Credit: Piplsay

Remember that great line in the Stealers Wheel 1970’s song?: “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you,” written by Joe Egan and Gerry Rafferty.

Let’s spin that recording up into the 21st century and fly it next to all the perplexing chitter-chatter of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) and Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) folklore.

Here’s my premise: For one, the Twitter/Facebook frenzy about this topic is fraught with folks pointedly posting imagery that are intentionally faked.

The question is: Should there be a law about this given that Congress is opening up the floodgates for a new ability to report UAPs? In a recent UAP hearing this was briefly mentioned, of people purposively clogging the Internet wavelengths with false sightings.

Credit: MUFON

Perhaps, it’s time to deal with this problem now?

Ought to be a law?

“Well, while people certainly fake images, which has become easier and easier to do. As far as problems with this regarding the government investigations, I don’t see how that applies,” responds Mark Rodeghier, the scientific director of the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago.

“For better or worse, the government investigations are only going to use, as I read it, reports from military or other government personnel, or data from various government instrumented systems, and this would include UFO photos,” Rodeghier adds.

Credit: Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU)

“They still don’t have any intent of including civilian reports, and this is true even in the new Bill S.4503 which requests the government to do way more than its doing now about UFOs/UAP,” Rodeghier emphasized.

So unless we expect official sources to start faking stuff, Rodeghier points out, “then I see this as a non-starter and not a problem. And I’m definitely not for Congress creating laws about UFO reporting, anyway, unless that law, as with S.4503, is to make it easier to report without retribution from bosses and a military or civilian government agency.”

Integrity: pillar of scientific research

Another take on the situation is offered by Avi Loeb, head of Harvard’s Galileo Project, a systematic scientific search for evidence of extraterrestrial technological artifacts.

“Yes, I agree that data should never be faked,” Loeb told Inside Outer Space. “In academic research, this issue is resolved by the requirement that scientific results must be reproducible by independent researchers. The same should apply in UAP studies.”

Up close and personal! Scene from Earth vs. the Flying Saucers circa 1956.
Credit: Columbia Pictures

Loeb said that integrity “is a pillar of scientific research and cannot be violated. One of the most effective ways to enforce it is by assigning the reputation of the reporter to future testing of the credibility of the results by other researchers.”

Mick West is a skeptical investigator of the UAP matter.

“Some UAP may represent a serious phenomenon, possibly a national security threat,” West said. “Fake UAP reports waste everyone’s time and redirect resources from the investigation of honest reports. Making false reports to a government reporting system should be illegal.”

Recent Congressional hearing on UAP.  Credit: Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence, and Counterproliferation Subcommittee/Inside Outer Space screengrab

Space legalese

Adding her space legalese to this topic is Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, professor emerita and Journal of Space Law editor-in-chief emerita at the University of Mississippi School of Law.

“The more relevant law here are the U.S. federal statutes about lying to Congress and submitting false statements,” Gabrynowicz said. “Federal law requires that statements and documents submitted to Congress be completely truthful. If falsified documents are submitted under oath, perjury could also be involved.”

Publicity-seeking hoaxers

The history of fake UFO photos and artifacts is as old as UFOs themselves, points out Robert Sheaffer, a long-time UFO skeptic. “The motive of the UFO hoaxer seems to center around publicity-seeking, and the satisfaction of (presumably) outsmarting people.”

Sheaffer said that if you took away all the fakes from UFOlogy, what remains would not be all that interesting. “I have concerns about proposals to criminalize UFO hoaxes, as being intrusive and unworkable. I suppose, however, that it might be actionable in the narrow sense of ‘filing a false police report’…but only that.”

All in all – keep an eye on the sky but keep it truthful and if you are a fraudulent eye-sighting UAP/UFO reporting person, get a lawyer!

What’s your view?

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