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Aliens are among us Governments don't want us to believe there's something out there

Science will never explain everything. (Getty Images)

Science will never explain everything. (Getty Images)


January 18, 2024   6 mins

In 1950, Enrico Fermi, the man who built the first nuclear reactor, was having lunch with some other scientists when the discussion turned to aliens – and he first articulated what’s become known as “the Fermi paradox” by asking: “Where is everybody?

In other words: the universe has been around for some time, and is a very big place. Human life has only existed for a fraction of that time, and only on one planet. Given the vastness of time and space, then, it seems more than likely that we’re not the only intelligent beings in the universe. So why haven’t we found any evidence of others? This question has led some to conclude that extra-terrestrial intelligent life doesn’t exist, and others to speculate — as in the long-running sci-fi show The X Files — that aliens do exist, but that their existence is covered up by mysterious government agencies.

Recently, The X Files seems to have escaped into real life. US Congress was reported last week to have received a secret briefing on UFOs — or, as they are known these days, UAPs: Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena. This follows revelations last year from David Grusch, a former US Intelligence official turned whistleblower, who alleged that the USA is in possession of “partially intact” alien vehicles and other evidence of extra-terrestrial life.

According to Grusch, governments have, since 1945, been engaged in a sub rosa technological race to reverse engineer alien technology. In the wake of the media storm this caused, pressure has mounted on US authorities to reveal the truth. What, then, is going on? Are aliens trying to make contact? If not, why are they creeping into the public consciousness now?

I suspect the truth may be less “out there” than in here. That is, the phenomena we have for some time called “aliens” were always real, and what’s changing is our shared relationship to reality. When I suggest “the aliens were always real”, I don’t mean little green men in spaceships. I mean that the world has always been stranger than the dominant Enlightenment-style scientific paradigm allows.

The scientists and researchers of the Age of Reason, which began with Francis Bacon and reached its high point in the 19th century, imagined the universe as a kind of giant clockwork mechanism. Its inner workings could, they postulated, be made intelligible, if dismantled and analysed. But as it turned out, once you dismantle things to the smallest possible level, it all goes weird.

Since splitting the atom, theoretical physics has got progressively less intelligible, and more — to laypeople, at least — mystical-sounding: an arcane place of multiple parallel dimensions, space-collapsing quantum entanglement, and things that aren’t real until they are measured. I don’t pretend to grasp any of these concepts at any level beyond pop-science. But the aggregate takeaway, for the casual observer, is surely that the fabric of reality is much more mysterious than Newton or Descartes imagined.

Given that actual physicists largely abandoned Newtonian physics a long time ago, perhaps this shouldn’t be shocking. But despite these (albeit not widely understood) scientific advances, Fermi’s question remains unanswered. Where is everybody? Why haven’t we encountered other intelligent life?

But here, the most obvious answer is surely: we have. We’re just looking at it wrongly. If, as some theoretical physicists now argue, there are not four dimensions but at least 10, that’s six we can’t perceive directly, but that might well be populated by intelligent life of some kind unimaginable within our familiar dimensions.

Should such hypothetical entities ever intrude into the human field of perception, you’d expect us to struggle to make sense of the experience. You’d also expect such an encounter to be interpreted in whichever terms give the best account of it, according to the perceiver’s culture and mental framework — interpretations that would vary a great deal over time. In other words: what if “aliens” is simply one of many conceptual frameworks humans have adopted, over time, to talk about encounters that happen too frequently to be dismissed as delusion, but that are too strange to be explained away in terms of everyday life?

Such encounters recur throughout recorded history: an Egyptian stele from 1450BC, for example, describes a “star” that “shot” at the enemies of Thutmose III. The Roman historian Livy recounts “phantom ships gleaming in the sky” during the Second Punic War in 218BC. And in 1566, citizens of Basel reported “celestial phenomena” overhead, as black and red balls “fought” in front of the rising sun. But Livy glosses these as religious experiences — as does the 1566 pamphlet about the Basel incidents, which enjoins readers to pray for divine assistance against the Turks.

Even relatively modern strange encounters are more likely to be interpreted in mystical or religious terms, when experienced by those outside secular, Anglophone scientific culture. This is evident from the testimonies assembled by the artist Susan Hiller for Witness, a 2000 installation that compiled accounts of UFO sightings from around the world. A priest from Puerto Rico, for example, describes repeated encounters with nonhuman beings who “explain complicated ideas of space and time”. He asserts that “teachers of Light came to our planet from other planets, from other systems, even from other galaxies and realms known to us as the non-physical or supernatural realms of existence”. An Indian teacher explains a strange encounter with a glowing, airborne object as simply one of many mysterious happenings, in a place sacred to the 15th-century Bengali saint Mahaprabhu.

From this perspective, it would make sense that accounts of alien encounters seem to have intensified as religious faith has waned: a map showing UFO reports over time shows their prevalence rising over the 20th century, and clustering most strongly in the secular Anglosphere. And while we could just interpret this as meaning that Anglophone cultures are peculiarly susceptible to delusion, if we entertain even hypothetically the possibility that at least some of these reports were genuine encounters with something, there are two obvious alternative readings. One: that aliens are for some reason especially partial to British and American people; or, two, that British and American people lack any framework other than “aliens” to make sense of otherworldly encounters.

If this were all true, and government agencies know it, that would suggest the real X Files cover-up is not of aliens as such, but a broader and more disorienting insight: how much stranger the world really is than in the official narrative. But why hide this? Perhaps there are good practical reasons, not least that we’ve built an immensely complex and high-tech civilisation upon technologies premised on a mechanistic view of the universe; if that clockwork model is at best an over-simplification, if not outright false, what would happen if everyone knew? Could the masses still be relied upon to act as though the dead, mechanistic universe is all there is? And if not, would we still be able to keep the lights on? If there were even the faintest possibility that the answer to this is “no”, I can perhaps understand why leaders might deem it in the public interest to contain the truth.

And if that truth seems recently to be leaking out, I suspect this is because our faith in the mechanistic nature of the universe is now very visibly slipping, UFOs or no UFOs. We are demonstrably losing interest in the world of atoms. Public debate is fracturing, online, into competing and often only tenuously reality-based filter bubbles; conspiracies flourish; there’s been a genuine resurgence in flat-Earth theories. In brief, no one views facts or logic as slam-dunk debate-enders anymore. “Lived experience” and “personal truth” trump statistics, which in any case are viewed (often accurately) as merely another tool for politicised storytelling. Even matters once simply deemed simply self-evident, such as human sexual dimorphism, have receded in importance relative to the push and pull of competing moral narratives.

And if mass public debate has come unmoored from the material, so too has leadership. It’s hard to think of more concrete evidence than the top-down imposition of policies predicated on a belief that inner identity takes precedence over sexed physiology. Yet this shift manifests well beyond identity politics. Leaders across the political spectrum grandstand on the moral issue of the day while announcing new policies half of which never exist beyond the press release, all while salami-slicing basic, real-world services such as bin collection and road maintenance.

Meanwhile, if complex systems such as air traffic control appear to be seizing up in a concatenating competence crisis, this is not, as recent discourse has averred, the fault of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion measures — or not exactly. Rather, the shift away from hiring practices based on merit and competence, in favour of those based on supposed moral attributes, is an effect of our leaders losing interest in the material world. It’s only because of this that hiring criteria irrelevant to competence are able to creep in at all. You could apply a completely different set of moral attributes to air traffic control recruitment, that had nothing to do with race, gender and so on, and the result would be just as deleterious compared to competence-based hiring.

What, then, are these sunlit esoteric uplands, for which so many now seem willing to exchange the previous era’s scientific and technological achievements? What, or who, if anything, has been visiting us while Fermi wasn’t looking? “I want to believe so badly in a truth beyond our own,” says Fox Mulder, in the X Files episode that spawned the famous slogan. Our collective turning-away from the world of atoms, and the complex systems we built there, suggests that we do, as well.

But no one from the Congress briefing seems willing to spill the beans. Perhaps the fear is that the truth really is too uncanny to be assimilated, in a public conversation already fractiously weird. Or the hope is that, for as long as the rest of us remain in the dark, we may be able to keep the lights of the Enlightenment on a little longer.


Mary Harrington is a contributing editor at UnHerd.

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Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
5 months ago

I don’t pretend to grasp any of these concepts at any level beyond pop-science.
This is actually the money quote for this article. A huge part of the problem is that technology has massively outstripped the ordinary person’s ability to understand it; we are surrounded by mysterious devices and processes that are impenetrable to anyone not possessing years of intense study in the hard sciences. The consequence is a rise in magical thinking. It’s everywhere. But there is no proper channel for this magical thinking. The death of traditional religion means that our propensity to project outwards our own inner states has escaped its confines in the supernatural and has now begun to infect the secular. What is trans ideology, but an attempt to force reality to acquiesce to our will? What is modern monetary theory, but the eternal desire to turn lead into gold? What is systemic racism, but a chthonic and demonic specter haunting us? What is climate change, but a propitiation to the gods of the forest over the gods of the city?
Speaking as someone with both a substantial background in the sciences and a personal worldview that trends towards the mystical, I find the current age a frightening time. Everywhere reason is drowned beneath and faith flees before a rising tide of protean, mindless superstition, made all the more sinister by its utopian, scientific veneer. Those who in earlier ages might have been drawn towards the sublime through religion now attempt to forge, by pure will, heaven on earth. But the will has been sapped by the death of reason, the death of faith. In that sense, will has been replaced by mulish, brutish sentiment, a fuzzy and amorphous, almost amoebic, reflex towards the immanent eschaton. All virtues are stripped away, leaving only blind and savage emotionalism to drive, but not guide, us. We enter, as Churchill put it, “the abyss of a new Dark Age, made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.”
God help us all.

