Click here to support the Daily Grail for as little as $US1 per month on Patreon

Two Years of Tic Tacs: What Has Changed in the UFO Discussion Since AATIP was Revealed?

It has been two years since the world was shaken by the ground-breaking news delivered by the New York Times, which reported on the existence of a formerly classified Pentagon-run program called AATIP, which was in charge of studying UFO military reports –or at least that was what we were led to believe… but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, what has changed as a result of these revelations?

Before we go any further, we should get a couple of things on the table: I’m fully aware of the reputation I’ve acquired due to my previous editorials related to TTSA among the younger members of the UFO research community; for those who perceive any kind of dissent or questioning which contravenes the narrative promoted by Tom DeLonge and his associates as ‘trolling’, my criticism squarely puts me in the “wrong side of history” in their eyes.

In the service of full transparency, I’ve never denied my ontological rejection of the very concept of ‘UFO Disclosure’ –never mind the fact that the term means a lot of different things to a lot of different people… just like UFOs!– because I agree with my friend and colleague Robbie Graham: Instead of empowering citizens with the knowledge that governments are aware of a non-human presence in our planet, Disclosure does exactly the opposite –it chains citizens to solely rely on ‘officially-sanctioned channels’, and on the other hand it creates the paradox that people will only believe in the official narrative they are already predisposed to believe —“this politician is telling me what I want to hear, ergo this other contradicting government response is lying!”

I have also made the effort to educate myself on the history of UFO research –Jacques Vallee’s Forbidden Science journals (vol. 1 to 4) are a must-read for anyone seriously interested in this subject– which has led me to two firm conclusions: (1) From the very start the United States government has attempted to manipulate the public perception on UFOs, and part of that manipulation has even included making people believe they know a whole lot more about it than us; that someone, somewhere deep inside has all the answers. (2) Due to the high strangeness and absurdity patently displayed by the phenomenon, it is more than likely that the biggest and darkest secret kept by the powers that be… is that they don’t really know anything about the UFO phenomenon –yes, they may have collected all sorts of juicy evidence throughout the years, yet that doesn’t necessarily mean they bothered to properly study it; or if they did study it, that they managed to understand what they were dealing with. It is this very ignorance among the reasons why Intelligence agencies have continuously attempted to infiltrate and gather data from UFO civilian groups; they did it with NICAP, APRO, CUFOS, and we now know they tried to do it with MUFON using Robert Bigelow as an intermediary.

With that out of the way, and trying to respond to my initial query –what has changed 2 years after the Dec ’17 revelations?– with the less amount of bias possible, let us look at the impartial statistics provided by Google Trends, when we search the popularity of the keyword ‘UFOs’ between the period of December 16, 2017 –the date when the NYT article “Glowing Auroras and Black Money: The Pentagon’s Mysterious UFO Program” was published– to December 16, 2019. 

What we find is a very interesting graph which shows the biggest spike coinciding with the Dec. ‘017 date, along with two more relevant rises in the use of the keyword ‘UFOs’: the first one between the period of May 26 – June 1st of 2019, which perfectly coincides with the publication of the second NYT article referring to UFO Navy sightings; and the second one between the period of Sept. 15 – 21 of 2019, which again coincides with another mainstream publication (Time Magazine) reporting on how the US Navy had officially admitted the three videos which have been promoted by TTSA (“FLIR-1”, “Gimbal” and “Go-Fast”) do indeed show anomalous objects which remain unidentified.

The map provided by Google Trends shows the United States as the country in which the use of the keyword ‘UFOs’ received more interest; this is hardly surprising, since this whole trend was started by an American organization (TTSA) through articles published by the most prestigious American news outlets, with the rest of mainstream media merely serving as a global echo-chamber.

If we change the keyword to “USS Nimitz” we obtain a similar graph, with the biggest spike at the beginning of our analyzed time period, and other rising spikes also coinciding with the aforementioned publications although not as marked as our first graph –we do find other spikes on different time periods like for example between Oct. 13-19, 2019, which coincides with the announcement that TTSA was teaming up with the US Army, for the purpose of studying physical samples of alleged non-Earthly origin, in case these materials contain properties which could be potentially weaponizable.

