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UFOs matter in various ways. My aim in this post is to outline some of the ways in which UFOs are relevant to altruistic priorities, and thereby make a case for why it is worth taking UFOs seriously.[1]

 

1. Sufficient grounds for curiosity

The best witness reports and footage of UFOs are more noteworthy than one might expect if one has never looked into the subject. I have tried to collect some of the most credible reports and footage I have been able to find in “What credible UFO evidence?”. In view of such reports and footage, I submit that there are enough (inconclusive) clues to warrant closer attention to the topic of UFOs.

One reason the topic is worthy of closer attention is that UFOs might hint at a significant change in our worldview, such as when it comes to our beliefs about extraterrestrial life and technology (this is at least a possibility, and our prior should arguably not be that low). Given how consequential such a change could potentially be — including when it comes to informing and changing our long-term moral priorities — the current state of evidence seems sufficiently puzzling to warrant further attention.

(If the issue had less potential to be of massive import, the bar for “clues worthy of closer attention” would be higher; I suspect that one reason people tend to dismiss the topic of UFOs is that they do not think about it in such “expected value-adjusted” terms — along with the social stigma and the giggle factor, of course.)

 

2. UFOs are a serious political and military issue

Whatever one’s view of UFOs, the reality on the ground is that UFOs are starting to be taken seriously by influential political institutions. For example, UFOs were discussed in the European Parliament in March 2024, and retired US Air Force pilots Ryan Graves and David Fravor gave testimony about UFOs to the US Congress in 2023.

UFO policy can indeed matter a lot more than one might naively think, regardless of what UFOs may be. To give just one example, consider the risk of UFOs being misidentified as foreign adversaries and in turn triggering an international conflict involving nuclear weapons. Having adequate policies in place regarding UFOs could be critical for avoiding such accidental catastrophes.

One might think that this example sounds too speculative to be worth taking seriously, yet the truth is that UFOs have in fact often been observed at nuclear facilities, both in the US and Iran, as well as at regular military facilities in countries like Peru and China (and many others). There are even some reports suggesting that UFOs may have been close to triggering a major international conflict in the past, such as in the Soviet Union in the 1980s (see also page 256 in this pdf). Relatedly, US Air Force pilot Milton Torres said that his first concern when he was ordered to shoot down a UFO in 1957 was that he was about to fire the first shot of World War III.

Other issues for which UFO policy may be relevant include aviation safety, (mis)trust in public institutions, and international coordination for better understanding UFOs. (For some additional perspectives on the political relevance of UFOs, see e.g. Alexander Wendt’s presentation “Dangerous Knowledge? UAP Science and the Anthropocentric State” as well as Wendt & Duvall, 2008.)

Thus, developing adequate political and military responses (or non-responses) to UFOs could be a high priority, regardless of what UFOs in fact are. The political and military relevance of UFOs is in itself a sufficient reason to take UFOs seriously.

 

3. Potential implications of “UFOs as advanced intelligence”

In this section, I will tentatively speculate about what the implications might be if UFOs represent some form of advanced intelligence that is far more powerful than humanity and any human-created technology. I believe that the points and resources found in the earlier section on “sufficient grounds for curiosity” warrant such speculative and conditional exploration, at least in some measure.

A complementary motivation for this speculative exploration is that one may critically ask: So what if UFOs were some kind of advanced intelligence? What would that change in practical terms? The following is an attempt to outline some potential answers to that question, and to thereby show that there is plausibly a lot to say in response to that “so what?” question. It really is a “big if true” conjecture, also from an altruistic perspective.

But let me stress again that I am very much speculating here, and what I write below is to be read as a conditional exploration: if UFOs are some form of highly advanced intelligence, what might be the implications?

 

3.1 Changing our future expectations and priorities

“UFOs as advanced intelligence” would change our expectations and priorities for the future. In particular, it would probably mean that the long-term future of our corner of the universe is mostly not within the control of humanity or its descendants.

Instead, it seems likely that the (assumed) advanced UFOs would mostly be in control, and that they would prevent humanity from becoming as advanced as they are, since that could in effect threaten their power. Note that this yields a falsifiable prediction: the picture just outlined would predict that the advanced UFOs should intervene to prevent humanity from developing “optimized technologies” that could compete with theirs — unless there somehow comes to be a sufficient convergence in ultimate aims.

 

3.2 Two broad shifts: Greater near-term focus and influencing them on their margin

Two broad shifts in priorities seem to follow conditional on “UFOs as advanced intelligence that will mostly control our corner of the universe”.

