The much anticipated 2022 UAP report is a disappointment. It certainly fails to fulfill the wishes of UFO enthusiasts seeking "disclosure" of the government's secret knowledge regarding UFO propulsion and possibly their pilots. But it's also disappointing for people seeking some clarity on if there's actually anything significant behind the story.
The majority of the report details procedural issues, talking about which departments are involved, and plans for better reporting and investigation. That's great, but what about the actual investigations?
The only data there is contained largely on page five, where the numbers are broken down in a way that will certainly be misinterpreted as evidence of large numbers of amazing craft flying around our airspace. It does not say that, but it is unfortunately ambiguous in its language, allowing people to project their own interpretation based on their preferences and their needs to sensationalize things.
There's some hard numbers, and some soft quantities. Let's start with the hard numbers
- 0 Transmedium Objects. There's no mention of anything flying into water or space.
- 0 Health effects from UAP encounters. "there have also been no encounters with UAP confirmed to contribute directly to adverse health-related effects"
- 144 UAP reports from the ODNI preliminary assessment (the first "UAP report") prior to March 2021
- 366 new UAP reports (119 were prior to March 2021, 247 after)
The 144 original UAP reports are basically ignored here, which is a shame because they probably include the Nimitz, Gimbal, and GoFast cases - i.e. the three famous Navy videos. Early reporting by ABC News and the New York Times included Pentagon officials saying that Gimbal and GoFast had been partially characterized as a sensor issue for Gimbal's famous rotation, and a parallax illusion for Go Fast. Yet there's no hint of that in the Report. The Pentagon has the opportunity to stop the speculation there, and they should do so.
The 366 new cases are broken down into:
- 26 Unmanned Aircraft Systems (i.e. Drones)
- 163 Balloons
- 6 clutter, such as birds, weather events, or debris like plastic bags.
- 171 "uncharacterized and unattributed" (a bit less than half, 47%)
Those are all the hard numbers. Where the room for speculation comes in is with the soft quantities:
- Some of these (171) uncharacterized UAP appear to have demonstrated unusual flight characteristics or performance capabilities, and require further analysis.
- Many reports lack enough detailed data to enable attribution of UAP with high certainty.
- A select number of UAP incidents may be attributable to sensor irregularities or variances, such as operator or equipment error.
- Multiple factors affect the observation or detection of UAP, such as weather, illumination, atmospheric effects, or the accurate interpretation of sensor data.
The most likely misinterpretation of these loosely quantified statements will be to claim that 171 cases are unidentified and show unusual flight characteristics. In fact it's only some of that group of 171. The actual number is unknown. Knowledgeable sources describe it as "a small number", but won't tell you what that number is. 2? 20? It's frustratingly unclear.
It's also unclear in the "many" reports that lack good data, what number of them are also in the "unusual flight characteristics" group. This is perhaps the crux of the matter. Is there good data that clearly shows something amazing? Or are all the "interesting" cases only tantalizingly interesting because they are all in the LIZ, the Low Information Zone that characterizes all UFO reports.
Ultimately we have a small number of cases that may or may not show unusual flight characteristics and may or may not have sufficient data to demonstrate this and that data may or may not come from operator error or equipment error which may or may not have been affected by multiple factors.
We do know that all the accurately characterized objects turned out to be mundane objects, with the majority being balloons. So it's pretty safe bet that a significant portion, if not all, of the remaining cases are similar, but simply lack sufficient information to make a characterization.
There's no smoking gun here. There's the inevitable reality of UAP studies that there will always be cases that are just beyond the reach of resolution or even basic characterization. The LIZ, the Low Information Zone, can be pushed back, but it can never be eliminated. Perhaps one day a UFO will emerge from the LIZ, but there's no available evidence that has ever happened, and if that evidence exists then there's no hint of it in this report.