The most important story of our era is just a curious side show. Why?
Conservative writer Andrew Stuttaford has a post up ruminating on the latest government report on UFOs, or what they now call “UAPs.” If, as expected, the Pentagon refuses to endorse an explanation behind these aircraft in its final report, leaving the question open, this will mark a major departure from the Project Blue Book blanket denial behind any unconventional explanation. That is to say, the old “weather balloon” null hypothesis will now be competing with, and likely losing to, the two most popular and equally wild theories of a) the Chinese or Russians, or maybe even ourselves, possessing Star-Trek-level tech, or b) the little green men being done playing coy.
And as both Barack Obama and Marco Rubio have gone on record with this new “maybe aliens, maybe not” party line, here’s a story that for once doesn’t adhere to boring old terrestrial politics and culture wars. Perhaps this at least part of why news sites give it short shrift, as it has no value in ginning up shouting matches on social media and the Sunday shows. But it’s a good thing this is nonpartisan, as there’s a chance this could be the most important story in the history of humanity since Jesus Christ (or Muhammad, or other deity-influenced happening of your preference).
The religious reference is there for a reason: the cranks and shamen of our ufology going back decades have flooded the field with crackpot theories, mystic ruminations and QAnon-level crazy ravings to the point where it’s hard to take anything about UFOs seriously. This is another reason why the media is still leery of putting the UAP story above the fold, and this, no doubt, informed the Pentagon’s hesitation to break from standard Blue-Book-style denials, no matter how spooky the videos produced by its own Navy pilots have gotten.
But as with the Wuhan lab-leak theory, the disreputableness of some of the leading proponents of the more extraordinary explanations does not automatically make the extraordinary explanations false.
Of course, the advocates of these theories still have some tall obstacles to overcome. If the Chinese are really sitting on an inertialess, reactionless drive that defies the known laws of physics, why haven’t they trumpeted this monumental achievement to the skies? Why not throw annual parades in Beijing celebrating the technological breakthroughs of the People’s Republic and the genius of their glorious dictator, Xi Jinping?
More importantly, why not refit all their fighters and bombers with this drive? They could then sweep the U.S. Air Force and Navy from the skies with little trouble. Our ships too, really, if they slap these engines on torpedo bombers or cruise missiles. I’d imagine drones with this tech and armed with lasers could even intercept our ICBMs. Seizing Taiwan would then be a cakewalk. They probably wouldn’t even have to fire a shot — the mere threat of such craft that could laugh off all our weaponry and defenses might be enough to cause America back off. The entire world would soon bend before the threat of the Chinese empire and their invincible superweapons. Yet, if the UAPs are really ultra-advanced CCP UAVs, they do nothing with their sci-fi craft but track our aircraft carriers from long range, something which they could do with conventional satellites. Why?
And the Agent Mulders have even more problems. Sure, in a universe with literally countless galaxies, the chances of another sentient species arising are basically 100%. The problem lies in the chances of one arising in our neighborhood — not just in space but also in time. A star empire based out of Alpha Centauri won’t do your E.T. theory much good if they were from a million years ago, or a million years hence. And then there’s the small matter of such a species breaking the light-speed barrier to come pay us a visit.
Still, there are enough tantalizing clues to put together a plausible, if wholly unsubstantiated, story. This will be me practically writing fiction at this point, so I’ll block this off in its own section.
Ah, there we go. Ok.
UFO sightings began in earnest in 1947. Why then? If that year really did herald the appearance of space aliens, an obvious explanation presents itself: the detonation of atomic warheads beginning just 2 years prior.
You see, humans as just another primitive bipedal race that thinks too highly of itself would not interest spacefaring aliens in this scenario. Perhaps they flew by a few hundred years ago and found our lack of indoor plumbing charming, if gag-inducing, and then kept on flying. But our civilization abruptly producing telltale signs of having mastered nuclear physics?
Besides all the bright lights, fission-bomb explosions produce rare elements quite foreign to our atmosphere but which might interest an alien spectrometer. Strontium-90, for instance, might trip E.T.’s listening post to trigger an alert to whatever sentient creature receives such a report.
Because this hypothetical also mandates the presence of an alien craft or probe within our solar system as of 1945. Light from the Hiroshima attack would not reach our nearest neighboring star, Alpha Centauri, until 1949, yet the flying-saucer reports started two years prior.
The scenario is easy to paint: an alien scout vessel drops by in the year 1450 or 1910 or circa 2600 BCE; finds nothing particularly noteworthy of the sentient apes on the third planet; leaves behind a probe just in case something interesting develops; and jumps to warp 7.
Later, defying all expectations the alien race have of the silly bipedal apes and their ridiculous outfits, the probe later reports unmistakable signs of atomic detonations. A whole fleet of ships then set out for Sol-III (vessels of the research or perhaps nature-documentary-filming kind, not the destroy-all-earthlings kind, one hopes).
And although the aliens try to be careful, the apes and their increasingly sophisticated aircraft, radar systems, and cameras keep picking up evidence of their new visitors. Soon, enough pictures and stories pile up that the planet’s local government bodies can no longer deny the possibility.
Not long after, everyone would wind up remembering where they were that terrible day all our broadcast stations began repeating the same message: “KEPLER-62F NEEDS WOMEN!”
Few sci-fi tropes are as recycled and rehashed as that of the first contact. The standard way these things go was of course codifed in War of the Worlds, where the extraterrestrials shoot first and ask to be taken to your leader later. Jokes aside, though, it’s hard to imagine them having any motivation besides research and, perhaps, careful monitoring for something more relevant to themselves than nuclear explosions: signs of our own FTL travel. So, of course they try to stay out of sight.
But then this leads to a big stumbling block of the alien theory: if they’re trying to hide, why are they failing, given how advanced they are?
This leads to the most terrifying possibility of all: despite all that fancy tech, these guys are just as fumbling and mistake-prone as we are. Yikes!
Perhaps they arrived expecting us to possess nothing more advanced than Galileo’s telescope. Or maybe they simply got too cocky about their tech advantage — this is something we Americans know a thing or two about.
Whatever the case, when even the Pentagon is saying these things ain’t weather balloons, you would think the media would pay more attention. But then again, such leading media luminaries as Chris Cillizza would have trouble comparing flying saucers to Game of Thrones characters.