|1. 1689 S.W. Knollbrook Pl., Corvallis, Oregon 97333, USA.
2. National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP), Post Office Box 1535, Vallejo, California, USA.
3. Fund for UFO Research, Post Office Box 277, Mt Rainier, Maryland, 20712, USA.
4. Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, 4030 W. Braker Ln., Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78759, USA.
It has recently been argued that anthropic reasoning applied to inflation theory reinforces the prediction that we should find ourselves part of a large, galaxy-sized civilization, thus strengthening Fermi’s paradox concerning “Where are they?” Furthermore, superstring and M-brane theory allow for the possibility of parallel universes, some of which in principle could be habitable.
In addition, discussion of such exotic transport concepts as “traversable wormholes” now appears in the rigorous physics literature. As a result, the “We are alone” solution to Fermi’s paradox, based on the constraints of earlier 20th century viewpoints, appears today to be inconsistent with new developments in our best current physics and astrophysics theories. Therefore we reexamine and reevaluate the present assumption that extraterrestrials or their probes are not in the vicinity of Earth, and argue instead that some evidence of their presence might be found in certain high-quality UFO reports.
This study follows up on previous arguments that (1) interstellar travel for advanced civilizations is not a priori ruled out by physical principles and therefore may be practicable, and (2) such advanced civilizations may value the search for knowledge from uncontaminated species more than direct, interspecies communication, thereby accounting for apparent covertness regarding their presence.
The ever recurring question of why Earth has seemingly not been visited by extraterrestrials (ETs) has received considerable discussion under the topic of ‘Fermi’s paradox’.
In recent astronomical discoveries, over 100 exoplanets have been catalogued, with detection sensitivity now increased to the point where, in one instance, a Jupiter-sized planet was deduced to be in a Jupiter-like orbit around a Sol-like star .
The extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH), that intelligent life from ‘elsewhere’ in the universe could be visiting Earth, has become less implausible through suggestions that the velocity-of-light constraint ‘they can’t get here from there’ is not as restricting as had been assumed previously.
If GR itself were to be reinterpreted in terms of a polarisable vacuum as first proposed by Dicke , this would open the possibility of a different type of metric engineering in which the dielectric properties of the vacuum might be altered in such a way as to raise the local propagation velocity of light. In effect one would be creating a local index of refraction of less than unity .
Finally, there is the conjectured possibility of making use of the additional dimensionalities of M-brane and superstring theory to transfer into adjacent universes where the speed of light limit may be quite different and reentering our universe at the desired location. This is by far the most speculative possibility.
Clearly when it comes to engineering warp drive or wormhole solutions, seemingly insurmountable obstacles emerge, such as unattainable energy requirements  or the need for exotic matter .
There are further reasons why the ‘We are alone’ solution to Fermi’s paradox should perhaps be set aside in favor of the ETH. A previously preferred solution, that biogenesis is an exceedingly rare event in conjunction with both panspermia and interstellar travel being inoperative , is now scarcely tenable in light of the cosmological considerations already discussed.
Reports of unknown objects in the skies, appearing as some sort of flying craft and exhibiting extraordinary manoeuvres, first became known to the general public in 1947. The first publicized sighting occurred on June 24 of that year, after which there were many hundreds of sightings during the following months.
At first the U.S. Air Force collected the sighting reports for analysis in its operation Project Sign (1948-1949). This was succeeded by Project Grudge (1949-1952) and then Project Blue Book (1952-1969) [20, 25] . Some 20% of Project Blue Book’s sightings from 1953-1965 were left unexplained, if their ‘insufficient data’ category is included .
4. The Condon Report (1968)
In the late 1960’s, the U.S. Air Force issued a contract to the University of Colorado to carry out a scientific study of evidence concerning the UFO phenomenon.
The negative conclusion of the Report is more apparent than real however, since there is a substantial discrepancy between the conclusion in the “Summary of the Study” written by Condon single-handedly, and the conclusion one could reasonably draw from the evidence presented in the main body of the Report.
