Friday, April 30, 2021
The Metamodern UFO (or UAP) (or USO) (or UAO) (or whatever)
No, I'm not at all surprised that there is a lot of hype surrounding the US Navy and Pentagon UFO comments.
Even though the "pyramid" UFO video (actually it shows a triangle, since it's in two dimensions on the screen) looks identical to an imaging artefact caused by the equipment aperture, many UFO fans and zealots are defending it, arguing that the Pentagon wouldn't say it was a UAP if it was just a mistake.
Sure they would.
In fact, if you look at what the Pentagon spokesperson actually said, it makes sense:
"I can confirm that the referenced photos and videos were taken by Navy personnel," Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough said in a statement distributed to numerous media outlets.
"The UAPTF [Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force] has included these incidents in their ongoing examinations."
Nothing in that statement suggests in any way that the video is unexplained. The fact they were filmed by Navy personnel means only that the people filming them likely didn't hoax them.
At the same time, there have been a flurry of posts recently from people in various UFO newsgroups, podcasts, on Facebook, and other social media, all advancing some of the most absurd theories and UFO claims.
The Jackhead UFO crash hoax reared it ugly head again, much to my chagrin. Billy Meier. Bob Lazar. All suddenly in vogue again after being shown to be false or at the very least dubious many years ago.
It's because of metamodernism.
As I noted several years ago:
Ufology today is riddled with religiosity. Most UFO conferences and conventions boast slates of lecturers on spiritual contact with aliens, telepathic communication across the galaxy, healing with crystals, and how to "raise consciousness."
Since then, "hard science" ufology has been relegated to the back seat, and populist ufology almost always has a core of mysticism and "New-Age" beliefs. It's ironic, as UFO groups such as MUFON are trying to rebrand as more scientific organizations, all of this at a time when metamodernism is dictating that a more religious version of ufology is surging in popularity.
Modernism is a mindset and cultural code that is formed during the emergence of modern science and the Enlightenment (thus, it has been around for ~300 years). It emphasizes reason and rationality, the power of science in deciphering foundational truths about the universe, capitalism, and the idea of human progress. It also emphasizes individuality and universal human rights. Most "modern" industrial societies are primarily organized by these values and codes.
The postmodern viewpoint offers a skeptical critique of modernist knowledge and concludes that the knowledge we generate is always contextual. The postmodern argument is that there is an inevitable fusion of truth with social power.
Metamodernism reconstructs things by joining their opposing elements in an entirely new configuration rather than seeing those elements as being in competition with one another. If postmodernism favored deconstructing wholes and then putting the resulting parts in zero-sum conflict with one another—a process generally referred to as “dialectics”—metamodernism focuses instead on dialogue, collaboration, simultaneity, and “generative paradox” (this last being the idea that combining things which seem impossible to combine is an act of meaningful creation, not anarchic destruction).
Examples of metamodernism include a "remix" in current music, "modding" a video game so it plays differently, and a "reboot" of a film. In other words, you take what has been established and do what ever you want to it so as to make it something personal. The original "true" and "accurate" version is immaterial.
Such is ufology today.
It seems as though there is no longer any "truth" to seek in ufology. If you believe aliens dressed as nuns left the secret underground base in Nevada and walked through Las Vegas undetected, that's your prerogative. If you think the Galactic Federation has contacted you personally, that's fine. If your thoughts can vector incoming spacecraft, so be it. If you say your video shows the flight of transmedium UAPs, that's alright too.
Nothing I can say or do can possibly shift you from any of those views or claims, regardless of any evidence that exists to show you are in error ("wrong") or that your belief is false, even if your own evidence is disputable or comes from doubtful sources or it has alternative possible explanations.
See? Nothing is true, but conversely, nothing is false.
As some mainstream media reported today:
The past week alone has featured increasingly ridiculous false claims issuing from the right. There's the one about the Biden administration taking away Americans' hamburgers. And the one about the White House giving gift bags with the vice president's book to migrant children -- that one was effectively retracted by the New York Post and the reporter resigned, saying she was forced to write a false story.
This problem of "true" and "false" may seem just a thought exercise, but it has implications for science and engineering.