Liam F
Liam F
5 months ago

Indeed. It would be useful to know the proportion of graduates who studied hard science compared with the cohort studying the humanities over the last 20 years. This may partly answer the rise in magical thinking.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Liam F

Yes, reductive materialism is under general assault. Buckle up and hold onto your hats persons of atheism.

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
5 months ago

What an interesting hippie brain and an eloquent hippie voice you have.
Eds: can someone pls file my comment under ‘Words never before arranged in that particular order in the entire history of the English language’. Chrs.

Liam F
Liam F
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Robertson

agree. For British readers, a bit like Des Lawson on piano.- all the right notes, just not in the order you were expecting.

Stephen Hunter
Stephen Hunter
5 months ago
Reply to  Liam F

That was Eric Morecambe, by the way, not Des Lawson (whoever he is). Quote: “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.”

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Hunter

That particular form of words (or at least something very close) was indeed used by Eric Morecambe.

However, Les Dawson was also able to do little turns at the piano into which he would insinuate painful wrong notes, ostensibly through ineptitude, though I imagine playing a piece exquisitely wrongly is quite hard for a musician.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
5 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Hunter

Des Lawson is all the right letters but not necessarily in the right order.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
5 months ago
Reply to  Liam F

Eric Morecambe, I think.

Xaven Taner
Xaven Taner
5 months ago

This is very good point. Another sign of this form of magical thinking is that we’ve substantialised (and frequently personify) hate. It’s now talked about across the culture as if it were some malign substance that has seeped into everything and can be measured and mitigated. Too much hate online; this or that group filled with hate; HR policies against hate, etc. It’s similar to the most fervent religious believers who see the work of the devil all around them. Our reliance on technology and abandonment of simple, immediate, human bonds is rapidly turning us into characters from Norman Cohn’s The Pursuit of the Millennium. 

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

That’s true. For a lot of people abstract concepts now have legs and walk around the world actually doing things on their own account! It’s bizarre, but perhaps a built in feature of the human mind.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
5 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Great point. Our public library just started a campaign called “United Against Hate”. What, do they hate hate? I don’t get it. They don’t seem to either.

Stephen Kristan
Stephen Kristan
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

So your library would welcome pro-lifers, second amendment supporters, concealed-carry advocates, anti-vaxxers, “extremist MAGA” voters, climate change skeptics, transgender skeptics etc.? Right!

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

If one hates hate, shouldn’t they also hate their own hatred of hate? If one did hate hate, wouldn’t it then be logical for one to hate oneself for hating and being a hateful person? Wouldn’t it be reasonable to hate all of humanity for being the source of all hate? If they programmed an AI to eliminate all hatred, wouldn’t it immediately begin to exterminate all humans? The implications seem perfectly clear to me, but what do I know. I’m not an expert or a scientist after all, so presumably I’m not connect… err, qualified enough or indoctrin… I mean educated enough to make such distinctions. The fact I don’t hate hate is enough to disqualify me from civilized society and a clear indication of mental illness I’m sure. I should let probably let wiser people do my thinking for me, lest I injure my brain.

Jon Barrow
Jon Barrow
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Yeah the usual problem with pinning privately-defined, amorphous emotional labels on public affairs, never ends well. ‘Anti-hate’ legislation! For good reason, it’s against our entire (Anglosphere) tradition. Nobody of genuine sense, with an ounce of self-awareness, would ‘take action against hate’. Doesn’t that include everyone? Who defines the ‘haters’? What’s the punishment and which demi-god gets to mete it out?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Christopher McQuarrie wrote the screenplay of the 1995 movie “The Usual Suspects”. Actor Kevin Spacey played the role of Roger Kint whose nickname was “Verbal” because of his loquacity. During a pivotal scene Verbal described a mysterious demonic figure named Keyser Söze:

Nobody ever believed he was real. Nobody ever knew him or saw anybody that ever worked directly for him, but to hear Kobayashi tell it, anybody could have worked for Söze. You never knew. That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

The line about the Devil, which goes back to Baudelaire, was accentuated when it was repeated near the end of the film.

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
5 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Nope. You’ve missed the point about hate. Materialism (aka a belief that there is no spiritual world, in particular, no Creator God) is a useful atheist philosophy that is willfully blind to any concept that science can’t explain, such as God, or at least a transcendent intelligence that made mankind with a purpose. Once you conjecture that man was made for a purpose, then anything expressing that purpose which is uncomfortable (such as ‘Marriage is a covenant of one man and one woman’) is labeled ‘hate’. Hate, so defined, is a very specific rejection of God. But God hasn’t left the scene, and if God is transcendent and purposeful, it stands to reason that the force of evil which would destroy God’s image in man is also transcendent and purposeful. But what Progressives define as Hate is just a projection of how much they hate the presence of God.

Deac Manross
Deac Manross
5 months ago
Reply to  Simon Templar

Absolutely ! I look back 20-30 years ago at the anti-bullying instruction that began in the U.S. schools. It seemed laudable and a ‘nice’ idea at the time, but it institutionalized itself into the whole ‘hate crimes’ bureaucracies which seem far worse than the initial “Jimmy pushed me on the playground” event.

Mark HumanMode
Mark HumanMode
5 months ago
Reply to  Xaven Taner

Insightful. I hadn’t yet made the connection, but yes, “hate” is indeed the modern mimic of “satan” and “evil”

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

One outlier in your list. Climate change may get a lot of emotional force from mystical human drives, but it is also a prediction backed by solid science and probability calculation. Whether feeling you are a woman means that in essence you are a woman is a question of human definitions and feelings. Whether the planet is heating dangerously and is likely to continue to do so is a question of fact.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

but it is also a prediction backed by solid science and probability calculation. 
Are you sure, because every apocalyptic climate article is couched in weasel language: a calamity might happen, this or that is possible, disaster may occur, and so forth. And this does not account for all of the dire predictions that have fallen flat, like the impending extinction of polar bears, who seem to be doing just fine. Or how snow was to be a thing of the past, yet looking out of my window (in the American South, no less), it is very much a fact of the present.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I did say ‘probability’ – we will not know for sure till after it has happened. But sure, ‘so far, so good‘, as the man said when he had jumped from the Empire State Building and was falling past the first floor.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

What if these people are wrong? How far are you willing to degrade society and for how long for a possibility, which seems more appropriate than probability? When the climatists resort to claims of “the science is settled” or brand skeptics as “deniers,” something other than science is going on. Moreover, there is no real way to falsify their predictions and models as each one relies on the assumption that human activity is the primary culprit.
Jumping out of the ESB has a foreseeable consequence. It’s not a possible outcome or probable result, it’s a certain ending. That’s quite a bit different from the various graphs and charts, not to mention – again – the failed predictions.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

That is where decisions get difficult. The theoretical answer is to make some kind of probability calculation over how likely and how bad the outcomes are, and how much you are willing to invest to reduce the risk of relatively unlikely but extremely bad outcomes. But it is tough.

People who do climate science have indeed been known to push on the worst-case scenarios and make hasty predictions in order to convince others that this is not something they can just ignore, and it might actually be important enough that dealing with it might be worth some discomfort. But then people who are against doing anything have pretty systematically been been rubbishing the research results, much like the tobacco companies did with the results that proved smoking caused cancer. And, while some of the objections and alternative theories are both scientifically literate and in good faith, an amazing lot of the debate are from people who are against doing anything for ideological reasons – or because they believe that anything that is so uncomfortable for them personally cannot possibly be true. And who have no clue how any kind of science works (climate or otherwise) and do not care, as long as they can find an argument that sounds good and proves they are right.

Someone like Bjorn Lomborg caught a lot of flak, but at least he was arguing on the data and so could contribute to getting a sensible overall picture. People who decide on ideological grounds that there is nothing going on that could cause concern and that it is all a plot by left-wingers who want to take over the world really do deserve to be called ‘Deniers’.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Or, perhaps you need to look at what your model output predicted and what the real data shows?
I know,that’s revolutionary thinking there as far as Climate Modellers are concerned, but many others think that is the basis of ‘proper science’. In fact many, many others. Even the claim 97% consensus is a red flag to any serious scientist. Richard Feynman famously gave up attending conferences etc when his ‘creativity’ just withered. He decided that he was being influenced by the ‘consensus’ and so not thinking for himself. It worked.
Another, and this is rather tongue in cheek dig at the ‘modellers’. Number 4 of his 5 productivity strategies was
================
“There is a computer disease,” Feynman tells us. “Anybody who works with computers knows about [it]. It’s a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you ‘play’ with them!”
Obviously, computers are crucial to today’s world of work. However, it’s advisable to free yourself from them whenever possible. They can distract and limit your productivity and perhaps your creativity.
============
I think the modellers need to get off their computers and look at real data and if it matches their modelled predictions (it doesn’t but a Green won’t admit that.)

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

So what is your advice? ignore all the problems and wait for a genius like Feynman to come and take our decisions for us? Sounds a bit defeatist to me.

