UAPs and Non-Human Intelligence: What is the most reasonable scenario?

Editorial note: 

I originally intended to publish the essay below in an (online) magazine, not my own blog. I still have this intention, but opted to publish the complete draft here first for several reasons: (a) most magazines will place the essay behind a paywall (I already tried to negotiate this out, but it is not negotiable); (b) most magazines will require me to significantly shorten the essay (even Aeon Magazine, which publishes long-form essays, limits them to 5,000 words, while the text below has over 6,800 words); (c) most magazines will force me to edit at least some parts of my argument in a manner that is not preferable to me; and (d) the editorial process entailed in a magazine publication of an essay as elaborate as this can take many months. For these reasons, I decided to publish the entire draft here first, prior to any editorial changes, in the spirit of a pre-print in the ArXiv. It remains possible that future, shortened, edited versions of the material below will appear in other magazines.

If you prefer a printable PDF version of the text below, it is available on my Academia profile.

Update 6-Jan-2024: the essay is now also on The Debrief.


Allow me to start with a confession: although the topic of UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, previously called UFOs) has always fascinated me, my reaction to confronting much of the related literature—beyond the safe harbour of a few serious authors—has been one of considered dismissiveness. In my view, a significant portion of the published material could benefit from greater rigor, empirical grounding, theoretical clarity, and logical reasoning. This field often appears to diverge from the standards of intellectual precision and level-headed analysis that hold in academia. However, recent developments over the past six or seven years invite us to re-examine the subject from a more open and inquisitive perspective.

Because there are so few—if any—consensus launchpads for such a polemical topic, I must explicitly justify each step of my thinking and, thus, cover a lot of ground in this long essay. I shall start, below, by motivating the validity of the mystery: UAPs are no longer just tall and questionable tales shared on social media, accompanied by grainy, out-of-focus cellular phone footage. Enough has been officially acknowledged since 2017 that the topic is now undoubtedly deserving of serious treatment. After laying foundations for my argument, I will then proceed to elaborate on what I currently consider to be the most level-headed and plausible account of the phenomenon. And to anticipate a question you are bound to be already asking, no, I don’t think it is aliens from Zeta Reticuli; the facts may be a lot more surprising and closer to home than that.

Surprisingly much has recently been disclosed

In 2017, several videos of UAPs—soon to become known as the ‘Pentagon UFO videos,’ as they were recorded by infrared cameras in military aircraft—were circulating widely on the Internet. At around the same time, the story behind the videos was covered in a now-seminal report by The New York Times.

The videos seem to show airborne craft without wings or engines, flying and hovering deliberately, sometimes against high winds. They perform manoeuvres despite the absence of flight control means—no rudder, elevators, ailerons, thrusters, etc.—and display surprisingly high acceleration with no detectable means of propulsion. The US Department of Defence later officially acknowledged the authenticity of the videos, as well as the fact that the objects visible in them remain unidentified.

Years later, in the summer of 2023, US Navy pilots involved in these incidents provided public testimony to Congress, under oath, adding detail and background to the odd images. Asked whether the UAP he saw with his own eyes moved in a way that defied the laws of physics, Commander David Fravor replied: “The way we understand them [i.e., the laws of physics], yes.” He then confirmed that the UAPs were not only captured on camera, but also tracked by radar from three different vessels: “The Princeton tracked it. The Nimitz tracked it. The E2 tracked it.” Asked to describe how the UAP manoeuvred, CDR Fravor said, “Abruptly, very determinant. It knew exactly what it was doing. It was aware of our presence and it had acceleration rates—I mean, it went from zero to matching our speed in no time at all.” Finally, asked if any human technology could emulate the UAP’s flight characteristics he observed, he said: “No, not even close.” Navy F-18 pilot Ryan Graves—another military witness giving sworn testimony—described a UAP sighted from 50 feet away as “A dark gray or a black cube inside of a clear sphere,” something that cannot be conflated with a drone or ordinary aircraft.

Still in 2023, United States Air Force officer and former intelligence official David Grusch became a UAP whistle-blower. In interviews with various media outlets, he claimed that several defence officials had confirmed to him that the US government maintains a secretive UAP crash-retrieval and reverse-engineering programme, and is in the possession of several technological craft with Non-Human Intelligence (NHI) provenance.

Mr. Grusch, too, provided sworn testimony during the congressional UAP hearing of July 2023. Asked whether the US has the bodies of the pilots of the recovered UAPs, he said: “As I have stated publicly already … biologics came with some of these recoveries.” Pressed on whether these “biologics” were nonhuman, he confirmed without ambiguity: “Nonhuman, and that was the assessment of people with direct knowledge on the program I talked to that are currently still on the program.” Mr. Grusch understands that the penalty for lying under oath is jail, and offered several times during his testimony to confidentially—as required by law—provide specific details to law-makers.

Mr. Grusch, Mr. Graves, and CDR Fravor are far from alone. In recent times, other individuals in a position to plausibly be privy to what the US government knows about the subject have come forward. For instance, oceanographer and retired US Navy Rear Admiral Timothy Cole Gallaudet has acknowledged having seen footage of UAPs while on active duty. Some of these UAPs have displayed the capability to go under water (the so-called ‘transmedium’ capability described often in UAP reports). He has also expressed his belief that Mr. Grusch’s claims are true. Recently retired US Army Colonel Karl E. Nell—currently an aerospace executive—along with Christopher Mellon, who spent nearly twenty years in the US Intelligence Community and served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for Intelligence, have lent credibility to the claim that there are active UAP crash-retrieval and reverse-engineering programmes. Defence Intelligence Agency Programme Manager Dr. James T. Lacatski did the same, in a book officially cleared for publication by the Defence Office of Prepublication and Security Review of the US Department of Defence.

Up until 2017, the profitable UAP rumour mill was fed mainly by ‘anonymous sources,’ filmed with their faces and voices concealed, and telling vague stories largely impossible to verify independently. Even when one of those anonymous sources eventually identified himself—Mr. Robert Lazar—his credentials and even college education could never be verified. This has changed now: the names and credentials of the individuals mentioned above are not in doubt; they are who they say they are. And their ranks and roles put them in a position to plausibly know what they claim to know. These individuals are willing to testify under oath in public hearings and confidentially provide evidence to members of congress. All this, while not proving that UAPs are of exotic origin, does lend credibility to UAP speculation.

Even the former head of the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office of the US Department of Defence—Dr. Sean Kirkpatrick, a man widely reviled in the UAP community as a prejudiced gatekeeper working against UAP disclosure—has made very consequential revelations during an official NASA press briefing: there are seemingly metallic spheres out there that, somehow, move and manoeuvre without any signs of propulsion or flight control surfaces. He proceeded to show a declassified video of one such a sphere, as recorded by an MQ-9 'Reaper' military drone, one of the most sophisticated sensor platforms in the world today. The sphere shown moves fast, in a controlled, non-ballistic trajectory. Dr. Kirkpatrick then stated that this is just “a typical example of the thing we see most of; we see these all over the world.” That the spheres are described as making “very interesting apparent manoeuvres” is significant, as it rules out balloons and ordinary drones. That they are seen frequently and all over the world also rules out elaborate, expensive hoaxes.

Prejudiced gatekeeper or not, Dr. Kirkpatrick has thus officially acknowledged that there are concrete UAPs “all over the world,” for which there is no prosaic account thus far. They have been recorded by a variety of military-grade sensors, not just cell phones. That Dr. Kirkpatrick’s revelations have not become headline news in every mainstream media platform across the world is emblematic of the apathy and cynicism—the ‘don’t-look-up syndrome’—that has been assailing Western societies in recent years.