Just imagine if an engineer building a bridge did not need to accurately calculate a load bearing limit. Or if the brakes on your car were "more or less" installed properly. If a service technician thought that the specs in the car's manual were wrong, that could be disastrous.
So in ufology, if rigorous scientific analysis and use of methodology are not considered authoritative, or if someone's conflicting opinion that a UFO photo has an explanation is viewed as unimportant, then that's the metamodern approach.
In effect, anything goes.
Tuesday, April 20, 2021
The Venusians giveth, and the Venusians taketh away...
And just like that....
Monday, March 29, 2021
The 2020 Canadian UFO Survey
Yes, the 2020 Canadian UFO Survey is now out. To view it, visit Ufology Research.
It turns out that 2020 was an exceptional year for UFOs, as well as being a strange year for all of us because of the pandemic.
Here are some highlights:
There were 1,243 UFO sightings recorded in Canada in 2020, an increase of 46 per cent over 2019. Despite the pandemic and lockdowns, this was one of the highest total numbers of UFO reports recorded in a single year since the annual Canadian UFO Survey began in 1989.
Data showed that during the early stages of the pandemic, during the first quarter of 2020, UFO report numbers surged significantly from 151 in 2019 to 259 in 2020. As the pandemic took hold in Canada in the second quarter of 2020, UFO report numbers surged to 354 cases, up from only 222 in 2019. This trend continued throughout 2020.
There are now more than 22,000 Canadian UFO reports in the Ufology Research database, just from 1989-2020. (A project is underway to document Canadian UFO reports previous to 1989.)
In 2020, about 13 per cent of all UFO reports were classified as unexplained, but more than 26 per cent had definite explanations. The remaining cases had either possible explanations or insufficient information for evaluation.
In 2020, Ontario led all Canadian provinces with 30 per cent of all Canadian UFO reports, up from 20 per cent in 2019, followed by Quebec (24 per cent, down from 2019) and BC (17 per cent, unchanged from 2019).
Manitoba was the only other province that showed a decrease in UFO reports from 2019, from 78 to only 42 in 2020.
Maritime provinces had a dramatic increase in reported UFO sightings, rising from 39 reports in 2019 to 130 in 2020.
Since 1989, Ufology Research (formerly Ufology Research of Manitoba) has solicited UFO case data from known and active investigators and researchers in Canada. The goal has been to provide data for use by researchers trying to understand this controversial phenomenon.
2020 marked the 32nd year of collecting and analysing Canadian UFO report data by Ufology Research. With some gaps in data, tables of most Canadian UFO reports included in the annual surveys from 1989 to the present are available online.
The most obvious indication of something being unusual in 2020 UFO data is the distribution of cases over the year. The double peak in April and August is particularly striking.
Was this because of COVID? Or was it because of several factors such as Starlink satellite launches combined with the lockdowns? One suggestion, that it was because of media attention to the "Tic Tac" UFO story and the impending US Intelligence report on UFOs, would be reasonable, but that would not explain the sharp drop in June reports. Besides, it is known that current UFO reports are not necessarily linked to current media, but often precipitate reporting of older experiences.
It's also interesting to compare Ufology Research data analyses with other studies. American ufologist Cheryl Costa, for example, has been doing fine work by crunching UFO data as well. What's curious is that her graph of monthly UFO report numbers is very different:
Specifically, while the April peak is in the US data, the second August peak that is in Canadian data is absent. Costa notes that the March/April American peak is due to: "the result of COVID lockdown giving people more leisure time, a known driver of sighting reports."
Another difference is that Costa notes: "usually the 4th of July spike dominates the chart. In 2020 there weren't as many fire works events scheduled due to shutdowns." Yet Canada's national holiday featuring fireworks is in July as well, and showed high numbers of reports.
Clearly, some other factors are involved in the variances in Canadian UFO report numbers and the differences between the two countries.
Of all the 1,243 reports recorded in 2020, while about 13 per cent were classed as Unexplained, when looking only at Higher-Quality cases with high Reliability, the field was narrowed considerably.