First, it would seem to update us toward prioritizing impact in the relatively near term. Note that this is a directional claim: the claim is not that near-term impact would necessarily become the main priority, but rather that we should likely update our priorities in that direction (under this kind of scenario). The reason, in short, is that our near-term impact seems relatively unchanged under this kind of scenario, whereas our long-term impact seems greatly reduced (compared to a scenario in which humanity or its descendants mostly does control this corner of the universe).

Thus, contrary to what one might expect, updating toward “UFOs as advanced intelligence” might in some ways imply a greater focus on more near-term and more commonsensical altruistic priorities. That being said, in light of both the scope and the neglectedness of the long-term future, the magnitude of the update toward (more of) a near-term focus may be quite modest overall.

Second, the best way to have a long-term impact would likely change under this scenario. In particular, if an advanced foreign intelligence will mostly control the long-term future, it could be that the best opportunity we have for long-term impact is to influence that advanced intelligence on its margin (i.e. a limited relative impact on its future actions that could nevertheless be large in absolute terms). At the very least, it seems that our priorities should be updated in that direction under this kind of scenario.

It is difficult to say what we could do to have a beneficial long-term influence conditional on “UFOs as advanced intelligence”, but a helpful first step would probably be to seek a better understanding of this advanced intelligence. In general, if there are advanced UFOs around Earth, understanding their motives and likely future actions would seem to be a top priority for our actions, as that would plausibly have significant implications for what kinds of political institutions, ideologies, AI systems, and so on we should ideally create and adopt. In concrete terms, this might imply having more researchers seriously exploring these kinds of issues.

 

3.3 Relevance to the ethics of extinction

The scenario explored here would also be relevant to the ethics of extinction in various ways. For example, it would imply that the extinction of humanity would be a lot less consequential (for better or worse), since humanity would not control much of the universe’s future in any case. As a result, human extinction would plausibly be less important to focus on (from an impartial perspective). Relatedly, human extinction might not mark the end of humanity’s influence on the future, since human decisions could have a marginal impact on the future even when there are no longer any humans or human descendants around (through the kind of limited relative impact alluded to above).

The scenario would also have significant implications when it comes to ideas about vacuum phase transitions and the like that might unleash destruction on a cosmic scale (see e.g. Bostrom 2002). In particular, under this kind of scenario, we should update strongly toward thinking that such events of cosmic destruction cannot realistically be unleashed by humanity or any group of humans. After all, an ultra-powerful intelligence that has not already unleashed such an event itself is unlikely to allow any real risk of such events to be posed by others.

 

3.4 UFOs themselves might matter morally

If UFOs represent an advanced intelligence, might they be sentient? If they are sentient, and if they permeate much of the cosmos (big ifs, to be sure), they could well be the most numerous sentient beings in the universe, and their welfare might generally dominate in impartial welfare calculations.

In simple expected value calculations, the potentially vast number of sentient UFO probes could mean that their interests dominate in expectation even if we place a relatively low probability on their sentience (conditional on their existence). Indeed, they might dominate even if we place a fairly low probability on the existence of such probes in the first place (i.e. if we make no assumptions about their existence).

Of course, there are good reasons to take simple and speculative expected value calculations with huge grains of salt. Yet even so, it seems worth considering the mere possibility that cosmically permeating probes might be the most numerous sentient beings in the universe, and to ponder what the implications of that scenario would be. Furthermore, the state of UFO evidence observed on Earth may be relevant evidence for or against that scenario, which is an additional reason to pay closer attention to the state of that evidence.

 

3.5 What “UFOs as advanced intelligence” would not change

There is a grain of truth buried in the “so what?” question raised above: in some respects, the existence of advanced UFOs would not imply significant changes. For example, there would still be an important role to play for human agency. There would still be ongoing moral catastrophes on Earth that we can act to reduce, and there would still be future risks that we can seek to minimize, even if our assessment of the broader landscape of future risks would change. In short, our actions would still matter.

 

4. Concluding meta-notes on UFO discourse

The subject of UFOs has a lot of baggage associated with it. Thus, to motivate anyone to take it seriously, it may be useful to take a step back and make a few comments about the state of UFO discourse.

 

4.1 Two kinds of UFO discourse

Perhaps the most important point to convey is that there are, broadly speaking, two very different kinds of UFO discourse (although they occasionally have some overlap). The best way I know to describe it is with an analogy to the discourse on “quantum mechanics”.

