Look! Up in the Sky!

As a youth, I was fascinated by UFOs, not enough to look up and figure out what was actually up there, but enough to declare any images I, in my ignorance, couldn’t readily identify as alien. Fortunately, this week’s SITP Online guest Dr. Steve Barrett takes a more parsimonious approach and believes imagery, such as the Pentagon UFO videos, is only really a UFO if no one can provide a reasonable identification.


One common subject of UFO imagery, Dr. Barrett claims, are manmade objects, so much so that dismissing such sightings as a weather balloon has, he points out, become cliché. Elon Musk’s Starlink, the Goodyear blimp, rocket re-entry debris and an Iron Man balloon have been behind recent UFO sightings. So, planes and, yes, a balloon are highly plausible explanations for the Pentagon UFO videos.

Another common subject of UFO imagery, Dr. Barrett notes, are natural objects, with swamp gas being another cliché dismissal. Light pillars, an insect, a cloud and a flock of birds have appeared in some recent sighting, while spectacular photographs of red jellyfish sprite lighting and a standing lenticular cloud could explain others. Indeed, a bird has been proposed as an explanation for one of the Pentagon UFO videos.


Image artefacts are believed by Dr. Barrett to be the source of a lot of the UFOs that appear in imagery, especially those where the photographer spotted nothing at the time. Lens flare, corrupted telemetry blocks, a smudge and caching have been behind some recent imagery. The reaction of the pilots on the audio, however, make this less likely an explanation for the Pentagon UFO videos.


Deliberate fakes, the last on Dr. Barrett's list of usual suspects, seems, for rather obvious reasons, to account for many of the much famous UFO imagery of the past. Paradoxically, while fakery has never been easier, there’s even an app for that, such imagery fails to attract much attention. This is the only possible misconception an official release dispels and yet it does not seem to have been a major one.


Dr. Barrett, wielding his weapon of choice: Occam’s razor, maintains that it is only after rejecting alternate explanations, such as those offered above, that we can begin to consider the more extraordinary hypothesis of extraterrestrial spacecraft and as of yet the Pentagon UFO videos, whether officially released or not, have not, I would say, allowed us to do this.

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