Congress Public Hearings About UFO

That's a good point. It therefore might be useful if they were better at communicating that what they are doing is not just a dichotomy of identified or not, where unidentified could be anything, and instead they are using a range that includes exactly identified (it was flight UA 376), characterized (it was a distant plane made to look like a triangle by bokeh) and isolated (we have this video showing green triangles, not yet sure what it might be.) Now, if they say "We have 400 reports, 50 are identified" the public impression is that they 350 possible flying saucers, whereas saying "We have 400 reports, 50 identified, 300 characterized to the level of planes/balloons/etc." there is at least a more accurate sense of the scale of the possible number of cases that could be something previously unknown, without giving away anything in terms of procedures or capabillities.

Would it be possibly helpful in drawing that distinction more clearly, and in helping folks to understand that there is an intermediate step where they/we know it was a bird, but don't know if it was a duck or an albatross, if MB adopted that same terminology and scale of "identifiedness?"

The terminological confusion boils down to the term "identify" being commonly employed in two very different contexts when discussing the UAP:

(1) The context of mitigating or eliminating a security risk (military, law enforcement, security services, surveillance, intelligence); in this context "identify" has a very specific meaning, referring to the process of determining with reasonable confidence the nature, the level of hostility and the target of each individual object as well as the potential damage caused by it.

(2) The context of explaining a phenomenon (science, news reporting, academic or amateur knowledge pursuits);

Within context 1 the purpose of "identifying" a UAP is to describe a specific object in terms of the threat it poses. Within context 2 the purpose of "identifying" a UAP is to explain the phenomenon -- a task which may or may not require as many details, or the same details, about the object than context 1. In other words, depending on the context, a different (whilst related) question is asked about the UAP that calls for a resolution (an identification).

An object may be satisfactorily "identified" within context 2 (a plane, a drone) while remaining "unidentified" within context 1 (which exact plane? which exact drone?). An object may even be "unidentified" in both contexts while resolving the specific question of extraordinary flight patterns. Several possible and known phenomena may explain unusual flight patterns (i.e. 'unusual' at a cursory glance) which can be satisfactorily demonstrated not to be physics-defying, and thereby effectively demystifying the UAP. In other words, a UAP can be satisfactorily explained as non-extraordinary without the need to identify it in either context.

In order to perform a satisfactory "identification" under context 1 (especially in the military), the exact type, role, configuration and origin of the sighted capability are important details coupled with its flight path and overall behaviour in a threatening or non-threatening manner. For example:

Type: McDonnell Douglas F-15E
Role: Air-to-ground
Configuration: Weapons-carrying with 4 Sidewinders, 2 AMRAAMs, and x, y and z air-to-ground weapons
Origin: Country X
Flight Path and Behaviour: On a descent at location p, weapons z and y hot, towards a column of 8 main battle tanks at location q.

This level of detail is obviously a tall order to satisfy with fuzzy splotches and whizzing pixels which, without supporting data, are doomed to remain "unidentified". On the other hand, sometimes an object may be justifiably deemed a threat even when it's not properly identified (but perhaps vaguely "characterized") whilst spotted during an active military engagement and demonstrating threatening behaviours within the proximity of critical targets.

"Identifying" a phenomenon in the 2nd context of "explaining" it is essentially a category mistake where a security risk assessment term is flippantly adopted and bandied about in a journalistic or scientific context. As has been pointed out earlier on this thread, it is perfectly possible to reach reasonable confidence on the generic type and character of a phenomenon (a bird, a plane, a plastic bag, a drone) without exactly "identifying" the individual object in terms of its specifics (model, make, unit, mileage, species, subspecies, age, life cycle phase, gender, product number, barcode, you pick your particular).

For improved communication with the general public it would make sense for defence spokespersons to clarify this terminological confusion by stating something to the following effect:

"Unidentified", in the military context, does not mean the military does not have a likely non-alien explanation for a given UAP. Neither does our limited public disclosure of these likely explanations imply their absence. In many cases it just means we lack a number of specific details required to complete a by-the-book threat-identification.
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How many exactly? Remove the 3 known case, that makes it 15. make it 10 cases. still a significant number for a time period of 17 months.
OK, so 10 cases of what and out of what? Is this 10 cases of "probable physical objects" that can't be identified? Remember that not only alien spacecraft, but balloons, birds, drones, atmospheric disturbances and other planes are "physical objects".

And we're still lacking something like a denominator. If it's 10 cases out of 100 flights over the course of a year and a half, that could be a concern. If, as more likely, it's 10 cases out of thousands of flights conducted by the US military over that period of time, it's about what one would expect. Over the course of all the military flights in a 17 month timeframe occasionally, something will be seen or detected, for which there is not enough data to completely identify it. I don't understand why this is so shocking to people.
and remember. you only need 1 case to be genuine.
A genuine "what"? Please define what "genuine" means.

If it's simply unidentified, it just means there is not enough data to properly identify it.
assuming intentional hoaxes are less likely in internal military reporting
they're called "exercises"
especially for recon training, the observers may be intentionally misinformed about what to expect

At 20:17 on the 8th of September 1970, a radar operator at Saxa Vord spotted an unidentified aircraft over the North Sea between the Shetlands and Norway. This required a response from the RAF station on Quick Action Alert, the 24-hour Royal Air Force air defence maintained by NATO. [...]

Captain Schaffner is said to have been pacing in the Aircrew Ready Room, waiting for his orders to intercept. The Lightning was armed with two Red Top air-to-air missiles.

Finally, he was called. He boarded the aircraft while they were still filling the fuel tanks. At 22:06, Captain Schaffner took off from Binbrook in the Lightning XS894.

A transcript was published by the Grimsby Evening Telegraph who claimed that that an anonymous source had said that it was the official transcript. It includes Captain Schaffner telling the radar station at Staxton Wold that he’d made visual contact with the unidentified aircraft.

SCHAFFNER: Affirmative it’s not actually connected…maybe magnetic attraction to The conical shape. There’s a haze of light ye’ow …it’s within that haze. Wait a second it’s turning…coming straight for me… I’m taking evasive action…a few…I can hardly…

And that’s the last anyone knew.

Search and rescue scoured the area the following morning but were unable to find any trace of the Lightning or the pilot.


The documents make it clear that the radar target was not unknown at all: it was a slow-moving Shackleton reconnaissance aircraft. The Avro Shackleton was a British long-range maritime patrol aircraft used by the Royal Air Force. The incident was not a real incursion of airspace but an exercise to practice shadowing low-flying targets at night. Captain Schaffner was meant to intercept it.

The inquiry discovered that Captain Schaffner had not been properly trained to carry out the exercise he’d been asked to undertake.
they're called "exercises"
especially for recon training, the observers may be intentionally misinformed about what to expect
Good point. I'd put that in the box next door to hoaxes, but certainly hoax-adjacent.
Which doesn't impact that a "genuine" UAP/UFO is usually (always?) a genuine balloon, plane, sensor glitch. So far, anyway.