We can broadly distinguish two rather different kinds of discourse about quantum mechanics. One mainly happens among people who have PhDs in physics — people who do experiments, publish research papers, and make cumulative progress. The other happens among people who are into quantum healing and the like — people who essentially invoke “quantum mechanics” as a way to dress up various supernatural beliefs.

Now, if someone had mostly heard about “quantum mechanics” from the latter group, it would be quite understandable for that person to dismiss all talk about quantum mechanics as lacking in evidence and rigor, and to be hesitant about looking deeper into it, in effect throwing the quantum baby out with the bathwater.

I believe that many people make this kind of mistake when it comes to UFOs. That is, there is a similar distinction to be drawn in UFO discourse, and many people dismiss the UFO topic at large because they associate it with exotic things like sightings of biological aliens and human-looking aliens living among us — the kinds of things that one will mostly find in the “quantum healing” part of UFO discourse.

But this overlooks the rather different, more serious discourse on UFOs. (Along with “serious”, one could aptly refer to it as the “cautious” UFO discourse.) This discourse includes the kinds of reports I have collected in “What credible UFO evidence?”. In terms of individuals and institutions, it includes:

Generally speaking, this more serious part of UFO discourse is not about biological aliens, but instead about objects that seem to display advanced capabilities beyond those of any known human technology. For example, these objects often accelerate rapidly to supersonic speeds, and they sometimes display what appear to be intelligently controlled maneuvers (e.g. in the Nimitz case and the case of Oscar Santa Maria Huerta in Peru; see also Coumbe, 2022).

Arguably, this part of UFO discourse deserves much more attention than discourse involving biological aliens visiting Earth, based on both priors and the observed evidence.

In terms of priors, it seems likely that advanced forms of intelligence would evolve to become fully engineered and non-biological in the long run. Moreover, when considering the extraterrestrial hypothesis for the origin of UFOs, it seems far more likely that self-steering artificial craft would traverse interstellar distances than that biological creatures would. For these reasons, claims involving non-humanly created craft around Earth are considerably more plausible a priori than claims involving biological aliens visiting Earth. 

Similarly, in terms of observed evidence on Earth, the evidence for the existence of advanced objects that could potentially be non-humanly created craft is generally much stronger than the evidence for biological aliens. For example, the former sometimes involves multi-sensor data with radar evidence, FLIR footage, and eye-witness accounts from professional aviators and radar operators, all in the same case (e.g. in the Nimitz case; see also this playlist and Coumbe, 2022). In contrast, no such multi-sensor evidence exists in the case of alleged biological aliens.

To be clear, these claims about priors and evidence are claims about relative plausibility, suggesting that the existence of non-humanly created craft around Earth is more plausible than biological aliens on Earth. They are not claims about the absolute plausibility of either of these conjectures. Still, the points outlined above underscore that we have good reasons to look at the serious UFO discourse with rather different eyes than the more exotic part of UFO discourse, and to draw a clear distinction between these divergent segments of the conversation on UFOs.

 

4.2 Mixed discourse may contribute to neglectedness

Finally, it is worth noting how the mixed discourse on UFOs may contribute to an undue neglect of the topic, including by aspiring altruists.[2] This can happen for at least two reasons.

First, the mixed discourse can make it unclear from the outside that there indeed is a serious and cautious discourse buried in the dunghill, since that part of the discourse can easily drown in the less cautious one. As a result, most people might never find the serious discourse, even if they casually try to look for it. Note that this state of affairs might sustain itself and even worsen over time due to a kind of adverse selection: those who are turned off by incautious claims and poor reasoning may stay away from the topic altogether (perhaps quite reasonably, based on what they have seen), while those who are less bothered by such things may happily join in and add their accordant contributions.

Second, the less cautious part of the discourse can further increase the strong social stigma that surrounds the issue, which may in turn discourage us from engaging seriously with the topic — lest other people think we have poor epistemic standards or that we belong to the “quantum healing” coalition.

In the marketplace of ideas, a strong social stigma can serve almost as a de facto ban against seriously exploring a given topic. (This is perhaps especially true in academia, where people may need to worry about things like gatekeepers and ladder-climbing.) Thus, similar to how a strict legal ban can prevent an otherwise feasible product from being developed and brought to market, the “incautious-discourse-fueled” stigma on UFOs may impede efficient understanding and updating related to the UFO topic. In other words, incautious UFO discourse may contribute to a massive inefficiency in humanity’s exploration of UFOs due to human embarrassment and reputational concerns.


