The Mirror: “Did UFO ‘Chase’ Military Plane?” No.

Keep an eye on the news for odd events and unusual reports, and one thing you’ll notice in very short order is that there are a lot of stories that rely on video recordings, often picked up from YouTube by the high-powered, professional, probing journalists who definitely aren’t just chasing a quick, cheap story to meet a deadline heavens no.

But video is great, you’d think, because it shows that something was seen. It proves that people aren’t just making up nonsense. It’s evidence.

For example, in the Mirror “news”paper yesterday we find the story of “cameraman”, who captured the moment a military jet was overhauled by a saucer-shaped object which, unlike the jet, left no contrail, proving it was aliens.

Except it wasn’t, of course. Firstly, watch the short clip and you’ll notice that the objects are glints in the sun, indeterminate shapes at what looks like fairly high altitude. As is common with UFO videos, there’s little context to give us reference for speed or distance. There’s a glimpse of a cable pylon in the first few seconds, but otherwise the objects are alone in a blank, featureless sky.

There’s nothing to indicate the object is saucer-shaped, as claimed. Both objects are little more than points of light until the camera is zoomed in — at which point they go out of focus and become blurs, made grainy by the digital camera, and no doubt further by the video being re-rendered for YouTube. Still, misrepresenting blurred and grainy images as a definitive indication of shape or detail has a long and dishonourable history on the Internet.

What do we actually see on the video? One brightly lit object leaving a contrail; one apparently moving faster that isn’t. There’s no way to assess their relative altitude — and given the prominence afforded the lack of contrail from one of the objects, this is critical. Contrails might well occur at a fairly limited range of heights — so if one object is lower than the other this would immediately explain that aspect of things.

If the object without the contrail is lower, it might also explain why it’s apparently moving faster: it’s nearer to the observer.

So of the three central claims made for the object we can immediately demolish, well, all of them:

  • It’s saucer-shaped. No it’s not. We can’t see what shape either object is.
  • It’s faster. We can’t know. We don’t know what the respective distances from the camera are.
  • It’s leaving no contrail. If it’s not at the same altitude there’s no reason why it should.

In this case, we’re left with a UFO in the sense of an “Unidentified Flying Object”. But we don’t have any evidence of a UFO in the more popular and media-friendly sense of “an alien spaceship”.

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