The following are the best of the bunch, mostly in the witnesses' own words. Some might have simple explanations despite their classifications:
Higher Quality Unknowns in Canada in 2020
2020 1 23 1700 Toronto ON c1 180 silver 1 other 8 4 NUFORC u
"7ft long UFO came within 5ft and folded in on itself"
I was shoveling snow on my balcony when I saw something in my peripheral vision. When I looked up it was about four or five feet away from me, levitating above a roof. It was about 7 feet long, silver on both sides with two black (not sure how to describe them) at each end. Almost like camera shutters. It had no noise at all. I stood there staring at it and the one side kind of folded... I went to the end of the balcony to get a better look and it was gone, or I couldn’t see it.
2020 1 23 2303 Guelph ON nd 1 cylinder 7 5 MUFON u
"2 craft escorting another cylinder shaped craft"
I saw a plane with 2 bright lights following it. I know planes do not travel so closely together so it caught my eye. As the plane moved I identified it because of its flashing lights. I tried to see if the other object had flashing lights — they didn't. The plane started to go in a different direction and then the other objects traveled alone. The one in front turned into two and the one behind “went off” and I saw a massive circular object as if it was being escorted by the two in front. I pulled my phone out and managed to get a pic of the two in the front. They were moving at least 4 times faster than the original plane had been. I tried to take a video but the objects were so fast moving they disappeared heading in the direction of Kitchener from Guelph.
2020 2 3 1506 Whistler BC nd 600 2 cylinder 8 3 NUFORC u
"tube shaped snow formation" with tan disc shaped ufo going in and out"
We saw a tubelike snow formation with the sun shining through from behind. We took a photo and later upon examination there appeared to be saucer shaped objects flying into the formation as well as bright pink spots of light. We were on top of Backcomb Mountain looking down after exiting 7th Heaven chairlift.
2020 2 3 1630 Cochrane AB nd 15 grey 2 triangle 7 5 NUFORC u
"triangle shaped craft stationary, spun in spot then disappeared"
Driving with my son westbound on RR 262, I noticed a grey pie-shaped object in the sky out of my driver side window. I alerted my son to look at it and he spotted it right away. As I was driving, I had my attention divided between the road ahead and the object in the sky to my left. I took four or five 2-3 second glances at the object, which seemed to be standing stationary in the sky. The object began to rotate, appeared to turn black then disappeared. After it turned black I looked away to check the road and when I looked back it was gone. No trail, nothing. Very clear sky with high visibility and ceiling. I have binoculars in my truck which I quickly passed to my son earlier on in the sighting, and he struggled to find it through the binoculars, but he watched for the first 10 seconds or so. The object was triangular in shape. It looked proportionately like a thick piece of cake.. The tail end was also “v” shaped or possibly described as a shallow chev! ron shape when observed from directly below. There were no windows, lights, lines or markings on the objects surface and the edges were all rounded. Within 1 min of us seeing the object we witnessed a military plane flying in the direction of our sighting.
2020 3 25 2015 Sparta ON nl 120 1 ps 7 5 MUFON u
"pulsating light that moved erratically and reappeared in random positions"
Just as I was at the crest of the hill leading down into the valley, and before descending down into the valley, a bright streak of a light caught my eye. I later realized that it appeared as a streak because the light was fairly slowly pulsating as it appeared, and my movement made it appear as a streak. But then I stood still, anticipating seeing the light appear again, as is usually the case with evenly-timed flashing lights of an overhead airplane passing by. But it took longer for me to see the light reappear than any aircraft I've seen before. When it did reappear (about 2-3 seconds later), it was in a different location than I would've predicted. I expected it to be farther along a straight flight path because of longer timed intervals, but it actually appeared in an entirely non-predictable location somewhat farther to the left. At least 2 or 3 seconds later, the pulsating light reappeared again but farther to the right and somewhat higher (the light seemed to be moving away at a low angle, so I expected it to reappear somewhat lower, not higher, the next time it reappeared, if it was following a straight flight path leading away from me). There was another non-uniformly timed interval before the pulsating light reappeared again, and again in a random position that my mind would not have expected if it were following a straight flight path. This pulsating light gradually brightened when it appeared and then gradually faded, which took approximately 1-2 seconds maximum in total time during each I saw it appear. I estimate that I saw the pulsating light appearing and disappearing in unexpected random positions, and at random time intervals between pulsations (intervals between pulsations ranged between 3 - 6 seconds); pulsations occurred approximately 8 different times. And then I did not see the light reappear again at all, and it if was an aircraft, I would definitely have continued to see the aircraft's light continue to flash, consistently, quick-flashing, and for a much longer duration, before it traveled beyond visible distance. But this randomly somewhat gently-pulsating, random positioned light just suddenly stopped reappearing in the plain open sky.