As a culture, we’ve thus reached an impasse. On the one hand, the meagre amount of data that has been declassified or leaked isn’t enough for us to derive any firm conclusions regarding the nature of the phenomenon. On the other hand, enough has been begrudgingly but officially acknowledged that we can’t dismiss the phenomenon under prosaic accounts either. The best we can do is thus to take the data seriously, but not extrapolate from it without basis.

In this spirit, I submit to you that the following tentative premises are justifiable: firstly, there is an engineered technology in our skies and oceans that is not human. The counterargument to this is, of course, that UAPs may be top-secret but very human military devices, often called ‘black technology.’ Yet, this seems to contradict much of what has been disclosed since 2017. The following passage from the testimony of CDR Fravor to Congress illustrates the point: representative Ms. Nancy Mace asked, “Many dismiss UAP reports as classified weapons testing by our own government. But in your experience as a pilot does our government typically test advanced weapons systems right next to multimillion-dollar jets without informing our pilots?” To which CDR Fravor responded: “No. We have test ranges for that.”

Moreover, if UAPs such as the metallic spheres were black technology the US Department of Defence were trying to keep secret, it is hard to imagine why Dr. Kirkpatrick—an official of that very department—would publicize their existence and even declassify a video showcasing their size, form, flight capabilities, etc. Also, the fact that UAPs often seem to defy our understanding of physics doesn’t line up with the black-technologies hypothesis, as it would require not only the engineering to be secret, but also the very advancement of the human understanding of physics. This isn’t impossible, but isn’t very plausible either. Finally, it is difficult to imagine why such game-changing black technologies—which would have to have been around for at least as long as the UAP phenomenon itself—were never used in large and conspicuous scales to advance the geopolitical interests of any nation.

Secondly, if there is non-human technology in our skies and oceans, then there must be Non-Human Intelligences (NHIs) active on our planet, engineering and controlling the UAPs. This does not imply that the NHIs are extra-terrestrial; it means simply that they aren’t human.

As implausible as these two premises may sound in this particular historical junction, the data, if taken seriously, does not seem to allow for prosaic alternatives. So whatever hypotheses we entertain, they will per force stretch our credulity. Indeed, to insist on prosaic explanations we must disregard the data. The latter is not necessarily invalid—it isn’t incoherent to imagine that all the data are the spurious fabrications of some sprawling disinformation campaign stretching over decades—but it certainly doesn’t advance the discussion. It thus seems more productive, at this point, to bite the bullet of what the data suggests—at least hypothetically—and then check whether we can make sense of it in a manner that renders the data less vexing.

Before we can try that, however, we first need to understand the key characteristics of the phenomenon we are trying to account for.

The hallmarks of the phenomenon

Although the disclosure process is relatively young, having publicly started only in 2017, the phenomenon itself seems to be at least as old as humanity. Ancient mythology, religious and otherwise, contains narratives largely consistent with today’s UAP observations. And serious researchers—the most prominent, competent, and reliable of which, in my view, is French astronomer and computer scientist Dr. Jacques Vallée—have been collecting data on it, applying statistical analyses to such data, and deriving conclusions from such analyses for decades now.

Two key conclusions from Dr. Vallée’s work are particularly pertinent to our challenge here. The first is that, based on countless witness reports, the phenomenon does not seem to make any distinction between physical and psychological effects; it produces both, as if they were mere facets of one and the same causative mechanisms. The boundaries we draw between the mental and the physical don’t seem to be observed by the phenomenon, which transits casually back and forth across the dividing line. Dr. Vallée acknowledges the undeniable physical aspect of the phenomenon—it can be filmed, tracked by radar and other sensors, emits measurable energy, often leaves physical footprints and vestiges behind, etc.—but adds that at least part of what the witnesses experience is “staged”: the UAP sometimes evokes archetypal, symbolic imagery directly in the witness’ mind to convey a feeling-laden metaphorical message, which transcends the objectively measurable characteristics of the phenomenon.

Though Dr. Vallée had already come to this conclusion decades ago, recent investigations into secret US Department of Defence programmes on UAPs, by journalist Ross Coulthart, seem to confirm it (see pages 265-267 of Mr. Coulthart’s 2021 book, In Plain Sight). Stanford Professor Dr. Garry Nolan, perhaps the most respectable scientist to actively research the phenomenon, acknowledged Mr. Coulthart’s reporting on the matter. He went on to recount a specific UAP case that illustrates, perhaps better than any other, the UAPs’ ability to directly manipulate human perception: “[this is a] story that Jacques Vallée brought to me, of a family in France, driving down the highway. This was like in the last five or ten years [from June of 2022]. And they had a glass-topped car. They look up and they see a UFO, you know, basically paralleling them down the highway. The mother looks around and sees that no other individuals nearby are freaking out about this thing above them. The children in the back take out their cell phones, take a picture of it. They get home and they look at the pictures on their camera, and they don’t see an object [of the kind they thought they had witnessed]; they see a little star-shaped thing about thirty or so feet above, and I have the picture. That doesn’t look anything like a drone. … I think it has like seven spokes and a central hole of some sort. So, you’re left with this: they saw a giant craft, but the picture shows that it was nothing [like it] there. Nobody else could see it. So, even if it was an object that was there, others weren’t capable of seeing it, so it was manipulating vision” (my emphasis).

The second pertinent conclusion from Dr. Vallée’s work is that the pattern of behaviour of UAPs is not consistent with the extra-terrestrial hypothesis (see chapter 9 of his book, Dimensions). Dr. Vallée estimated that, in a period of just twenty years, there have been about three million UAP landings. This is not consistent with visitations by beings from another planet for the purposes of surveying the Earth or researching its inhabitants (orders of magnitude less visits would have sufficed for these purposes); instead, the UAPs’ behaviour is precisely what one would expect if they were from here—and were simply going about their business. After all, there are many rare—and some not so rare—animal and plant species that human beings encounter a lot less frequently than 150.000 times per year, and they are undeniably terrestrial. In his interview with Mr. Coulthart, also Dr. Nolan expressed the view that UAPs are not extra-terrestrial.

Two distinct phenomena?

Although the two characteristics discussed above generally apply to most of what we colloquially label ‘UAP,’ ‘UFO,’ or ‘alien’ encounters, there are reasons to entertain the possibility that we are dealing with at least two distinct phenomena here. If so, it is crucial that we do not conflate the two, otherwise any viable account of one phenomenon may be discarded merely because it is not suitable for—or even contradicts—the other, leading to an insoluble impasse.

One clearly discernible class of observations, which I shall henceforth refer to as ‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAPs, entails physical craft that can not only consistently be seen, filmed, and tracked by radar, but also—if we are to believe Mr. Grusch’s informants and other sources in a position to plausibly know—stored in hangars for decades, drilled into, analysed under a scanning electron microscope, etc. The bodies of their occupants can also—again, if we are to believe the sources—be kept in freezers and harvested for biochemical analysis. This means that the phenomenon in question has a physical aspect as consistent and stable as our own body and the car in our garage. Moreover, these ‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAPs are more frequently observed in the proximity of military exercises and installations, particularly nuclear installations (this has been the case for decades, the recent Pentagon UFO videos simply reiterating the pattern). They don’t seem to be interested in teaching us anything, but simply in monitoring human activity that could lead to large scale destruction and compromise the planet’s habitability (incidentally, this is exactly what one would expect if the NHI in question is terrestrial).

