The Biggest Story of 2020 Is That UFOs Are Real

Something I think about often is the way that what seems to be the most important news of an era often later ends up being overshadowed, in history’s backward glance, by another story that didn’t seem nearly as important at the time.

For example, the headline story in 1953 was the end of the Korean War, but in retrospect, the actual most important thing that happened that year was Watson & Crick’s discovery of DNA. Similarly, news in 1983 was dominated by the U.S. invasion of Grenada and Reagan’s “Star Wars” defense initiative (it was a slow year), but looking back, the January migration of the government-only ARPANET into the modern internet clearly ended up being more significant.

At first glance, 2020 might seem like an unusual candidate to end up being that kind of year, given that the dominant story—coronavirus—will obviously remain important. But 2020 was also the year of another, mostly overlooked story that I suspect might end up being even more important in the long run: it was the year we finally got confirmation from the government that there’s a lot more going on with UFOs than we’d thought.

The first inklings of this actually came in 2017, when the Pentagon acknowledged that $22mm had been appropriated from the annual defense budget—in an intentionally-obscured manner—to study UFOs. But things really came to a head in 2020.


  • In April, the Pentagon officially declassifies some UFO videos taken by navy pilots. Multiple pilots recall seeing objects that seem to defy the laws of physics. These are not your regular kooky UFO enthusiasts who don’t know what they’re talking about—these are some of the most expert pilots alive, convinced that what they’re seeing couldn’t have come from any known human technology.

  • In October, The Phenomenon, a documentary about UFOs, scores an interview with former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who says that the government has been hiding information about UFOs for years, and that while a tiny bit of that information has started to trickle out, “most of it hasn’t seen the light of day.”

  • In December, former CIA Director John Brennan appears on Tyler Cowen’s podcast and more or less says that he thinks some of the government’s UFO sightings are the result of alien activity. (Since he is, after all, a former CIA bureaucrat, his actual quote is a little more weaselly than that, but you can read between the lines: “Some of the phenomena we’re going to be seeing continues to be unexplained and might, in fact, be some type of phenomenon that is the result of something that we don’t yet understand and that could involve some type of activity that some might say constitutes a different form of life.”)

  • Also in December, the former head of Israel’s Defense Ministry space directorate claimed that humans have actually been in contact with aliens. This one seems a lot more outrageous to me, so I still think the most likely explanation is that this guy is having some kind of mental break, but he was pretty high up in the Israeli military.

Harry Reid in particular seems to be sending as many signals as he can that something suspicious is going on without violating his security clearance. Just look at this April 27 tweet about the declassified footage:

I’m glad the Pentagon is finally releasing this footage, but it only scratches the surface of research and materials available. The U.S. needs to take a serious, scientific look at this and any potential national security implications. The American people deserve to be informed.

Or this May 7 podcast interview:

We learned with the work that we did that the sightings of aerial phenomenon has not been seen by a couple dozen people, not a couple hundred people. Thousands of people. Thousands of people. We have that down pretty pat. We know that unusual things have happened over decades on a regular basis and we know that in the Dakotas, a missile launching facility has been shut down because of something over one of them basically shutting off the power to them. We know the accounts off the coast of San Diego where ships have found these unusual things in the water and it shut down the communications on the ships.

Admittedly, Harry Reid is a bit of a Nevada kook—he once choked a man who tried to bribe him, he told a reporter that Kirsten Gillibrand was the “hottest Senator,” and Martin Scorsese cited him as an inspiration for one of the minor characters in Casino. Even before all this news came out, I would have pegged him as one of the government officials most likely to believe in UFOs.

Still, we are talking about one of the all-time longest-serving Senate Majority Leaders here. And he is heavily signaling that something big is going on. It’s undeniably the case that there have been many more credible UFO sightings than we thought, and that at least a few high-ranking government officials think aliens are the most likely explanation. And 2020 was the year we found out.

When students learn about 2020 a century from now, will they be taught that it was the year of Covid—or the year that first led to us making contact with aliens?

My money is on the aliens.

Yours in pointing out that New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich is clearly the actual hottest Senator,