Acknowledgments

Thanks to Dony Christie, Tristan Cook, Henry Shevlin, Pablo Stafforini, and Alexander Wendt for helpful comments.

  1. ^

    In recent times, the term “Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena” (UAP) has become increasingly common, and it is indeed a better term than “UFO” in some ways. For example, the term “UAP” is broader in that it covers more than just objects that appear to fly (e.g. it can include objects that travel under water). Another advantage is that the term “UAP” explicitly refers to objects that seem genuinely anomalous, not merely objects that are unidentified. I here stick to the term “UFO” for what could be called historical reasons, but that choice is admittedly quite debatable, and it is probably worth moving toward using the term “UAP” instead.

  2. ^

    Thanks to Pablo Stafforini and Dony Christie for suggesting this point.

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I'm curious about your take on Mick West's commentary re: UFOs. He seems to think they are all explainable by pretty mundane things including confused perspective (e.g. things being farther away than pilots estimate), weather balloons, etc. I have not taken a deep dive into the particular cases and his explanations don't seem to address some of the more puzzling cases to me but I would be interested to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for asking :)

Some background notes that may be relevant: When I first heard about the UFO topic in a more serious way (I think when Sam Harris first talked about it, ~2017-2018?), I searched for debunkings and came upon Mick West's debunking videos. I found them convincing and in effect I dismissed the topic for years, feeling vindicated in my pre-existing position of total dismissal toward the topic (until I read Hanson's post "My awkward inference" in late April 2023 and decided to take a deeper look, as described at the outset of this post).

Second, West has made various debunking videos that are IMO clearly on point, in the sense of successfully explaining some allegedly anomalous footage in mundane terms. Such debunkings are helpful and represent one of the ways in which his presence in the discussion is valuable, IMO.

Third, I've heard various interviews with Mick West, including with people who have different perspectives than him, and in those interviews he tends to come across as a lot more open-minded and cautious than how he comes across in his debunking videos, where he often seems (to me) more animated by motivated reasoning (like: "It must be this thing"). This is perhaps not surprising, since a debunking video sort of does have a preconceived aim, namely to debunk, which is not quite the same as neutrally analyzing. (West himself seems to make some related concessions here.) So seeing him in such interviews and conversations can IMO help give a more balanced sense of Mick West's thinking (and also of how he's a lot more friendly and good-natured than how he can come across in places like Twitter, but maybe that's a truism at this point :).

Moving on to the more substantive side of things. One problem, in my view, is that West sometimes gives explanations that don't seem consistent with the evidence that surrounds the footage in question, which is sometimes more noteworthy. For example, in the Nimitz case, he attempts to debunk the FLIR footage (shot by Chad Underwood), but even if that debunking were successful, he seems to have no plausible explanation for the data reported by pilots such as Alex Dietrich and David Fravor (two of the four pilots who saw the "tic-tac" object directly), or radar experts such as Kevin Day and Gary Voorhis. I think it would be convenient if we could just close our eyes and ears and ignore what these people have reported, but that doesn't seem to me like good epistemic practice (even though it makes sense to be skeptical, of course).

The same goes for the so-called Gimbal video (which, FWIW, I don't have any particular take on myself). For instance, he seems to ignore that one of the pilots says "There's a whole fleet of them, look on the SA [Situational Awareness; a kind of display that monitors surroundings, AFAIU]". That would at least seem to pose a problem for his proposed explanation of the footage. (For some additional criticism/another perspective on Gimbal in particular, see e.g. https://arxiv.org/pdf/2306.08773 and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsbMIm9QtEA)

In general, I think West is valuable for the broader discussion, but I don't think his commentary gives us reason to dismiss the subject (as I once did). I think there's good reason to take a closer look at the evidence, and I would encourage people to do so (I suspect that this is the biggest bottleneck preventing people from taking the issue seriously: actually looking at the evidence).

This is a super helpful response, thanks!

What makes eyewitness reports of UFOs more credible than eyewitness reports of miracles, which are if anything more frequent?

I think there is something to be said about the level of earned credibility of some of the people claiming UFOs versus other sorts of miracles. I am generally more likely to trust a navy officer who is not obviously into the mythology of UFOs and reports what they saw without tacking on an interpretation than a random person who has not gone through any of the kinds of vetting for trustworthiness that a career as a military officer entails and is clearly super into the mythology of their particular miracle.

