It has long been obvious that Harvard’s Avi Loeb wants to be a UFO guru. Not only has he parlayed his minority opinion on the artificial nature of the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua into a book deal, but he has inserted himself into the media frenzy over UFOs and publishes regular dispatches in Scientific American speculating in his amateurish way on the morals and ethics of humans and aliens. In recent weeks, he publicly volunteered to lead a government inquiry into the nature of flying saucers and took a slot headlining the Contact in the Desert paranormal conference. His UFO interests have now reached their logical peak with the launch of his newest initiative, the Galileo Project, a UFO investigation conducted through the auspices of Harvard’s and the Smithsonian’s Center for Astrophysics.
The Galileo Project shares a name with the famous astronomer persecuted by the Catholic Church because his science contradicted religious dogma. Loeb often speaks of himself in similar terms, claiming that the scientific establishment has an anti-alien dogma and that he is the only scientist brave enough to explore extraterrestrial possibilities. The name is obviously no coincidence.
The project intends to develop technologies to scan the sky for flying saucers and to utilize artificial intelligence to distinguish between natural phenomena, human-made objects, and extraterrestrial probes. The project also plans to hunt for orbiting alien satellites (!) and to monitor space for incoming interstellar alien probes.
The worst part of the project was, naturally, the first thing that caught my eye: “The goal of the Galileo Project is to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations (ETCs) from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends to the mainstream of transparent, validated and systematic scientific research.” Yup, “legend.” Avi Loeb has gone full Ancient Aliens and will be hunting space aliens using literature and folklore he has shown no signs of being equipped to understand.
There is nothing inherently wrong with searching for explanations for unusual observed aerial encounters. But reading the Galileo Project’s PR site, it’s more than clear that the underlying ideological presumption is for the existence of extraterrestrial technology here on Earth. And that assumption seems poised to bias the entire endeavor toward a predetermined conclusion.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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