Let me be blunt: the chance of an alien species evolving, developing intelligence with the physical characteristics that allow them to make fire and use tools, evolving to the point at which they can travel through space (obeying nature’s speed limit), crossing immense distances, and just happening to reach Earth at a time that we, too, are starting to explore space is, within any reasonable rounding error, ZERO.
At this point, some might say, “But Les, you are now underestimating the effect of deep time! Science and technology are advancing at an amazing pace. Who’s to say that ET hasn’t found a way to tap the quantum vacuum energy (or some other breakthrough). Look how much we’ve accomplished in the last 500 years—maybe the extraterrestrials are a thousand years ahead of us technologically.”
My conclusion is unchanged. Look at the odds. It wouldn’t make a difference if they were 50,000 years ahead of us technologically. The odds of them being here, now, and with a technology that we would recognize are too small to worry about. Might such a super civilization have visited the Earth in the past? Perhaps. If so, then it is far more likely that they arrived to find an Earth populated with dinosaurs and not human beings.
“Nature’s speed limit” is the speed of light. Sci-fi writers have long postulated “hyperdrive” and “warp drive,” etc. as plot devices, to keep their spaceship crews from dying of old age in the course of a short story, but we are a long way from moving a physical space ship faster than the speed of light—and other cultures, if they exist, might not have crossed that barrier either. (All movie spaceships have nifty artificial gravity too—how?)
So what about “raw, unmediated ufology“? What is happening with these people who report such experiences?
Rule out hoaxes, misunderstandings (I’ve had those), and deliberate deception.
I favor the Jacques Vallée explanation. Perhaps “they” have always been here. Sometimes they tell us that they came from another planet, but it is more likely that they are inside the walls of our houses—or other spaces that appear larger to them than they do to us.