The Current

UFO sightings by U.S. Navy should be taken seriously — but not too seriously, says astronomer

Recent UFO sightings have come from some unusually reliable sources, prompting the Pentagon to introduce new reporting regulations for pilots spotting things in the sky. Is the stigma of talking about flying saucers starting to fade?

Navy sets new guidelines for its pilots after rise in reports of 'unexplained aerial phenomena'

The U.S. Navy has set new guidelines for its pilots to report sightings of 'unexplained aerial phenomena.' This image shows an art installation in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images)
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Astronomer Chris Rutkowski says that in the past, talking about having seen a UFO came with a measure of social shame — but that shame is starting to dissipate.

"If more people come forward, the stigma is lessened. It's no longer something to be ashamed of," he told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

Rutkowski is the chief researcher with Ufology Research, a hobbyist group based in Winnipeg that documents and analyzes Canadian UFO sightings. He has also written several books about UFOs, abductions and aliens.

"I've talked to people from all walks of life: young and old, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers. Everybody. And they're very sincere," said the astronomer.

"We have this innate quest within us: are we alone in the universe? And ever since, we started looking up at the stars."

Rutkowski explained that it's natural for people to seek out other-worldly life, especially when our own world seems rife with economic, political and ecological turmoil.

In a New York Times story this week, a veteran U.S. Navy pilot described seeing what the military classifies as unexplained aerial phenomena, or UAPs, throughout 2014 and 2015.

Such sightings became frequent enough that the Navy set new guidelines for its pilots to formally report the experiences.

Rutkowski stressed that even though many people associate the term "unidentified flying object" with aliens, there could be any number of more plausible — and mundane — explanations.

"It certainly could be some advanced tech from Earth … We know that a lot of experiments are being done," he explained.

"It's possible that it's some classified program."

Belief in UFOs is becoming less of a fringe issue and more welcomed in the mainstream consciousness, Chris Rutkowski said. (David McNew/Newsmakers/Getty Images)

A little scepticism can help avoid jumping to conclusions about UFOs or AEPs, Rutkowski said.

"We have to be cautious about fully accepting the possibility that aliens are invading Earth ... We have to look at who's speaking, who's making the statements and what actual physical evidence is there. I'd like to see some additional data provided and move forward from there."

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.


Written by Émilie Quesnel. Produced by Howard Goldenthal and Sarah-Joyce Battersby. 

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