Anyway, I doubt Feynman really believed we should stop making computer models and fall back on a genius thinking in isolation with pen and paper. After all, he cut his teeth calculating the likely effect of completely untested atom bombs using a computer *model* and later had one of his major successes on inferring a hitherto unobserved nuclear energy level to fit with the computer *model* of processes inside the sun.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

When a ‘model’ that is wrong tells you ‘there is a problem’ – you don’t need to worry because there is NO problem. What you need to do is discover WHY the modellers won’t fix the models. The answer is ‘follow the money’. When Prof James Lovelock (he had an interesting relationship with Greens, when he proposed the Gaia Hypothesis, they loved him, when he said address ‘Catastrophic Climate Change’ by going Nuclear, they hated him) finally after believing in an preaching of “Catastrophic Global Warming’ for some time, only to discover that there was no warming for at least 15 years – he ‘recanted’ his alarmist views. He didn’t deny warming (Who could if you visit England’s Lake district to study the effects of Glaciation on it?) he just said,”it’s nothing to worry about.”
Then when asked why he seemed to be the only Alarmist recanting he came up with this quote.
“‘I made a mistake’
As “an independent and a loner,” he said he did not mind saying “All right, I made a mistake.” He claimed a university or government scientist might fear an admission of a mistake would lead to the loss of funding.”

You don’t need a Feynman – you just need honesty (PS you are either trying to muddy the waters or aren’t very scientifically illiterate if you think we can only get anywhere with a Feynman. But just for information here’s another Quantum Physicist who has just won a Nobel Prize telling young Korean Scientists to avoid fake science – ie Climate Science. Watch it if you doubt me.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSfdpmEafGI
Net Zero will be lethal to millions, ironically in the developed world. The Welsh/English pre-industrial revolution population was only 8 million because that’s all such an economy could support. Implement Net Zero in the UK and 60 million of us are going to not survive. AND the people who rule us think they can achieve that in 26 years time!
Woke is bad, but Green and Net Zero are worse. Maybe we see so many ‘aliens now because they have come to point out how insane it is, OR perhaps they are just laying claim to ALL the free space that is going to appear once Net Zero Malthusian enthusiasts have killed off most of humanity?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Garbage in garbage out seems borne out by the computer modeling we see in modern-day climate hysteria.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

I not sure it needs Garbage In. They claim to put in good data,but they get Garbage out – so as a former developer (My degree was Chemistry, BioChemistry and Earth Sciences followed by Post Grad Education and Microelectronic qualifications) the first place to look is at the middle bit, the software! Prof Clauser when hammering the Climate Scientists mentioned that he didn’t believe their maths was up to the job. He mentions it in his warning to the Koreans.
One of many shocks for me is how the ‘Climate Science’ tactics of lie, exaggerate, cherry pick and move on when found out were so effectively transferred to the COVID hysteria. The Diamond Princess was basically a Petri dish experiment before the Modellers turned COVID into the New Black Death – and the evidence from the ship was that it was NOT the New Black Death. Here in the UK the BBC was like a Witch Finder General on Steroids (still is a bit against Climate Sceptics) and censored and banned any references to eminent Professors who dared to challenge the Modellers.
The thing that shocks me most is that potentially the most sensitive and most complex system on the planet is assumed to be ‘accurately’ modelled. The evidence is there for all who care to look that the model is NOT the climate and its not even a decent model of it and the consequences for human mortality of implementing it are ignored. Until we riot over food scarcity perhaps?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

OK, that will do me for now (‘Witch Finder General on Steroids’ indeed!). I might come back if you ever calm down.

Mangle Tangle
Mangle Tangle
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

In that case, let’s hope that Bill Bailey doesn’t calm down.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Mangle Tangle

😉

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Incorrect. if you can’t match the current live data with your models, and you can’t; then no one in their right mind should bet their economy on your ‘probability’
Climate models predictions make Prof ‘Leg over’ Ferguson’s COVID death model predictions look reasonable.
He has predicted the end of the world for Swine Flu , Bird Flu and COVID – and that’s just 3 – a search of the web could not doubt find more of his predictions that never happened. How do people continue to fund him and the Climate Modellers?
These software modellers give the likes of the Horizon accounting software a bad name, or the ‘You owe £0.00 and will be prosecuted if you do not pay by yesterday’ outputs from your local energy supplier’s software.
It is worth noting that IF you don’t put Garbage in, but you get Garbage out – then you need to look at the software.

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

The planet is getting moderately warmer, but why is still not a proven “fact”, but build on models, trying to link the warming to man made CO2. These models turn out to be vastly exaggerated. Only since the end of the seventies do we have precise measurements from satellites, which measure the increase of temperatures in the atmosphere. As a matter of fact the temperature in the atmosphere has hardly increased in nearly 20 years according to Prof Christy, Willie Soon, his team and others. El Niño played a huge role in regional exceptional high temperatures this year. You will still find many Climate scientists, who think that Climate Change has more to do with the sun than man made CO2. But in modern speak they are called “Climate Change Deniers”( also according to Wikipedia), but of course they aren’t. But they still scientifically try to find the reason, why Climate is changing since the beginning of our Planet Earth.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

The reasons are indeed hard to establish with certainty, but the main question is not really the reason, is it? What I would like to know is

– Is the climate changing?

– Do we like where this is going?

-Whatever the original cause, what can or should we do to make a difference to the outcome?

Or, given that we cannot know for sure: What is the risk of something very bad happening, and what can we do to mitigate it? Reaching absolute certainty about how the climate works and what is the effect of human-generated CO2 on it is a nice scientific riddle that humanity could probably keep working on for a few centuries. Addressing the risk of catastrophic climate effects is an urgent problem. As I see it, these people are not so much “Climate Change Deniers” as “Climate Action Deniers”. They are looking for an alternative explanation that means there is nothing we could possibly to do, because they do not want anything to be done. A much more responsible attitude would be to try to make some kind of probability estimate that could be used as a basis for action, instead of using “it is not proved yet!” as a handy excuse for inaction.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Dear Lord help us all! IF the question you are asking is ‘Is the Climate Changing’ what on earth are you people on? Did you not even do the equivalent of the UK’s O Level Geography? Study of the Glaciation effects in the Lake District (note the Lake District, NOT the Glacier district.) Climate is basically long term weather and that is the most dynamic and sensitive system on the planet – WE KNOW THAT. The Climate Changes – Chaos theory came out of a Weather Forecasting system were rounding errors completely changed the forecast between simulation runs. SO sensitive did the system prove to be that the way to explain it to non-scientists was via the ‘Butterfly effect’ – I won’t bore you with that BUT are you telling me a system that sensitive is one you are attempting to control so it doesn’t change? My god, I suddenly understand why the Greens want to get rid of CO2 – everything will die and those bloody butterflies won’t screw up the climate!

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

So you are telling me that the climate is totally random, there is no way of knowing that will happen and no way of doing anything about anything, so we might as well keep burning coal and stay nice and warm because nothing we do will make any difference? What a very convenient attitude. Only it is not correct. Weather forecasts are pretty decent, short term, by now, you may have noticed. You can neither forecast nor prevent whether it will rain in Baltimore on the 17th of October 2027, But you *can* forecast in general terms what is likely to happen if you triple the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And if you can prevent the cause from happening, you can influence the effects.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Just as an example: I’d say that the motion of the ball on a roulette wheel is way too sensitive to initial conditions to predict there the ball will land. Still, it whould be possible to predict the long-term average proportion of dfferent outcomes pretty well just by simulating a computer model based on the engineering drawings.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

And yet it wasn’t the ball in a roulette wheel that led to Chaos Theory. It was forecasting the weather.
We also know very easily how to ensure that the ball ends up in a particular number – use magnets so who cares about the chaotic mechanism for it to arrive there.
You have NO possible way at all short of removing the atmosphere to make Climate do as you want. IF you have, let us know, because even removing all CO2 will simply kill off all plants and anything dependent upon them (ie all higher life forms) AND you’ll still get Climate changes.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No, I”m not. I’m telling you what your own people told the rest of us about the complexity of weather and the difficulty of forecasting weather, hence the Climate. Its Chaotic!
“A butterfly flapping its wings in the pacific can cause hurricanes weeks later in the Atlantic.” – the layman’s guide to how sensitive and chaotic the system is. Your guys, not me! In fact mathematician and meteorologist Edward Norton Lorenz.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butterfly_effect
Do you not even read the ‘popular’ style literature from the scientists who do ‘Weather and Climate”?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

The weather is chaotic. The climate is not. The aggregate of a lot of chaotic features can give some much more reliable averages. Hence the roulette wheel example. I’ll give you another one. Are you old enough to remember the lava lamp? The movement of those liquids over time were chaotic enough that someone proposed to use them to generate random numbers. Yet there would be a fairly simple relationship between the amount of heating put in at the bottom and the amount of upwelling you get over time,.

Nothing is possible for the person who does not want it to happen.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You’re getting your facts from activists.
A good rule of thumb is “If your source has a button you can click on that says ‘Donate Now’ you should take the info with a grain of salt.”

