Sunday, September 17, 2023

The NASA Report: A Personal Commentary


NASA released its report on UFOs, I mean UAP, on Thursday, September 14, 2023, and to my way of thinking it was just more of the same. Ever since Congress demanded some sort of response after NAVY cockpit videos were leaked, there have been hearings, mandates, investigations and reports, and basically, nothing new has come out of any of it. It is almost like we’re still living in the twentieth century. 

The May 2023 NASA UAP Panel press conference.

You can read the whole NASA report here:

Peer Review and the Scientific Method

For those of us on the other side of the fence, meaning, simply, we had hoped that rather than a report outlining, once again strategies for gathering data, we would have something more concrete. Instead, on page 25, we are told:

To date, in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, there is no conclusive evidence suggesting an extraterrestrial origin for UAP. When it comes to UAP, the challenge we have is that the data needed to explain these anomalous sightings often do not exist; this includes eyewitness reports, which on their own can be interesting and compelling, but aren’t reproducible and usually lack the information needed to make any definitive conclusions about a phenomenon’s provenance.

What I found interesting was the reference to “peer-reviewed scientific literature.” That limits their search parameters to a specific source overlooking the body of information that was collected for decades by military personnel who provided some very compelling evidence in the form of eyewitness testimony, electronic gathered data and some interesting gun camera films.

For a moment, let me digress. Throughout the report, they referred to metadata, as opposed, I guess to other types of data. What that meant was that with most UFO sightings, there were incomplete times, or locations, directions, weather, or other sorts of information that would be valuable in identifying the UFO. Without these sorts of data, then a solution, though mundane, might be impossible to achieve.

There is, however, a long-term investigation in which these sorts of metadata had been collected and I’m thinking of the Project Blue Book files. True, many cases contained gaps in the metadata but that was more the result of poor investigative techniques by those involved than anything nefarious. The data were there had they bothered to gather them at the time of their investigation.

In other cases, there was an abundance of all sorts of data. As but a single example, I’m thinking of the Washington National sightings of July 1952. There was eyewitness testimony from military and commercial airline pilots. There were observers on the ground both military and civilian, and many of them independent of one another. There were radar sightings on multiple radars on various airfields, and there were eyewitness observations of the objects painted by radar by both pilots and observers on the ground.

I believe that all the data needed for a comprehensive study of those sightings is still available in the Project Blue Book files, though the opinions of those who investigated the case in 1952 are certainly biased toward finding terrestrial solutions. There are statements from the eyewitnesses collected in the hours after the events, there are newspaper reports (and yes, I get that the press can be somewhat credulous in their reporting), weather data available, locations are well known, and there are star charts that provide data about the bright stars, planets and other astronomical phenomena. This would, I suspect, provide some very compelling evidence, if it was examined in a dispassionate fashion.

I had hoped when we finally saw the NASA report, there would be a section that dealt with the historical perspective. I know they couldn’t possibly look at all twelve thousand sightings data the Air Force had gathered, but I had hoped that they would look at some of the more interesting sightings where there is an abundance of data gathered at the time of the sighting.


Instead, we were treated to a lecture on the scientific method and how science is supposed to work. They tell us:

The scientific method challenges us to solve problems by stringently evaluating our own ideas, by being willing to be wrong, and by following the data into unknown territory – wherever it may lead us. As Carl Sagan wrote in The Demon-Haunted World, “science carries us toward an understanding of how the world is, rather than how we would wish it to be.”

Which is a great philosophy, but in my experience in the world of UFOs, the attitude was often is it cannot be therefore it is not. Later in the report, they wrote:

In science, data need to be reproducible, and hypotheses falsifiable – the scientific method works by systematically analyzing data with the intent to falsify the hypothesis. As a general principal, the data should support measurement that can rule out specific explanations or interpretations, leaving us with no choice but to embrace its opposite. In the case of the UAP, the hypothesis we seek to reject (or “null hypothesis”) is that the UAP have phenomenology consistent with known or technological causes. Eyewitness reports should be considered along with corroborating sensor data in the study of UAP as reports may reveal patterns (for example, clusters in time or location). Yet, without calibrated sensor data to accompany it, no report can provide conclusive evidence of UAP or enable a study into the details of what was witnessed. While witnesses may be inherently credible, reports are not repeatable by others, and they do not allow a complete investigation into the possible cognitive biases and errors (such as accuracy in perception, or misperception caused by environmental factors the recording device, judgment or misjudgment of distance and speed, for example). Therefore, reports do not alone constitute data that can support a repeatable, reproducible analysis, and the hypothesis that what was witnessed was a manifestation of known natural or technological phenomena cannot be falsified.