Given the thousand-page length of the Report, one can safely assume that very few in the scientific community would have devoted the time necessary to read the entire document.
‘A puzzling stimulus for a report of something seen in the sky or landed on the earth that could not be identified as having an ordinary natural origin.’
‘it difficult to ignore the small residue of well-documented but unexplainable cases that form the hard core of the UFO controversy’.
The primary conclusion of the Condon panel sidestepped the main issue, the failure to explain every sighting, by saying:
‘The evidence presented on Unidentified Flying Objects shows no indication that these phenomena constitute a direct physical threat to national security’ .
5. Re-Evaluation of the Phenomenon Needed
5.1 Sightings Since the Condon ReportThe self-inconsistency of the Condon Report, along with the strengthening of Fermi’s paradox through recent developments in cosmology, physics, astronomy and astrobiology, are but two reasons to reevaluate the UFO phenomenon.Another reason is that remarkable sightings did not cease with the publication of the Condon Report in 1969. Many detailed sightings since then have become available for examination.Scientists should not feel reluctant to study these inasmuch as the Report’s executive summary stated that ‘any scientist with adequate training and credentials who does come up with a clearly defined, specific proposal for study [of UFO reports] should be supported.’One example of sightings worth studying are those that occurred on December 31, 1978 off the northeast coast of South Island, New Zealand. These involved several channels of information recorded on tape and film during the sightings, correlated visual air- and ground-radar detections and light phenomena recorded on colour movie film as well as reports by the eight witnesses who were involved.Analysis of the recorded data and of the witness testimony indicates that unknown objects emitting bright light were detected on radar, filmed and apparently moved in response to the motions of the airplane carrying the witnesses. The sightings have defied all mundane explanations [31-32].
Some investigations of unexplainable sightings have been sponsored by governments outside the U.S.Since 1977 the French Space Agency has carried out an official investigation of UFO reports with its project GEPAN, later called SEPRA. In the Belgium sighting wave of 1989-90, civilian and military officials cooperated in sharing eyewitness, radar and video-image data of triangular-shaped craft.
5.2 Withheld Information Now AvailableThe Condon investigators did not have full access to the information and analysis compiled previously by the U.S. Air Force Office of Intelligence (AFOIN) or to all the information collected by Project Blue Book. Much of this information has been disclosed in the years since 1968. The information release has come about on five fronts.
First, the U.S. Air Force released the complete files of Project Blue Book in 1975. This release included the previously unavailable files of the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI).
Second, the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, which went into effect in the mid 1970s, resulted in the release of relevant information from other agencies (Federal Bureau of Investigation: FBI, in 1977; Central Intelligence Agency: CIA, in 1978; etc.), though often in a censored form [23-24].A third new source of information is the collection of previously withheld reports and analyses carried out by the AFOIN in the late 1940s and early 1950s.This information has been released in the last 20 years as a result of standard declassification requirements for old documents.It shows that Air Force intelligence privately concluded that as many as 5% of the sightings were unexplainable even though they were apparently accurate reports made by credible observers, thus contradicting the public statements of the Air Force that all sightings could be explained. The documents provide an explanation as to why Air Force intelligence told the FBI in August and again in October, 1952, that some top Air Force officials were seriously considering the ‘interplanetary’ explanation .
Fourth, governments of countries other than the United States, over the last 25 years, have released relevant information collected by their armed services and police. Not only has the French government, through GEPAN and SEPRA, released sighting documents but also England’s Ministry of Defense recently released a number of documents.The governments of Spain and Canada also released documents in the 1970s and 1980s. Moreover, some governments besides that of France have official investigative groups on this topic.In 1997, in response to civilian and military sightings over the previous years, the Chilean Air Force formed the Committee for the Study of Anomalous Phenomena (acronym, CEFAA in Spanish) directed by a former Air Force general and headquartered in the Technical School of Aeronautics in Santiago. One of us (Maccabee) was invited to Chile in 1999 to lecture at a symposium sponsored by the CEFAA and to discuss the sightings.The Peruvian Air Force set up a similar group in 2001. Brazil and Uruguay also have comparable investigative groups.