2020 3 27 2100 Ottawa ON nd 2 white 1 boomerang 7 5 MUFON u
"boomerang ufo with brightly lit tips and dimmed circular center travelling fast through the sky"
I was standing on my balcony looking at how bright the moon was tonight. Then I looked away from the west towards the north and I saw this object that appeared to me to be boomeranged shaped, with a light at both tips. The center appeared as if there was a dimmer circular light about twice the size of a tip. It flew as if gliding in a straight line going much faster than any plane I’ve ever seen. I was gone in the North in one instant.
2020 4 18 132 Innisfil ON nd 900 red 1 triangle 7 5 MUFON u
"triangle shaped formation with red light in the center flying low"
I was driving West, not far from home and on a side street that has farmland all around, so it’s very dark. From behind the trees came this white light in the center and reddish lights in a triangular formation pulsating back and forth and then pulsating from the center light. The direction it was headed was South. It was flying low and the reddish orange lights seemed fixated to the center light, but didn’t appear attached. It disappeared behind the trees on the South side of the road, but I was curious to see more, so I drove past my street to where there’s an elevated bridge. I stopped at the bridge and the lights continued to fly low in the South direction. It disappeared over a distant hill and that was the last I saw it.
2020 4 22 2200 Saskatoon SK nl 60 1 ps 7 5 MUFON u
"2 lights moving at horizon, then moved together and abruptly disappeared"
I saw two star-like lights meandering on the horizon. At first I thought they were airplanes, but the movement was shifting left right, in a coordinated manner. After about 15 seconds, the two lights moved together towards the east and abruptly disappeared.
2020 4 22 2325 Red Deer AB nd 5 black 1 rectangle 7 8 MUFON u
"rectangle craft came down out of clouds (had green/yellow lights under it)"
Stepped outside and saw two satellites moving to the SE directly above Red Deer Alberta. Suddenly, a light caught my eye moving rapidly from SE to NW. Sighting was approximately five seconds. Absolutely clear view of an object moved into low sparse cloud and disturbed the cloud as it passed. The object was rectangular, grey/black in color, with two large lights facing down. The lights were not particularly bright, yellow/green in color but proportionately very large compared with the rectangular object. The sighting took about five seconds, and was a very clear image. I have 20/20 Vision.
2020 5 22 2237 Barrie ON nd 300 white 1 ps 7 7 MUFON u
"Bright object moving SW"
At first I was looking into the sky towards the West from my backyard patio and saw a bright object moving SW with pulsating a bright white light. Then it disappeared and reappeared travelling in the opposite direction NE and it moved upward vertically and disappeared while pulsating. I was very excited and asked it to show itself for my wife to see, but my wife left. I then re-entered the house and just a moment later I went out on the backward patio again and there it was again showing up pulsating light like never before. I waved and got more response by light pulsation.
2020 5 26 2215 Tottenham ON nl 600 multi 1 ps 7 5 MUFON u
"star like light moving in erratic way and flashing different colours"
Star sized flashing red and green object with no specific pattern. Could be red for 1 min then flash green and red then be green for 1 min. Saw it at about 45 deg over the horizon due south. Then moved straight north to then veer southeast to a full stop for a few minutes. Then it started to go north to disappear and reappear going north and then started to go S. It stopped in the North at about 45 deg above the horizon. I tried to take a picture with my phone but was way too small to be captured. I tried to zoom but was just a big blur.
2020 7 24 2011 Pickle Lake ON dd 2 irregular 6 7 TC u "
"obj. 3 feet in diameter passed over right wing of aircraft; nothing on radar"
The pilot of a North Star Air Ltd. aircraft from Thunder Bay, ON (CYQT) to Sachigo Lake, ON (CZPB) reported an object passing over their right wing, approximately 3 feet in diameter. No traffic on radar in the vicinity.