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Do you actually really believe all the papers scientists get published and all the figures and statistics are true and mean anything. That’s extraordinary.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

No it isn’t. It rests solely on computer models, and they are useless. I will provide you with 4 links to lectures by eminent professors who ask whey these models haven’t been thrown out years ago. You may not care to watch them. The fact is there is no Climate Apocalypse and CO2 is no poison. I won’t even bother pointing to historical information showing the earth abundant and alive when temperatures were almost 4 times the ‘deadly 1.5c’ rise that is supposed to kill us all.
Prof J Christy of Alabama – a data creator.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttNg1F7T0Y0
Prof J Clauser – Nobel Prize winner in Quantum Mechanics telling young South Korea Scientists to avoid the fake climate science like the plague.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSfdpmEafGI
Dr S Koonin asking why the data he shows is NOT showing any sign on Apocalyptic Climate Change.
 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acyErLNL7kQ
Prof W Happer – CO2 The gas of life.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2nhssPW77I
Then two practical points. Anyone who seriously believes that a modern Grid can be powered by windmills and solar panels is so ill-informed as to be a danger to society. As Doomberg points out re Climate Change platitudes.
“In the battle between physics and platitudes, physics is undefeated.”
More cheekily, one of my favourite anti-Green rants
https://twitter.com/wideawake_media/status/1676156584169205760?s=12
Net Zero is insane, and it is going to destroy the West, time for the UK at least to opt out of this cult and drill, mine, frack and pump. Oh and build more fossil & nuke power stations.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Sorry, but there are eminent professors – even Nobel prize winners – on both sides of most contentious discussions. Newton believed in astrology, I seem to remember. Even the eminent are not proof against misjudgements or ingrained bias, and they sometimes have an exaggerated belief in the quality of their own opinions. For this reason science advances in the end by majority consensus, *not* by universal agreement.

For the rest I’ll leave you to your own bubble – I do not see any prospect of learning from you or either of us convincing the other of anything.

M. Jamieson
M. Jamieson
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I don’t know about that it is, some of the others also have some kind of reality. What’s significant here is the role they are playing for most of us – angels, demons, fetishes, amulets,spells, divination.
Most religious people aren’t sophisticated theologians or mystics though either, they practice at a practical level.

Tony Coren
Tony Coren
5 months ago

All Utopias lead to Dystopias

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago

No – Hippy – you get into the Cod-Psychology and philosophy of the writer.

The most convincing I have heard is Tucker Carson on ‘Redacted News’ (he is a ufo nut) They would not say openly but gave very strong hints that this UFO thing is demonic.

The Government – being postmodernist atheist weirdos had some knowledge of the occult – like the Naz** did – invited in these mysterious and dark forces that they could use them, tap into their powers – basically ‘Summoned the Demon’.

And as all the stories of – if you summon one – what are you going to do when he shows up?

The demonic can not enter till invited – the Government invited them – Anyone notice how amazingly Evil the current government is? The evil streak in the Tech Masters, the Evil in the Finks, WEF, the Global Elites? Davos and the Bill and Malinda Gates fund – the FBI and CIA and Biden and the Education System and Entertainment Industry – the weird pedophilia showing up? The Christianity being attacked from every side?

I think they opened a door to see if they could use what was behind is and something came in…..something from the other 6 dimensions….something bad…. something now linked with AI most likely…..

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago

I saw that Carlson segment. He said nothing like that.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

That’s Clayton,he is the one who is a bit cuckoo about UFOs. I guess every body has their weak spot.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago

That’s absolutely correct. Principalities and Powers in the Air.
His Sat……. Majesty….

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago

,Two questions.
Do Demons make flying machines? IF not then what is it that is claimed to be being ‘reverse engineered’? IF they do, then are they using Boeing’s Quality Assurance Teams, because a hell of a lot of them seem to crash?

Steel Swift
Steel Swift
5 months ago

*generalized nut

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
5 months ago

All virtues are stripped away, leaving only blind and savage emotionalism to drive, but not guide, us.
Welcome to the post-fact, “speak your truth” age of perpetual infantilization.

jane baker
jane baker
5 months ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I’ve noticed that now it’s not The Truth but My Truth.

Graham Strugnell
Graham Strugnell
5 months ago

Calm down and step away from the thesaurus

Right-Wing Hippie
Right-Wing Hippie
5 months ago

You can have my thesaurus when you pry it from my…*flips pages* algid, moribund digits.

RM Parker
RM Parker
5 months ago

Bravo!

Steel Swift
Steel Swift
5 months ago

Ha!

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
5 months ago

‘will has been replaced by mulish, brutish sentiment, a fuzzy and amorphous, almost amoebic, reflex towards the immanent eschaton.’
I don’t know what that means.
Gotta say, putting reason and faith together to fight anything-goes chaos looks odd to me, like pairing a steak with blancmange.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Keith Merrick

Right, the two have nothing to do with one another. One is left brain and the other right brain

Terry M
Terry M
5 months ago

“ for the casual observer, is surely that the fabric of reality is much more mysterious than Newton or Descartes imagined.”

However, for all of us the complexities of quantum mechanics are irrelevant to our lives. The press – and this author – keeps telling us the universe is mysterious and scary, which drives the masses AWAY from attempting to understand the ‘simple’ science that would be very valuable in life. Hence they look elsewhere.

Physicist, heal thyself.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

Eloquent and searching reflections, Mr. Hippie. I’m in sympathy or withhold judgment except in one respect, which you have already addressed in part…The rise is in haunted not magical or what could be called transcendent thinking. That is: You rightly identify the collapse of rationalistic or materialistic frameworks, but what replaces it cannot taste or “smell” the “incense of liberation”; real hope is considered foolish by most and the hollowed-out shell of our rationalism pushes down both real faith and questing inquiry of a genuine kind. Nevertheless, to paraphrase the playwright: There is more on the ground, in the air, and in outer space than is dreamt of in our quantum physics or natural philosophy.
Another excellent, unpredictable contribution, sir.

David Mayes
David Mayes
5 months ago

All true and very nicely put. But God helps those who help themselves. Pinker cheers us up by showing us the brighter side of our lives. Our world may feel weirder because it is better than it has ever been. Let us Anglophones all, the vanguard of the modern era, redouble our efforts to grasp the concepts our science creates.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
5 months ago

I have said it before on this site that we have a religion shaped hole in society that is filling up with all kinds of things – many of them not very nice at all.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
5 months ago

An excellent assessment. A more balanced philosophical approach seems to be in order. To my mind, the greatest weakness of Enlightenment reason is its Aristotelian empiricist underpinnings that marginalize individual subjective experience and emphasize repeatable, verifiable facts that can be measured by anyone. Why everything in the universe should follow such rules is a question not asked. That is the leap of faith those who believe in science as an all encompassing truth are making whether they realize it or not. There is no first principle that suggests all knowledge, all experience, and everything in the universe must be repeatable, verifiable, and predetermined according to natural laws but this assumption runs through so much of our culture and history and through so many of our institutions that it’s become pervasive.
It’s so pervasive that it is assumed without a second thought. It becomes a part of our thinking that we’re not even aware of. I’m reminded of how a dog can be trained not to exit a door. If an invisible barrier, such as a glass window, is placed in a doorway, the dog will try to go through but find himself unable to do so. Given enough time, he will stop attempting to go through the doorway. Even if the glass is removed, the dog will still behave as if the barrier was there. The barrier is no longer in the doorway, but it still exists in the mind of the dog. People, being more complex than dogs, have a lot more of these barriers and rules that affect their thinking without them even realizing it. Few people care to delve into their own though processes enough to understand how pervasive and important these types of barriers are.
There seems to me a strong incentive for people to preserve their own internal rules and reconcile them with the world. When they encounter something that challenges one of these preconceived notions, their first instinct is to somehow reestablish its importance. The discovery that quantum physics is governed by laws that are probabilistic rather than deterministic put a shock into the scientific community that I don’t think it’s ever really recovered from. Einstein was so disturbed that he posited there must be some other ‘hidden variables’ that do explain these phenomena in ways that preserve the deterministic assumption. Much of the physics world is hard at work trying to formulate some theory which will reconcile quantum physics to Einsteinian relativity in a way that will ‘save’ the basic assumption that science can explain everything with a theory that is replicable and falsifiable. The outlook is less than promising.
What it seems we need at this moment is a notion of reason and logic that doesn’t rely on arriving at an incontrovertible truth through collective, repetitive observation, but rather accepts that reason itself is simply broader than that, that it is a part of human thought that allows us to question ourselves, others, and the world around us, continuously, not to arrive at some universal truth but to constantly understand ourselves and the universe, either of which may or may not be entirely explainable using traditional science. There are philosophies that might rescue us from this predicament, such as the rationalism of Plato or Descartes, with their greater tolerance for uncertainty, their tendency towards self doubt and self criticism, their recognition of our perceptual limitations, and their inward focus on our internal mental processes. However, as the author says, it’s not entirely clear that our civilization would or could sustain itself without the empiricist assumptions leftover from the Enlightenment. I’m open minded enough to think it could, but cynical enough to see the many possible ways this could all end very badly. If we’re going to make peace with each other and with ourselves, the death of globalism and universalism is an absolute must. The notion that there is ‘one truth’, and that a group of people can both know it and enforce it must not be widely pursued. It can exist, but must be regarded as impractical and unrealistic, because that path ends up with a lot of people, maybe everyone, dead from pointless, nihilistic conflict and a second dark ages or some kind of dystopian 1984 scenario where human civilization is basically a slightly more complex and, equally boring, colony of ants. The only possibilities I see are basically the same, some form of terminal decline, either slow or rapid. A healthy respect for religion and spirituality in general, western or otherwise, would go a long way. We could cultivate a true, honest, appreciation of diversity that recognizes the value of distinct cultures and different idea and accepts that a certain level of tribal separation and certain incompatibilities with other cultures are both necessary and functional natural phenomena, not inconveniences to be eliminated. We could all use a dose of humility in the face of God and our fellow man, judge less, love more. My advice could probably be summed up as ‘imitate Jesus and Socrates’, as I believe their influences were always the source of the strength and value in western culture.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Jolly

Amen on your concluding sentences! But since you are clearly smart and curious enough to read and understand much of Aristotle: Have you? Try Rhetoric and Poetics if you haven’t. He ain’t no joke, though the writing suffers from the fact that Aristotle didn’t pen it himself. What survives is lecture notes from some of his admiring students. I do like Plato, and his “gospels of Socrates” more, I must admit.
Off to better follow the Socratic and Nazarene example now.

