This week, to distract from the January 6 Commission hearings, Fox News devoted multiple segments to UFOs, even sending Tucker Carlson to Brazil, where he discussed the bizarre recent Brazilian UFO hearings, which included accounts of alien abductions and space brothers from Saturn. Avi Loeb continued his anti-humanist campaign by openly lusting for artificial intelligence to rule over and “save” inferior, unworthy humanity. And the strange saga of Travis Taylor only became stranger this week with news from the Pentagon that the Ancient Aliens and Skinwalker Ranch star was indeed a part of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force, but that Taylor had exaggerated his job title and inflated his role.
In an interview last week with George Knapp, Taylor claimed to have served as the UAPTF’s “chief scientist,” but Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough told a number of reporters that Taylor never formally held the job title of “chief scientist.” Instead, he was an employee of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command until 2021, a period overlapping his other job as the star Prometheus Entertainment’s The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, airing on the History Channel, and guest speculator on sister shows Ancient Aliens and Curse of Oak Island. SMDC loaned Taylor to the UAPTF, whose leader, John Stratton, “informally referred to Dr. Taylor as his chief scientist as efforts to assemble a larger team were underway,” according to Gough. His UAPTF position was not, she said, a full-time job.
Gough told The Black Vault’s John Greenewald that Taylor’s job involved providing technical advice and did not involve intelligence analysis. Therefore, despite Taylor’s claim that the military “disregarded” the UAP Task Force’s work in order to conclude that several UFO sightings were drones, the Pentagon stands behind the conclusions offered to Congress in a recent hearing.
Taylor responded to the news in an email sent to hundreds of people on a mailing list, including me, by claiming without evidence that an unnamed entity is funding skeptical reports about paranormal UFO research. “The one thing I note is that these guys are getting paid to write these pieces,” Taylor wrote. “Who is behind the funding?” (Answer: No one. Reputable magazines assign articles based on their interests and needs. No third party has ever paid me to write any UFO article or post for a magazine or website.)
Taylor has also made a number of bizarre recent proclamations increasingly divorced from reality, including claiming that a Native American ghost is haunting him and speculating that an ancient spaceship is buried under Skinwalker Ranch capable of traveling faster than light.
Gough indicated that Taylor’s efforts generated some controversy within the Pentagon. Gough told reporters that the Pentagon began a process to “de-conflict” Taylor due to his “outside activities.” “In early 2021, following consultations with the UAPTF, SMDC worked to clarify and de-conflict assigned tasks, responsibilities, and outside activities to balance mission priorities,” Gough said. Whether that was because he is a lunatic who makes bizarre claims on TV about parallel universes, faster-than-light travel, ancient spaceships, and astrological star maps, or whether it had to do with something more bureaucratic, it isn’t easy to say because the Pentagon does not comment on individual personnel. But it certainly sounds like someone found it a conflict of interest for Taylor to be a Pentagon employee tasked with analyzing UFO reports and also a reality TV star investigating some of those same UFO reports for entertainment.
“I find it very difficult to believe,” SETI’s Seth Shostak told Keith Kloor in Science magazine about Taylor’s improbable position.
While the Pentagon began to “de-conflict” Taylor in 2021, he only left government service two months ago, when he immediately joined Radiance, a defense contractor, telling George Knapp in a May interview that he did so in order to continue to the work—paranormal and otherwise—that he had started at UAPTF. Shortly after, Radiance hired Taylor’s former UAPTF boss John Stratton—who believes he is haunted by Skinwalker Ranch dogmen—and the two now work together at Radiance.
Maybe making the government’s UFO investigation an offshoot of the Ancient Aliens cinematic universe—movie versions of both Ancient Aliens and the government’s UFO investigation are due out next year—was not the best way to gain credibility for the subject. But it entirely in keeping with the quality of ufology that the same small group of interconnected true believers keep mucking everything up and seemingly are impossible to expel.
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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