• Lt. Tim McMillan (Ret.)

A Space-Based Threat?

Recently, Twitter user Paul Barnett reached out and asked a good question that I felt my answer could be of interest to others, both interested in the UFO subject, and in the topic of paralinguistic analysis.

"Hi Tim,
Have you seen this statement by Senator Richard Blumenthal in regards to the current threat in space? This clip from April 11 last year. Really interested in your take on it, given your training in body language etc. Wasn’t sure if you’d want me to ask this publicly? Happy to repeat the question publicly if you prefer. Look forward to your thoughts!"

Cheers, Paul Barnett

I imagine plenty of people can recall seeing some former FBI agent, or behavioral analyst offering their professional opinion on some celebrity or politician’s truthfulness by examining nonverbal or paralinguistic cues on a TV show or for the news media. At a minimum, most have likely heard the old adage that the direction a person looks while speaking indicates whether they’re lying or telling the truth.

Now, in light of what you may have seen or been told, robust empirical studies has demonstrated that only 2% of the time do nonverbal and/or verbal behaviors provide the sole basis for effective truth detection. Consequently, companion research consistently shows people typically have little better than a 50/50 chance (54%) to correctly detect when a person is being deceptive.

The problem with forming opinions based on paralinguistic examinations is it acts on the assumption there are established sets of behaviors that are consistent among all people. Yet, science reliably shows what we all already implicitly accept. Human beings are uniquely discrete, with each person having their own individual behavioral intricacies. Essentially, the reason Person A does something doesn’t necessarily translate to why Person B would do the same thing.

Instead, science shows there are five principle ways to effectively detect, and potentially gain, access to information someone is intentionally concealing.

  1. Assessment of the correspondence between communication and ground truth.

  2. Situational familiarity and contextualized communication content to evaluate plausibility.

  3. Situational familiarity and contextualized communication content to evaluate motivation and intent.

  4. Strategic questioning to elicit diagnostically useful communication content.

  5. Persuasion

Out of these effective principles, only three of the five techniques are ever available when attempting analyze a recorded statement. Of course, this assumes an analyst has some pre-existing awareness of the “ground truth.” In this particular case, though there are plenty of people who swear to know the real “truth,” however, objective truth is fairly groundless.

Since the goal of science is provide responses for questions of fact (solutions that can only have one correct answer) the margin for error is far too significant to allow an extraneous behavioral analysis to ever be considered externally valid.

However, investigative analysis, and its fraternal twin intelligence analysis, rarely seek to answer questions of fact. Instead, usually reliably proven methodology, most analysis is conducted in response to questions of judgement. The quality of answers to questions of judgement can vary widely, and the better understanding of an issue or problem being analyzed, the better the chances are for a high-quality answer.

In the tradecraft toolbox of an investigative analyst, an extraneous behavioral analysis can assist in issue understanding and establishment of actionable intelligence, provided one has enough situational information to afford for a comparative analysis.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Senator Richard Blumenthal’s comments there simply is too little situational information for me (or anyone for that matter) to make any assessment of his paralinguistic behavior that could reasonably be considered even with a low degree of external validity.

Now, in terms of those five principle methods previously mentioned, I could apply principles 2 and 3 to render a conceivable estimate for the basis of Sen. Blumenthal’s comments. Estimate would be as follows:

As a of the Armed Service Committee; the timing of his recorded comments (April 11, 2019); and the fact he was speaking with then acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan; known evidence would suggest Sen. Blumenthal was referencing information provided in the classified annex of the “Challenges To Security in Space” report that was provided by the DIA on February 11, 2019.

While conventional conflict with the United States poses a significant challenge to any potential foreign advisory, the ability to disrupt space-based capabilities affords an asymmetric ability to disrupt and destabilize American military dominance. As the DIA’s unclassified report notes, adversarial nations view America’s dependence on space-based systems to be the “Achilles heel” of U.S. military power that can be exploited to achieve potential conflict objectives.

Both China and Russia currently possess, or are trying to develop, counterspace capabilities such as, space-based kinetic kill vehicles, space-based lasers, hypervelocity rod bundles, space-based radio-frequency energy weapons, space maneuver vehicles, and air-and-space global laser engagement systems.

In context, disrupting or destroying U.S. global satellite systems, could have a devastating effect. Air travel would be grounded, global business would grind to a halt, food supply chains would begin to breakdown, and essentially countless things we take for granted, and have become increasingly dependent on, would suddenly cease to exist. Just examining the recent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, it doesn’t take a huge leap to consider that rather quickly public order could break down and chaos ensue.

Ultimately, any worthwhile analysis seeks to examine known evidence and information to help form a judgement on a broader unknown issue. A huge pitfall of analysis comes from trying to manufacture evidence to fit an existing predisposition to a specific issue.

Based on this, I think it would likely be erroneously subjective to consider Sen. Blumenthal’s comments may have had anything to do with Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) issue now being discussed by the Department of Defense (DoD).

One key point of known information that could be worth considering when it comes to your specific question here is, to date, neither Lue Elizondo, the DoD, or any of the politicians who’ve gone on record as having been briefed on these events, have ever said UAP is a space-based issue.

In fact, there’s yet to be any publicly offered information that connects space with UAP… Maybe something worth considering when examining the whole topic…

Tim McMillan is a retired police lieutenant and investigative intelligence analyst; and holds BA's in mathematics and cognitive psychology. Primarily, focusing on the Defense and Intelligence Communities, he now uses his unique background, coupled with a willingness to examine any mystery, to deliver groundbreaking investigative reporting. Tim is a contributor for The War Zone, Vice, and Popular Mechanics

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© Lieutenant Tim McMillan All Rights Reserved by The Raziel Group LLC