2020 8 30 2030 Ottawa ON nd 3600 2 boomerang 6 6 NUFORC U
"dark boomerang shaped object with lights hovered then slowly moved away"
I saw a blinking light, similar to strobe light. At first I assumed it was a plane or a helicopter, but after a minute or so, the light didn't move. Only the blinking light was visible. The object was in a clearing between the clouds. During dusk, it was still pretty bright, so I took my binoculars an looked at the source of light. I saw an object, dark in color, chevron shaped. Facing me with one side, blinking light in equal time intervals . Looked like the object had the same light on the other side of it. Smaller lights were visible on the bottom of the object, changing colors from green to blue and purple. My wife witnessed the object as well and confirmed the shape and lights. After around 20 min hovering in the same spot, 70 degrees above the horizon, the object began to move Westbound.
Results of this study show that many people continue to report unusual objects in the sky, and some of these objects do not have obvious explanations. Many witnesses are pilots, police and other individuals with reasonably good observing capabilities and good judgement.
Numbers of reported UFO sightings remain high. Several theories for this can be suggested: more UFOs are present and physically observable by witnesses; more secret or classified military exercises and overflights are occurring over populated areas; more people are unaware of the nature of conventional or natural objects in the sky; more people are taking the time to observe their surroundings; more people are able to report their sightings with easier access to the Internet and portable technology; or even that the downturn in the economy is leading to an increased desire by some people to look skyward for assistance.
Although the largest percentage of reported UFOs is simply lights in the night sky, a small number are objects with definite shapes observed within the witnesses’ frame of reference.
Popular opinion to the contrary, there is no incontrovertible evidence that some UFO cases involve extraterrestrial contact. The continued reporting of UFOs by the public and the yearly increase in numbers of UFO reports suggests a need for further examination of the phenomenon by social, medical and/or physical scientists.
Images of UFOs representative of what are seen and photographed by witnesses
March 8, 2021, Ontario
Posted by R.E to Facebook group: UFOs Above Canada
September 23, 2017, Alberta Beach, Alberta
Posted by R.T to Facebook group: UFOs Above Canada
2020, Northern Ontario
Posted by T.F. to Facebook group: UFOs Above Canada
December 4, 2020, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Posted by Y.D. to Facebook group: UFOs Above Canada
Thank you to organizations and individuals whose data were included in the Canadian UFO Survey. Many cases were posted originally to Facebook groups such as UFOs Above Canada and PEI UFO INFO.
Special thanks go out to those who assisted in the production of the Canadian UFO Survey: Geoff Dittman, Ashley Kircher, Jason Carignan, and Sarah A.
For further information, contact:
Ufology Research via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, December 19, 2020
UF HO HO HO
So, as I was going through so UFO case stats, I realized that over the years there have actually been quite a few reports from around Christmastime.
Sure, that invokes the old joke about people seeing a bright red light flying over rooftops on Christmas Eve, and how NORAD really does do some remarkable public service with its Santa Tracker every year.
But in terms of actual reports, given that there are about 1,000 cases in Canada every year, it should not come as a surprise that there are reports of UFOs at Christmas. In fact, going through just the Canadian UFO Survey database from 1989-2019, I found 75 sightings reported as having occurred on Christmas Day alone. Most, of course, were simple lights in the night sky.
Globally, there have been some significant UFO cases at this time of year. Just before Christmas 1978, the Kaikoura lights were seen in New Zealand. There's Rendlesham, which started with a sighting on Christmas night into Boxing Day, with lights seen at 3:00 am on December 26, 1980. And Betty Cash and Vicki Landrum were having trouble finding a Bingo hall that was open that same year in Texas and ended up having too close of an encounter with a hot UFO. And in 1985, Whitley Strieber first reported being haunted by catlike aliens in his New York home just after Christmas.
Out of curiosity, I have pulled together a select list of Canadian UFO cases from the Christmas season.
Shortly after midnight around Christmas 1977, a man was driving on the Alcan Highway and was about 10 miles north of Whitehorse when a brilliant light flashed across the sky overhead. It was bright enough and seemed so low that a fire truck and an RCMP vehicle drove into the ditch to avoid it. There were numerous witnesses, including the tow truck operator who said that the object “buzzed” cars on the road and then took off along the highway.
