If you loved the X-Files as much as I did, then you get the reference. FBI Agent Fox Mulder, played by David Duchovny on the prime time sci-fi drama, had on his office wall a poster of a UFO imprinted with the phrase, “I Want To Believe.”
Me? I’ve always been the opposite. I totally want not to believe. But that is getting harder and harder to do.
The reason for my moral dilemma is that the Navy has released some more, even better footage of what it calls Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP), and, no, I’m not going to start calling them that any time soon. They’re UFOs to me and always will be.
I’ve known about UFOs (well, stories about them) forever and never believed a word of any of them. I’m a born skeptic. I was that kid in 2nd grade asking how we really know that 2+2=4. It didn’t make me popular with most teachers, though my fellow classmates secretly wanted to know the answers to these questions, too. In scouting I’d ask things like, “What exactly is fire?” In science class it was, “What is gravity anyways?” and at reading time, it was question after question with with every single story and book we read. I was always asking “Why?” And if I got an answer, more often than not, I’d proceed to poke holes in that explanation. It’s built in. I was born this way!
So, when it comes to all things epiphenomenal, I’m simply not going to bite on extraordinary claims without, as they say, seeing some extraordinary evidence. Sasquatch? Yeah, right. I wanna see some bones. Nessie? One crappy photograph in a hundred years of trying to find the thing is real equals, in my book, it being totally made up. El Chupacabra? As much as I love the story and the folk wisdom surrounding it, it’s not real, either, at least not until we find one and document it.
Which brings me to UFOs, which, unlike Agent Mulder’s previously stated desire, I want not to believe in. That is, I will admit, at least in part because of my built-in biases against them because of the shady company these tales keep. They inhabit that same realm of the supernatural as ghosts and psychics and telekinesis, which largely exist in media as kitschy stories (and sometimes nicely executed magic tricks; thanks to the likes of the late great James Randi and both Penn and Teller, all of whom have done a lot of good work over the years debunking such nonsense.)
But what about UFOs? It’s the same deal, right? You’d think so, but no. Up until a few years ago, I’d have lumped them together with the rest because, you know, that whole evidence-being-required thing. But now as mountains of real evidence emerges, mostly from the close encounters with these objects by fighter jet pilots and the attendant video data supporting their stories, I fully accept that unexplained objects exist. There, I said it.
Why such a turnaround? Again, it’s because I’ve seen the movies. Not grainy, hoaxed Bigfoot snips of Super 8, but honest-to-goodness, Grade-A United States DoD action cam footage (you don’t want to be on the receiving end of that “action,” by the way). These clips clearly show zipping and zooming aerial objects that the top brass admit exist while also allowing that our intel folks have no idea what they are. And I believe the brass, because they’re experts at figuring out what kinds of aircraft they’re looking at and because they’ve got the goods. The jury is just about in on this one. It looks like UFOs really exist. (In solidarity, I’d like to announce that I, too, have no idea what they are.)
Are they aliens from other worlds? I don’t know, but I do know that based on the fact that these unexplained objects can do things that defy our understanding of physics, we should at least consider that possibility. Other dimensions? Possibly. I don’t understand the physics of it, and chances are that you don’t either, but physicists say that other dimensions exist, though few of them have ever visited, or at least they’re not producing tee-shirts or snap shots as proof.
Could these mystery objects be enemy craft from China or Russia? That, I’m happy to say it, is far less likely than their being from outer space, because if either of the two former and still partly communist states know how to do this kind of stuff, it would be game over for anyone who disagreed with their manifestos. I mean, the things that these objects—the military doesn’t call them “craft,” are capable of defy our understanding of how things happen in the physical world. All we know is that these things are out there routinely doing the impossible. So, yeah, they exist, and we have no idea, none, how they do what we can see them doing.
So quite counterintuitively, I have over the past few years somehow transformed from super skeptic Agent Dana Scully into babbling sci-fi believer Fox Mulder. And that makes me sad, because believing in UFOs goes against everything I thought I knew about them. Which, as it turned out, was nothing. Now we all know slightly more than nothing, in that we know that they exist. It’s the beginning of the story, sure, but every great discovery has to start with finding that reason to believe.