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The Space Space: Part 3 “Anomalous Phenomena”
Leadership is about turning an obvious failure into heroic success. Fails are a necessary part of learning. They can be forgiven, mainly if the failures make success possible. They cannot be forgiven if they don’t, which is why we might want to open our eyes to the possibility that there is both opportunity and danger at this pivotal moment in human history. Why pivotal? Because governments, particularly the US government, are actively preparing to explore and possibly reveal something about “anomalous phenomena”. As a former Presidential Advisor, I can say it is extremely rare to see the US government shift policy so fast, regardless of the political leanings of the administration. It wasn’t long ago that US military and commercial pilots were actively dissuaded from filing reports about UFOs and anyone who suggested they might be real was quickly marginalized. The policy of denial and discredit has now become one of disclosure and discovery.
This is one reason that the US Government recently changed the nomenclature from UFOs to UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon). It was to break the stigma associated with UFOs. Now the policy is to formalize the reporting process and to broaden the definition of the problem to “anomalous phenomena” which includes “transmedium” phenomena, underwater, in space, and in places that defy the known laws of physics. On July 20th, 2022, the Pentagon announced the establishment of the new “All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office”. The Pentagon is also now declassifying most, if not all, of the material related to UAPs and anomalous phenomena and synchronizing input from across diverse silos. On June 9th, 2022, NASA announced its new “Independent Study on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena”.
Congress has been holding private hearings on this strange subject for the last five years and just held the first public hearings on this subject in 50 years. They have mandated the Director of National Intelligence to submit reports on UAPs to Congress on an annual basis. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released its Explanatory Report on July 20th and clearly stated that “man-made” objects are not to be included in the research. In other words, this stuff isn’t ours. The ODNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence) issued a Preliminary Assessment saying “UAP clearly poses a safety of flight issue and may pose a challenge to U.S. national security.” In other words, the ODNI gave reason to believe that the sensors and cameras are picking up something real though, so far, inexplicable. As of June 22, 2022, the US Space Force has created a new intelligence agency for space, Space Delta 18. According to Avril Haines, the Director of National Intelligence, “Our capacity to understand what is happening in the space domain is crucial to our ability to operate in space. In the years ahead, the environment will only become more contested.” We’ll come back to this idea of “contested”.
Note that none of these efforts are part of the Department of Defence’s Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force or its successor, the Airborne Object Identification and Management Synchronization Group or the old Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. These are all new efforts. For those who may have missed it, the US Government has also been openly confirming that senior US Government personnel were employed for many years in these previously secret divisions of government, many of which were repeatedly, persistently and completely denied by officialdom over many decades. Steps are also now being taken to give government officials immunity so they can speak about all anomalous phenomena without fear of breaking their secrecy and non-disclosure commitments.
As an economist whose job is to figure out what tomorrow’s economy will look like, I have long recommended that it is smart to look for signals, rather than wait for confirming data. Signals are hints about the future that are not yet present in the data. In the past, it was easy to dismiss this whole subject of UFOs/UAPs/anomalous phenomena out of hand due to the lack of reliable signals or data. But now there is an overwhelming wave of signals on this tricky subject. There is an even more significant wave of data rolling into the public domain on this subject as well. After all, humans are massively increasing the number of satellites and sensors that are placed across all domains from space to sky to oceans to underground spaces. These satellites and sensors, drones and digital tools are delivering ever-sharper images and ever-higher quality data. These data gathering capabilities are increasingly owned and controlled by private firms rather than by governments. So, whatever data is being picked up can no longer be contained by government secrecy rules. This may help explain why the US and other governments are suddenly reversing their position on anomalous phenomena.
There is ever more to see as well. The upgrade from The Hubble to the James Webb telescope has shifted our understanding of the universe. Now, it looks like two trillion galaxies with 200 billion trillion stars (that’s 200 sextillion) might be a low figure.
We now have a serious problem. My last two books were on leadership, or more specifically on the reasons behind the countless leadership failures across multiple domains and the ways leadership could turn failures into successes. More and more it looks like the US and other governments have recognized that a leadership failure of historic proportions has occurred on this subject. For example, these anomalous phenomena seem to gather around nuclear and restricted facilities and possibly impede their use, which is exactly why the US military is so involved in the subject. If that is true then we may be facing the worst intelligence failure in modern history, far eclipsing 9/11 or Pearl Harbour. If it is true that the US and other governments knew about anomalous phenomena but denied it while secretly studying it and totally suppressing those who wanted to explore it, it is going to break what little is left of trust in governments and militaries. And, if these anomalous phenomena exist, it seems very likely that their presence is going to profoundly break human belief systems.
It is strange to stand on the precipice of history and see the possibility that the discovery of anomalous phenomena may dwarf the discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, that humans evolve, that physics is Quantum and that time is an illusion. Like a big black hole in space, the words “We are not alone” or “time is not a constant” (see Scientific American July 26th) or “reality is about frequency” all seem so simple and yet so dense with weight that we cannot imagine which human belief systems and institutions could collapse under the true meaning. The leadership challenge is almost unimaginable. First - how to explain the lie? Second – how to explain the truth? Third – how to help humanity successfully navigate in a world that might be nothing like what we thought it was.