Unlike the above, another class of observations entails encounters in one’s bedroom, at school, during one’s commute back from work, and other ordinary, random situations unrelated to military activity. These are the so-called ‘high strangeness’ events, encompassing the ‘alien contactee’ and ‘alien abduction’ cases. The craft and beings observed don’t have a consistent physical aspect but are, instead, elusive, appearing and disappearing, taking on an absurd variety of incongruous forms and behaviours. They leave either none or scarce, ambiguous physical traces, such as spontaneous nose bleeds, ordinary cysts found in places where the witness claims to have been implanted with alien technology, marks on the ground consistent with a variety of causes, and so on. This ambiguous physical evidence is better described as synchronistic—i.e., coincidental in a meaningful way—as opposed to causal. The observations are elusive, illogical, and shapeshifting like a dream. They seem focused on a form of deliberate, symbolic communication with the witness, aimed at conveying a teaching of some kind, as opposed to arising from chance encounters. Like a vision, they can’t be photographed.

I am not dismissive of this ‘high strangeness’ class of observations. As a matter of fact, I have written an entire book—Meaning in Absurdity—in which I try to account for it. I believe these visions are real as such; they are part of a natural feedback mechanism intrinsic to the human mind, which seeks to dislodge it from ossified worldviews that, despite having become stable, no longer serve the advancement of our understanding of ourselves and nature. The visions in question emerge from collective, phylogenetically ancient layers of the human mind shared by all of us, which, for being incapable of language and conceptual reasoning, communicate to the executive ego through dream-like, immersive metaphors. They should be taken seriously, just not literally.

But I do not think that the ‘high strangeness’ phenomenon is the same as the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAPs. Conflating the two, in my opinion, may make it impossible to account for either, as no one account will be consistent with the sometimes mutually contradictory characteristics of both. For this reason, and because I have explored the ‘high strangeness’ phenomenon in previous work, I shall henceforth exclusively discuss the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAP phenomenon.

If terrestrial but not human, then who?

The idea that the intelligence behind the UAPs is terrestrial and ancient is itself not new. Dr. Hal Puthoff calls it the “ultra-terrestrial” hypothesis. He raises the possibility that remnants of a pre-Diluvial high-tech human civilisation—think of the Atlantis myth—may have survived at the end of the last ice age and remain active today, though discreet in their activities.

The problem with this hypothesis is that any truly high-tech civilisation—unless it has moved underground very early, which may not be plausible due to difficulties related to the space required for industrial and logistical infrastructure, difficulties with waste management and pollution, etc.—leaves vast and long-lasting footprints on the terrain and environment, such as mining holes, landfills, urban infrastructure, artificial pollutants such as microplastics, etc. These footprints, though degraded, would have remained conspicuous enough over the period of only several thousand years since the last ice age. Yet, we find no such traces predating our own civilisation.

Because high technology development requires—at least at first—extensive industrial infrastructure, any ancient civilisation capable of technology as advanced as that in UAPs will almost inevitably have had to go through steps of industrialization and resource extraction analogous to ours, and then some. It will have had to go through phases of urbanization, mining of metals and burning of hydrocarbons, the construction of vast industrial parks, logistical/transport infrastructure, and so on. If the intelligence behind UAPs is terrestrial, it will thus need to be ancient enough for the associated footprints to have been almost completely erased by natural weather and geological processes. Yet, it will also need to be recent enough to already have had access to fossil hydrocarbons to fuel the early stages of its industrialization process. Are these seemingly conflicting constraints reconcilable?

They are, as per the so-called “Silurian Hypothesis” first proposed by Gavin Schmidt and Adam Frank in a 2018 paper on the International Journal of Astrobiology. The idea is as follows: our planet has existed for about 4.5 billion years, with life on it for about 4 billion years. The genus Homo, to which we belong, has been around for less than 3 million of those 4 billion years; the blink of an eye in geological terms. And modern humans—Homo sapiens—for just 2 or 3 hundred thousand years. There is, thus, plenty of time and opportunity for other non-human species to have arisen on Earth, developed to a level of technology far beyond ours (imagine where our own science and technology will be in a mere thousand more years, if we don’t kill ourselves before that), and then to have effectively vanished due to one or more of the myriad possible civilisation-ending cataclysms that could end our own (climate change/collapse, comet/asteroid impact, pandemics, solar storms, thermonuclear war, etc.).

Any sign of abandoned urban and industrial infrastructure is unlikely to survive a period of only a few million years, due to weather erosion. Synthesized chemicals, alloys and other compounds, technological artefacts, as well as terrain signatures such as mining holes, are ultimately unlikely to survive the constant recycling of the Earth’s crust through plate tectonics. What is now the Earth’s crust will eventually sink into the molten asthenosphere and mantel beneath, where it will be reforged, just to eventually re-emerge through volcanic activity as a brand-new crust. As a rough estimate, if we assume an average plate movement of a few centimeters per year, it could take only tens of millions of years for large swathes of the Earth's crust—especially the ocean crust but, to a more limited degree, also the continental crust—to be recycled in this manner. No conspicuous remnants of an ancient, technological, nonhuman civilization would likely survive all this.

The question now is, when were fossil hydrocarbons first available in large-enough quantities to fuel the initial growth of an ancient industrial civilisation? Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Frank estimate that this was already the case in the Carboniferous period, about 350 million years ago, which leaves us with a window of hundreds of millions of years for industrial NHIs—multiple different ones—to have developed on Earth.

Notice that my claim here is not that it is likely that high-tech nonhuman civilisations have emerged on Earth before us; I cannot evaluate the probabilities involved. My claim is that, based on what we know, such civilisations are not impossible or inconsistent with the geological record. On the contrary: as Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Frank point out, the record shows several periods of global warming consistent with large-scale industrialization.

Now, since we cannot visit an NHI city today, it is necessarily the case that, if such ancient terrestrial civilisations ever existed, they have largely died out—at least as far as the surface of the planet is concerned. This, however, is not implausible: as we know from our own case, civilisations can start, reach high-tech levels, and then be annihilated in a mere few thousand years. Indeed, although our civilisation is still going, we are painfully aware of how easily and quickly it can be brought to a swift end tomorrow, in a thermonuclear war, asteroid impact, climate collapse, a more deadly pandemic than the one we have just survived, etc.

Yet, it is unlikely that all members of our species would die in a planetary catastrophe. There is a good chance that few but enough of us would survive in shelters and preserve a minimum level of knowledge to keep some of our technology going, especially if we get some advance notice of the impending doom. In as little as a decade or two from now, for instance, we will likely have mastered the technology of small-scale, portable, clean nuclear reactors that can be buried in a backyard (or a cave) and provide effectively unlimited energy. Portable 3D-printing technology is reducing our reliance on centralized, large-scale manufacturing facilities. Our computers, which were once the size of buildings, now live in our pockets. If we extrapolate these trends for another mere century or two, it is reasonable to imagine that technological miniaturization and portability will allow our civilisation to survive at a reduced scale in, for instance, underground shelters. It is thus not unreasonable to imagine, purely speculatively, that the same could have been the case for ancient NHIs hypothetically behind today’s UAPs.

