Earlier today, NASA held a meeting about UFOs with representatives from the Pentagon’s new UFO office (AARO) and members of NASA’s UFO research group, and the results were about what you would expect. Sean Kirkpatrick of AARO revealed that “Go Fast,” one of the famous videos of a “UFO” cited by the New York Times and claimed by Lue Elizondo and Chris Mellon to be moving at impossible velocities turned out to be traveling around 40 miles per hour, in line with an object at that altitude being blown by wind. He said that a handful of cases seemed truly anomalous but that none indicated any evidence whatsoever of space aliens. Other members of the panel complained loudly about receiving harassment from UFO believers for not supporting the space alien claim.
Journalist Peter Bergen, probably best known from his appearances on CNN as a national security analyst, launched a new podcast through Audible today, In the Room with Peter Bergen. The high-profile new podcast aims to cover national security issues and today’s three-episode launch includes an episode on flying saucers—because, of course you need UFOs to draw interest. As you might expect, the podcast includes interviews with the usual suspects, including Alex Dietrich, Chris Mellon, Mick West, and Seth Shostak, as well as New Yorker writer Gideon Lewis-Krauss. It also has nothing of value to say about UFOs, as evidenced by its reliance on Lewis-Krauss, whose only connection to the UFO “mystery” is writing an article about it. But, hey, that’s enough for a lifetime ticket as a UFO “expert”!
I have been trying to find some time to write blog posts, but it’s been difficult of late. With my livelihood under pressure from ChatGTP and related A.I. programs that are steadily replacing the kind of copywriting that used to be my bread and butter, I’ve been forced to take on less interesting and more time-consuming work to make ends meet, and that leaves me with less time for writing anything that doesn’t pay. Nevertheless, I did want to point out the massive journalistic project the Douglas Dean Johnson undertook to investigate the 1945 so-called “Trinity” extraterrestrial encounter recently publicized in the self-published book Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret by Jacques Vallée and Paola Harris and, according to Vallée and the New York Times, an influence on recent Congressional legislation revising the Pentagon’s remit to include UFO involvement dating back to 1945. In short, Johnson concluded that the old geezers spinning the story are habitual liars and that the story is a bunch of bunk:
This morning, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities held a hearing on unidentified aerial phenomena, i.e. UFOs. The most newsworthy statement came from the director of the Pentagon’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office, Sean Kirkpatrick, who told senators: “I should also state clearly for the record, that in our research AARO has found no credible evidence thus far of extraterrestrial activity, off-world technology, or objects that defy the known laws of physics.” Kirkpatrick made this statement after writing a paper with Galileo Project director Avi Loeb speculating that these same UFOs that show no evidence of extraterrestrial, physics-defying traits nevertheless could be probes sent by an alien “mothership.” After the hearing ended, members of the public watching the hearing offered Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the driving force behind the Senate’s UFO efforts, stories about their own UFO interests and encounters, and one man gave her a copy of his UFO book.
Regular readers will remember that former New York Times reporter Ralph Blumenthal published a book about alien abduction researcher John Mack two years ago in which Blumenthal concluded, preposterously, that Mack was a heroic figure whose transcendent greatness would transform humanity—by talking about aliens probing people’s butts. Blumenthal’s current claim to fame is his role in writing the 2017 Times story that set off the current round UFO mania that will see the U.S. Senate take up another UFO-themed hearing next week as the Pentagon’s new UFO office continues its interviews of looney tunes ufologists at the behest of a handful of UFO-addled legislators.
I felt a sense of relief this week when I discovered that Ancient Aliens wouldn’t be airing a new episode. On the other hand, it leaves me with little to write about. It’s been a very slow season for alternative history, the paranormal, and UFOs. I’m not sure why. I wonder if part of the reason is that most of the lower-tier TV series that used to drive the conversation have moved from cable to streaming, where they are locked behind paywalls and harder to see. (That may change when Discovery+ merges with HBO Max and I get bombed with them against my will.) Another factor may be the move away from traditional media outlets toward social media. Less material gets the full TV / book / magazine treatment and instead burns out quickly in a Reddit thread, a TikTok video, or a tweet storm. In my own little corner of the world, ever since Inner Traditions stopped sharing galleys for their upcoming titles, I’ve seen many fewer fringe books. But even Inner Traditions, the largest occult history publisher, has virtually stopped publishing fringe archaeology and has returned to its traditional specialty, New Age occultism.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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