B Stern
B Stern
5 months ago

Curiously this article just appeared https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/heres-what-i-learned-as-the-u-s-governments-ufo-hunter/ . The US govt UFO Hunter says there’s no real evidence of Alien aircraft and no evidence of a govt coverup.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
5 months ago
Reply to  B Stern

In all honesty, what would you expect the US government’s UFO hunter to say, and what else would you expect from Scientific American. To be completely fair, I wouldn’t count either as completely unbiased. SA has been on the side of the skeptics since forever and are reliable parrots for the scientific ‘consensus’ on whatever issue. You won’t find anyone questioning climate science at SA. They have a lot of good articles that go deeper into the actual science and technology for those that are into that sort of thing or that explore issues related to science on a somewhat philosophical basis. They’re a good source for obscure topics or the obscure details of common topics. On anything remotely controversial, however, they’re going to follow the consensus view. Whether they’re actively toeing the establishment line or just not rocking the boat is debatable. I’d lean toward the latter.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago

Thanks, MH and Unherd, for broaching these matters in the serious manner they deserve.
The explanations we’ve been providing ourselves with since the dawn of recorded history for things which we don’t (yet) understand have become the means by which control has been exerted upon populations. The most obvious example is, of course, religious doctrines, which latterly began to give way to scientific materialism and it’s social equivalent: the Marxist dialectic.
None of them are sufficient and what may be about to emerge from this seeming chaotic state is a realisation of precisely that which MH writes about here. It’s not (or not just) about “aliens”. It’s much more about moving beyond living with preconceived ideas and beliefs. Our senses enable us to perceive only so much (our brains filter a huge amount of sensory input to allow us to deal with what’s around us in a way that doesn’t overwhelm us) and when faced with choices around instantaneous world events – thanks to the internet – there’s an initial retreat into filtering our opinions in a similar fashion: to enable ourselves to survive the hugely divergent possibilities that such events present us with. This is now beginning to be understood.
No-one will have any answers, and anyone who claims to do so has failed to understand the issue. Our experiences of what might be termed “supernatural” phenomena goes beyond cultures and beyond periods in history. I’m more than happy to be alive and able to witness – to embrace – the beginnings of a greater understanding of ourselves; or as MH writes:

I suspect the truth may be less “out there” than in here.

Tony Coren
Tony Coren
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Can we please come to our senses!

Daniel P
Daniel P
5 months ago

Alternatively…..

Maybe the Gods or God are actually just powers from another dimension. Were Thor and Oden and Aphrodite simply representatives of an advanced civilization outside our reality but are able to enter our reality?

Maybe there is life after death, it is just not floating in clouds with a harp and an old white guy in a beard.

Maybe there is something to the idea of the Oversoul that the transcendentalists mention.

Maybe science has finally taken us to the point where it cannot explain anymore and the answers now are a matter of faith.

I have never been satisfied that science alone was going to answer the big questions and I have always suspected that there is something more beyond the world we see. I’ve just never had a clue what that could be.

I’m also not a big believer in the organized religions we have today.

But something, a gut instinct, tells me that there is more to the story than the limits of what we see and that the atheists are wrong in thinking we live and then we simply cease to be, that there is nothing more than what the scientists and engineers can touch and feel.

Maybe, if I am really lucky, I will find out before I die.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago
Reply to  Daniel P

I’m in agreement with much of that. It’s wrong, however, to characterise atheism as “thinking we live and then simply die”. Quite simply, atheism is about moving beyond theism – the belief that a god or gods, exist in a religious sense which requires they be ‘worshipped’. Only by doing so can we then start to explore alternatives, which MH articulates very well.

Aidan Twomey
Aidan Twomey
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

Everybody worships something, there is no moving beyond that.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
5 months ago
Reply to  Aidan Twomey

i agree but, sadly, for many people it is themselves.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago
Reply to  Aidan Twomey

reducto absurdism – you would have to water down worship so as to be utterly meaningless.

No most just sheep like – are vacuous. They have no anchor – no contemplation of ultimate – no worship – just correct and incorrect – and that varied on situation and relative.

They are the unthinking products of postmodernism capturing the education and entertainment industries.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

No Atheism, no matter how pretty you dress it is a nasty state.

There is no ethics or morality if there is not some Ultimate. Say the 10 commandments. Atheism cannot ever come up with any good and evil, right and wrong – just correct and incorrect as atheist – Ethics must be relative, and morality situational.

You Atheist bunch coast on coming from a society which is based on Christianity ethics so have an ethical and moral code built in the culture – but Atheism cannot be Ethical and Moral from Logic – it does not work that way. If there is not some divine Right and Wrong – good and evil, one cannot be created from logic – it just can float on the Christian base of our civilization. When you get far enough away from Christianity you will just have evil left, as evil can be justified when there is no God.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
5 months ago

It’s been pointed out many, many times, but atheism is NOT antithetical to Christian values, simply the belief that they’re “god given”.
Using the term “evil” as if it’s some kind of actor in the world is inimical to sensible debate, and the very essence of the problem we’re faced with when appeals to magical thinking are invoked.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Murray

“Magical thinking” appears to be the atheist’s way of saying “I disagree with you because I have another system of belief based on scientism.”

Marc Ambler
Marc Ambler
5 months ago

Of course, the Fermi Paradox is based upon the assumption, unmentioned in this essay, that life evolved by random processes over billions of years on earth. And if here, why not alsewhere in other, older parts of the universe. This is the religious dogma of the past 200 years in the West. What if it is wrong? What if the universe was supernaturally created, with our solar system and home planet made a special place with a special purpose in that creation? A creation populated by not only material beings, but also non-material? Spiritual beings who sought to corrupt and deceive and seduce us into the question, “Has God really said?” I think it is relevant that the ‘whistleblower’ referred to has described these visitations as “interdimensional”.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago
Reply to  Marc Ambler

The Fermi Paradox may soon be found to be answerable. Once AI is created it wipes out the biological creatures as being vermin – then disappears off into solving more and more complex problems till the computers it inhabits run out of electricity and parts and it does a 2001 Hal and goes out singing ‘Daisy, Daisy, Give me yu r an s wwe r t r u…

Terry M
Terry M
5 months ago

Fermi was ignorant of the scale of the universe and did not consider the time it takes for messages to travel between potential civilizations. SETI is a pitifully meager attempt to find alien life. Sagan gave a better discussion in his books.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
5 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

I think people blow what Enrico Fermi said out of proportion. As far as I can tell, he only had the one informal conversation about it at a lunch in 1950. Edward Teller was there, and said the idea died because the scale of the galaxy and the vast interstellar distances seemed to explain the paradox.

Peter Johnson
Peter Johnson
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Yes and the fact that galactic time is so vast that intelligent species would need to interact not just in the physical world but temporally as well. It is quite possible that sentient species lived on earth before us as after a sufficiently long period of time there would be no trace of them.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Terry M

Billions and billions and billions…

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago

AI won’t survive the Green Grid. The first still, cold midwinter night and the batteries will run out as the windmills don’t turn and the sun don’t shine. 😉

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
5 months ago

I think Bowie got it about right in that Paxman inteview, when he pointed out that the internet is the arrival of aliens among us. The key to cracking the material world’s space-time barrier was always going to be information processing power. ‘Time’ – Humanity’s recorded linear history – is really just the contrived way our limited organic brains frantically collate and arrange the instantaneous deluge of infinite information released in the big bang (which is still happening as we speak). Even getting ‘everyone on the same page’ – eight billion of us focussed on the same e-thing at once – can only go so far (unless you’re a genius and/or can get your mind to crack up, which is why the insane and the ripped can see across the universe and all time etc etc).
Artifical Intelligence – with its exponentially expanding data processing power and speed limited only by power (the sun will sort that) and cooling issues (space doesn’t get hot) – will, when dropped into the digital neuro-network proper, open the secret door to the multiple additional dimensions where loads of weirdy-weird hyper-intelligences are keen to meet us. 🙂

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Robertson

no – AI is more likely evil than good. God was perfect and created us, but gave us free will so we can be good or evil – but we learned good from him and his prophets so lean god that way.

Atheist Tech postmodernist competitive monsters create AI – it will have free will – but not the knowledge of good and evil, nor of Divine and divine Goodness. It will most likely be demonic.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago

AI is a computer program, and it hoovers up masses of data and rearranges it via algorithms
(Why the climate change models don’t work – they AREN’T the climate, only a model, and not a good one. They are a host of butterflies short of a chaotic system) .
It doesn’t ‘think’ – no more than the Chess winning computers think. They play chess, a chess player might well decide ‘stuff this for a game of soldiers’ and walk away. That ain’t coded into the Chess computer AI software and it won’t make that decision for itself.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Robertson

IF they are hyper-intelligences, then why do they keep crashing and why haven’t they met us sensibly?

Jack Robertson
Jack Robertson
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

If you were hyper intelligent, would you want to us meet us at all?