(Here, it is interesting to note that China is the country in which the keyword “USS Nimitz” has been more predominant during our analyzed time period)

The popularity of the keyword “TTSA” is harder to analyze, since the acronym may mean different things in different countries. But the graph does show a huge spike coinciding with the Time Magazine article of September 2019, followed by a smaller one in the next month which coincides with the announcement of the US Army partnership.

On the other hand, the keyword “David Fravor” –the most vocal witness in the UFO Navy sightings– shows a huge spike between the period of Oct. 6-12, 2019; coinciding perfectly with the interview he gave on the wildly popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast. 

The results of these analytical exercises are clear, and confirm what I’ve said in the past: To the Stars has become THE dominant force in the modern field of UFOlogy. They alone are moving the UFO narrative on a global scale. 

Now, whether they are moving said narrative toward achieving the purported goal of UFO Disclosure remains to be seen, because —as I’ve also said in the past— what we’ve been witnessing with these ‘limited handouts’ from TTSA is a kind of “one step forward, two steps back” kind of dance, due to the conflicting information which puts into question the veracity of their allegations. Jack Brewer over at The UFO Trail has done a great job fact-checking the claims made with relation to the AATIP program, and many things just don’t seem to add up with their story. 

For starters, let us go back to the spike in our graphs for the period of September 15-21 of 2019: The Time Magazine article inflamed the public’s imagination with the idea that the Navy was ‘officially’ acknowledging the TTSA videos, and most of the global media merely added to the hype  (“Navy admits UFOs are real!”); yet what few people realized is that the Navy was only breaking their silence due to the insistent queries of researcher John Greenewald Jr. who runs The Black Vault website, AND that neither TTSA nor Luis Elizondo were ever sanctioned to release them for public viewing; also throughout this past year we’ve seen Elizondo’s credentials further put into question and so far the Pentagon spokespersons contacted by Greenewald keep insisting he was never the director of AATIP. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the Pentagon is now saying AATIP’s purpose wasn’t to study UFOs in the first place!

Yes, thanks to TTSA the world is talking more about UFOs. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re getting any closer to ‘Disclosure’, or that the public opinion has dramatically swayed into accepting the existence of the phenomenon due to their partial revelations; which so far only amounts to three short black-and-white grainy videos, and vague hints that deep inside the government someone possess much more compelling evidence –including material pieces from UFOs– which cannot be released for reasons of National Security, or even discussed in depth for fear of breaking secrecy oaths.

So let us go back and continue to review in which ways the public opinion has been impacted by AATIP and TTSA, by providing a few examples of notable personalities who have made public statements about UFOs during the last 2 years. Although this next exercise will be less objective than the Google Trends one, since it is based on what I’ve perceived through my online searches and social media, it is still backed up by evidence which can be easily verified online:

