My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It’s probably accurate to say that most people think of UFOs–Unidentified Flying Objects–as being craft controlled by extraterrestrials. This is to say that few people think of UFOs as being quite literally what the acronym stands for, objects in the air that are unidentified. Since the modern UFO era began in the 1940s the subject has, especially in the U.S., been treated as one not worthy of serious study or investigation. Project Blue Book, the Air Force group tasked with checking out UFO reports, was closed down in 1969 with a summary that essentially said “UFOs lol!!”
UFOs (the book) argues the case for returning to the serious study of UFOs, advocating the U.S. government take a leadership role as the world’s leading technological power. With the current congress stuffed full of climate change deniers, it seems a less likely prospect than when the book was published in 2010, but stranger things have happened. Many are documented in this book.
The book’s chapters switch between the author’s advocacy for serious investigation, with ideas on how such investigation could be organized in the U.S., to first person accounts of UFO sightings from credible witnesses ranging from commercial and military pilots to generals and even a state governor. Throughout, none of the witnesses nor Leslie Kean, the author, assert that UFOs must be alien-controlled craft. Instead, she describes herself as a militant agnostic, refusing to commit to what UFOs are because we simply don’t know yet. She doesn’t deny that extraterrestrial craft may be the likeliest explanation.
On the question of the validity of UFOs as a phenomena, she is much more certain. There are hundreds of well-documented sightings (often by multiple credible witnesses) with physical evidence, radar tracking and photographs that stand up under the scrutiny of modern image analysis. In light of all the evidence, Kean argues that the question isn’t if “UFOs are real” but rather, what are they? She repeatedly comes back to a primary reason for investigating and that is the unknown nature of the UFOs, coupled with their physics-defying properties (ignoring gravity, being able to move instantly and silently at great speed and so on) and the tendency for so many to appear near sensitive sites like military bases and nuclear power plants makes them potential threats.
I wonder how many skeptics will read this book and come away buying into Kean’s arguments. Her case is well-researched, detailed and presented without sensation, but as she admits, the taboos surrounding the subject are strong and have become ingrained over the last half century, especially in government circles, where admitting to the reality of UFOs–whatever they may be–is tantamount to acknowledging that with our current technology, there is little to nothing we can do to control or if need be, defend against them.
If you have any interest in the subject, this is a highly recommended read.
Plus come on, UFOs are neat. And scary.