It's not the fact that people are seeing UFOs that intrigues me, but the chap who's quoted at the end of the article. It says:
Stuart Campbell, the Edinburgh-based author of the book The UFO Mystery Solved, said: "UFO reports have all sorts of explanations - lights in the sky from aircraft to hot air balloons.
"Every mystery has a solution somewhere, everything has a rational explanation. The alternative is that we don't live in a rational universe.
"The job is to find an explanation and that can be hard work sometimes."Assuming this is actually what he said (and from past experience with the website, I certainly can't take that as read), I'm a little bewildered. What is it about the possibility that there is life elsewhere in the universe, i.e. not just here on Earth, and that such life is more technologically advanced than we are so they can achieve interstellar travel... what about that possibility is not rational? It seems eminently rational to me considering the size of the universe, certainly more so than the assumption that ours is the only planet with intelligent and technologically capable life. Perhaps he meant that other explanations were more likely, which is fine when you think of the way we frequently mistake one thing for another, and the way in which our mind fills in gaps to create a reality that may or may not be what is actually around us. But including spacecraft in the list of possibilities is certainly not irrational, merely lower down on the likely list than other things that we see every day.
Amazingly, it still looks like something I recognise clearly as not-even-close-to-science. An absolutely fascinating change in tack, though, for the writer of the article. It looks like the author(s) of this study got in touch to let them know the article was bollocks.
ETA: some of the original quotes here at Gawker, and an entry on Shakesville about this here.
And that's what's reported from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. By the BBC, our celebrated national news institution. Luckily, the NAS site doesn't list this ridiculous report in its 50 most read articles, which include actual science. The BBC, though, in its efforts to demonstrate the strength of its scientific integrity versus other sites says: "The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites". Unfortunately, it doesn't seem responsible for its own content, either.