Which seems to be a way to reject testimony that is not accompanied by something more tangible than just the tale told by the witnesses. Sensor data and radar tracks would add some of that additional data, though this too is subject to bias and interpretation by the investigators. I suppose I should point out that we have examples of the bias based on the past investigations including Project Blue Book and the University of Colorado study, known as the Condon Committee. The Hippler letter is an example of this bias and you can learn more about it here:

They are using the scientific method to reject the witness testimony because the observations are not repeatable. This too, might be inaccurate. The first thing would be a UFO flap, which is concentrated area of UFO sightings. There might be dozens of sightings over a short period of hours or days in a limited area. It could be possible to send in a team while the flap is ongoing. They could gather additional testimony, but they could also bring in the instruments to gather the sensor data, and cameras to underscore the value of all that testimony. Not exactly repeatability, but then meteor falls and lightning, as but two examples, are fleeting phenomena and are unpredictable. Given the proper circumstances and a “go team” might provide the opportunity for proper scientific observation.

This, of course, doesn’t consider landing trace cases or events in which the UFO interacts with the environment. The Levelland sightings of November 2, 1957, had they been investigated properly at the time, might have provided the information that could have falsified the null hypothesis. There would have been material to take into a lab for analysis and effects that might have been detectable. If a car was stalled by a strong electromagnetic field, then that field might have changed the magnetic signature of the car. Scientists with the Condon Committee actually proposed a way detect those changes, but did not bother to follow up on the theory. They thought it would be difficult if not impossible to find the cars that had been involved after more than a decade.

There is one more aspect to this that should be mentioned. Fran Ridge and his team has created a network of sites that have equipment designed to pick up anomalies in the area. There is a spectrum of anomalies that these node centers collect that would provide the metadata that NASA requires. The important point here is that often the UAP sighting is independent of the detection at the node center. Once there is an alert in one of the centers, they then search various databases looking for a matching UAP sighting. This does bring an element of instrumentality into the investigations and provides multiple chains of evidence that can be accessed. Ridge has said they are attempting to add a photographic component to these centers. A sighting that triggers the sensors and in which photographs or videos were captured would provide some very persuasive evidence, especially if there were photos taken by multiple, independent sources and coupled to the MADAR data.


Here’s another aspect of the report that I found a bit disturbing. According to the NASA report:

Recently, the DoD began encouraging military aviators to disclose anomalies they encountered which resulted in a significant increase in UAP reports: Between March 5, 2021, and August 30, 2022, DoD received a total of 247 new UAP reports, according to an analysis published by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) in 2022. In contrast, 263 reports had been filed in the 17 years prior to March 2021. Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick reported at this panel’s public meeting that AARO has now collected more than 800 reported events. This includes the addition of data from the FAA. ARRO and ODNI assess that the observed increase in the reporting rate due to a better understanding of the possible threats that UAP may represent – either as flight safety hazard or as potential adversity collection platforms.

This is somewhat interesting for two reasons. First, they provide a new number for reports received.  We have moved beyond the early number of 144 that the initial report provided and learn they have more than 800.

But second, and more importantly, they are accepting that UAP sightings pose a potential threat to flight safety. This seems to imply a real phenomenon that is more than just weather-related problems or misidentification. It also seems to suggest that there are data to validate the reality of the objects, though that certainly does not take us directly to the extraterrestrial. There are theories about drones and surveillance by foreign nations using craft that might seem to be unconventional given some of the new designs that have been suggested. In other words, these would be real craft that have a terrestrial origin.

In one of the few UAP reports they did examine; they provided an explanation for the “Go Fast” Navy cockpit video. In a one-page analysis of the sighting, they wrote:

We can use other information from the display to place some limits on the true velocity of the object. This analysis is summarized… which depicts an overhead view of the encounter during a 22-second interval. The jet was banking left at about 15 [degrees] during this time, which corresponds to the approximate turning radius of 16 kilometers. We know the range and bearing of the object at the start (t=0s) and the end (t=22s) times Using the calculated true air speed (TAS) and a bit more trigonometry, we find the object moved about 390 meters during this 22-second interval, which corresponds to an average speed of 40 mph. This is typical of wind speed at 13,000 feet.

This is the CIA sponsored Robertson Panel suggestion. Use a mysterious sighting, provide information about it and then provide a plausible explanation for it. If, of course, national security rears its ugly head, well, nothing is said. I doubt that anyone on the NASA panel is aware of the history or what recommendations the Robertson Panel made in 1953. Additional information about the Robertson Panel can be found here:

There were only three sighting reports and two of them were listed as solved. The other, a silver sphere speeding across the landscape is too small to have carried any sort of flight crew and is probably some sort of terrestrial object. They have been unable to identify it, but again, that doesn’t move us directly to the extraterrestrial.


There is nothing new in this report. It is just more of the same. A discussion on how to investigate the UAP sightings, how NASA will be working with other government agencies to gather data, and even some commentary on the mean Tweets that have been sent to some of the panel members. They have been advised that their careers are in jeopardy because of their association with this phenomenon. There seems to be pushback by some members of the scientific community which is, of course, irrelevant.

This is something that I have never understood. Take the alien component out of the investigation, meaning simply that they are looking at the data provided, and there are things that might be of scientific interest. Many of the advances in science have been made by accident. To reject data because it might lead to an extraterrestrial source has always seemed to be narrow minded to me. Of course, that might be why there is an emphasis on aviation safety and the suggestion of a national security component in this latest report. It masks the fact that they are looking at sightings which, in another and earlier era would have been called flying saucers. And that might explain why they insist on calling them UAP. That hides some of the stigma of chasing flying saucers, though to be honest, that’s one of the things they are doing.

