Did the fascist government of Benito Mussolini recover a crashed alien spaceship in the 1930s? Did the ship then make its way into the custody of the Vatican, which in turn handed it to the United States at the end of World War II? Have “nonhuman biologics” been recovered from more recent crashes?
It all sounds like the premise of an amazing episode of the X-Files. In this case, though, it’s been presented as nonfiction by “whistleblower” David Grusch. Late last month, he was a star witness in Congress’s hearings on what were once called Unidentified Flying Objects and have since been dubbed Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) — presumably because “UFO” has an embarrassing ring to it.
Even if you don’t believe that little green men (or X-Files-era gray aliens) were crash-landing in fascist Italy, the bipartisan interest in getting to the bottom of all this makes sense for far more mundane reasons. Should we really trust the military and intelligence communities to spend money “looking into UAPs” without the public getting to know exactly what they’re up to, and how this might relate to the rest of what they’re up to?
Grusch’s specific story seems awfully unlikely. There are forty-five thousand domestic flights in the United States every day and hardly any of them crash. As Mick West points out, it would be awfully strange if intergalactic spaceships that navigated a faster-than-life obstacle course to make it to Earth crashed at a far higher rate.
Still, polls show that a majority Americans distrust official denials and suspect that there may be something to UAP claims. Some of my fellow skeptics might see the poll numbers and be tempted to laugh at the gullibility of ordinary Americans. That would be a mistake…