Writing design

I want to believe. I know, I should write about hot… | by Kim Bellard | May 2022

I I know, I should be writing about hot topics like monkey pox or formula shortages, but come on, Congress held hearings last week on UFOs – the first in 50 years! I mean, I followed Project Blue Book in the 1970s, watched “The X-Files” in the 1990s, and saw UFO videos on YouTube. If Congress is starting to take UFOs seriously, how could I not?

And for those of you who don’t see any possible connection to health care (except for those nasty alien probes…), let me tell you this: by 2050, is it more likely that:

· We will know what UFOs really are;

· We will have thoroughly reformed the American healthcare system.

I thought so.

The congressional hearings featured Ronald Moultrie, the Pentagon’s undersecretary of defense and intelligence, and Scott Bray, deputy director of naval intelligence. Mr. Moultrie insisted: “we want to know what exists, just like you want to know what exists”, and Mr. Bray confirmed: “I can’t wait. I want immediate understanding as much as anyone else. They testified and answered questions in open and closed, classified sessions.

Turns out there weren’t any huge reveals. The Pentagon has compiled some 400 reports of encounters with Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP, the term the Pentagon prefers because the objects may not be physical). “We know that our soldiers have encountered unidentified aerial phenomena,” admitted Mr. Moultrie.

There have been 11 “near misses” with US military pilots, but reportedly no collisions. No shooting at (or from) them, no communication and no wreckage. That being said, the UAPs displayed surprising abilities, including high speeds (with no visible means of propulsion), rapid acceleration/deceleration, and hovering. Officials said they don’t believe anything points to non-Earth origins, but they’re also skeptical that alien adversaries have the advanced enough technologies to account for it.

Officials showed video of a “spherical object” passing in front of an F-18 – not easy to do! – and Mr. Bray conceded, “I don’t have an explanation of what this specific object is.”

Our military aircraft take years to be designed, engineered and built; they are extremely expensive (and often out of budget); they take highly skilled people to operate them; they are surprisingly fragile; they are beholden to the military-industrial complex. They are the most sophisticated of their type in the world, but these UAPs pass by them like a Ferrari passing in front of a tractor.

It is feared that UAPs tend to be seen around aircraft and military bases, but then again, the military also tends to be careful of observation and has advanced capabilities for such observation. “We don’t want potential adversaries to know exactly what we see or understand,” Moultrie said coyly.

Officials and lawmakers agreed that it could be helpful if there was a central way to compile civil reports. We mostly have military reports because that’s what’s been gathered, since the military has stepped up its own reporting since its June 2021 report to Congress. At present, however, the two officials stressed, we have “insufficient data”. Mr Moultrie said: ‘So we have a data problem.

So, maybe UAPs are, indeed, aliens. Perhaps a John Galt-type character has formed his own collective of “mind men” to create new technologies for his own use. Maybe it’s just swamp gas. What we do know is that we don’t know (yet).

What intrigues me is that they seem way beyond our abilities, beyond our comprehension. They mystify us. They make our technology look outdated. They sometimes seem to defy the laws of physics. Astrobiologist Hagg Misra said Scientific newsMaybe they’re a sign of something like new physics.

This, my friends, is thrilling.

I like to think that UAPs were built in a teenager’s garage, using off-the-shelf materials in a new way, driven by that teenager and his buddies on the go. Whether that garage is in Des Moines or Alpha Centauri, I don’t care.

I like things that put us in our place, that remind us that we don’t have all the answers, that open our minds to the realization that there is still much to learn. I remember the famous physicist Lord Kelvin who, in 1897, lamented: “there is nothing new to discover in physics now”. That was, mind you, just before the theory of relativity and quantum physics.

Moral of the story: if you think you know how our healthcare system works and what constraints it must have, maybe you should be open to healthcare NAPs – unidentified alternative possibilities.

In “The X-Files,” Fox Mulder’s unspoken (but not unspoken) mantra was “I want to believe.” It turned out that there was have been UFOs, extraterrestrials have been among us, and there been an alien/government conspiracy. Sometimes being the only believer isn’t crazy.

Mulder and Scully. Credit: Chris Carter/The X-Files

I want to believe in a health system that is radically cheaper, much more efficient and that respects health equity. I’m all for any new physics – or, I guess, new biology – that helps us accomplish this health system.

I’m waiting for the pill that fixes genetic defects, the harmless beam that destroys incipient cancers, the relentless nanobots that prevent strokes and heart attacks. I want the kind of health care I see in science fiction.

In today’s healthcare system, such miracles would find the pill extremely expensive, the side effects of the beam so severe they could outweigh the benefits, and the nanobots susceptible to hacking. Instead of technology being so advanced that it is indistinguishable from magic, as Arthur Clark said, in health we get magic that promises too much, delivers too little, and costs too much.

Our healthcare system is very much like those military aircraft – slow to change, incomparably expensive, highly technical, dependent on skilled operators, disturbingly fragile, and deeply indebted to the medical/industrial complex. I hope a health care UAP outsmarts them like a child on a ride.

I don’t want everyone to suddenly believe in UFOs, nor do I want anyone to assume that their technologies are beyond our capabilities. I want us to let them open our minds to the possibilities they suggest.

Likewise, many observations suggest that our healthcare system could be much better, but we will need true believers for that to happen. Are you one of them?