But there is nothing here that we haven’t heard before. After recent years of reports, hearings, meetings and press conferences, there is a hint that some investigation has been completed, but in many cases the various organizations are still attempting to figure out how to go about the investigation and how to gather the necessary data. They seem to be obvious to what has gone on in the past, they are unaware of some of the great cases that have been overshadowed by government agencies that are simply denying what they don’t wish to acknowledge and haven’t looked at any of the MADAR data that has been collected.

Or, I suppose, we could suggest that we have created another massive, governmental entity that will solved nothing, do nothing and eventually be seen as another colossal waste of taxpayer money. As the interest wanes, the importance of this latest investigation will change from a scientific enquiry to a public relations campaign to convince us all that there is nothing to see here. That is what has happened before, several times. They seem to believe that the interest will fade but forget that it always returns.


Bryan Sentes said...

Reading your commentary I'm left with the impression NASA is reluctant to _do the science_, which is disheartening. Obviously the folks involved do not want to be saddled with a very time-consuming, labour-intensive, and reputation-threatening task. Were the institution serious about taking up the research _in harmony with the spirit of science_ ("philosophy begins in wonder"--Aristotle), then it would't be reluctant to dig into and around in all that "raw data" you and many other informed parties point to to produce their own data bases and studies and arguments to be peer-reviewed. _Starting_ from existing (and hardly all of it!), "authorized" research on an _open_ question (NASA obviously does not believe the question is at all a _real_ one) is to dodge the question altogether...

Sky70 said...

I have come to the conclusion that we have all heard this before. However, NASA does have a point here; the scientific method must be used in UAP/UFO research to find out the truth about these objects. Yes, we must have UFO/UAP hardware to be tested and it must be reproducible by peer review/research. It's the only way. We cannot rely on decades old eyewitness reports, radar readings, air force sightings, and old flying saucers photos that are always blurred for some reason. Forget the past, we need to look forward and investigate new UAP/UFO sightings so the data will be new not old. Yes Virginia, we need a UFO to land on the White House lawn, so we can examine it hands on.

Joe P. said...

First of all..Bill Nelson is a politician and former Senator
Second..Scott Kelly is a former astronaut currently a politican and a Senator..Kelly has often publicly diplayed a dismissive attitude toward the subject of UFO's currently referred to ( being politically correct ) as UAP's
I'm sure Kelly continues to have deep ties to NASA which is lead by Nelson, who probanly welcomes his input..Expect nothing from NASA which is simply going through the motions to feign interest and concern, other than the " national security" implications. Nelson and Kelly will continue to push their narrative and get away with it since the general public at large is misinformed and not well versed in the history or significant sightings that took place 30-70 years ago
Either they and the other bureaucrat " pushbackers " are profoundly ignorant or (I suspect) reluctant to be forthcoming to acknowledge the truth both to themselves and the public concernig the origin.
Their mindset is simply astounding.

ilfakiro said...

great commentary kevin.

Northfoggy said...

Kevin, I sincerely appreciate your commentary on this. For people who have been neck-deep in this subject for years, it all just seems so tired. Imagine if the mainstream media would give you an hour or so to lay out the facts? Maybe Tucker would consider having you on to provide the factual framework necessary to really understand the whole UFO field. It would go a long way toward inoculating the general public against the garbage that usually shows up in Discovery Channel UFO shows.

Bob Koford said...

Thank you for the well written article.

After continually touting transparency and removing the "stigma", the hearing itself proceeded to heap mounds of ridicule onto anything that didn't point to strange lights...certainly there are no structured craft to observe. This included joining an API "journalist" in blaming the tv show, "x-files" for all the trouble.
In 1948-1950, the National Security term was Unconventional Aircraft. That was a straight forward description of a structured air vehicle. Now...with UAP it can be anything you want it to be.

Stay well, and best

Paul Young said...

Kevin, another excellent analysis.

Dr. Okuma said...

Kevin, thank you for your commentary on the recent NASA report!

I watched the televised conference by NASA and am disgusted by what they explained their approach is to be, and what they have found so far. I was appalled at the handling of most of the questions asked of them, and I was especially taken aback by their comment on the recent David Grusch testimony to Congress.
There is plenty of meta-data from past events to analyze, but it seems that NASA is only interested in receiving new data, and implied that legacy data is non-existent/unimportant, therefore may not be used for their efforts.

Ten minutes into watching their press conference/report, it was clear to me that they will only be "transparent" with any findings if, and only if, it is authorized to be released by the powers that govern information release (Pentagon, CIA, etc., NOT NASA).

This reeks of the same subject treatment by Project Bluebook decades ago, unfortunately.

Paul Young said...

Dr Okuma... My feelings exactly.
How can NASA claim their's was a comprehensive study when they weren't looking at "the best stuff".
Only non-classified material was considered. The whole thing was a farce.