Ever since the news about U.S. Navy encounters with tic-tac shaped UFOs broke and made its way into the national zeitgeist, the mainstream media has been tearing into the subject in a way that was previously never considered acceptable. In some ways, this is great news for those curious about the subject. In others, perhaps not so much. While searching for various “UFO experts” to interview and develop background details for such coverage, all manner of people, topics and stories have suddenly been thrust under the spotlight, some with less plausibility than others.

Today I wanted to point your attention to a great, in-depth article at Motherboard by Tim McMillan that takes a deep dive into one of these figures. His subject is Bob Lazar and a particularly remarkable set of claims that have been made by and about him. (I’ll get to my rant about this at the bottom.)

I’ve been familiar with this story for more than a decade, but for those who have never heard of Mr. Lazar, you can just Google his name and begin a dark dive down an almost limitless number of rabbit holes. But to make an extremely long story very short, here’s the thumbnail version. (You will get a much lengthier history in McMillan’s article if it strikes your fancy.)

Back in 1989, Bob Lazar emerged into public view, claiming to have worked for years at a top-secret facility attached to Area 51 in Nevada. His job there, he said, was to study and attempt to reverse engineer alien technology in the form of a recovered UFO. (He claimed to have seen as many as nine of them lined up in an underground hanger.)

Many of the claims Lazar made about his life and background turned out to be either inaccurate or unprovable. No official corroboration of his claims of working at the base (to say nothing of working on extraterrestrial UFOs) ever surfaced. But since you can’t prove a negative, it wasn’t exactly possible to prove that he wasn’t what he claimed to be, either. He gained quite a following in the UFOlogy field, along with many detractors.

Bob eventually became the subject of a film by Jeremy Corbell called Bob Lazar: Area 51 & Flying Saucers. Without making any comment on the validity of the subject matter, I’ll just say that it’s a pretty good overview of the entire Lazar story if you weren’t already familiar with it. But one key element of the story involves a claim that the FBI raided Lazar’s place of business while they were making the film.

Lazar owns a small business named United Nuclear Scientific. He deals in some rare and exotic chemical compounds. This is key to the story because Lazar has long claimed to have worked with a mysterious substance called element 115 which is supposedly an incredible power source used to run the UFOs, brought here by aliens. (It’s presumably supposed to be a stable form of moscovium created “elsewhere.” No trace of it has ever been produced and verified for the public.)

So in the film, the FBI raids United Nuclear and searches the place. We are led to believe that they are looking for the secret stash of element 115 that Bob claims to have taken from Area 51. But could it be true? There must be records of such a raid, right? Here’s where we go to McMillan’s report. It turns out there was a raid of Bob’s place, but the FBI wasn’t searching for stolen alien fuel. They were working on cracking a murder case.

According to months worth of incident reports obtained by Motherboard, the 2016 raid on United Nuclear was part of an ongoing and extensive murder investigation that includes state, local, and federal authorities. The documents make no mention of element 115.

According to reports written by Michigan State Police Sergeant Detective Thomas Rajala, the events leading up to the search of United Nuclear began in late 2015 with the mysterious death of 31-year-old Janel Struzl. Rajala says doctors concluded Rajala was poisoned and died of “thallium toxicity.” Colorless, odorless, and tasteless, thallium sulfate has been described as “the poisoner’s poison” due to the substance’s high toxicity and difficulty to detect.

Thallium is most often used in the manufacture of electronics, as well as in glass manufacturing and the pharmaceutical industry.

It’s just such a bizarre tale. Lazar dealt in thallium and someone had died of thallium poisoning and they were investigating where it came from. (Lazar wasn’t implicated in the murder, by the way.)

In any event, this reemergence of Bob Lazar in the public conversation as the media pays more and more attention to all things UFO-related should serve as a reminder of something that’s been bugging me lately. Seeing all of these different players in the UFO space showing up in the midst of the TTSA and tic-tac stories just makes me feel like the story is being dragged down yet another series of murky rabbit holes.

Here’s the premise I’m operating on. In short, just because the tic-tacs appear to be real, that doesn’t mean that suddenly everything is real.

Serious coverage of the Nimitz encounters doesn’t mean that Bob Lazar worked on an antigravity engine in a UFO. It doesn’t mean that Phil Schneider got his junk shot off during a gunfight with a bunch of aliens in a secret underground base. It doesn’t mean that the voices in your head are really coming from a Light Being living on a planet in the Sirius star system and you should just stop taking your medicine. It doesn’t mean that Bigfoot is real. (Okay… Bigfoot actually is real, but that’s a subject for another column.)

When dealing with the ongoing investigation into what’s now being revealed by the government, let’s stick to what we actually have in front of us. We have videos, radar tracks and the credible testimony of Top Gun military pilots and Navy veterans. And there may be more actual evidence to come, possibly in the form of certain exotic metamaterials currently being looked at by TTSA and the Army.

So do we know if this all adds up to aliens yet? No, we don’t. But it’s an intriguing question deserving serious study. If, however, we allow the coverage of these questions to dive into some full-blown conspiracy theory festival, the serious coverage of these questions is going be tarnished and likely evaporate, turning into little more than yet another endless Reddit thread. As far as today’s story goes, I can’t prove that what Bob Lazar claims is impossible beyond an absolute shadow of a doubt. But unless he produces some element 115 or wheels out one of those flying saucers he claims to have climbed around on, let’s focus on what we have in front of us today and try to wrestle that to the ground.