Positive Impact

  • Michio Kaku: Renowned physicist and science communicator Michio Kaku has always shown a bit more open-minded about UFOs than most of his colleagues, but due to the Navy sightings he’s now much more vocal on the topic, to the point of stating that the “burden of proof” has now shifted to the government to demonstrate UFOs don’t exist.
  • Tucker Carlson: Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson has become one of TTSA’s biggest supporters in mainstream media, and for some reason the go-to guy whenever Elizondo and his associates want to give a public announcement –whether it is actually beneficial for them to count among their news allies such a controversial figure remains to be seen. Other TV news personalities like Anderson Cooper have also covered the UFO topic in a positive way –although Cooper had shown openness toward the subject prior to December of 2017.
  • The New York Times and Politico: We’ve already established the undeniable impact the NYT articles have had in the online discussion of UFOs. The fact that the late researcher Stanton Friedman used to talk about the “New York Times factor” as a reason why skeptics used to treat the phenomenon with derision shouldn’t be underestimated —“I don’t believe in UFOs because if they were real I would read about them in The New York Times!” a skeptic would comfortably tell a believer not too long ago. The Politico media company has also turned into a huge publicity asset to TTSA thanks to journalist Bryan Bender (Bender’s active participation in History’s Unidentified does put into question his impartiality with regards to TTSA’s allegations though). Other mainstream media outlets like the Washington Post have also started to toe the new party line of treating the subject more seriously, instead of the usual snark employed since the days of the Condon report.
  • Popular Mechanics: I’m old enough to remember how for years this publication used to treat the UFO subject with a great deal of skepticism. After the NYT article of Dec. ‘017 the magazine has turned more pro-UFO, and now they have even added a UFOlogist (MJ Banias) among their writing staff. 
  • Tyler Rogoway: Rogoway has been writing for years about advance avionics for The Drive’s military section The War Zone. When referring to things like Area 51, The War Zone used to make fun of the UFO topic and the ‘woo-woos’ who believe the government is reverse-engineering flying saucers in the Nevada desert –a sentiment I share, I might add– but after December 2017 Rogoway began to cover the UFO Navy sightings in-depth, and releasing a lot of important information with regards to the radar capabilities of vessels involved in these events. Rogoway is one of those rare “little ‘S'” skeptics who take the UFO seriously without adhering to the TTSA-driven narrative –he believes the pilots did encounter objects beyond normal aerodynamic capabilities, but he suspects secret experimental platforms are behind them, rather than aliens.
  • Joe Rogan: One of the most influential podcasters in the planet, for years Joe showed a lot of contempt about the UFO subject and other paranormal mysteries, after changing his stance on issues like the “hoax lunar landing conspiracies,” which he used to believe in when he was younger –the kind of reaction one often sees when disillusioned believers swing hard to the other side and turn into zealot skeptics. But this year Joe started to show signs that he was willing to give UFOs another chance, thanks to the intervention of filmmaker Jeremy Corbell, who also managed to help Commander David Fravor accept Joe’s invitation to be interviewed on his podcast –the impact of which we’ve already observed on our Google Trends graphs.
  • Deep Prassad: Prassad is something of a rising star in the modern field of UFOlogy. A young entrepreneur and an expert in the modern field of quantum computing, Prassad has been enthusiastically showing his support to the topic of UFOs in general (and TTSA in particular) through social media (a.k.a. ‘UFO Twitter’). Recently Prassad made the surprising revelation of admitting deeply personal experiences with the UFO phenomenon, and over the last few months I’ve noticed a shift in his opinion about the topic –he started out as a die-hard ‘nuts and bolter’ but now he seems to be willing to entertain more alternative ideas– and his stance towards TTSA is also a bit more nuanced –as explained to Greg Bishop on his Radio Misterioso podcast, he doubts the scientific opinion will be swayed solely through the analysis of so-called ‘metamaterials’. It is clear Prassad is determined to take a much more active role in UFOlogy during the next decade, which could have the potential to renew the field in unexpected ways; time will only tell if he does not end up crashing and burning, like so many others before him.
  • Harry Reid: The former majority leader in the Senate Harry Reid is the one who started out the AATIP program, and is the most senior politician who’s been actively talking about the UFO topic during these last two years, while also being engaged with a personal battle with cancer. Whenever some questions arise with regards to AATIP and Elizondo, Reid has intervened to try and “set the record straight;” but so far we’re still receiving conflicting information from Pentagon sources, and we have yet to see conclusive evidence which would settle these allegations once and for all.

