The Science Behind “Chasing UFOs” – Episodes 7 and 8

The Chasing UFOs team: Erin Ryder, me, and James Fox (left-to-right) interviewing Brigadier Jose Pereira. (Credit: Dave West)

Well, so I’ve gotten a little behind here on the personal blog, life’s unexpected twists and turns being what they are.  However, for completeness’s sake, I’m including links to my final two web contributions to the National Geographic Channel’s TV series, “Chasing UFOs.”

Without getting nostalgic, it’s been a heck of a ride.  Based on the content of these blogs, I think many would rightfully conclude that much of the scientific angle of the show wasn’t featured in the way I expected or would have preferred.  However, having the opportunity to engage – and more specifically – to try and deliver real planetary science content and a critical and logical scientific viewpoint to public discussions of astronomy, the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and the realities of spaceflight, is something I will forever appreciate.

So, without further ado, for those who might like to delve more deeply into (or simply know more about the science behind) the National Geographic Channel series “Chasing UFOs,” including global thermonuclear war and Brazilian UFOs, misidentified marmosets, upside-down moons, volcanoes and “dirty” lightning, and oil field interlopers from space, look no further!

Episode 7, “Alien Castaways” :

Episode 8, “Alien Baby Farm” :

Many thanks to everyone who supported me in this project, either directly or indirectly by reading these blogs.  My foray into ‘reality TV’ was at the very least an valuable education for me in the realities of TV, and at the end of the day, it was a real kick in the pants.  I had the opportunity to interact with a broad cross-section of people from around the world that I would have never had the opportunity to speak with otherwise, and hopefully as a result, at least a few were inspired to look into what we really do know about the night sky and spaceflight, and to wait just a little longer before leaping to the “It’s aliens!” hypothesis. =)

In closing this season out, I say Semper Exploro! – or, “Always Explore!”



7 thoughts on “The Science Behind “Chasing UFOs” – Episodes 7 and 8

  1. Hi Ben, contrary to many comments that I read from the ufological community, I would like to felicitate you for the efforts in this field and for having had the curiosity and interest for embarking on dodgy UFO ground. As you have surely realised it is not possible to satisfy anybody, as the supporters can be as demanding as the opponents….extremes are very much present…. Still I like the approach of the show and to go on the ground, and not only moving papers..
    Is there going to be another season ? how were the ratings ?
    Based in the Netherlands and working at ESA, I still have to watch all the shows, but it has started to be displayed here…
    I’m myself after a rational approach of the topic ( and think that there is some room of manoeuver. Based on your experience and having talk to many people, I will be interested to know your scientific views about how we can think about progressing in this field. If some astronomer (Mr Marcy) can attract 200000 USD for trying to detect dyson spheres, why not thinking of designing some equipments down here…
    Much to talk about, will send you an invite on FaceBook, and hope to hear from you. Thanks and nice week-end, Cheers, Philippe Ailleris,

    1. Ailleris,

      My apologies that this reply has been egregiously delayed. (I missed this in the bustle during the last six months. I’ve been traveling like a madman.)

      In any event, thank you for your kind words. A welcome reprieve from what seems to have been a deluge of negative feedback. The ratings, sadly, were fair but not enough for a new season – which in my opinion was a blessing, as much of my scientific content was cut in favor of more sensationalistic, “What the #$%& was that?!” moments. Hence the blogs referenced in the above post read much like “the episode that might have been” as I included much of the scientific/critical content that had been left out of the show.

      In my view, I don’t feel there is any harm in addressing people’s questions and curiosity about the possibility of alien life visiting Earth. In fact, I feel there is more harm done when the scientific community is viewed as too dismissive, as it turns earnest questioners away from the scientific establishment. However, that having been said, I myself am entirely unconvinced that anything extraterrestrial has occurred in any of the claims I’ve taken a look at. (But then again, I’m a scientist to the bone and would be no less excited if some of these reports ended up demonstrating undiscovered atmospheric electrical phenomena…)

      So, no harm in taking a look, and there is room to maneuver, as you mentioned. =) Ultimately, I feel as though the UFO phenomena’s most significant contribution might be as a science outreach hook. Time will tell.

      If I don’t hear from you in a bit, I’ll try messaging you via LinkedIn – I know we’ve since become connected!

      Thanks again for your positive sentiments.


  2. I do hope that this show gets a second series. It has gained quite a following in the UK. We have just had a sighting in Bracknell Uk that the MOD has said provided the best photgraphic evidence yet that unidentified craft are entering our airspace without our knowelege. I am hooke on chasing ufo’s. I hope that the show comes over to the UK.

  3. Hello Ben. I hope that all is well on your side and I understand that it has been very hectic for you. Thanks for taking the time to answer.
    I agree with you that if some reports result in highlighting some undiscovered stmospheric phenomena, this will already be positive and will – according to me- legitimate research in UAP.
    Concerning the UFO phenomena contribution, indeed my opinion is also that it can serve as a platform for educating people and as a science outreach hook. Thanks for putting on line your space policy papers and your recent presentation about ”Galactic deep time…”; and I took note about your statement about a missed opportunity to share knowledge. About influences of the UFO phenomena, I have covered some ideas in my ESPI paper here on line:
    Brigadier Jose Pereira and Geopolitical Tactics.

    Finally, about the statement about “Brigadier Jose Pereira and Geopolitical Tactics”, this is an interesting point but I don’t personnaaly beleive that it is correct.
    Hopefully the official operation Prato documents will be released this year, and will revela the full extent of the survey done in the Amazonian region during 1977/1978 by the Brazilian Air Force and the Brazil Intelligence Agency (SNI).

    About Pereira, I remember that during the show he answered to one question, confirming indeed that there are unidentified flying phenomena in the Brazilian Airspace. Unfortunately no further details or justifications were requested from him. But perhaps he was making reference to the events of the night of May 19, 1986; when several UAP were detected and chased by the Air Force. Time will tell, but I also think that no evidence of ET is availabe at the present stage, The first thing to do is to collect data, without favouring any specific hypothesis.

    I take this opportunity to wish you a nice summer. and hopefully some relaxing holidays.. thanks again for your open mind – I sent you an invite in FB, as it will be more easy for corresponding rather than here, or Linkedin..

    Best regards, Philippe

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