It’s time to take UFOs seriously. Seriously.

Alexander Wendt is one of the most influential political scientists alive. Here’s his case for taking UFOs seriously.

A giant metal sculpture of an alien stands outside a trailer in the desert.
The “Area 51 Base camp” event at the Alien Research Center in Hiko, Nevada, on September 20, 2019.

The Pentagon recently released three videos of UFOs recorded by the Navy — one taken in 2004 and the other two in 2015. The videos, which first leaked a couple of years ago, show … well, it’s not exactly clear.

There are various objects — two of which look like aircraft — spinning through the sky and moving in ways that defy easy explanation. As the images bop across the screen, you can hear the pilots’ excitement and confusion in real time as they track whatever it is they’re seeing.

I’m not what you would call a UFO enthusiast, but the videos are the most compelling I’ve ever seen. They seem to confirm, at the very least, that UFOs are real — not that aliens exist, but that there are unidentified objects buzzing around the sky.

Now, do I think aliens are real? Yeah, probably. Are they flying spaceships into our atmosphere? Who the hell knows?

The best anyone can say is that there’s a non-zero chance that some of these UFOs were made by non-human hands, and that, I’d argue, is reason enough to talk about them. But it’s barely cracked the news cycle. Even in a pandemic, you’d think we’d have a little time for UFO talk.

So in an attempt to force a UFO conversation into the public discourse, I contacted Alexander Wendt, a professor of international relations at Ohio State University. Wendt is a giant in his field of IR theory, but in the past 15 years or so, he’s become an amateur ufologist. He wrote an academic article about the political implications of UFOs in 2008, and, more recently, he gave a TEDx talk calling out the “taboo” against studying UFOs.

Wendt is about the closest thing you’ll find to a UFO expert in a world in which ufology isn’t a real science. Like other enthusiasts, he’s spent a lot of time looking at the evidence, thinking about the stakes, and theorizing about why extraterrestrials would visit Earth in the first place.

In this conversation, which has been lightly edited for clarity, we discuss why scientists refuse to take UFOs seriously, why he thinks there’s a good chance ETs are behind the aircraft in those videos, and why he believes the discovery of extraterrestrial life would be the most significant event in human history.

Sean Illing

Do you believe in extraterrestrial life?

Alexander Wendt

Well, it’s kind of like asking if somebody believes in God. It’s just an odd question. I certainly believe that it’s very likely there’s extraterrestrial life somewhere in the universe, and I suspect even most scientists might agree with that now. The real question is, are ETs here? And that’s obviously a much more debatable question.

Sean Illing

Are they here?

Alexander Wendt

I think the odds are high enough that we should be investigating it. It’s as simple as that.

Sean Illing

Why would aliens conceal their existence? I know you have theories on this —

Alexander Wendt

It’s possible they’ve been here all along. And that’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately, which is a bit unsettling. Because it means it’s their planet and not ours. They could just be intergalactic tourists. Maybe they’re looking for certain minerals. It could just be scientific curiosity. It could be that they’re extracting our DNA. I mean, who knows? I have no idea. All I know is that if they are here, they seem to be peaceful.

Sean Illing

You’ve thought about this a lot, Alex. You must have a hunch as to which of those scenarios is most likely.

Alexander Wendt

I think if they are here, they’ve probably been here a very long time — that’s my guess. And, look, there are medieval woodcuts that seem to show UFOs. There are UFO stories in the Bible, apparently, or at least stories that are interpreted that way. So I think they’ve probably been here a long time if they’re here.

Sean Illing

We’re having this conversation because you’ve been very public about calling out a “taboo” against studying UFOs. What’s your claim here?

Alexander Wendt

It’s very simple. There are things going on in the sky that are strange and do not have an obvious explanation. These are UFOs, and like any other unidentified phenomenon, human beings are curious creatures and normally scientists will rush out to study whatever we find fascinating or puzzling. But in this case, scientists won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. And that’s the taboo.

So even though the Navy is now saying, “Hey, we’ve got UFOs on film, here they are,” the scientists are still not going to study them. So there seems to be something blocking the scientific community from engaging this phenomenon, even though anything else even remotely this interesting would generate limitless research dollars.

Sean Illing

Is this some kind of conspiracy of silence? How does a taboo like this take hold in the first place?

Alexander Wendt

We argued in our 2008 academic paper that the modern state is what we call anthropocentric. Basically, that means human beings are sovereigns. In ancient times, it was the gods or nature that was thought to rule over everything. Now it’s human beings. And this principle is embodied in the state. And if you call that into question, if you call into question that the state is not the only potential sovereign here, the whole legitimacy of the state is called into question. So the whole worldview of the modern state is very vulnerable to the UFO question. You can’t even ask the question because it raises the possibility that there could be ETs here. And that would just blow everything wide open.

