For Leslie Kean’s book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record”, the only social scientists I know who have written on UFOs, Alexaner Wendt and Raymond Duvall, wrote “a new essay … incorporating their ideas … into one designed for nonacademic readers, with some new thoughts added.” They say:
I believe that there are unexplained aerial phenomena. I believe that they merit investigation.
I seriously doubt that these unexplained phenomena are extraterrestrial visitors. I think that I would need something comparable to a spaceship landing on the national mall.
We don’t have any good data. We have eyewitness accounts and fuzzy pictures. We need data.
Robin would say that UFOs might have incentives to be camera-shy (even in the sky), similar to how murderers do. But unlike murderers, UFOs always and everywhere have precisely calibrated their shyness to keep the quality of their imagery below a threshold.
1) The skeptical claim is not more UFO reports, but more quantity X quality of UFO imagery. Nowadays there is much more quantity X quality of murder imagery -- disturbingly so. Meanwhile, UFO imagery is just as boring as it has always been.
2) UFO imagery is (and I confidently predict will continue to be) always below a strict quality threshold. Murder imagery has always been fully distributed across the quality spectrum. In just one weekend in Dallas in Nov 1963 there were two separate murders captured on high-quality video. No UFO imagery has ever come close.
lump1's complaint isn't sloppy. His point is that UFOs -- just like bigfoot, ghosts, and chupacabra -- carefully calibrate their shyness to humanity's exponentially-increasing imaging capacity. If anything is sloppy, it is the ex-post motivated reasoning that tries to rationalize this calibration.
You're the social scientist. If you can even take one step toward making sense of it, many people - including me - would eagerly read that post. My comment's contribution was just to help lay out the data that needs explaining. My dismissive attitude is personal and not scientific, and might change entirely based on new analyses that escape me for now.
I have really appreciated these posts by Robin Hanson on UFOs.
Until recently I have considered UFOs very unlikely, due to nothing traveling faster than the speed of light, which is too slow to get around the galaxy.
But maybe something is up. Maybe UFO builders live a very long time, which would also help explain advanced technology. A being with, say, a 2,000 year life span might well advance study in any particular field. Maybe spending 100 years in a spaceship is OK for such a being.
However, as a caveat, I wish we knew if it was possible to gin up or make ersatz observations on radar, or infrared observation recordings.
That is, very bored Navy technicians figured out how to make hoax recordings on radar or thermal-image systems that look like real recordings.
And still, there is an agonizing shortage of regular camera recordings.
So. we have the recent Navy "tic-tac" sightings, but only on recorded on radar, and the more recent infrared sightings by the USS Omaha, of an orb that dips into the water.
I would feel more comfortable if there was a something like a UFO that went over a NFL stadium, and lots of recordings with good quality cameras.
And why would aliens operate in such obscure locations like offshore, but also show intense interest in military surface vessels? That suggests drones launched by another military.
But, I am keeping an open mind....
UAP and Global Catastrophic Risks
What they explicitly mention is the theorizing done by critics. But either way, they've been trying this taboo for a half century; how much longer it is worth trying?
I think this is in reaction to all the poor theorizing done by people who have been active in UFOlogy.
Are your theories available elsewhere?
I think that might be related to where murders take place vs where UFOs are (and can be) seen. Only people within a small geographic area (often inside a building whose interior is not visible from the outside) can view a murder, but if a UFO is traveling great distances, that's many places where it can be seen.
They said taboo among elites, including mass media. Not specialist web forums.
Alas, I have seen this before, in other areas of social science. In fields similarly dominated by empiricists who keep throwing more data papers on the pile, but offering few rewards to those who might try to make sense of all that data. Often because they wouldn’t like the best explanations.Could you specify which others areas those are?
"it just makes no sense" is exactly the sort of sloppy theorizing I'm suggesting that we can do better than.
And yet still <10% of murders have imaging evidence. Why should images have a stronger effect on UFO encounters than on murders?
Short term? They've been avoiding theory for a half century. How long should it need?
No they don't. Listen to David Fravor. He explicitly said that he got no reaction from the military after his experience, neither when he filed incident reports, nor when he discussed it with the public. Definitely no explicit taboos. He'll talk for hours about what he saw, and nobody in the government ever objected, as long as he didn't reveal classified info about military sensor capability and the like. There might be social taboos, but they seem to be almost entirely about saying "it's aliens" - not about sober explanations of observed phenomena. Or do you have evidence to the contrary?