Any culture once exposed to the magnitude of a planetary catastrophe will have a historical trauma transmitted down the generations through myth and storytelling, similarly to—but much more acutely than—how flood stories have survived since the end of the last ice age. Such a culture will be wary of the planet’s surface, for the latter is a notoriously exposed and volatile region: it undergoes far more extreme temperature swings then, say, the deep oceans and underground caves; it is prone to severe weather that can ruin crops and flood entire cities; it is exposed to irradiation from solar storms and other cosmic events, which can ruin technology and life; it is extremely vulnerable to comet and asteroid impact, as the dinosaurs found out; etc. And since such a post-apocalyptic culture would have been reduced to relatively few members, their requirements for living space would also be relatively modest. Depending on the surviving level of their technology, they could have made a home for themselves underwater or underground. A few generations of (directed) adaption—genetic and cultural—to such an environment would render the planet’s surface perhaps as alien and inhospitable to them as the Mariana Trench is to us. They would be okay with allowing the monkeys to run amok on top of the roof (provided that the monkeys don’t start a thermonuclear war and compromise the entire house), but would rather stay safely indoors.

But what about the weird mind-manipulation stuff?

Science fiction has inculcated in our culture the notion that communication with another, completely different species is a matter of translation or word-swapping; something akin to what we do to convert Chinese text into English. Indeed, we now have a completely manufactured sense of the plausibility of such an idea. But it is naïve.

Ordinary translation presupposes two important things: a shared cognitive structure (templates of thinking) and shared empirical references. The latter is easy to see: if both you and I have already had the experience of seeing and driving a car, then to understand each other we just need to learn what word the other uses to denote that experience. However, things are more subtle when it comes to shared cognitive structures, as they operate based on abstractions, not direct empirical experiences. For instance, think of the concept of ‘flow’: it can be used to denote a concrete empirical experience, such as watching a river flow. But it is also used in much more abstract ways: we say that ‘time flows’ even though we can’t see time, let alone its flow; we speak of the ‘flow of ideas’; we say that ‘we are in the flow’; and so on. ‘Flow’ is an abstraction that refers to sequential, somewhat ordered changes of state, something entirely bound to our human mode of cognition. To understand ‘flow’ one needs to share the basic cognitive templates that gave rise to the concept in us to begin with. Without these shared templates, it is impossible to merely translate the word.

All humans share these basic cognitive templates by the mere fact of being members of the same species. In other words, we think alike because we are alike. Some linguists—such as Noam Chomsky—go as far as to say that the basic structure of all human languages, which he refers to as the ‘Universal Grammar,’ is biologically encoded in the human cognitive system. And although Chomsky’s opponents argue that language is merely invented and shared by convention, it is still necessarily the case that the underlying foundations of whatever is invented reflect cognitive modalities the inventor shares with all other members of their species. It is this commonality that enables what we call ‘translation’ across human languages, and we tend to take it entirely for granted.

But NHIs, by definition, don’t share such commonality with us. After all, they belong to a different species. Their cognition will almost certainly unfold with vastly different patterns and modalities. Even their logic may bear little resemblance to our own Aristotelian axioms. Moreover, their cultural context is bound to be entirely different from ours, leading to different empirical references: originally, they may not have had a cognitive category for, say, ‘car’ or understand the concept of a wheeled vehicle (for instance, if they are an aquatic species). It is naïve to expect that NHIs could learn our language as easily as a Chinese person can learn English. The underlying cognitive structures and references won’t line up; why should they?

Nonetheless, this doesn’t mean that we and NHIs can never communicate. What it does mean is that achieving this feat will require an effort to enter each other’s cognitive inner space—literally. In other words, before they could communicate with us, they would have to gain direct access to, and manipulate, our abstract mental processes. This is not something that can be casually achieved in the way I can pick up Italian during a holiday.

You will be closer to appreciating the difficulties if you think of whales: we know they have a language that scores higher in some relevant measures of complexity than our own. Yet, we can’t translate ‘Whalish’ into any human language, even though whales, just like us, are air-breathing, breast-feeding mammals.

To really appreciate the difficulties we have to go beyond whales—close relatives of ours—and imagine that, say, praying mantises—ancient insects much less related to us than whales—would have some form of language, and that we would try to communicate with them. Now we’re getting closer to the mark, for the cognitive templates and inner logic of insectoids are bound to be very largely incommensurable with ours. The challenge here is not mere translation; to speak ‘Insectoidish’ one would have to enter the cognitive space of insectoids—i.e., enter their mind.

Intellectual-level communication between more advanced terrestrial NHIs and us will require direct access to our cognitive processes. They will have to directly modulate our own abstract references and modes. In other words, they will have to convey their ideas to us by prompting our own mind to articulate those ideas to itself, using its own conceptual dictionary and grammatical structures. And because their message—a product of their own cognition, incommensurable with ours—is bound to not adequately line up with our grammar and conceptual menu, this articulation will per force have to be symbolicmetaphorical; it will have to point to the intended meaning, as opposed to embodying the intended meaning directly, or literally.

There is plenty of clinical precedence for this in the literature of depth psychology. Analytical Psychology, for instance, maintains that the deeper, evolutionarily ancient, instinctive layer of our mind, for not having the language capabilities of the executive ego, speaks to us in dreams and visions through symbols, metaphors. It can’t tell us in English, for instance, that time is flowing while we procrastinate, so to prompt us to act. So it may, instead, trigger and modulate a dream in which we, say, accidentally drop our backpack in a fast-flowing river and watch helplessly as it floats away. If the deeper layer of our mind, for being phylogenetically primitive, is incapable of articulating the conceptual abstractions ‘time,’ ‘flow,’ and ‘procrastination,’ it can still point symbolically to its intended meaning; it can still confront us with imagery that evokes the same underlying feeling—a sense of urgency—that would have been evoked by the statement, “time is flowing while you procrastinate.” This is what intellectual-level communication looks like when the interlocutors do not have commensurable cognitive structures. And this is how we may expect NHIs to communicate with us, if they have the technology required to reach directly into our minds and manipulate our cognitive inner space.

Notice the similarity between this and the ‘high strangeness’ class of observations: both entail symbolic communication by means of direct manipulation of our inner cognition. In the latter case, the communication is between deeper and shallower—primitive and modern, respectively—layers of our mind, taking place naturally and spontaneously. In the former case, the communication—likely mediated by technology—is between an NHI and a human, taking place in an artificial and deliberate manner. But both are metaphorical, akin to dreams and visions. This similarity is part of the reason why we feel tempted to conflate the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ and ‘high strangeness’ classes of observations.

In conclusion, I submit the hypothesis that, when UAPs manipulate our perceptions during an encounter, they are, in fact, attempting to communicate in the only way they can. Analogously, if you are hiking in a remote trail and come across a wild bear—another terrestrial species with a cognitive structure different from ours, which we encounter by chance as they go about their business in their own habitat—the bear, too, will communicate with you in the only way it can: through meaning-evoking body posture and sounds; and you will even understand it. The difference is that UAPs are better, more nuanced and sophisticated at the task.

How can we confirm this hypothesis?

For every useful, truly scientific hypothesis, there must be an experiment or a passive observation under controlled conditions that can either confirm or contradict it. As we’ve seen in the foregoing, the hypothesis in question is that the NHI—or NHIs—behind the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAP phenomenon is(are) ancient but terrestrial. We’ve discussed the characteristics of the phenomenon that motivated the hypothesis to begin with: (a) the frequency of UAP encounters, which suggests that they are from here and we meet them as they go about their business, just as we meet a bear in a trail; and (b) their interest in human activities that may jeopardize the habitability of this planet, such as nuclear installations and military exercises. But these characteristics aren’t conclusive. So just what could be conclusive?

If it is true, as Mr. Grusch claimed in his testimony to Congress in July 2023, that the US government has “biologics”—that is, the bodies of crashed UAP pilots—then a biochemical analysis of these biologics, if not conclusive, would at least be very indicative of whether they are terrestrial or not.