For one, eye-witness reports of UFOs have in many cases been corroborated by radar evidence, which to my knowledge has not happened in the case of any claimed miracles. (See e.g. this playlist, the 1952 Washington DC incident, the 1986 Brazil incident, and Coumbe, 2022.)

Second, the eye-witnesses are in many cases trained pilots who describe going through a fairly rational process of hypothesis testing, like "first I thought it might be a balloon, then that was ruled out by x maneuver", "then I thought of y conventional hypothesis, but that was ruled out by z". And the witnesses generally don't have any interest in UFOs, and they often report finding it difficult to believe what they saw.

Third, there are a number of cases where different pilots report seeing the same object from different angles (e.g. Dietrich and Fravor from different jets).

Executive summary: UFOs are relevant to altruistic priorities in various ways and deserve to be taken seriously, as they could potentially hint at significant changes to our worldview and have important political and military implications.

Key points:

  1. Credible UFO reports and footage provide sufficient grounds for curiosity and further investigation, given the potentially massive import of the topic.
  2. UFOs are a serious political and military issue, with implications for international conflicts, aviation safety, public trust, and global coordination.
  3. If UFOs represent advanced intelligence, it could change our future expectations and priorities, implying less long-term control by humanity and more focus on influencing the advanced intelligence on the margin.
  4. The welfare of potentially vast numbers of sentient UFO probes could dominate in impartial moral considerations.
  5. Serious, cautious UFO discourse focused on unexplained advanced capabilities is often conflated with less credible claims about alien visitation, contributing to the neglect of the topic.

 

 

This comment was auto-generated by the EA Forum Team. Feel free to point out issues with this summary by replying to the comment, and contact us if you have feedback.

Regarding your credible UFO evidence did you look up the Aguadilla 2013 footage on metabunk? It's mundane. All I really needed to hear was "the IR camera was on a plane", which then calls into question the assumption that it's moving quickly, it only looks that way due to parallax, and in fact it seems like it was a lantern moving at wind speed.
And I'd agree with this member's take that the NYC 2010 one looks like balloons that were initially tethered coming apart.

The sao paulo video is interesting though, I hadn't seen that before.

My fav videos are dadsfriend films a hovering black triangle (could have been faked with some drones but I still like it) and the Nellis Air Range footage. But I've seen so many videos debunked that I don't put much stock in these.

You would probably enjoy my UFO notes, I see (fairly) mundane explanations a lot of the other stuff too. So at this point, I don't think we have compelling video evidence at all, I think all we have is a lot of people saying that they saw things that were really definitely something, and I sure do wonder why they're all saying these things. I don't know if we'll ever know.

Thanks for your comment and for the links :)

I don't think we have compelling video evidence at all

I'd agree that there's no compelling video evidence in the sense of it being remotely conclusive; it's possible that it's all mundane. But it seems to me that some of the footage is sufficiently puzzling/sufficiently unclear so as to be worthy of investigation, and that it provides some (further) reason to take this issue seriously. I agree that the reports, including reports involving radar evidence, are more noteworthy in terms of existing evidence.

Regarding the Aguadilla 2013 footage: perhaps this can be explained in conventional terms, but the aspiring analysts on metabunk seem to deny that the object went into the water and moved in the water, which seems wrong to me (of course, I acknowledge that it can be difficult to interpret and make sense of footage like this). A contrasting analysis, which also includes some anomalous radar evidence, can be found in Coumbe, 2022, ch. 5.

On the 2010 NYC footage: You could be right, it's possible that they are tethered balloons (although the patterns of movement don't seem to me consistent with that; e.g. even after the distances between the three objects increase, they still seem to move together in "fixed" unison). I also find it worth noting that Carolina Londono from New York comments the following (edit: I include this comment only as very weak evidence, of course, but FWIW, I'm fairly confident that I've identified this person and I'm trying to authenticate the comment; it's also worth noting that the comment is consistent with many other UFO reports, especially the part about the objects accelerating away near-instantaneously at the end):

I never leave comments on anything, ever. But I sought to find this video because I was there that day. I stood there for a very long time, and it really was an insane experience. For those saying these were “weather balloons” etc. Trust me, they weren’t. What this footage didn’t capture was that as it continued, more of these objects appeared, making all sorts of shapes, joining closer together then quickly going apart just hovering. All of the sudden, they disappeared in a way that I can only describe as cartoonish (like when the roadrunner would quickly run and disappear out of frame and only leave smoke). Like I said, it was insane.