A fifth new source of information not available or utilized by the Condon group consists of the many witnesses to events in the 1940-1960 decades who had worked for the government or the military and after reaching retirement age, have come forward to divulge their first-hand knowledge .They have felt it was more important for the citizens to know what has been taking place than to continue to obey instructions to maintain silence about it. A reluctance to report UFO events arose because of a curtain of ridicule which, since the 1950s, had settled over the subject. It was induced in part by the CIA’s 1953 Robertson Panel that recommended a debunking programme against the reality of the phenomenon [20,22-23].
The debunking is most often implemented by an authority figure asserting, at his own volition and without interviewing the witnesses, that whatever was observed and reported as extraordinary was instead the misidentification of something mundane. This is demeaning to sincere, credible witnesses.The major news media quickly picked up on sarcastic phrases like ‘little green men’ and ‘UFO buffs’, then gradually weaned themselves away from the topic reporters, editors and corporate owners fear ridicule, whether just or unjust, as much as do scientists and politicians.The refusal of the U.S. Air Force in the 1950s and 1960s to release sighting data it had collected only added to the problem, since evidence collected by the government was not available to support the witnesses . The first director of the CIA assessed the situation in 1960 as follows: ‘Behind the scenes, highranking Air Force officers are soberly concerned about UFOs. But, through official secrecy and ridicule, many citizens are led to believe the unknown flying objects are nonsense to hide the facts, the Air Force has silenced its personnel’ .The Condon Report also added to the problem, since it demonstrated that men of science could simply allege that witnesses are mistaken or dishonest and they would be believed by most of their colleagues even though they had no evidence to back up their allegations. This in turn led to greater reluctance on the part of witnesses to come forward.As a result, ‘the most credible UFO witnesses are often those most reluctant to come forward with a report of the event they have witnessed’ .This ridicule factor has prevented many serious investigators from even attempting to report their findings within the journals preferred by most scientists.
Therefore, one of the recommendations made by the moderator of a 1997 panel of scientists is that journal editors should change their policy of refusing to even seriously consider publishing articles related to the UFO phenomenon, so that this difficulty may be alleviated .
If one allows that at least some unexplainable sightings may be manifestations of extraterrestrial intelligence, then there is yet another reason for reevaluation: a growing recognition over the past two decades that a large part of the behavior manifested can be viewed as being quite rational.
Since the 1970s advocates of a covert ET presence in our vicinity have also been advancing their hypotheses or scenarios. They reject as improbable the assumption that space-faring ETs must be dominated by the most evil and aggressive of their kind an assumption whose consequence would be that we should not be existing as a freely developing civilization within a fully colonized and/or explored galaxy.
A serious inconsistency in this reasoning, however, is that maintenance of total ET covertness towards Earth and the solar system would still lead to societal chaos whenever the covertness or embargo was eventually lifted, unless the ETs carried out a programme of gradual disclosure a ‘leaky’ embargo [1,43].
To put it another way, from the viewpoint of investigators studying such phenomena, individual close-encounter and other sightings can be very intrusive and overt. However, from the viewpoint of the scientific community and society as a whole, this is not the case, because of the relative rarity in time and space of convincing sightings and because of the limited numbers of witnesses in most instances.
Proposing a certain level of ET ethics is not new; it was suggested in 1981 that advanced ETs may abide by a Codex Galactica that would require them to treat emerging civilizations delicately [1,45].
Despite the UFO phenomenon having continued now for over two generations, the huge technological head start of the presumed ETs would still come as a great shock to many scientists as well as citizenry, as the Brookings Report indicated .
We thank P. Sturrock of Stanford University and T. Roe of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP) for suggested improvements.
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