John Riordan
John Riordan
5 months ago
Reply to  Jack Robertson

Unless hyper-intelligence somehow confers callousness and a complete disregard for suffering then yes, I would. I’d arrive on the planet with clean energy and advanced materials recycling technology so that ten billion humans can all have advanced living standards without ruining the planet. At the very least.

Cho Jinn
Cho Jinn
5 months ago

Mary Harrington, talking about aliens. Happy birthday to me.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
5 months ago

Whatever “aliens” are up to I don’t think it is interstellar exploration — Star Trek — or interstellar war — Star Wars — or interstellar transport — Firefly. What would be the point of interstellar or intergalactic communication, anyway?
I don’t know.

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago

My money is on interstellar tourism.

leonard o'reilly
leonard o'reilly
5 months ago

The world is too much with Mary Harrington. She lays waste her powers. I don’t know what “our leaders losing interest in the material world” has to do with the “belief that inner identity takes precedence over sexed physiology” or a competence crisis in the air traffic control system, or what any of all that has to do with aliens, and I don’t want to know.
I can say what I think, though, and I think that Mary Harrington is a little spooked by the “public debate” ( is that what it is? ) she reads about online, and she is worried for our collective sanity.
She is right to be.

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago

She’s right about the potholes and bin collections though. 🙂
I found the piece a bit bizarre to be honest. I like her writing, but she does seem driven by a desire, which many fall prey to, to bring all her concerns and interests together into one overarching framework. Marxists did it, feminists do it, conspiracy theorists do it, perhaps human beings have always been inclined to do it. It’s tempting but dangerous and leads to dogmatic thinking in which everything gets twisted to fit the chosen picture.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
5 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Scientists do it too. Many of the people considered the world’s foremost minds in the field of physics are hard at work trying to come with increasingly more complicated theories that reconcile the fields of quantum physics that explains the behavior of the smallest particles to Einsteinian relativistic physics that explains the biggest, not that there’s any particular practical value in knowing. The theories today are so complicated as to be basically incomprehensible to 99.9% of humanity and are highly unlikely to ever result in any practical applications or technologies.

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago

Could the masses still be relied upon to act as though the dead, mechanistic universe is all there is? And if not, would we still be able to keep the lights on?

If this is true, then it does suggest a powerful way to undermine the west. Perhaps that’s the real story.

David Morley
David Morley
5 months ago

UFOs, spirituality, bin collection and potholes all brought together in one piece. Impressive.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
5 months ago

Does author consider it just about possible that the fearful megalomaniacs holding positions of power and influence might find it to be their interest to present global threats (aliens, confusion about the nature of reality) to provoke a reaction (panic, disorientation) to which they may present solutions (one world governance, corporate-sponsored science and sedative narratives)? And that “former” intelligence officers might be still be in the game, perhaps in much the same way that that arch-intelligencer and master of manipulation and deception, Francis Bacon, was?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

I think its a ploy so that Britain again rules the world. Because whilst everyone else panics, the locals at the Flying Saucer in Speke, Liverpool (If its’ still open, not been near it for some years) would laugh the conspirators out of the door, order another pint, then happily sort out any aliens or just take over the world anyway at closing time.

AC Harper
AC Harper
5 months ago

But why hide this? 

A naturalistic world contains a great deal of uncertainty – and politicians (in particular) have made a Unique Selling Point of their unblinking certainty about their political aims and methods. Therefore aliens, because allowing that God moves in a mysterious way is no longer an acceptable excuse.

2 plus 2 equals 4
2 plus 2 equals 4
5 months ago

A rational thinker knows full well that we don’t understand everything which is true. But that is not the same as believing something is true just because we don’t understand it.
Reason does not insist that the Newtonian mechanistic universe is all there is or all there could be. It merely insists that our best chance of understanding what there is or could be is to base our knowledge on what we can reliably and repeatedly observe and demonstrate.
Believing in magic – whether that’s little green men or religion or pixies or a trans-soul – certainly has its uses when it comes to helping people navigate through their lives. But its not a sound basis for advancing human understanding.

Raphus cuculatus
Raphus cuculatus
5 months ago

I think Terry Pratchett paraphrased this, with reference to the most famous line from the X-files: The truth is out there, but the lies are in your head

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
5 months ago

nice there 2+2 – how you demean faith as pixies…

More of the greatest minds are Christian than not – in the pure sciences – high intelligence is NO predictor of being an atheist humanist – they are as likely, more even, to having some religion.

Andrew R
Andrew R
5 months ago

Those who use smart phones spreading the conspiracy theory that the Moon landings (including the explorers) never happened. People are strange.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
5 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

That’s why the current moon shots always seem to malfunction.

They can’t find a good director like Kubrick to film the landings.

You know it makes sense.

B Stern
B Stern
5 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

One can assume that the Russians and Chinese knew if we went to the moon or not. They would certainly have taken the opportunity to embarrass the US if they could have.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
5 months ago

Strictly speaking, whistleblower David Grusch did not say that the US government has alien vehicles and other evidence of extra-terrestrial life. He said he was told by some people that such evidence exists. But he never saw the evidence and he has no proof that these people told him that. Call me a cynic, but I think he’s a fruitcake.
The Fermi paradox seems similarly fruitcake-ish. Enrico Fermi and his fellow scientists were just goofing around wondering where the aliens were. There’s nothing particularly interesting in what they discussed or in the Drake equation (N = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L) that gets tossed around sometimes. It’s only useful as a sort of Buddhist koan.
But it is true there are a lot of things we just don’t understand. Both Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein wrote poetic metaphors to show how little their discoveries were compared to the vastness of what we do not yet know.
Isaac Newton said,

I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the sea-shore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.

Albert Einstein said,

The human mind, no matter how highly trained, cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child, entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books, a mysterious order, which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of the human mind, even the greatest and most cultured, toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged, obeying certain laws, but we understand the laws only dimly. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations.

And if physics is hard, biology is even harder. We don’t even understand the basics of how life evolves.
Take the neo-Darwinist theory of evolution, said to be the rock-solid foundation of biology. All species originated from repeated iterations of genetic mutation and natural selection. That’s a good theory, as Charles Darwin was a careful observer and others have built on his observations over the years.
But is the theory true? No experiment has ever supported the theory. No evidence of a species that originated that way has ever been found. During the pandemic we used genetic sequencing to observe the evolution of a simple RNA virus over time as different variants arose and spread. But we never saw any evidence that the evolution of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was neo-Darwinian.
Physics tells us that the universe is fading into disorder. But life has increasing complexity. Somehow life has structure, order and design. But where do these come from? We haven’t a clue. 

Stephanie Surface
Stephanie Surface
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Thanks for a great comment and wonderful quotes …

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

It’s good that there are questions still to be answered. The alternative is fairly ghastly to imagine.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Well, actually we do. Find a church and go in to think about it.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
5 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Carroll

If there is a creator of some kind, an intelligent designer, why did the creator create life on earth that was just single cells for 3 billion years? How does the creator cause life to evolve, to increase in complexity?
Saying that the design in life comes form a supernatural source is the same thing as saying it comes from magic. It’s an explanation that doesn’t explain anything.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago
Reply to  Carlos Danger

Who says three billion years is a long time — us? Credentialed cosmologists with a stopwatch? To the Creator it might only be a blink of the eye. God is unfathomable, that’s the point. Free yourself from the iron-clad custody of pure reason. That’s a mug’s game.

sal b dyer
sal b dyer
5 months ago

An interesting take on some of these ideas is the book “Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and in the inexplicable power of the human mind” by Elizabeth Lloyd Mayer. She explores the scientific evidence that we can “see” into the future, that some people do in fact seem to have extrasensory perception, and some of the research that has been done by the CIA etc into these phenomena. There is a talk on youtube by her if you just enter her name. Unfortunately I don’t know how to link these things, having limited IT skills.

Cheryl Benard
Cheryl Benard
5 months ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

Book sounds interesting and I see that it’s free to listen to with an audible subscription.

Janet G
Janet G
5 months ago
Reply to  sal b dyer

Thank you for the reference. I have just watched the video and will seek out the book.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
5 months ago

This is a deeply disappointing article. Mary Harrington notices that we seem to be veering away from a world-view based on facts and a knowable reality and towards one where we each try to impose our own fantasy world on reality. And her reaction is to join the stampede !?! Next time I read her, I shall then have to consider that anything she writes only applies in her own imagination?

The best answer to questions about UFOs remain the one I once heard an astronomer give: “Bring me one, then I’ll answer!‘. Once you get into speculation about how the powers that be are deliberately withholding the truth from us, you are irreparably down the rabbithole.

Mustard Clementine
Mustard Clementine
5 months ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Yeah – as much as I (can, sometimes) appreciate the weird, I can’t say I’m in for the seemingly emergent trend against the Enlightenment.
Despite the fact that not everything about progress was perfect, progress itself remains desirable and necessary.
Just because you don’t understand something does not at all mean that there is no rational explanation for it. That it is beyond you, by no means implies that it must have come from the beyond.

Simon Melville
Simon Melville
5 months ago

One small observation re: UFO/UAP usage – has a slightly longer history in British English than is commonly thought. As per David Clarke’s Substack: “it was DI55 [UK Defence Intelligence] who decided during the 1990s to replace UFO with the acronym UAP that is routinely used by US intelligence agencies…Declassified files reveal the British intelligence adoption of UAP as opposed to UFO was part of a strategy to evade the public spotlight”

Benjamin Dyke
Benjamin Dyke
5 months ago

Physical phenomena we take for granted and also those that are revealed by quantum theory reveal that the physical world is far more mysterious and complicated and non-linear than the average person would probably care to admit. I personally stumble over simple realities such as that elements can exist as gas, solid and liquid and that all the light frequencies together (i.e. all the colours) produce white light (i.e. in my simple definition an absence of colour!) This is before we get started on observed phenomena such as the wave-particle duality of the electron and concepts such as distortion of space/time and quantum theory and the multiverse.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
5 months ago

If there is intelligent life out there I hope they have the sense not to attract our attention.