Negative Impact

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson: The heir to Carl Sagan’s title of ‘Chief Popularizer of Science’, Tyson has followed his late mentor’s rulebook with how to deal with the UFO topic: (1) Highlight the fact that “U” stands for “Unidentified,” ergo if you ever see something in the sky you can’t explain, you have no right to conclude it was something truly anomalous and worth investigating further –even if you’re a trained, highly competent observer, like a Navy pilot! And (2) make fun of people who claim personal experiences with the phenomenon by jokingly suggesting them to ‘fool the aliens’, so they can get their hands on a ‘space ashtray’ or any object which can solidly confirm their claims. After the Dec. ‘017 revelations, Tyson doesn’t seem in any hurry to change his shtick. Neither should we expect to see any changes from other famous skeptics, like Bill “the science guy” Nye –although suggesting the Navy sightings was probably the result of “one part of the military not telling the other part what they’re up to” could be construed as a slight level of progress. At least he’s not waving his arms and making funny noises, right?
  • Seth Shostak: SETI’s senior astronomer and ‘official’ alien hunter, Shostak has in the past taken any opportunity he can get to ridicule the UFO phenomenon —“the distances are too big, bla bla bla, there’s nothing special about us which would merit paying us a visit, bla bla bla, swamp gas yada yada yada”— while at the same time enjoying the privileges of acting as scientific consultant, whenever Hollywood plans the next alien invasion blockbuster. After Dec. ‘017 Shostak is now adding new tools to his skeptical toolbox“they could be either foreign aircraft, or the Navy’s new radar equipment had glitches.” Never mind the fact that Fravor actually saw the white Tic-tac object with his own eyes, AND that the object predicted his maneuvers beforehand… but that’s when you take the dust off Sagan’s rulebook.
  • Mick West: Despite its overtly skeptical nature, Metabunk (the website owned and created by Mick West) has turned into a valuable source for the analysis and debunking of UFO-related videos. They were the first to detect that the image used by TTSA during their live-streamed launching event was nothing but a mylar party balloon, and they have also attempted to offer explanations for the Navy UFO videos which would preclude anomalous phenomena. Although it’s good that someone like West is taking the trouble of fact-checking TTSA’s claims, I also think that he sometimes takes his skepticism to unnecessary (and unproductive) extremes; incidentally, in a recent interview given by yet another witness of the USS Nimitz encounters (the pilot who actually took the FLIR video) some of West’s debunking theories were counter-debunked.
  • Elon Musk: Cybertruck aficionado and real-life Tony Stark doesn’t seem to care too much about the UFO topic; a strange stance if you think about it, since one would assume that a private company like Space-X would have been invited to bid for the AAWSAP contract along with Bigelow Aerospace (which ended up winning it) or that his powerful buddies inside the government and NASA would have warned him about the possibility of his Dragon capsules unexpectedly  running in with a ‘fast walker’. On a recent public event Musk further denied any privy knowledge about “aliens.”
  • Edward Snowden: A public hero or a treasonous spy depending on your view, Snowden has never shown any particular interest in UFOs, or whether his former bosses in the Intelligence community were hiding any ground-breaking knowledge about it. On a recent interview he jokingly told Joe Rogan he’d never found any UFO-related files on the highly classified databases he had access to, and to my knowledge he’s never talked pro or con about AATIP or TTSA.
  • Donald Trump: The commander-in-chief and most powerful man in the world –if you don’t count Putin, of course– president Trump has been preparing his reelection ever since he was sworn into office, yet the only aliens he ever mentions during his rallies are of the illegal kind. During an interview with Tucker Carlson he readily admitted he has been officially briefed by the UFO Navy encounters; but whatever information he received, it doesn’t seem to have convinced him these ‘giant Tic-Tacs’ should deserve more attention from him than his Twitter account. A shame really, because he just missed a golden opportunity to coax enrollment in the newly appointed Space Force!

Indifferent (Meh) Impact

  • Xeni Jardin: A co-founder of the highly influential Boing Boing website, Xeni once tweeted about the Navy UFO videos in order to ask for “non woo explanations.” She then has moved on to other topics like all the prestigious scientists who received money from the late pederast Jeffrey Epstein. Aliens are cool and shit, but we need to fight the pedos first.
  • Chris Hayes: Progressive American journalist and television news anchor Chris Hayes loves to cover all sorts of political scandals, but UFO Disclosure doesn’t seem to be included among them. Like Xeni, he once tweeted about the Navy videos, but what bothered him was the fact that nobody seemed to care about these seemingly historic revelations; he also touched upon this perplexing reaction on his show on MSNBC, but unlike Tucker Carlson he hasn’t continued to cover these stories. I guess ‘draining the swamp’ doesn’t give you much time to look up to the sky.
  • Ed Asner (Celebrities): I follow seasoned Hollywood actor Ed Asner on Twitter, and during this year I noticed a Tweet he sent mentioning how many people saw a UFO at the base he was stationed when he was in the Army. Asner insisted he remained agnostic about the topic, though, and I haven’t noticed any other UFO mentions from his account. I mentioned this in one of my previous articles simply as a way to illustrate the same phenomenon Chris Hayes also perceived: how despite the implications of what has thus far been revealed –one of the branches of the most powerful military in the world admits their pilots are encountering vessels that could completely outmatch them in combat– most of the world are more worried about criticizing JJ Abrams for Episode 9’s plot holes or fighting about impeachment than starting a serious discussion about the phenomenon.
  • Other Nations’ Military: So far no other country has bothered to follow the example of the US Navy with a similar admittance —“hey, our pilots see those things too! Here’s a video”— which is problematic because it impedes a global effort to tackle the subject. And if history has taught us anything is that the UFO phenomenon is too big to be fully studied by one single nation.
  • Politicians: As of today, only Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has publicly admitted his interest in UFOs, and the subject has never been brought up during the 2019 debates; that could change next year once the final Democratic candidate is selected and debates Trump, yet it remains unlikely. We also know some US senators have been officially briefed on the UFO Navy encounters, but most of their names remain secret. Until people in office dare to come out of the “UFO closet,” Disclosure will remain a pipe dream; perhaps the only way to force the hand of Washington is through public pressure, which is why the UFO community should do well in taking lessons from the LGBQT community and environmental groups.


