Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos (Valencia, 1948) is one of the world authorities in the study of UFOs. For three decades he combined his work as a financial analyst at Ford Spain with a prolific research activity, reflected in a dozen books since his initiation ‘UFOs: the landing phenomenon’ (1978). Architect of the declassification of reports on unidentified flying objects of the Air Force, he has just published ‘The Reliability of UFO Witness Testimony’ (2023), a work in which sixty authors examine the reliability of the UFO witness in light of the science. In this interview, he explains the keys to the report published by NASA in which, 76 years after the vision of the first flying saucers, sixteen experts advocate investigating the phenomenon and goes further.
– NASA states that “the study of anomalous unidentified phenomena (FANI) presents a unique scientific opportunity.” Do you agree?
– It is an exaggeration from the start. It simulates assigning excessive relevance to the ‘phenomenon’ to finally propose a study program with the application of novel sensors and systems that naturally require federal funding. That is the crux of the matter.
– So we are not facing “one of the greatest mysteries of our planet.”
– That’s a little ’boutade’ from NASA. There are many scientific unknowns of greater weight than UFOs, although from a media point of view they are one of the most popular ‘mysteries’.
– What do you blame for the fact that, 50 years after the closure of Project Blue Book, Washington has become interested in UFOs again?
– Between 2008 and 2010, the US Defense Intelligence Agency maintained a secret research program that mixed UFOs, the paranormal and cutting-edge technology in aeronautical applications. This study was leaked to ‘The New York Times’ in 2017 and shortly afterward some Navy videos came to light that have garnered hysterical media attention. As a result, the Navy created a task force on unidentified anomalous phenomena (FANI). Pressure from some politicians obsessed with UFOs, supported by lobbyist journalists, led the Pentagon to establish a group for the identification of aerial objects in 2021, which finally in 2022 the Department of Defense called the Office for All Domain Anomaly Resolution. or AARO. That is succinctly the chronology of events.
– According to NASA, which entered the scene a year ago, FANIs are a threat to air safety.
– That is one of the most hackneyed arguments by those who use UFOs as a platform to obtain extra funds. Where has the risk to aviation been, not just in the United States but around the world, since the flying saucer myth began in 1947? Birds, lightning, drones, balloons, even out-of-control missiles, do represent risks to aviation, but UFOs? NASA, which speaks from hearsay, does not support this naïve statement with the slightest evidence in the form of casuistry.
– It gives the impression that it is running as the ideal agency to take on UFO research in order to obtain funds to build new satellites and equipment.
– That’s the key. NASA has found a new niche to appeal for an increase in its budget based on the UFO enigma and request generous funding from the Government. Alexander Dumas wrote that “Cherchez la femme!”; I think the current motivation is “Cherchez the money!”
– NASA highlights the importance of a residual, around 2%, of events without conventional explanation due to the poor quality of the data. Could there be anything surprising in these cases?
– Whether eyewitness observations or automated recordings, no biological or technical system is perfect. There will always be causes for not being able to identify some of the millions of alleged UFO sightings. That must be assumed. But unidentified does not mean unidentifiable. The important thing is that NASA admits that “there is no data to draw scientific conclusions”, that “the majority of observations can be attributed to known phenomena and events” and that “UFO observations do not have similar characteristics.” This last statement is decisive: the cases of alleged UFOs are an example of absolute entropy, there are no patterns, there is no consistent model. Because? Because the cases that are not resolved come from the interior space of the subject, not from the exterior space.
– The space agency draws attention to the importance of the testimonies of military pilots. However, if psychology knows anything, it is that there are no witnesses that are more reliable than others, that we are all equally unreliable.
– It is an undeniable fact that aviators make mistakes and get confused like every neighbor’s son. The thing about elite witnesses is a fallacy. And the AARO is going to demonstrate it with hair and signs. In fact, one of its preliminary conclusions is that 50% of the registered cases are balloons. This shows that on numerous occasions military pilots are not able to identify a balloon.
200 years of things in the sky
– In Washington, have they gone back in time to 1947, when they feared that flying saucers were Soviet weapons?
– Yes, we are starting from scratch. The Pentagon is reinventing the wheel. And we will see it as they publish the results of their research. We have gone from the flying saucers of 1947 to the unidentified flying objects of the 1950s and the FANI of the 2000s. The terms are adapting to the times and subtracting their extraterrestrial connotation, because there is not the slightest evidence in these eight decades of phenomenology that some sightings have the slightest connection with the arrival of beings from other planets. It is true that rival powers use drones, balloons and other aerial vehicles to spy on the United States. But it will be a small percentage of cases. They are mistakes, pure and simple. And the most spectacular events – landings, humanoids, abductions… – are inventions and mystifications.
– Visions of things in the sky have been common in the last 200 years, right?
– The panel of experts appointed by NASA has shown that it lacks the historical perspective necessary to evaluate this issue globally. All over the world, fears of aerial invasions, the appearance of mysterious or ghostly aircraft, waves of objects from space have been confirmed incessantly, at least, since 1789 in a succession of crises. The current crisis began in 1947, and the myth persists to this day.
– After more than fifty years studying UFOs, is that your conclusion, that they are a myth?
– The influence of the press, literature, cinema and television have been fundamental in the creation of the myth of extraterrestrial UFOs. There is not the slightest proof that UFO observations, even unresolved ones, have the slightest connection with ships from other worlds, universes or dimensions. That is, simply, science fiction.
– Would the UFO myth have arisen without science fiction literature?
– No. There are many studies that show the relationship between the appearance of flying saucers and the stories and illustrations in science fiction magazines and fanzines from the 1930s and 1940s, which could be precursors to certain UFO sightings.
– What questions do you have left to answer?
– After more than 55 years of research, with an intellectual position that has been evolving, as it could not be otherwise, my conviction is now absolute: there are no UFOs or extraterrestrial FANI, they are a myth. As NASA says, “Eyewitness reports are often convincing, but insufficient to draw definitive conclusions about the nature of FANI.” But we must go one step further: above observation errors, whether visual or automatic systems, there is a phenomenon that psychologists and sociologists, more than astronomers, have to study.