published a thrilling expose about a secret Department of Defense program dedicated to the investigation of unidentified flying objects. The report, coauthored by three Times journalists including two Pulitzer Prize winners, has on-the-record statements by the man who ran the program, videos of UFOs filmed by the Pentagon, and confirmation of its existence and purpose from former Senator Harry Reid, who earmarked $22 million for the program.

It also has tantalizing details about possible alien alloys in the possession of the Department of Defense that, as Deadspin notes, went curiously un-freaked-out about as America collectively ho-hummed at this truly wild revelation. I, too, was busy and realize this post is a bit late, but I don't want to live in a society in which the statute of limitations on possible extraterrestrials is less than a week.

Listen to Radio Interview Here

As I read the Times story and listened to The Daily podcast interview with reporter Helene Cooper and Luis Elizondo, the man who headed the Pentagon program until he resigned earlier this year, I was struck by how similar the story is to one former Blink 182 frontman Tom DeLonge told Motherboard on our podcast more than two years ago. DeLonge, you’ll remember, quit the band to focus on studying UFOs full-time. He was called a kook at the time, but much of his story checks out. DeLonge is credible enough that Elizondo and two other former DOD officials who worked on the program recently joined his To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, which is producing fiction and nonfiction books about UFOs.

I revisited our interview with DeLonge and compared it to the details that were included in the Times story to move a step closer to figuring out: How right is Tom DeLonge?

 

 

DeLonge has always claimed that extraterrestrials and advanced flying technologies are under the purview of the Department of Defense; when we talked to him he mentioned “getting connected with one person who is of the highest level and rank in a very, very specific division of the Department of Defense. The program described by the Times is a DoD program.

Much of his first book, Chasing Shadows (which DeLonge calls “historical fiction”), is about secret government programs to recover, test, and ultimately build alien technology for use in warfare. When we asked him about that on our podcast, he said that part was true: “When they build a tech for the first time, they build it all in different locations, they assemble it at one location, and test it at another location,” DeLonge said. “When they operate it, they operate it at a different location.”

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"Disclosure?" — Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta Tweets "Lift the Veil" On Secret Pentagon UFO Revelation (Video)

 

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Clinton campaign chief John Podesta tweets "Lift the Veil" after Pentagon UFO exposé by the New York Times. Podesta tweeted a link to reports about the explosive news adding: "#TheTruthIsOutThere."

Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager said the "veil over UFOs is lifted" following news about a secret Pentagon probe into the phenomena, suggesting that the US Government knows more than it lets on. Podesta, who was chief of staff to President Bill Clinton and Counselor to President Barack Obama, tweeted a call for openness about aliens and UFOs after details of the Department of Defense Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification $22 million program investigating the threat posed by UFOs were revealed this weekend.

 

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"The Aliens are Coming, and No One Cares"

 

Washington, DC via the Washington Post. Hold on to your tinfoil hats. The New York Times reported this weekend that the Pentagon houses a program devoted to the study of unidentified flying objects. The Defense Department claims the 10-year-old initiative has been shut down, but others say the funding ended and the work went on — between officials’ other duties, in the shadows, as mysterious as its extraterrestrial subjects.

The government, apparently, reports the Washington Post, thinks those subjects are real enough to have spent $22 million per year on probing their whereabouts. (Skeptics point out that then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) requested much of the initial funding and that most of it went to an aerospace research company run by a longtime billionaire friend of his.)

[The video below was filmed in 2004 and investigated as part of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. It's not clear if the object was ever identified.]

 

The program gathered recordings of reported UFO sightings, including military footage of a glowing ship shooting through the sky. It also collected metal alloys of, well, alien composition. Its director declared in a 2009 briefing summary that “what was considered science fiction is now science fact.”

 And we don’t care.

Well, some of us do. The extraterrestrial exposé  has prompted some commentators to raise a digital eyebrow. But mostly, the possibility of alien invasion has not managed to break through the Trump bubble. It’s not prompting columnists to columnize, or even that many tweeters to tweet. We’re too busy placing bets on whether special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation will meet an early end, or crying out against misbegotten votes by moderates for a bad tax bill. We have no time to contemplate the cosmos.

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Image credit top of page: With thanks to fractal designer Julius Horthuis

 

SETI Alien Hunter 'Nixes' Pentagon's Secret UFO Program –But Believes "Advanced Intelligent Life Will Be Confirmed Within Next 20 Years"

 

 

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When the New York Times reported last Saturday that the Pentagon had had taken part in a partially declassified program at a cost of $22 million to investigate UFOs, called the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), SETI Institute senior astronomer Seth Shostak told Inverse magazine in an interview "that there is something unnerving about this story, but it’s not the UFOs.". 

“There are a couple examples of really puzzling phenomenon,” Shostak told Inverse. “I mean, I get it, but there’ve always been puzzling cases. There are always plenty of interesting cases, and they make for great television shows. But this doesn’t mean they involve phenomena we’ve never seen before.”

For years, the Pentagon program investigated reports of unidentified flying objects, according to Defense Department officials, interviews with program participants and records obtained by The New York Times. It was run by a military intelligence official, Luis Elizondo, on the fifth floor of the Pentagon’s C Ring, deep within the building’s maze.

The shadowy program — parts of it remain classified — began in 2007 says the New York Times, and initially it was largely funded at the request of Harry Reid, the Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time and who has long had an interest in space phenomena. Most of the money went to an aerospace research company run by a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Mr. Reid’s, Robert Bigelow, who is currently working with NASA to produce expandable craft for humans to use in space.

On CBS’s “60 Minutes” in May, Mr. Bigelow said he was “absolutely convinced” that aliens exist and that U.F.O.s have visited Earth.

 

 

 

Shostak told Inverse that Bigelow’s obsession with extraterrestrials has gone back much longer. “I know him a little bit; he’s a nice guy!” Shostak explains. “But he’s thought there’s been evidence of an alien visitation for a very long time, as least as long as I’ve known him, and that’s been about 15 years. “If the aliens were actually visiting us since 1947, when they made that navigation error in New Mexico, you’d have really good evidence,” Shostak says. “It wouldn’t all be in the hands of the government — and not just the government, our government. If the aliens had bothered to visit any other countries, wouldn’t they have evidence? I find it hard to believe that everybody’s covering it up."

 “The bottom line is somebody spent 20 million dollars of your tax dollars to look into this and they didn’t come up with anything.”

This past fall, while speaking to Futurism at the Worlds Fair Nano NY, Shostak “bet everybody a cup of coffee” that the existence of intelligent extraterrestrials will be confirmed within the next two decades. In fact, Shostak has often said that he expects advanced alien civilizations will be thousands if not millions of years ahead of us.

Yet, Shostak seems to ignore the possibility, no matter how remote, that alien life might have have conquered the daunting time problems of travel across the vast reaches of the cosmic ocean and entered our star system.

"Do you think that we've missed signals along the way?" SyFyWire's Don Kaye asked Shostak during a recent interview about the movie, The Arrival. "That we're totally unaware of. That there are possibly signals that are being transmitted in such a way that we're too primitive to pick them up?"

"Well, I don't know if we're too primitive," Shostak answered, "but I agree with you. I'm sure we've missed signals. I'm sure there's signals coming from somebody that we're totally unaware of because we're not aiming the big antenna in the right direction, tuned to the right frequency, and all that sort of stuff. I mean we can easily miss that. The universe is 13 billion years old, right? There's been plenty of time for intelligence to pop up on lots and lots of worlds out there, and there's lot of them that are older than the Earth, so they may have a tremendous head start. So yeah, I'm sure we've missed a lot of clues."

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