As we have already admitted, there’s no denying that TTSA has become the UFOlogical 200-pound gorilla in record time, and that thanks to them there’s been a notable change in the public UFO discussion. Publications which wouldn’t dare to touch the topic with a ten-foot pole are now ready to embrace it –although this may also be the result of a desperate attempt to remain afloat at a time when Millennials don’t buy newspapers or watch TV news. Because of the Navy videos, the president of the United States has been forced to talk about UFOs on the record, and not while being the guest of a late night TV show.

It is impressive. But it’s not enough.

Right now it feels like we’ve reached some sort of cultural impasse in which talking about UFOs is no longer taboo, but neither are we being compelled to talk about the phenomenon with the seriousness it deserves. If TTSA is to remain King Kong in UFO land, it needs to do more than just keep talking about the same Navy encounters over and over again, because the folly of America UFOlogy is the compulsion of putting all their eggs in one basket (Roswell anyone?) and we should know by now there’s never going to be a ‘silver bullet’ case. They need to finally recognize it takes more than three grainy, monochromatic clips that only last a few seconds to sway the public opinion.

They have won the battle on the mainstream media front. Congratulations! Now they need to concentrate on the scientific front: Release of peer-reviewed papers which could be accepted by professional scientists and academics, in order to force them to talk about UFOs in the open, instead of behind closed doors like they always do.

At the same time, they need to seriously consider their tactics when it comes to responding to the questions of independent researchers with regards to their claims, and the credentials of their members. Shielding behind the backs of retired senators just won’t cut it: they need to nip the conflict in the bud and allow neutral journalists to conduct an investigation which will either confirm or deny their allegations –did Elizondo direct AATIP, yes or no? Was Elizondo sanctioned to release the Navy videos to the public, yes or no? Was AATIP’s purpose to study UFOs, yes or no? And if so, what kind of investigation did they conduct? 

And finally, may I also suggest paying attention to the other aspects of the phenomenon they have neglected so far: like the impact the phenomenon can have in the lives of the people who have had close encounter experiences with it —both negative AND positive.

King TTSA’s reign is absolute but they need to improve their act, or they will keep getting attacked right and front, and eventually they will fall from the lofty position from which they are currently proudly pounding their chest.

They also need to tell their supporters to stop rooting for a specific date for ‘UFO Deliverance’. Repeating incessantly online that “Disclosure will come in 2020” serves no one, and it cheapens your message once it is revealed you said the exact same thing in 2019; and before that in 2018; and before that in 2017; and before that… (get the picture?). I get it, young folks are desperate to “see Disclosure within their lifetimes,” but that very desperation it what makes you vulnerable to believe in empty promises.

If there’s one piece of advice I could give to the new people in the field for the coming decade is: be ready for the long haul. UFOlogy doesn’t need sprinters; it needs marathon runners.

“The CIA missed the collapse of the Soviet Union, so what are the chances they’ll understand UFOs?”

~Jacques Vallee, Forbidden Science (Vol. 4)
Mobile menu - fractal