To be clear, no one can answer the question “who or what is with us”, if we are not alone. “It” might even be aspects of ourselves. But, the efforts to discover who, what and how are clearly underway. Dr. Avi Loeb at Harvard is leading the Galileo Project which aims to avoid using any data collected by militaries so it can’t be constrained by national security concerns. Instead, “The Galileo Project research group will aim to identify the nature of UAP and ‘Oumuamua-like interstellar objects using the standard scientific method based on a transparent analysis of open scientific data to be collected using optimized instruments. This ground-based project is complementary to traditional SETI, in that it searches for physical objects, and not electromagnetic signals associated with extra-terrestrial technological civilizations. For the Galileo Project, only ‘known physics’ explanations are in scope.” Others are exploring unphysical realms of possibility which do not adhere to “known physics” at places like The Monroe Institute and Hal Puthoff’s Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin and at To the Stars and SRI. These folks have all been backed by US Government money for many decades, supported in their efforts to discover how consciousness and the physics of this new reality really work. It seems rather important that nobody involved in all this official work likes using the word “aliens”. Instead, one hears them casually speaking more and more about consciousness and interdimensionality. The idea that reality is not structured the way we think it is, or that consciousness behaves in ways that defy our understanding to date, are deeply challenging notions.
Meanwhile, the superpowers are racing for the moon. Why? All want to establish military bases and mining and manufacturing companies (here’s my Space Business Podcast from July 8, 2022, for more on all that). Humanity stepped onto the moon, but now humanity will be staying on the moon and stretching beyond the moon to other planets. The moon is seen as the easiest launch pad for explorations well beyond including Mars and even Uranus. NASA’s Administrator, Bill Nelson, is clearly worried now that China might get there first. The Chinese Academy of Sciences just confirmed the presence of water in lunar rock samples brought back by the Chang'e 5 lunar sample mission in early June this year. Nelson intimates that China will be able to shoot down US satellites from above if they get a base on the moon before the US does, a claim China calls “deeply irresponsible”. Meanwhile, the Japanese have just announced on July 11th that they are developing anti-gravity technology that will allow human habitation on the moon and Mars called “LunarGlass® and MarsGlass®”. With all these people, sensors, satellites, drones and physical assets in space, we need to ask, how many anomalous phenomena have already been observed or will be observed as we venture further into space?
This is also a narrative race. The nation that announces this new reality first may get to control the narrative. Though, in an era of low trust, deep fakes, and strong inclinations and disinclinations to accept strange and weird ideas, perhaps no government can successfully announce any of this. It feels like the US Government has already concluded they do not want to announce whatever it is. Instead, they will reveal but let others make the claims. So, who should announce this? A combination of the world’s greatest scientists and religious leaders? One can imagine scientists like Dr. Avi Loeb and Eric Weinstein, a slew of Nobel prize winners and trusted religious leaders like the Dalai Lama all together might be able to swing it. What happens if China or Russia announces it first? Both countries have their own data, experiences, and programs that are racing toward understanding as well. China is already using AI to make sense of what they have found. Either way, it is time to think like the US Navy Seals. They take three steps to make decisions. 1. Gather input 2. Decide when to decide 3. Be willing - and ready - to course correct.
Here are some questions to ponder:
1. Are government(s) just trying to scare citizen earthlings to achieve a degree of control over the population while justifying unlimited spending on space and defence? If yes, there is going to be hell to pay when the public realizes they’ve been duped.
2. Is space, as in all time and space, or as in outer space, “contested”? If yes, are the combatants the earthly superpowers and/or something else, or perhaps our own inner space and consciousness?
3. What if there is something to all this and governments spent years telling everyone this stuff, “anomalous phenomena”, didn’t exist while secretly devoting real resources to studying it, understanding it and even contacting “it”, whatever “it” is. There will be hell to pay for this as well.
4. Has technology has advanced to such a degree that “it” cannot be hidden from the public any longer or is it not the time to decide?
5. Is it a coincidence that all these efforts to change the conversation are occuring exactly at the very moment that humanity is about to begin building on the moon? Have you missed the development of the soon to launch 100-ton Starship which is basically a massive space truck for transporting stuff to and from the moon? It will be needed to turn the moon into a launch pad for exploring other planets and the outer reaches of space. The Starship looks set to carry the Danish-designed three story space habitat. NASA is also returning to the moon’s orbit as early as August with its drone spacecraft, The Orion and the Draper SERIES-2 lander for landing on the dark side of the moon. This paves the way for the Gateway Project @NASA_Gateway, which aims to build facilities that allow humans to inhabit the moon and to launch from the moon into deeper space.
All this equals a tidal wave of spending, transformational technological innovation, redefined geopolitics and exopolitics, as well as historic challenges to our conventional or unconventional understanding of reality and the future. See Alex Wendt’s 2020 Ted Talk on the breaking of the UFO Taboo and its implications for politics. Check out this comprehensive review and the New Yorker’s backgrounder as well.
If any or all of the above is true, now is the time to try and turn what may have been humanity’s greatest leadership failure into humanity’s greatest leadership success. It might also be a very good time to invest in the Space space, from outer space to inner space to the newly revived field of anomalistics, which means the study of anomalous phenomena.
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