Gah, sorry this is up so late. I misread the date on it.


The War on Terra---the propaganda tool used to convince otherwise sane people to give up rights and common sense, not the cover story for imperialism---has officially jumped the shark. It's been used by the TSA to justify harassing passengers at airports, by the Bush administration to tap your phones, by the Bush administration to win the 2004 election through the government-funded campaign strategy called the Homeland Security Advisory System, by defense contractors looking for a way to feast on taxpayer money, by the creators of "24", and by people trying to sell you gas masks and American flags. But as a way to pressure the U.S. government to waste money and time investigating sightings of little green men? And in the paper of record.

Nick Pope's argument is that the U.S. is putting itself at the risk of a terrorist attack because we don't investigate UFO sightings. No, really.

A healthy skepticism about extraterrestrial space travelers leads people to disregard U.F.O. sightings without a moment’s thought. But in the United States, this translates into overdependence on radar data and indifference to all kinds of unidentified aircraft — a weakness that could be exploited by terrorists or anyone seeking to engage in espionage against the United States.

It sounds almost reasonable, and Nick Pope has been employed by the British government as a UFO investigator, probably because he make crazy sound reasonable. But do not be fooled. I have reason to believe that Pope is making a bad faith argument when he says we should investigate imaginary aliens because they might be terrorists who just happened to have gotten their hands on technology that hides them on radar. (And they were stuck with box cutters just 7 years ago!) I did an Amazon search and found that Pope has convinced himself that there's something to some of these sightings of UFOs. So I suspect that what he hopes will happen is that the U.S. government will investigate some of these sightings and eventually be able to prove that little green men visit us on a regular basis, vindicating him in his belief. I sympathize with his hopes, but don't think the government should spend a thin dime helping keep his hopes alive.

There's two good reasons not to spend time or money investigating UFO claims, which we know to be a product of hallucinations/wishful thinking. One it costs money that could go to real projects. The other is that investigation gives the UFO nuts hope. If we pay any serious attention to them, they'll thrive on that for decades. Even if the U.S. government says that its investigations turned up nothing, that gives them grist for the conspiracy theory mill. It's not just about wasting money, but wasting it in a way that's going to make an already-existing social problem worse.