All terrestrial life we have studied in detail thus far, despite their drastic morphological differences—think of the differences between an amoeba, a praying mantis, and a cat—share the exact same biochemistry: they have two-stranded DNA with sugar-phosphate backbones and four nucleobasis (cytosine, guanine, adenine, and thymine) that form two possible base-pair configurations. Despite their extreme morphological differences, all terrestrial life thus looks the same when observed ‘under a microscope with sufficient magnification,’ so to speak.

Yet, the functions performed by this very specific biochemistry are multiple-realizable: there are many other conceivable ways in which these functions could be performed based on different biochemistry. The fact that all life we’ve studied thus far shares such specific biochemistry means simply that we all have a common ancestor dating back to an abiogenesis event: the rise of life from non-life. That event has defined the biochemistry we have all inherited. But it could just as well have been quite different; there is no a priori reason why biochemistry must be the way it is in us.

Indeed, a different event of abiogenesis—there is no a priori reason why life must have arisen from non-life only once on Earth either—could have set a different biochemistry; one still capable of storing the organism’s body-plan, of constructing the organism’s building blocks (proteins, in our case), of metabolizing, and of passing the organism’s body-plan to the next generation via reproduction; yet one different from ours. This is acknowledged in biology in the hypothesis of a “shadow biosphere”: there may, in fact, be organisms on Earth with biochemistry different from ours, because they may be descendants from a different abiogenesis event; we haven’t detected them yet because we haven’t done a detailed biochemical analysis of most organisms on the planet.

If even terrestrial organisms, which arose and evolved on this very planet, could have biochemistry distinct from ours, it stands to reason that organisms evolved in another planet, with different environmental conditions and chemical composition, are very unlikely to have the exact same biochemistry we do. That would require an implausible coincidence of literally cosmic proportions, even under the assumption of convergent evolution at the level of the phenotype (i.e., body form).

Therefore, if the biologics in the freezers of the powers-that-be have the same biochemistry we do, I believe it is safe to assume that they are terrestrial; they are our older cousins—likely forever traumatised by earlier planetary cataclysms—and certainly not aliens.

Another prediction of the ‘ultra-terrestrial’ hypothesis is this: the materials—say, the metals—used in the UAP craft should have isotope ratios compatible with an earthly origin, as opposed to one outside the solar system. If the powers-that-be are in possession of such craft, this shouldn’t be a difficult test to perform.

Together, the two test results suggested above, if mutually consistent, should be conclusive.


The hypothesis I put forward is that, if the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAP phenomenon and the Non-Human Intelligence(s) behind it are real, they are unlikely to be extra-terrestrial. Instead, they may consist of remnants of industrial, technological NHIs evolved on Earth up to 350 million years ago. We cannot find conspicuous archaeological or geological footprints of such civilisations because, according to the so-called ‘Silurian Hypothesis,’ not only weather erosion, but also the regular recycling of the Earth’s crust through plate tectonics, erase them. The anthropocentric notion that nothing intelligent has arisen on our planet in the billions of years for which no conspicuous evidence would have remained on the geological record is unjustified. There has been plenty of time and opportunity for many technological, industrial, but non-human civilisations to have arisen and disappeared from the surface of the Earth.

Though I understand that many may consider this hypothesis disturbing at some level, it does not require anything fundamentally beyond natural processes we know to exist: we know that intelligent life can arise on this planet, given its environmental conditions; we know that industrial civilisations can arise, develop, and go extinct in a period no longer than a few thousand years, which is the blink of an eye at a geological scale; we know that our own technology today would have looked like magic to the Great Goethe, only 200 years ago; we know that intelligent species that evolved the ability to act according to an abstract ethical code can operate under a policy of non-interference towards less evolved life (just think of human wildlife researchers); and so on. The present hypothesis requires nothing more than the foregoing. As such, there is nothing unnatural or truly extraordinary about it. If it violates our sensitivities, then this informs us about our sensitivities, not about the plausibility of the hypothesis in a naturalist framework.

Notice, however, that the hypothesis proposed here presupposes the UAP data disclosed thus far to be authentic, and not the result of a sprawling disinformation campaign. In the latter case, the key motivations and empirical ground for the speculations in this essay would be void, and the hypothesis should be disregarded in its entirety.


I am very grateful to Dr. Hal Puthoff, Dr. Garry Nolan, Rob van der Werf, and Paul Stuyvenberg for generous feedback provided on earlier drafts of this essay. 



  1. I think this is a good explanation for the UAP phenomena. It makes more sense than the ET hypothesis at least. If this ends up being the case, it'll be disturbing to our culture's sensibilities for a couple reasons. Firstly, it would mean that we don't own the planet. We've got an older cousin who has just as much right to be here as we do. Secondly, it brings up the inconvenient reality that industrial civilizations like ours might have a shelf life, and we're just one more civilization churned out from Mother Earth. We're not special. Hopefully we get down to the bottom of this all soon, Bernardo. Thanks for the excellent post.

    P.S, I can't help but notice that my last comment was deleted. I hope I didn't break any rules.

  2. It's interesting that certain phrasing and hypothetical explanations align with that of certain individuals like Elizondo and Nolan during interviews. "The regular recycling of the Earth’s crust through plate tectonics, erase them." as an example, was something used by Elizondo during is interview on the Theories of Everything podcast in 2021 to explain why there would be no evidence on the archaeological record of the technological remnants of an advanced intelligent civilization, despite the evidence of a robust fossil record dating back almost 500 million years. His discussion suggesting people read the short story Chains of the Sea also alludes to the shadow biome hypothesis. His recommendations on looking for evidence entailed analysis of our own DNA and archaeological artifacts on the moon. It's interesting that different groups seem to have their own collective origin stories for what the phenomenon is, similar to religions and their interpretations of the meaning of it all. Let's continue to focus on the evidence, including the absence of evidence, and extrapolate without preconception as continued data is processed and analyzed. Was a good read, thanks for taking the time.

  3. Just two points that I would probably diverge from:

    "I do not think that the ‘high strangeness’ phenomenon is the same as the ‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAPs.”
    "‘nuts-and-bolts’ UAPs are more frequently observed in the proximity of military exercises and installations, particularly nuclear installations"
    Well, the military are the ones who have the equipment to make such 'nuts and bolts' observations and they are more likely to be reticent about high strangeness, which does still accompany military incidents.
    "the so-called ‘high strangeness’ events, encompassing the ‘alien contactee’ and ‘alien abduction’ cases. The craft and beings observed don’t have a consistent physical aspect"
    These events also have ’nuts and bolts’ aspects consistent with that of the military incidents.
    I just don’t see the distinction you are making being sharp enough, clear enough and consistent enough to justify a primary hypothesis of two distinct phenomena; there is too much overlap.

    ‘if the biologics in the freezers of the powers-that-be have the same biochemistry we do, I believe it is safe to assume that they are terrestrial’
    Not so sure about this either: we could both be originally extraterrestrial.