seem to deny that the object went into the water and moved in the water

Did you notice that there are moments where it goes most of the way invisible over the land too? Also, when it supposedly goes under the water, it doesn't move vertically at all? (So in order to be going underwater it would have to be veering exactly away and towards the camera)
So I interpret that to be the cold side of the lantern being blown to obscure the warm side.

they still seem to move together in "fixed" unison

They all answer to the wind, and the wind is somewhat unitary.

this comment

Yeah, I saw that. Some people said some things indeed. Although I do think it's remarkable how many people are saying such things, and none of them ever looked like liars to me, I remind people to bear in mind the absolute scale of the internet and how many kinds of people it contains and how comment ranking works. Even if only the tiniest fraction of people would tell a lie that lame, a tiny fraction of the united states is thousands of people, and most of those people are going to turn up, and only the most convincing writing will be upvoted.

I think that UFOs are really a wildcard in x-risk research. 
1.Even if UFOs don't have any serious substance behind them, the fact that many serious military people and even presidents believed in them, should update our prior about human irrationality and therefore increase our expectation that nuclear risks and AI risks will be mismanaged.

2.If UFOs have an interesting, but not world-model-shattering explanation, e.g. they are a form of ball lightings, this opens a possibility of creating new weapons after their nature will be learned. 

3. If their explanation is world-model-shattering, all our expectations about x-risks are wrong. 
World-model-shattering explanations are not only classical aliens. 

They can be:
-glitches and viruses in the matrix; 

-space-faring animals consisting from exotic fields; 

-clouds of nanobots from already extinct civilizations. 

-malfunctioning berserks-robots

-elaborated lies from cold war era similar to other memetic mind attacks like "red mercury" or number radio stations.

I find your 1st point in contradiction to your later points. Your first point seems to say that taking them seriously implies a certain level of irrationality but your later points imply that you yourself take them seriously, including some more out -there explanations.

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While I can and do understand the considerations about consequences of the existence of advanced extraterrestrial intelligence, I feel like this post gets it backwards and tries to find reasons why it’s reasonable to take UFOs seriously instead of arriving at that conclusion after careful deliberation.

Edit to make my point clearer: This feels like an instance of Pascal's Mugging. You can claim vast potential moral importance for anything by postulating it to be an indication of extraterrestrial intelligence which makes it arbitrary to me. I admit that the connection UFO <-> extraterrestrial intelligence is more immediate than in other cases, but I think that ignores the priors. Also I'm very unconvinced by and skeptical about underlining the credibility of the "serious" UFO discourse by providing a list of prominent people engaged with it; I'm positive you can do similarly impressive lists for exactly the sort of discourse of paranormal phenomena you're trying to distinguish from.

Deeply personal and maybe overly poignant opinion, but: This is my stop on the train to CrazyTown.

I feel like this post gets it backwards and tries to find reasons why it’s reasonable to take UFOs seriously instead of arriving at that conclusion after careful deliberation.

The starting point of the post is that there are sufficient grounds for curiosity in light of existing reports/evidence. So to be clear, the initial and main motivation I present for taking UFOs seriously is that evidence, which I claim crosses the bar for "worthy of taking a closer look".

I admit that the connection UFO <-> extraterrestrial intelligence is more immediate than in other cases, but I think that ignores the priors.

FWIW, I've written some posts related to priors, outlining some reasons why I don't think they should be that low:

See also Hanson's post "On UFOs-As-Aliens Priors" and these comments by Jacob Cannell.

Also I'm very unconvinced by and skeptical about underlining the credibility of the "serious" UFO discourse by providing a list of prominent people engaged with it; I'm positive you can do similarly impressive lists for exactly the sort of discourse of paranormal phenomena you're trying to distinguish from.

This seems to misunderstand what I tried to do with that list. The point is not simply to list some prominent people, but rather to give examples of, and direct readers to, the content of the serious UFO discourse. That is, my hope is not that readers will just look at that list of people and find it impressive or so, but instead that readers will check out the content of what these people have said: the data they provide, how they reason, and so on.

Sure, it is in itself somewhat interesting that a physicist like Daniel Coumbe has researched the topic and written a book about it, but what is far more interesting is the actual content of that book. So too for the books written by J. Allen Hynek.

Also, is it really true that you can find nuclear launch officers (or the like) who have claimed that some other paranormal phenomenon interfered with their nuclear weapons (or a similarly consequential system)?

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