Sean Illing

That’s an argument for why states might not be interested in this question, but it doesn’t explain why non-state actors or the private sector isn’t particularly eager to study this.

Alexander Wendt

Now, that’s a very good point. In our paper, we only dealt with states. What’s interesting lately is that states seem more willing to engage with this than scientists. I think there’s a hubris in the scientific community, a belief that human beings are the most intelligent species on this planet, and it’s very hard to come to grips with the idea that if there are aliens here, they’re obviously much smarter than we are.

I’ve received a lot of emails from individual scientists in response to my TEDx talk. And all of them said the same thing, which is, “Thank you, we wish we could study this, but we can’t because our lives depend on getting grants from the government and other research institutes, and if anybody gets worried that we’re interested in UFOs, boom, they won’t get a cent and their careers will be in the tank.” But I still think most scientists believe this is all nonsense anyway, and that’s frankly disappointing.

Sean Illing

I think there are other explanations here, but we’ll get to that. First, let’s talk about these Navy videos. What do you think you’re seeing when you watch these?

Alexander Wendt

The first thing I’d say is that it doesn’t matter what I think because I’m not a scientist, right? I don’t know what’s on those videos. But to me, I listened to the pilots, to their voices, and I trust them much more than I would trust myself. And they’re clearly seeing something extraordinary. Now, whether it’s alien life, who knows? It’s a plausible explanation. My point is that we should be agnostic about this and simply study it scientifically. Let’s do the science and then we can talk about what we found. Until we’ve done that, it’s all bullshit.

Sean Illing

Is it possible that there is no real taboo and that the lack of rigorous study has more to do with the limits of the field or the paucity of evidence than anything else?

Alexander Wendt

Well, it’s true that the evidence we have is very vague. Most of it is anecdotal. It’s not scientific. A lot of it is eyewitness reports. On the other hand, the evidence has been going on for many decades. It’s very consistent, in many ways. It’s all over the world. There’s a huge number of cases and there is physical evidence in the form of videos or radar accounts. And when that evidence comes from the US Navy, it’s safe to say that it’s legit and not doctored.

Sean Illing

But what would a science of UFOs even look like? How do we study empirically something for which there’s so little empirical evidence?

Alexander Wendt

Like Elizabeth Warren says, I have a plan for that.

Sean Illing

Great, let’s hear it.

Alexander Wendt

About five years ago, some colleagues of mine and I formed a nonprofit called UFODATA. And the objective we set for the nonprofit was to create a ground-based network of surveillance stations that would monitor the sky 24/7 with cameras and various other technologies, looking for UFOs. Anything comes along, boom, the cameras start snapping pictures or radar or film until the UFO passes. The technology is very sophisticated now and very cheap.

Sean Illing

I don’t quite understand the need for that. There are thousands of satellites and radar systems operating all over the world at every moment, surveilling and recording and tracking. An obvious question is, why are there not more sightings? Why is there not more evidence? Why are there so few compelling pieces of evidence?

Alexander Wendt

I think part of the problem is that a lot of the parameters of these technologies that we use to look for asteroids and meteors and all these other things are such that UFOs may not be within those parameters. And so they’ll just be discarded as noise or unnoticeable junk. So that’s one explanation for why we see less than we might.

Secondly, no one has bothered to actually look for UFOs. We’re looking for ETs around distant stars, we’re looking for comets, we’re looking at all kinds of other things in the atmosphere. No one, as far as I know, is seriously looking for UFOs. But to me, it doesn’t really matter why we don’t see more. What matters is those three videos that the Navy released. I defy anyone to watch those and come away thinking there’s nothing there worth investigating. Those pilots who spent thousands of hours in the sky, who are flying the most sophisticated machines in the entire world, are seeing something that they have never seen before and are completely blown away by it.

Again, these are videos released by the Navy, and so I’m inclined to believe what I’m seeing. What’s striking is that the objects don’t behave like natural phenomena. One of the objects rotates as it’s flying against the wind, which is not normal. And the pilots are clearly under the impression that these objects are under intelligent control.                                                                                                                                     Actually, that’s the next article I would like to write. I don’t know what the answer is right now. I only write articles where I don’t know the answer ahead of time. But I guess I will say this: Montezuma could’ve prepared a lot better for Cortes than he did, had he only known Cortes was coming.

Interesting Indeed,

Thank You, Happy Quarantinw !!!~~~~~WE HAVW NEVER BEEN ALONE !!!~~~~~~WE ARE THE DISCLOSURE !!!

Love and  Regards,

Nancy Thames

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