There have been over 100K UFO sightings reported worldwide since 1940. Roughly 5% or so are “strong” events, which seem rather hard to explain due to either many witnesses, especially reliable witnesses, physical evidence, or other factors. Many of these events are also “dramatic”, wherein the UFOs seem to display amazing abilities, ones well beyond those held by any known Earth orgs. I’d guess there are at least a thousand such strong dramatic reported events.
Due to my work on grabby aliens, I felt a bit of responsibility to consider the UFOs as aliens thesis, as I seem to be a world-level expert on the prior for such a hypothesis. And while I’m not so much an expert on UFO hypothesis likelihoods, I have been tempted to learn about many of these strong dramatic events. (Eg) Which I now somewhat regret, as I now find myself the awkward position of having made an awkward inference.
There are four main ways to explain UFOs:
observers fooled by error/mistakes/hallucinations,
people lying or observers fooled by purposeful hoaxes,
real amazing devices/organisms from secret groups on Earth, or
real amazing devices/organisms from secret groups beyond Earth.
My awkward inference starts here: it seems clear to me that #1 can only plausibly explain a modest fraction of strong dramatic events. Most errors would have to be much closer to gross incompetence than to “oops”. (If you’ve also looked but can’t see this, I just don’t know what to say. Pay more attention?)
Why is that awkward? Because for the last seventy years, elites, especially STEM elites, have had a very strong social consensus against explanations #3,4. Those who say otherwise are ridiculed and excluded.
But that still leaves explanation #2, right? Well, yes, elites are okay with explaining many UFOs this way. But in order to explain most strong dramatic events this way, I just don’t think it works to postulate scattered amateur liars and hoaxers. Instead I think one needs a big conspiracy, wherein a coalition of orgs has secretly and professionally coordinated to spend big budgets over many decades to have many lie, and to fool others via what are essentially magic tricks.
The US military seems the most plausible anchor for this coalition, as they could have tried to fool the USSR into hesitating before a nuclear first strike. That could be worth a big budget. (Though note, if they’d lie about UFOs, they’d probably also lie about the moon landings.) Yes, the scale of this lie is only modestly bigger than that of some other known US lies, now revealed. But even so, elites also look down pretty hard on those who endorse such big conspiracy theories.
Alas, my situation gets even worse. This is due to my noticing that the USSR also had many UFO reports, including many strong dramatic ones. And I just can’t believe that the US could get so many people inside the USSR to lie or arrange sufficiently elaborate magic tricks. Nor can I believe that both the US and USSR both created huge long-lasting hoaxes trying to fool each other. Nor that the whole Cold War was faked.
Thus I’m stuck with putting substantial weight on explanations #3,4 for at least some of the thousand-plus strong dramatic UFO events. Which feels pretty awkward.
Yes, I might now become more accepted by UFO folks, even if I become less accepted by the usual elites. But while there are exceptions, overall these aren’t exactly our intellectual creme de la creme. Yes, it seems that in this case they happen to be more right, and on something pretty big, but that is probably more due to their contrarian instincts than their brilliant analysts.
Note that if the evidence now supports my inference, it probably has done so for decades, and so can plausibly continue to do so for many more decades, or perhaps even centuries, without the relevant elite consensus changing much. So I’m not yet seeing bet-table predictions to make here.
Added 1p: I should mention that I’ve also looked at the best evidence offered for angels, ghosts, and fairies, and those just look much worse to me. The best evidence for ball lightning in the field is also pretty bad, even though the usual consensus believes in that due to it being created in the lab.
I think you're greatly underestimating how much of everything people believe to be true about what they have seen, heard or experienced is just a hallucination.
5. A genuine (but possibly amplified by misremembering) observation of a natural or man-made phenomenon which has nothing to do with any secret groups?