  4. Interesting read overall. I have always been dismissive of UFO sightings, but the recent events have made it impossible to brush them aside as hoax. Your argument that UAPs are territorial is an interesting take. In geological terms our existence on this planet is miniscule and there has been enough time for several intelligent civilizations to evolve and perish in 4 billion years. However, for the first billion years we can assume that earth was inhospitable to any form of life. While we have evidence of early life (microbes) in the form of stromatolites that goes back to 3.5 billion years, the first animals (Sponges) appeared only 800 million years ago and other animals besides Sponges appearing as recently as 550 million years ago (Ediacaran period) and early primates appearing around 85-55 million years ago. I am not a geologist, but I can say that our understanding of evolution of life in the last 500 million years (Phanerozoic eon) has been more or less supported by fossil records. However, fossil records are incomplete and biased by many factors and at best their accuracy is ~10 million years or so, and even a million year is a large time frame considering we have been around only for 250,000 years or so. But any intelligent civilization would have spread across the world quickly and created infrastructure that would inevitably leave more prominent marks than what dinosaurs left 230 million years ago. While I am not completely dismissive of your argument, I feel we can hypothesize different scenario that explain frequent sightings of UAPs.

    Our argument against extra-terrestrial origins of UAPs come from frequency of UAP sightings and absence of large inter-galactic spaceship parked anywhere near earth sending these UAPs for more closer observation of our planet. However, these arguments have inbuilt assumption that extra-terrestrial beings will be using similar rockets as ours albeit with more sophisticated technology such as solar sail. While we may take the comfort in assuming that our understanding of physical world is near complete, what we have learnt in the last 150 years, such as non-locality of quantum world, may be just a beginning of our understanding of reality. 150 years is miniscule compared to what we may be able to achieve in say 1000 years. Can we even imagine our understanding of reality & existence in say a million years? If these extra-terrestrials had a head-start of a million years, it is possible that they may have technology (assuming we still can call it technology) to be ‘present’ on different planets without requiring to “travel” there. They may also have technology to “talk” to us by directly interacting with our cognitive structure without requiring using any “language”. We really don’t need to stretch our imagination to understand this possibility, we can already see the seeds of this in non-locality of quantum world and observer effects.

    1. By bringing the non locality of the entangled particles here, I'm not suggesting that the concept can be used to travel one day, however it does indicate how reality differs from our current knowledge. It may tip of the iceberg and in 1000 years from now our understanding of space and time can be vastly different.

      However, we may still argue that although aliens may possess technology to be present on different planet without traveling there, what is the need to do so frequently and making their presence felt only to select individuals and select places, and avoid direct contact with mass? The answer to that would be, for aliens with such a technology, it is not a travel, so they would not be incurring any expense to travel. They can simply be present whenever they feel like and doing so multiple times is not a hassle for them. But why are they avoiding direct contact with mass? It is like we going to farm one day to check how the crops are growing. We don't consider the crop as having social setup that we need to first introduce ourselves to their leader. We simply go, check few areas that we like to and return home without thinking what impact our visit would have had on the crop. Well, it may not be as bad, we may be little better than crop for aliens and they did try to communicate in their own way from the incidents you have pointed out. Again, worth noting the observer effect we have seen in quantum measurements, if our cognitive process can have an impact on physical measurement, can a physical device in turn have impact on cognitive process? Is it possible that aliens have mastered that technique and trying to communicate with us using such a device? Who knows?

  5. Great article! I just want to say that I had been a hard-line skeptic of the paranormal all of my life. Your typical scientific materialist. The recent revelations shook me to the core and in turn I went through bouts of ontological shock as I learned more and more. As I looked for answers to this new world view I stumbled upon Bernardo Kastrup. Life hasn't been the same since. You've helped me make sense of what is transpiring and prepared me for what may come. You've given me calm so I must express my gratitude. Thank You.

  6. I like to keep an open mind on all possibilities as to the origin of the UAP phenomenon, but I see the Ultra-Terrestrial hypothesis the least likely explanation due to the OVERWHELMING evidence that supports they are extraterrestrial in origin. With that being said, I'll just leave this quote here.....

    "In March, astrophysicist Eric W. Davis, who spent years working as a consultant for the Pentagon UFO program and is now a defense contractor, gave a classified briefing to the Defense Department on what he called “off-world vehicles not made on this earth.” In other words, spaceships."

  7. His vision is very interesting. However, is it logical that a civilization that has coexisted with human beings since its embryonic state as a species, when we only used bones and stones as rudimentary tools or weapons, does not know any other more precise form of communication? If our scientists have been able in a few days, within the time scale that we handle, to understand to some extent the language of many species of animals, it does not seem feasible that a civilization capable of surviving for thousands of years in hiding could not issue a more effective and coherent communication. And even more so considering that it has been able to decipher, without many problems, our way of writing and learn more about human behavior.

    1. Scientists have not deciphered the language of animals. They deciphered sign systems of animals that do not possess true language. The point I am trying to make is precisely that, given incommensurable cognitive structures, translation is not possible, unless there is extensive social interaction between the species over a long period of time.

    2. That is not the analogy. Animals do not write or communicate the way humans do through mechanical means, and yet we are able, in two days (compared to centuries of study) to interpret their moods and many of their behaviors in solitary and in community. If an advanced species, with great technology, that has been watching or monitoring a species that uses all kinds of languages and forms of communication throughout the centuries is incapable of knowing the minimum concepts of intercommunication I think it is an unfeasible possibility.

    3. What you're saying they should do, which is different from translation, is exactly what they do do, as discussed in the essay.

    4. You mention the example of the bear and I think it is wrong in the case of an "no-human" civilization as defined by Puthoff (still here or having established bases abroad). A technological civilization emerged millennia ago in the earth; it is not the same as talking about a non-human intelligence arriving from space exploration. These supposed ultraterrestrials should be able to communicate with us without problems. This point is what I am referring to. The ultraterrestrial (cryptoterrestrial) cannot be interpreted as something cognitively removed from our learning or communication systems.

    5. They essay makes an explicit argument for why what you are saying is not the case. If it were, we should be able to talk to cetaceans, pachyderms, other higher apes, some molluscs, etc. Now, you have a different opinion, which is fine, but repeating one's opinion over and over is not a form of argument.

    6. I insist. I think we are not talking about the same thing. A cetacean does not build a spaceship and does not observe and study the human species. I think that millennia of analysis would be enough for any non-human civilisation to learn the basic concepts of communication without having to resort to methods that border on the absurd and incoherent. It is simple to understand and if I repeat myself it is so that the arguments are better exposed, due to my difficulty with the language.

    7. The cetacean doesn't build spaceships, but we do. So we should be able to easily speak their language, under your premises. Alas.

    8. Well, let me tell you with the utmost respect that you are still starting from the wrong example. You only stick to the different scale of cognition between animal and human, to prove your point, which is very interesting but does not fit into the crypto-terrestrial concept (that is my point). And even admitting his starting point (cetaceans-humans) there are still considerable errors. 1.- Our scientists have not been studying cetaceans for millennia. 2.- Cetaceans do not have writing. 3.- Cetaceans do not have material to analyse, press, books, communications, cinema, writing, radio, art, internet. 4.- Humanity speaks through languages, morse code, binary code, mathematics, etc.
      You assume the cognitive barrier between technological evolutionary species is acceptable in the early stages of contact, but it is more complex to admit between civilisations that have been studying each other for millennia.
      Thank you for the opportunity for debate.

    9. There is no fundamental difference between structured communication mediated by writing or by sounds (which cetaceans use). Both are symbolic and, in humans, both are associated with Broca's area in the brain. And humans have been living next door to whales for about 200 thousand years. Moreover, humans and whales are both mammals, very closely related. But alas, we can't speak whale, despite having thrown a lot of effort and money at the problem.

    10. That is twisting the argument. Humans have not been studying cetaceans in depth for that long. And if you consider that the communications of animals, even primates, which do not contain the complexity and richness of human communication, are on the same level when it comes to evaluating and projecting forms of communication, I think we are starting from different observations. Do you think that if our scientists found a bible written by ants, they would not eventually decipher its contents? We cannot practically investigate the communication method of animals without the physical and living presence of the specimens. However, a cryptorrestrial could learn a great deal about humanity the day after the human race had been wiped out by a lethal virus.

