B&W photo of a lamp-post with a 'self-parking' sign that also has a drawing of a spaceship on it.

Flying flapjack, anyone?

I learnt today that what were once referred to as flying flapjacks, but what most of us probably remember as unidentified flying objects (or UFOs), now have an even more fun-sapping title: unidentified anomalous phenomena (UAP).

The two label changes mark attempts by the United States Air Force and subsequently by NASA to be less restrictive in their definition: thus, UFO meant that objects of all sorts of shapes could now be considered, while UAP extended this to sightings made beneath the sea or up, up and away in space.

However, in becoming less restrictive both terms have become decidedly less colourful too—as the coiner of ‘unidentified flying object’, Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, himself admitted. The more recent of the two, ‘unidentified anomalous phenomena’, is also less plain in the sense of it not being easy to understand.

And that made me wonder: while generalising naturally means being less precise, does it also have to mean being less colourful and less understandable’?

Far more importantly, though—can you think of a snappier label than ‘unidentified anomalous phenomena’? If so, please let us know😁.


Photo by Michael Herren on Unsplash