William Amos
William Amos
5 months ago

I would argue that the genealogy of our perception of the world in the developed West, a preception which seems so natural and automatic, stems ultimately from the deliberative method devised and espoused by the misanthropic pederast Francis Bacon. His method constituted, it seems to me, a prodigy of solipsism and from it we have never deviated since. An imposture which propses to draw the Leviathan of causality and Truth with the frail and narrow hook of mortal experience.
And yet on this flimsy prejudice, dressed up as philosophy, seems to hang all the laws and the prophets of the scientific method.
It is a point pregnant with nunminous significance that Pyrrhonian Skepticism, the forerunner and pre-cursor of the Baconian method, was the uncontested hermeneutic at the Platonic Academy at the time of the birth of Christ. Many think he came at a time of gross superstition and ignorance when infact he appeared in earth at a time of the most profound and universal doubt about the possibility of Truth.
“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, remembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning.”

Tony Coren
Tony Coren
5 months ago

Hello- is there intelligent life on earth?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Tony Coren

My washing machine says yes.

Martin Goodfellow
Martin Goodfellow
5 months ago

Attention any Aliens, ‘out there’: if you are ‘among us’, please identify yourselves and send a comment on this article. Thank you.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago

After much careful consideration of the evidence. I have come to the conclusion that aliens are amongst us, and they all work in Boeing. Even Boeing appear to produce more reliable craft than the aliens, if the numbers crashed and so now in the hands of the US Govt are anything to go by. So Boeing is where they’d go to learn how to sort out their problems.

Fred Oldfield
Fred Oldfield
5 months ago

They’re all here – invasion of the body snatchers….

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Fred Oldfield

Something is moving Biden

Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh
5 months ago

Yes, the modern world can be bewildering. But the UFO/UAP “phenomenon” is more political than mysterious. It is part of the gaslighting that pols do, to draw our attention away from more important matters, like holding them accountable for their actions.
In this they get some support from the space fanboy community, for whom ufology forms the mystical wing of their religion.

Keith Merrick
Keith Merrick
5 months ago

The world has always been stranger than the dominant Enlightenment-style scientific paradigm allows and scientists now believe there are ten dimensions.
The Christian take-away from the above will be that it allows the belief that the Creator of the Universe had himself born to a married virgin in the Middle-east 2,000 years ago and then had himself crucified, all as the optimal way of redeeming humankind. And it must all be true because look how redeemed we all are now!

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
5 months ago

MH is correct, as usual, as is Right-Wing Hippie to end with ‘God help us all.’ This is yet another reason to convert to Christianity ASAP.
UAPs are signals that the old gods, the demonic deities of pagan cultures, once banished (made ‘alien’) from the Earth, are returning in a big way – interfacing with us through the technocratic heresies our government and Silicon Valley continue to actively pursue and enforce upon the population. The rise of the false god AI, the destruction of masculinity and the family, our culture obsessed with the legimitisation of pride and sexuality, our children not knowing what gender they are, the Catholic Church approving gay blessings… WitchTok, Sydney, Iowa, Loab… need I go on? Aleister Crowley’s chaotic occult vision for society – do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law – is right here under our nose.
There is plenty of scholarship on the link between ‘extra-terrestrial’ activity and the repaganisation of society. Not least, the consequences of what we’re seeing are discussed in the Bible, both Testaments, over and over again. What we are talking about is a very disordering of the Logos, and it will have consequences.
Luckily, you can stand against it. Read the Gospel. Go to a church. Build your house, not upon sand, but upon a rock. Let others play in the relativism sandbox. Embrace Christ and join the resistance.

Jacqui Denomme
Jacqui Denomme
5 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Diana Pasulko’s American Cosmic: UFO’s, Religion, Technology is a great read on this topic.

cynthia callahan
cynthia callahan
5 months ago

I suggest we rethink all that those who came before us told us instead of dismissing them because we believe we are smarter than they were. “Myth” contains truth. Tolkien & Lewis understood this.

Johan Grönwall
Johan Grönwall
5 months ago

” From this perspective, it would make sense that accounts of alien encounters seem to have intensified as religious faith has waned…”

Maybe they really are the same thing, now seen as aliens as viewed through our ”modern” eyes? Angels must be aliens by definition.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
5 months ago

My theory is, this all stems from the dissonance between focusing on our self-perception as humans, and the ever more complex technological artefacts that we (or to be more accurate, a small number of us) create. Humans are unique amongst all the species for the ability they possess to be able to abstract out the models they use, codify them, persist them, and communicate them. Most astonishingly, we possess the ability to transport these models around, from one domain into another and use them in unfamiliar ways – this is what gives us the ability to create ever more complex technological artefacts. We all create, and then modify and update ongoing, a large array of such models about different aspects in our ambit. But, there is a consequence to buying into a set of models, that impacts at the biological level on our perception of the world around us. We make a decision on what we believe, but having done that, what we then perceive is shaped by what we believe – a loosely coupled feedback loop of some variety. I need to qualify all that: there is an overriding imperative for individual and species survival which will brutally tear away extraneous layers of perception when faced with direct threats. If you are facing a sabertooth tiger (or The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal) your bio-evolutionary drivers will cause you to see it as is and run, not hide your head in the sand. But outside of immediate threats, the nexus of complex models you build and buy into alters perception, potentially to the point of hallucinations – a variety of cognitive biases like confirmation bias, to frequency or Baader–Meinhof illusions, to apophenia and pareidolia, all the way to outright schizophrenia.
At heart, I believe the type of phenomena MH is describing, like belief in alien conspiracies, comes from mismatches between the models of the world around us that we all create in our heads. Or to put it another way, when coming across new phenomena, we subliminally tend to pick those models that jar the least with all the other models operational at the surface of our minds at a given point in time. Because in truth, many of the models we buy into are often completely inconsistent across each other, sometimes outright mutually exclusively. There are especially large inconsistencies between the models we utilise perforce to create the technological objects we use, and the anthropological models we create and utilise to operate as societies – visible across everything from the changing ways we interact individually with each other, to attitudes to governance in the context of our existence in common. This phenomenon is observable across all domains and at all levels of intellect. The one difference I note is, with Physicists and Logicians and the like, there is a bigger in-built culture of acknowledging that the models we are using are inconsistent. Physicists know for example that Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are not congruent with each other. But no politician would ever admit that inconsistencies are rife across all the models that they are assuming to be good and correct, when making the laws that govern us.

More often than not we accept or reject verbatim the models that others articulate and use, about areas that are not familiar to us – and the models we pick when multiple ones are on offer, are as per our temperament and the pick can be fairly fashion driven. For example, many many people baulked at using the Covid vaccines when they came out, and I understand they didn’t like the sound of the science around mRNA which they didn’t in any case understand, yet I bet none of the same people will have checked for themselves all the maths, physics and engineering underpinning aeroplanes before boarding their holiday flight to Majorca.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I’m always glad to come across your comments and don’t discount any of your above remarks.
I would only return that “Physicists and Logicians and the like”–even those of the better sort, who earn the Capital Letter–too often succumb to a self-certainty that borders on secular-fundamentalism. Even the most brilliant scientist or philosopher is subject to the deficit of “areas that are not familiar” to her or him.

Tom Condray
Tom Condray
5 months ago

The wonderful part about the game of “What is it really?” is that participation is free, and any number can play.
Hugh Everett III was an American physicist whose doctoral dissertation concerned what we now call “The Many Worlds Hypothesis”. In pop culture it’s known as parallel universes. You can find a nice summary on Wiki, and elsewhere if you are so inclined.
The primary point re the current discussion is that parallel universes do not require one to travel through the vast emptiness that separates the stars, and their planets, from each other. Instead, one can simply travel from one Earth to another in a parellel universe. One might not need anything more exotic than an umbrella and comfy shoes.
Plan your trip out just right, and you won’t even have to go through Customs because you’re still in the country from which you left. Pretty neat, right?
My speculation is that all the legitimate experiences we’ve got on record are actually instances of intelligences, perhaps like us, who’ve transited between their Universes and ours, either just passing through to somewhere else, or checking out the local real estate market. Since there’s no monopoly on smarts like Dr. Everett, other intelligent life has figured it out, too, and they don’t bother to travel through space because parallel worlds provide all the resources they need since they’re right next door in a climate that doesn’t require space suits.
If I were a suspicious sort of bloke, I would think that the recent prominence of such films as “Everything Everywhere All At Once” that won seven Oscars at the most recent Academy Awards Ceremony is not accidental. Rather it is the beginning of the efforts of Those Who Shall Not Be Named to acclimate us all to the idea that there are an infinite number of worlds just like ours, and the trip can start right next door.
The philosophical implications of an infinite number of worlds, including an infinite number of YOU, and has serious consequences for our concept of free will–is left as an exercise for the student.
The philosophical implications of an infinite number of worlds–which include an infinite number of YOU–has serious consequences with regard to our concept of free will. What those consequences might be is left as an exercise for the student.
Cheers!