    11. You're not making an argument, you're appealing to vague intuitions. I can't distor what is not there. No, we will not decipher a bible written by ants, nor will we decipher an encyclopedia written by amoeba; neither analogy means anything. Yes, we could one day communicate to whales, but not through translation. The latter is the point of the essay.

    12. Intuition???? Human forms of communication offer more opportunities to study and analyse forms of communication than that of any extinct or living animal. It is not intuition to assert that a technological civilisation that has been on Earth for millennia is incapable of establishing a dialogue with humanity. And we will see if in the next 100 years we are able to establish AI communications with animals and the crypto-terrestrials still scare a driver on the road at night.

    13. You're losing focus. Nowhere in my essay do I say that they have been unable to dialogue with us. On the contrary: I say precisely that they are. My point is that such communication is not based on translation, but through deeper access to our cognition. You may need to read the essay again before continuing to comment productively.

    14. You write: "But NHIs, by definition, don’t share such commonality with us". And: "Their cognition will almost certainly unfold with vastly different patterns and modalities. Even their logic may bear little resemblance to our own Aristotelian axioms. Moreover, their cultural context is bound to be entirely different from ours, leading to different empirical references: originally, they may not have had a cognitive category for, say, ‘car’ or understand the concept of a wheeled vehicle (for instance, if they are an aquatic species). It is naïve to expect that NHIs could learn our language as easily as a Chinese person can learn English. The underlying cognitive structures and references won’t line up; why should they?"
      And based on this premise, why do you introduce the concept of ultra-terrestrial? I think the question is obvious from the beginning but not answered. Nor does it answer whether INH is unable to assess human communications after thousands of years of observation? And above all, how can you argue that the enormous amount of information, in infinite media, produced by the human race is comparable to the information given to us by a whale or a bear to evaluate a contact?

    15. "Nor does it answer whether INH is unable to assess human communications after thousands of years of observation?"
      In the essay I say precisely that they ARE able to assess human communications and meaning-making, just not through translation. You lost me completely now. There's little point in my continuing to repeat myself, so I won't.

  8. Brilliant piece! Can't really express how much I loved it so I'm going to raise some of my questions instead, only to further the conversation.

    You are absolutely on point with the argument that - given the cognitive framework being alien enough - there is no way of communicating directly, only through subconscious patterns. But what of the examples where people - who were in a contact situation - report clear messages being telepathically communicated? Ariel School, Zimbabwe, 1994 for example.

    Is it down to the possibility of all of this being more than one phenomena?

    1. Meaning is directly communicated, but the words are given by the receiver, so the receiver can tell themselves what it is that they understood.

  9. Very interesting, and refreshing compared to the (more) mainstream technologies.

    As a Christian, I couldn't help but notice a degree of isomorphism with the idea of angels having been created by God long before He got around to create humans. Also interesting to note that there aren't that many angels referred to by name in Christian theology - consistent with your idea of just a few survivors. And then (probably pushing it), consider the myth of Lucifer - might that refer to the one who triggered the apocalyptic event?

    Of course, these are purely theological conjectures (and highly speculative at that) - not scientific hypotheses. Fun to ponder still; and it wouldn't surprise me if some clever Catholic friar might explore it seriously at some point 🙂

  10. I am very glad to see this! I've read every book you've published with great interest, so seeing you wade into this particular patch of quicksand is heartening indeed. Maybe we won't all sink without a trace, after all! As a close-encounter witness, I remain essentially trapped in a sort of intellectual ghetto. When Jeff Kripal and I published Super Natural, I had the hope that the intellectual and academic communities would begin to address the overall issue more coherently. This did happen, but in a very small way. However, when it was brought to the public's attention that UAP really were unknown objects, the ability to address the close encounter aspect of the phenomenon did begin to expand. But what is it? I think that your approach to reality and its meaning offers us a richly nuanced way to continue to explore the mystery: is the UAP phenomenon related to the close encounter reports, and, if so, then in what way does this experience, reported by millions, connect to reality? Wonderful article, thank you!

    1. Dear Whitley, it's a great honour for me to see you come here. Thank you for your kind words. I have just read your latest, 'Them,' and was very impressed with your sensitive and profound analysis in Chapter 6, if I recall correctly (the 'aliens in the trees' letter).

    2. The Visitors in the Trees is a remarkable record of some sort of communication, a subtle attempt, it seems to me, to enable the primary witness to remember the experience with clarity and accuracy. But why is that necessary? If we are dealing with aliens, then why isn't communication more straightforward? The obvious answer to that question is that neither side knows what they are doing, because there is some sort of a disconnect in the ways we address reality. I think that there may be a plasticity to the way different brains process sensory input that governs how reality functions for them. If so, the contact experience must reflect that plasticity, resulting in the nearly incoherent narrative that we actually do see. I believe that letter to be a sign that this is true and that the other side understands this, and, at least in this instance, can be seen to be trying to overcome the disconnect.

      Thank you for your kind words about Them. Coming from an author I so admire, it is welcome indeed.

    3. The appreciation is mutual, dear Whitley. And I am with you in your analysis of the situation: both sides are struggling; both sides don't really know what they're doing.

  11. Regarding communication:
    Jim Sparks has written of his extensive contact/abduction experiences. He was taught how to communicate with Them telepathically.
    Telepathy is a very common theme, as are clear messages of environmental concern.
    Bashar describes himself as extraterrestrial when communicating through Darryl Ankar, which he does very eloquently.

  12. I think readers of Bernardo would enjoy Super Natural by Whitley Strieber and Jeffrey Kripal.

  13. Hello Bernardo,
    I am pleased to see that reputable scientists like you are starting to discuss and research the UFO phenomenon openly, something that was unthinkable five years ago. I believe this marks the beginning of our journey to understand the phenomenon, at least to the extent of our cognitive limitations.
    Reading your article, I get the impression that the separation of the physical phenomenon (nuts-and-bolts UFOs) from the more absurd or paranormal aspect is more a matter of practicality (since studying them as the same thing seems contradictory) than a real difference between the two parts.
    For instance, you mention that “UFO spacecraft” appear in military settings and are related to the preservation of the planet. It seems to me that you're doing some "cherry picking" because there are countless civilian UFO cases, where they have also been detected on radar or photographed, like the Manises case or the Bariloche case. Undoubtedly, there are cases of close encounters between witnesses and seemingly physical, technological crafts.
    Similarly, there are non-military close encounter cases where the phenomenon seems to be equally interested in planet preservation.
    In conclusion, I believe this separation, although useful, is arbitrary and not based on clear statistics.
    I haven’t read your book “Meaning in Absurdity,” so I'm not sure if it would address my doubts. However, I would appreciate your opinion on my comments.
    Thank you.

    1. Yes, there are clear ambiguities and the classification may not be ultimately precise or even accurate. It could also be that there are indeed two different classes of manifestation, but that the agency behind them is one and the same. Also, notice that I did not say that only military observations are nuts-and-bolts; I left the boundary ambiguous. There could be civilian sightings that are of the nuts-and-bolts type, many of which were explored and related by Valleé himself.

  14. Great essay. I wonder if Lue Elizondo's recommendation of Chains of the Sea (as being a good book to think about the phenomenon in a different way) was of a similar vein - i.e. multiple groups of cryptoterrestrials (which may not be perceivable by all humans; occupying the same "space" but using it differently, suggesting that there is an interdimensional/perceptual consequence) having existed on earth for a long time, being the true "owners"/"government" of the planet.

