644   Insight talk

Extra! Extra! UFOs Are Real! From Sensationalist Reporting to Pseudoscience Communication

Author: Alexandre Schiele
Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Canada

Did the media, in the short span of two years, successfully took on one of the most powerful organizations in the world, revealed one of the most damning conspiracies, shed light on the extent of the Deep State and finally pressed it into confessing its secrets? In 2017, former Blink-182 band member Tom Delonge created To the Star Academy (TTSA), a commercial corporation with the purported aim of furthering UFO disclosure through the medium of science fiction. On 16 December 2017, a New York Times article disclosed that the US Government secretly funded the Defense Department Advance Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), officially discontinued in 2011, which had come in possession not only of genuine UFO footage but also of suspected UFO material. On 3 August 2018, a subsequent New York Times article disclosed that the US military’s official dismissal of UFOs was a deliberate cover-up, and that it continued to secretly track and monitor the phenomena. Their one and only source: Luis Elizondo, former AATIP director and now TTSA spokesperson. In April 2019, Politico, among others, revealed that the US Navy was drafting new UFO reporting guidelines. From 31 May to 5 July, History Channel broadcast a TTSA coproduced documentary miniseries: Unidentified: Inside America’s UFO Investigation. On 17 September 2019, the US military confirmed that it was not only in possession of UFO footage, but that it actively monitored and tracked UFOs. CNN, among others, jumped to the conclusion that UFOs were both real and a potential threat to national security. Yet, the military only confirmed its tracking and monitoring of “unidentified aerial phenomena” in restricted airspace. This talk aims to raise a crucial issue: by willfully ignoring the uses and abuses of science in the wider mass media system, science communication practitioners have already undermined their very purpose.

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