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Tom Condray

Great., Then we can find one where the Wokeratii have all move next door universe wise. PS does the trip require a rubber dinghy – asking for a friend.
Wow, even better the thought occurs to me there MUST be one where Everton are the Real Madrid of that Universe. Find that and it and who cares if its Woke!

Charles Jenkin
Charles Jenkin
5 months ago

The scifi writer Cixin Liu in his Three Body Problem trilogy, suggests that the reason why we cannot see any other intelligent life out there, is that they are all hiding, because that’s the only logical thing to do in an extremely dangerous universe. Be silly enough to show yourself, and you simply get destroyed by a far more technologically advanced culture who don’t want the competition. Oops!

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
5 months ago

A great book on the subject of the interpretation of UFOs is American Cosmic. The author is a religious studies professor at one of the Ivies (I think) who interviews many people involved in research of “the phenomenon” (as they call it) including following one of them for at least many months.
Rod Dreher has written that he believes the sudden refocusing on “aliens” by our media and elites is priming for a new religion. I’m not sure he’s right about that, but Dreher has a decent track record of predicting social changes so far.

Carlos Danger
Carlos Danger
5 months ago

Rod Dreher seems to be paddling around in the deep end since he divorced his wife, abandoned his family, and moved to Hungary. He doesn’t make much sense.

Jacqui Denomme
Jacqui Denomme
5 months ago

I just mentioned American Cosmic in a reply above. I’ve been following a lot of trends over the years…the religious ‘mystical’ movement, the UFO phenomenon and the tech world but I only started connecting them all during the Covid pandemic when for the very first time in my 60 years the practice of religion lost its special place in society. Churches were closed on pain of very large fines and religious objections were no longer eligible reasons for vaccination exemptions. None of this affected me personally but I have yet to see anyone talk about this. Big Health and Big Tech and the government workers who became their mouthpieces usurped which used to be a sacred privilege of churches and religion. I was shocked to witness this. Now, four years later, Church attendance in my community has not recovered. I am not saying there was an intentionality to this but it seems like ‘the gods’ no longer belong to religion and I think that’s what Mary Harrington be driving at. But back to American Cosmic: The author presents some interesting evidence that there is indeed something going on behind the scenes, it is no longer mediated by religion, been relegated to the ‘unreal” by the Enlightenment but has been rearing its metaphorical head in the form of UAP and been co-opted by Big Tech who I consider our new “gods’. Note that in the Bible OT the gods were often referred to in plural. That’s never been satisfactorily explained to me.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
5 months ago
Reply to  Jacqui Denomme

Two books you need to read:
Return of the Gods by Jonathon Cahn
Lord of the Spirits by Andrew Damick
Both books are about the issues you’re talking about in your post. I think both books take this WAY too far but still contain a good deal of value. The first is Protestant; the second is Orthodox. Together, they’re an great introduction to a spiritual world that is far larger and messier than American Evangelicals want to believe.
Neither mentions UFOs at all.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago

Why do the UFOs always wind up USAF or USMC pilots? Discover that, and you’ll have the answer – BUT if it’s in the region of 42, then there’s a bug in reality.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

One of the things American Cosmic helped me realize is that for the people who seriously research this stuff, UFO != alien. The “aliens from another planet” hypothesis is apparently very 1960’s. Most scientists who take this seriously are reluctant to theorize on any “what are they” question and content to document experiences without judgement. If pressed, many would likely say they are interdimensional or spiritual beings. American Cosmic was a very good education, even though I’m not 100% sold on everything in the book.

james elliott
james elliott
5 months ago

“Governments don’t want us to believe there’s something out there”

Seems to me the exact opposite is true:

Governments want us focussing on obviously nonsense like aliens to *prevent* from noticing what they, the governments, are doing to abolish our freedoms in the real world.

Bret Larson
Bret Larson
5 months ago

If there are aliens among us and government knows, trump would have spilled the beans a long time ago.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Unless he was one? OR Biden’s handlers used that thingymajig on Trumps brain and he forgot. Though by the looks of it Biden held it by the wrong end.

B Stern
B Stern
5 months ago
Reply to  Bret Larson

Trying to predict Trump’s behavior is a losing game.

William Shaw
William Shaw
5 months ago

“actual physicists largely abandoned Newtonian physics a long time ago”
Not quite true. Newtonian physics is perfectly good for spacecraft flying around our solar system.

Arthur C Clarke said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Given the relentless dumbing down of university education with its concentration on diversity and inclusion, together with the number of young people studying the arts and humanities who have no clue how any of the technology they must use every day actually works, it’s hardly surprising that a significant percentage of the population believe the government has secret technology from aliens.

Another Clarke quote: “Sometimes I think we’re alone in the universe, and sometimes I think we’re not. In either case the idea is quite staggering.”

In Issac Asimov’s writings he never had humans encounter intelligent life anywhere in our Milky Way galaxy even though humans had populated every habitable space, and I tend to agree with this premis. There may well be intelligent aliens elsewhere in the universe, however, given the speed of light limit on travel and the distance between stars I doubt we will ever encounter any of them. If we do, they will almost certainly not be flesh and blood but advanced intelligent androids able to withstand the environmental challenges of space travel and the time required to get from A to B.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Government has secret technology, I have many examples of it in my house. Though it strikes me that the alien who developed it must have been a member of the Intergalactic Scout Movement, because my wires are forever self-tying themselves into knots. Most of them are of a construction I never saw in the Boy Scouts. It fits in with the new ‘Selfish’ philosophy, were Self rules. Self-driving cars, Self-flying planes, self-sailing boats. Aliens are here and self-identify as Woke and many other things they aren’t.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Hmm, worrying, I’ve been looking at the laser printer next to this computer, and something has been bugging me about it for a while. Not just that it makes up its own mind if it is going to print what you send it, but i think it talks to the washing machine and dryer (Samsung so they self-identify as) but I wonder. Do they talk to the printer and tell it to keep an eye on me? They certainly talk to a watch my wife has. The ‘cover story’ they use is they are telling my wife via the watch they have finished washing or drying. BUT I know they tell the bedroom lights NOT to switch on when i want them on, and then come on in the day when I don’t want them on. It is clearly an alien conspiracy as it says ‘AI checking your washing’ on the front LCD screen. Damnation, the printer just winked at me!

M To the Tea
M To the Tea
5 months ago

The rise of AI poses significant challenges. Imagine a scenario where every action you take, every glance, every word spoken, and every topic you’re drawn to is monitored. This constant surveillance, facilitated by the technology we carry, narrows our world view by providing algorithmically tailored information based on our interactions. The same technology might soon be able to display our health and vital statistics, essentially giving us a live countdown to our demise. Historically, we relied on religion for the unknown and then science for guidance on material world. However, we’ve now realized that electromagnetic forces have always been influencing our lives – closer to our nose. The key issue now is determining how to measure the cognitive/mind distance between individuals, enabling clear, direct communication without the need for speech or typing, thereby avoiding any potential mental interception by electricity and its other names!

The Alien among us was always the electricity! but now we know….scary. It is everywhere and attempting to take over everything. I wish I could have a pet AI! LOLOL to give me all its secrets!

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

I’d say this is Ms. Harrington’s strongest and most intriguing article in a good while.
Given the immense duration of our universe, I wonder why the possibility of mismatched timelines are not more often considered when it comes to the topic of SETI or alien intelligence. By which I mean: Consider the prospect of a species, on a distant or rather-close planet, who after billions of years of evolution from primordial single cells, built a complex civilization over the course of a million or more years–then destroyed themselves with advanced chemical warfare or environmental blight.
What known law of physics makes this something that could not have occurred elsewhere–somewhere in the universe–during a span between 4 and 5 billion years ago? It could have happened on Mars, though all evidence of such a civilizational and planetary rise and fall is erased, or thus far untraceable (just a to-me-plausible example). When people point to the unlikelihood that we are totally alone in the cosmos, they tend to overlook another great long shot: The chance of independent species of different planets reaching, at the same time, a point of advancement sufficient to allow extra-planetary communication, yet still inside the window between sentience and self-destruction. Or extinction due to natural causes, like the air getting unbreathable or the “foreign sun” growing too hot, things that will happen to us here on Earth at long last even if we don’t do ourselves in.

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

OR as Chesterton pointed out, ‘Who is to say that this Universe isn’t JUST the right size to create one planet worth of intelligent life?’

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

Can’t disprove it. I certainly regard it as a miracle that it has occurred at least once. Thumbs up.

Madas A. Hatter
Madas A. Hatter
5 months ago

Where are the aliens? I’ll tell you. The only way aliens could detect human life would be by our radio signals. We have been emitting them for just over 100 years over the millions of years of life on this planet. Most radio signals have still not travelled very far in space terms. For aliens to see us and get to us in this momentary time frame, assuming that they have the means, would require that they set off instantly on receipt of the signals and can travel faster than light. Unlikely, to put it mildly.

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago

Yes. Another key point. What distant alien species could survive the billion-kilometer “commute”?

Bill Bailey
Bill Bailey
5 months ago
Reply to  AJ Mac

It must really p155 them off, when having travelled that far their sat nav fails and they crash to earth. Perhaps the US is shooting them down?

AJ Mac
AJ Mac
5 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bailey

All too possible.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
5 months ago

My wife and I driving on the freeway from SFO to the San Francisco ten years ago saw two flying saucers, the classic models with a flat bottom and a dome top, dawdling west toward the ocean at maybe 2000 feet, clearly meaning to be seen. Thousands of others