    Another gut feel is that Donald Hoffman's work on consciousness being fundamental to reality (whereas spacetime is a byproduct) may have something to do with the "high strangeness" aspect (including the physics bending observations).

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  16. Bernardo, the one issue I have with your ultra-terrestrial argument is that, while mine shafts and microplastics and other features would be erased in tens of millions of years, could we say the same about highly engineered metals and alloys and other advanced materials? Given that the fossil record has preserved all sorts of less robust material, what is the likelihood that we would have discovered zero signs of these types of metallurgical manipulation.. in the same way that by chance we've found eggs and bone? Arguably, advanced materials engineering at a wide scale would likely leave a lot of traces that were apparent. I'm genuinely curious for a rebuttal on this point.

    1. Read the Silurian Hypothesis paper on the International Journal of Astrobiology linked in the essay. It has the answers to your questions. In summary, the chance is enormously high that we would have found none of these signs.

  17. I enjoyed this draft essay. Just a note, defense is spelled with an S, not defence.

    1. Thanks. This draft is written in UK English. The 'The Debrief' version has American spelling.

  18. This is real life "Don't LookUp".

    As I watched David Grusch's testimony I thought the world will change forever after this, media will cover it on front page for days. this is bigger than anything that has ever happened in our history, there will be panel discussions, debates on TV for months, years and decades to come. But nothing of that sort happened. None of the major media noticed it, no scientist bothered to comment on it. Nothing.

    Within days came Mexican alien corpse show in their parliament and all the scientists across the world were quick to ridicule it as publicity stunt, which it probably was, but it diluted the impact of David Grusch's testimony as the public associated it with reactions they read against the Mexican show.

    Yesterday Inspector general of intelligence gave classified briefing on UAP to house oversight committee. The fact that they chose to respond to the allegations in secrecy to select people itself shows what David Grusch said was true. If it was not so, they could have simply denied it in public. In addition most of those who attended the briefing confirmed that what they learnt in the briefing corroborates what they heard in the testimony. Wow, so US government just confirmed that they possess non human technology, which is huge news. Yet, none of the news media chose to cover it.

    Next day comes a video of jellyfish, which every media was happy to cover with a message "here is another uap that internet is going crazy about, which is probably a camera fudge or dirt on lense". Again, the real explosive news got mixed with something else and got ridiculed.

    I wonder if these are mere coincidences or if the government times it so that they don't have to manage the public reaction

  19. Bear in the woods, yes, but shifting the context to something like running into a monkey in Manhattan is what I think gets to the crux of the issue with NHI

  20. I posted this comment earlier this week and saw it had made its way here into the comments section, but then it disappeared so I'm attempting to post it again. Forgive me if I've misunderstood something.

    "UAPs and Non-Human Intelligence: What is the most reasonable scenario?":

    Congratulations on a well-thought-out and enjoyable read! The thing that prompted me to leave a comment was about the verification of a non-human, terrestrial technology through the analysis of isotopic ratios in recovered material. Obviously you would need a thoroughly documented chain-of-custody with whatever material you decided to subject to analysis in order to be confident of the results. Jacques Vallee, who I also have tremendous respect for, has done just this with the help of Gary Nolan and if I'm not mistaken, the results of one of the samples("Muestra-B") that were analyzed displayed isotopic ratios that were not native to our solar system. Specifically, these are listed as Mg(24), Mg(25) and Mg(26) whose natural isotopic ratios are, respectively: 78.9, 10 and 11.1. The ratios revealed through analysis were 67, 16 and 17. This information was included in a 2017 presentation by Dr. Vallee titled, "What Do We Know About the Material Composition of UFOs?" that is available on his website:

    Cheers and thank you for lending your weight to this fascinating subject!

  21. Dear Bernardo,

    Have you seen Mick West's "debunk" videos on the UAP matter? I am wondering what you think of his explanations of the phenomenon. They seem like rational explanations even though he seems to dismiss the eye witness testimonies because he thinks they are less reliable compared to the other data points.

    Thank you.

  22. Just in passing, I recall that the bare bones of your hypothesis, that UFOs are technological artefacts that originate on Earth, has been present since the dawn of the modern UFO phenomenon in the 1940s: the ‘Nazi UFOs from Antarctica’ hypothesis, for example. Your hypothesis also bears some family resemblance to that of Graham Hancock and even Helena Blavatsky. These are observations, not criticisms. These observations could be used to support your hypothesis, even. It would be interesting to know if Hancock (say) has ever had a “high strangeness” experience. I haven’t, and I have absolutely no desire to have one.
    Also in passing, I note that “Why Materialism is Baloney” and “Meaning in Absurdity” changed my life, for which I thank you. I was a hard-core materialist and atheist (I’m a Physics graduate and now a software engineer), although I have had since adolescence a curiosity about fringe experiences/phenomena, albeit as a ‘skeptic’. I am no longer a materialist or an atheist. I don’t know what I am, but I’m nearer your position than my own former one.

  23. If an earlier civilization faced a catastrophic extermination event, why would it not re-emerge after such an event passes. Let's say asteroid hits earth and causes mass extinction. Why wouldn't we just go back to colonizing earth after the environment stabilizes? Furthermore why would such an event cause us to move underground before the event even occurs? Finally, if actual physical vehicles are present, are they still manufacturing them or or are they vehicles that they have possesed since their demise? Incredibly provocative stuff.

    1. If you read carefully, you will understand that the hypothesis is that they moved underground AFTER the catastrophic event occurred and decimated their numbers, and that they stayed underground afterwards for fear of exposing themselves to another similar event.

  24. Hi Bernardo - thanks for this great essay (and I just spotted that retro board you're coming out with - nice!)

    I have been following your work a bit as it ties in with non-local awareness, systems theory, etc. although I am quite the beginner!

    question: UAP is more geared towards unidentified "anomalous" phenomenon, yes?

    Do you think this will ... "grow" into including anomalous cognition/etc. under the same umbrella?

    As One who rides with One ... that would concern a little. :)


    -kaos, liquid

  25. Excellent essay. I confess that a similar theory occurred to me as well. I also tried to find a suitable candidate from the primate kingdom who could take the evolutionary leap to an advanced civilization. It's called Tarsiers. It is a primate that has been alive for more than 50 million years, so it had enough time to develop and die its civilization so that no traces of it remain. He has excellent physical prerequisites to develop into an intelligent being. Huge eyes, excellent hearing and very long fingers on all limbs. It inhabited ecosystems that were close to water, so it is logical to assume that today it lives deep in the oceans, or deep underground. In addition, the widespread folk archetype of the ufon is very similar to him - long limbs and fingers plus large eyes that, when closed, look like almonds.

  26. "... an amoeba, a praying mantis, and a cat". You are revealing your animal-centricity here! :) I would have added at least an oak, a toadstool and the Serpula lacrymans to the list.
    But regarding the origins of UAP's: My guess is that they were originally extraterrestrial (thus explaining why no technofossils from the industrial phase of their civilization cannot be found, because that happened elsewhere), which then decided later to colonize the interior of Earth, because it fits better to their original habitat than the surface of the Earth. (Or maybe they wanted to hide from _other_, enemy ET's?) But this colonization could have happened tens of millions year ago already.

    About the long-term preservation of techno-fossils, I suggest book "The Earth After Us: What legacy will humans leave in the rocks?" by Jan Zalasiewicz.