The Father of the family (CRM5) was watching television when he noticed a long row of lights moving in the distance through a window facing northeast. "I thought it was a jumbo 747! But I listened for sound, but nothing!" The father called the rest of the family to have a look. They were all amazed! Getting close to Christmas, the 3 children, of whom the eldest was six years old, thought that it was Santa Clause and his reindeer. The UFO consisted of "four big balls of light in a row" red-yellow in color with " a little bit of blue". At the left and right side of this row of lights were smaller lights that were orange and green (see drawing by the mother, CRM6. The UFO was slowly drifting from left to right, "it looked pretty low, just over the trees" and was about 2 feet at arms length in size in the sky. There were also what appeared to be white sparkles dropping away from the base of the larger lights. They were dropping at an angle to the left, consistent with the UFO moving to the right.
(Of course, as Ted Molczan noted, a rocket booster re-entry was occurring at that exact time and location.)
Or what about the UFO seen over Chilliwack. BC, on Christmas 2008, at 10:20 pm. Witnesses saw a starlike light like a satellite moving from the south and travelling north, but it then did a “loop-de-loop” and went back the to the south again, all within about 25 seconds.
In 2010, a woman in Thompson, Manitoba, said she saw three unexplained reddish orange lights in a triangle in the sky on Christmas Eve for close to an hour between 7 pm and 8 pm She said: “My boyfriend came running into the house yelling at us to come look at the sky… When me and my mom got outside we saw three reddish orange lights in a triangle that looked the same size as stars. Then after about a minute the middle light fell and faded, then the first light faded. I ran inside to grab some binoculars and when I got outside the last light wasn't there anymore.”
On Christmas Eve in 2012, a couple were driving near Kanata, Ontario, at about 11:30 pm and stopped their truck to watch a square object with glowing, pulsating red lights moving soundlessly to the northwest for three to four minutes.
And on Christmas Day, 2017, at 1:30 am, a witness was driving between St-Jovite and St Faustin in Quebec when a flashing object “like a photo flash” was seen approaching. When the object flew directly over the car, the witness reported: “I saw this triangular shape and it seemed to have three turbines below it. I could see one of them very well and I make out the turbine’s metal or steel spokes,” Once it had flown overhead, the witness looked in the rearview mirror, but the object had completely disappeared.
And as if to ring in the New Year, early on the morning of December 31, 1997, with the temperature hovering at -40C, a bright white light was seen moving northward over Resolute Bay at an estimated altitude of 400 feet and speed calculated by the airport manager as between 400 and 500 mph. The witness told investigators: “Nothing flies here at that speed, and especially not at 3:00 am. We live in a very small isolated community!”
I'd be remiss, however, if I didn't mention the remarkable case from New Year's Day 1980, in Duncan, BC. It was profiled in a documentary about UFOs a few years ago, and remains one of the classics. Doreen Kendall and Frieda Wilson were two nurses working together on the night shift in Cowichan District Hospital at Duncan, British Columbia, on New Year’s Day, 1970. At about 5 am, they saw a domed saucer hovering just outside a window, with two humanlike pilots working at an instrument panel.
Best wishes of the season, and Happy New Year, to all humans and extraterrestrials.
Saturday, December 05, 2020
"Trust me, I'm an astrobiologist"
“I’m not Chevy Chase, and neither are you.”
With apologies to those who don’t understand the reference to a classic Saturday Night Live gag, let’s just leave that there for the time being.
In one of the most disappointing published articles by an astronomer to date concerning UFOs, Dr. Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy, University of Arizona, states that since he has not personally seen any evidence that aliens are visiting Earth, UFOs are nonsense. Furthermore, his research on the subject has indicated that “UFO belief is associated with schizotypal personality, a tendency toward social anxiety, paranoid ideas and transient psychosis,” implying that belief in UFOs is congruent with aberrant behaviour overall.
