Disclosure and Its Myths
Social media and news outlets seem increasingly confident that disclosure of government knowledge of non-human intelligence will happen soon in the form of some official statement. Perhaps now is a good time to reflect on the value of a possible disclosure and, given its problematic past, to consider the context around this act.
Francisco J. Ricardo, Ph.D. is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
Disclosure - The Holiest Grail of UFO Researchers and Enthusiasts
Any consideration of what disclosure might be must address its complexity. Disclosure isn't likely to be one event starring one person in a single venue, such as a Congressional hearing, but rather a long and complex chain of orchestrated announcements. Many might imagine disclosure as a one-time announcement of the kind made when one country declares war on another. This is exemplified in the famous speech delivered by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt on December 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed by planes of the Imperial Japanese Navy.
UFO/UAP disclosure would not likely assume that form. Unlike a war declaration, a disclosure announcement of this kind would not be a call for the public to act. It would not be delivered so as to introduce us to another species in a friendly embrace. On the contrary, disclosure would surely confirm our (inferior) status in relation to another race of beings, something impossible for many people to accept without trauma. To avoid mass panic, it is therefore likely that such a statement would “put a spin” on the position of the President, or the leader of whichever country makes the statement, as playing an active, powerful role in this discovery. But that would do little to assuage the public’s feelings of anxiety and impotence in the face of a doubtlessly more powerful race. There is thus no “good look” for the government in making such a declaration, nor is there anything to be gained by making it; disclosure is a nightmare scenario for any leadership, which would see it as inciting a social crisis.
“Disclosure” in Earlier Forms
However, assuming that disclosure makes some degree of sense, what would this look like? Does the past offer any possible guidance? What previous events might resemble something like an official disclosure? The only relevant ones, of course, are reports of the study of flying craft of unknown origin. In this legacy, an overview of five reports from official government UFO investigation projects (enumerated here for the benefit of the unfamiliar reader) reveals a consistent pattern, and each report’s conclusions and public reaction to them provide a clue to it. To wit:
Project Blue Book (1952-1969) - USA: This was one of the most famous UFO investigations ever conducted by the United States Air Force. After investigating more than 12,000 sightings, the project concluded that most of them could be explained as misinterpretations of natural phenomena or conventional aircraft. However, 701 cases (5%) remained “unidentified.” The public reaction to this conclusion was mixed, with many UFO enthusiasts rejecting the official explanation and asserting that the government was concealing evidence of extraterrestrial life.
The Condon Report (1966-1968) - US: Formally titled Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, this was the result of the Colorado UFO Project, a study conducted by the University of Colorado. The report concluded that further study of UFOs was unlikely to be scientifically beneficial and could not be justified in the expectation that science would advance. It stated that most sightings were explainable as conventional objects or phenomena, misinterpretations of natural phenomena, optical illusions, or hoaxes. Critics claimed there was an initial bias, as the project director, physicist Edward Condon, had expressed deep skepticism about UFOs before undertaking the study. The project was also criticized for primarily focusing on explaining away sightings rather than undertaking a neutral investigation. One of the project scientists, Dr. David Saunders, was fired during the project and subsequently claimed the study was biased and that negative conclusions had been predetermined. For its part, the scientific community generally accepted the report’s conclusion, which led to the end of Project Blue Book. However, a majority of UFO enthusiasts and many scientists rejected the Report, finding that its conclusions were not justified by the data presented and that, where many cases remained unexplained, the need for further scientific study was not acknowledged.
The Condign Report (2000) - UK: This was an effort by the British government to investigate UFO sightings in the UK. The report, which wasn't made public until 2006, concluded that there was no evidence of any threat to the UK and no evidence that sightings categorized as “unidentified” were extraterrestrial in origin. The report was met with general skepticism among UFO enthusiasts, who questioned both the superficiality of the government’s investigation and its conclusions.
The Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP) (2007-2012) - USA: This Pentagon program was revealed by the media in 2017, and it was reported that the program was investigating military encounters with unidentified aerial phenomena. The conclusions of the AATIP program were never disclosed publicly. Widespread awareness of the program’s existence sparked interest and was accepted by the public, but it also raised questions about the government’s transparency on the subject.
Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force Report (2021) - USA: This brief 9-page report was a compilation of investigations into 144 sightings between 2004 and 2021 by U.S. government sources. The report stated that in the majority of cases, the observed phenomena remained unexplained, and there was a need for scientific investigation into these incidents. The report was received with mixed reactions: some accepted it as a valid and overdue examination of the phenomenon, while others felt it did not provide enough information or definitive conclusions.
Each official report shows that the official public posture toward unidentified phenomena is one of consistent skepticism toward a non-human source. In turn, the public’s reaction to those conclusions is itself skeptical, for no area of government inquiry has produced official reports whose conclusions have been so suspiciously received, or dismissed, time and again.
The Elusive Nature of Disclosure
If we sense a persistent disconnection between what is reported or observed by individuals and what is reported or observed by official government sources, why might this be? To be sure, any potential for mass panic dictates that disclosure will need to happen as something designed to control rather than inform public perception. Will the public perceive the difference? Perhaps not, given the vague and problematic nature of what disclosure even is. Consider three mitigating questions:
What is disclosure? What a private citizen or group of such persons may say about having had an encounter with a non-earthly being or craft is seen as a “report.” “Disclosure,” however, is a term reserved for something convened by officials and offered as government doctrine. The emphasis of governmental disclosure is not on disclosure of — it is on disclosure by — the focus being less on preserving the integrity of the message than preserving the interests of the messenger.
How to distinguish between disclosure and disinformation? Several of the previously listed disclosure projects appear to have been projects of concealment. News conferences like the one that followed the 1947 crash at Roswell, N.M., the Condon Report, and Project Blue Book are now known to have been disinformation campaigns. In each case, however, the truth about these campaigns took decades to emerge.
In the matter of disclosure, who exactly speaks for the government? Someone such as United States Air Force (USAF) officer and former intelligence official David Grusch, who was with the government, is apparently not credible because he claimed to have seen evidence, but did not present any as such, despite corroboration by others. Disclosure concerning UFOs and non-human intelligence means little without material support for any claims made. And even then, any presented evidence is sure to be scrutinized by a procession of specialists who may not all agree on it as representing “evidence of extraterrestrial beings.”
Given these puzzles and patterns of obfuscation, what difference does it make whether disclosure actually happens at all? As intriguing as it is to imagine a day after disclosure, we should first ask what exactly could be disclosed, given that the event would surely be a formality clothed within a ceremony designed for the media. In addition, we might also ask: what is left to disclose that hasn't already been mentioned somewhere? After sifting through details derived from declassified documents as well as from the recollections of UFO abductees concerning the nature and intentions of extraterrestrial species here on earth, UFO researchers have heard some amazing things. What are these?
UFO abductees have shared five major aspects of “the phenomenon,” which no official disclosure is likely to mention. The first of these concerns disturbing medical experiments, since many abductees claim that extraterrestrials performed invasive surgical procedures on them, sometimes involving the extraction of sperm or ova. Second is the existence of hybrid programs; some claim that aliens are creating human-alien hybrids. This is sometimes linked to the aforementioned medical experiments. A third piece is telepathic communication: abductees often report that extraterrestrials communicated with them telepathically, sharing messages about humanity, the universe, or the environment. In abduction accounts where telepathy happened, abductees have been given warnings about impending disasters, nuclear war, or environmental problems. Lastly, there is the participation of multiple races. While “grey” aliens (small beings with large black eyes) are the most commonly reported, abductees also describe encountering reptilian, Nordic (human-like), and other types of extraterrestrials.
Contrasting this, what we have either from former government officials or declassified documents falls into four kinds of information claims. Firstly, numerous declassified documents from countries around the world acknowledge that pilots, military personnel, and other officials have reported sightings of unidentified flying objects that don't match any known aircraft or natural phenomena. Some also claim that governments have retrieved crashed UFOs and even extraterrestrial bodies. The infamous Roswell incident of 1947 is the most well-known case, though the U.S. government “disclosed” this as a weather balloon. Thirdly, there are cover-ups, for it is frequently claimed (often by former officials) that governments, especially the U.S. government, are aware of extraterrestrial activity but keep it secret to prevent panic or harness alien technology. Finally, there is the bravery inherent in the work of some former government officials and activists, who have called for “full disclosure,” claiming that the public has a right to know the truth about extraterrestrial interactions with Earth. This push by former officials implies that they know that the government has withheld information.
The Role of Science (Thus Far)
Now to both the metaphysical and the political dimensions just mentioned comes science, whose professionals have it in their power to make of any evidence anything they are capable of making.
But an irony presents itself: what constitutes scientific evidence of non-human intelligence that might be collectively acceptable to all scientists has itself never been defined by any scientific method, so that, until science produces its own criteria for what is and is not non-human intelligence, any endorsements or dismissals will constitute argument rather than science: whatever any one scientific team presents can be dismissed by any other as having failed to reach a non-existent standard.
Relevant to this is Karl Popper’s Falsification Principle, a way of demarcating science from non-science that suggests that for a theory to be considered scientific, it must be able to be tested and conceivably proven false. But on the question of non-human intelligence, the opposite is also the case: what would all scientists consider acceptable evidence of non-human intelligence? Would they accept a Klaatu visiting Earth from a flying saucer, as in the 1951 science fiction film The Day the Earth Stood Still?
Instead of this, what we do see are glimpses of the government and science professions chronically sitting on the proverbial hedge. While governments fail to advance our understanding by sharing what they may know, science is problematically tied to the Homo sapiens view of the universe. We find such human-centric orientation in scientific projects like that carried out by the SETI Institute, which assumes that extraterrestrial intelligence will communicate with us by sending non-random radio emanations from distant space.
However, the number of human-centric assumptions in this definition is problematic. Such assumptions are that:
Non-human intelligences (NHI) would (prefer to) communicate via certain radio frequencies
These intelligences broadcast because they are not willing or able to visit our planet
NHI are intelligent enough for such communication, yet are unable to do so using any human language
Humans are sufficiently intelligent to detect and decode any such signal
Concerning assumption 4, the SETI Institute was able to conclude that on only one occasion, a non-random signal was received. Human communication takes place in every known language through the use of words that combine to form a single thought, which in linguistics is called an utterance. It is a cultural characteristic that each language has utterances of a certain average number of words, which is known as the mean length of utterance (MLU). In English, the MLU is 12–16 words, and no language has a MLU beyond 19 words. This human assumption informs the idea of randomness in the signals received by SETI. But is it possible that the MLU of an alien species could be 12,000,000,000,000? If so, then SETI might, after three decades in operation, still be hearing their first few words, whose pattern fails to be detected and is dismissed as random noise. Human scales of time, memory, and complexity are not necessarily universal, but when machinery is built to local parameters, truth may prove permanently elusive.
The Possibility of Inner Disclosure
These dead ends, and many more, are tiresome and myopic, yet they seem to lead us time and again to the same facts. Firstly, there is not and will not ever be any real disclosure; we will only have encounters with disclosure about disclosure. Secondly, this non-knowledge is what we are meant to have; it is a token of our bearings and our current direction. What we see is what we experience, and the act of questioning this directed darkness is exactly what a much higher intelligence would impel us to do. It would never bring us enlightenment but rather allow us to find it by ourselves, in ourselves, by gazing directly into the mirror of our own ignorance, where the distinction between truth and falsehood is forged.
Francisco J. Ricardo, Ph.D. is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.