Impey claims to be an a UFO agnostic, which is a step in the right direction, but doesn’t seem to be at all well versed in the subject of UFOs. Of course, this is what is to be expected from an academic who is editorializing on a topic outside his field of study. In fact, The Conversation is a non-peer-reviewed vehicle for academics to present opinions and viewpoints in a way to get coverage by subscribers, who are mostly media, and thus published widely without having to wait for months or years to get accepted in scholarly journals. Thus, Impey, solely because he is an academic (The Conversation does not accept articles from non-academics) can state things that would otherwise not get published.
This is obvious because in his editorial, Impey makes a number of outlandish and unsupported statements about UFOs that are patently and factually incorrect. In his own field of astrobiology, it would be as if he stated that there was no evidence of water ever flowing on Mars, without providing and references for the statement and ignoring reams of research that say otherwise.
The most appalling example is his statement:
“The majority of UFOs appear to people in the United States. It’s curious that Asia and Africa have so few sightings despite their large populations, and even more surprising that the sightings stop at the Canadian and Mexican borders.”
His source for this statement appears to be an animated map that used data from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) based in the United States. He seems to be unaware that social and cultural factors could influence the emailing of UFO reports to a single American website. He is also sadly unaware of many published studies of UFO reports in other countries, particularly the Canadian UFO Survey that has now been available for more than three decades. This shows that Impey’s research on the subject is cursory at best and more likely nonexistent.
It’s amazing to me that a distinguished scientist who has demonstrated a thorough knowledge of the scientific process would even attempt to publish an article in without an adequate study of the subject at hand, but this is actually common in academia regarding the subject of UFOs. Impey’s first statement belies his rather inflated opinion of his knowledge when he states:
“I’m an astronomer and I think aliens may be out there – but UFO sightings aren’t persuasive.”
This tells us a few things: first, his opinion of his expertise in the field of astrobiology is unparalleled, and second, that he is unaware that ufology had moved away from bug eyed aliens many years ago.
Impey equates UFOs with alien spacecraft, and therefore since he has personally not seen any evidence that aliens are visiting Arizona, they must not exist. And what’s more, his opinion is paramount to others’ views on the subject because of his status in the scientific community. There is no use offering an argument against him, because he has weighed all the evidence and it is all in his favour.
This is, unfortunately, proof of the adage that the late UFO advocate Stanton Friedman noted at his many lectures, as held by debunkers and the scientific community at large: “Don’t bother me with the facts; my mind is already made up.”
Impey further shows his lack of understanding when he writes:
“Most UFOs have mundane explanations. Over half can be attributed to meteors, fireballs and the planet Venus. Such bright objects are familiar to astronomers but are often not recognized by members of the public.”
For this, he cites an article by Ian Ridpath, who himself cited Allan Hendry: “…just over half of all identified nocturnal lights were accounted for by astronomical causes: stars, planets, meteors, the Moon, artificial satellites, and satellite re-entries.”
That’s a bit misleading, and quite selective. While most reported UFOs are nocturnal objects, this ignores a large body of data of daylight sightings of objects that are structured or have characteristics unlike mere lights in the sky. It also ignores unidentified nocturnal lights, of which there are many examples. And why mention Venus specifically, when Jupiter and Mars are generating UFO reports in the fall of 2020?
Without any context, Impey also states: “Reports of visits from UFOs inexplicably peaked about six years ago.” (His citation for this is again a secondary source that used NUFORC data.) What does that mean? It seems he is implying that UFOs are waning as a topic of discussion, although the current increase in media and public attention proves this otherwise.
Studies of UFO reports have found that there was indeed an anomalous peak in number of UFO reports in 2012 (not 2013 or 2014 as Impey suggests) but the data actually shows a reverting of report numbers back to the gradual increase that has been noted for decades (c.f. http://www.canadianuforeport.com/survey/essay/2019surveyessay.pdf).
As well, Impey’s choice to use the term “visits from UFOs” again demonstrates his disdain for the subject and his narrow view that UFOs are assumed to be alien spaceships.
As a final example, Impey states: “[UFO] Sightings concentrate in evening hours, particularly on Fridays, when many people are relaxing with one or more drinks.”
Oh dear, that old standard: UFO witnesses are drunk.
In fact, Impey’s source is again a mocking opinion piece (based yet again on NUFORC data): “They seldom disturb earthlings during working or sleeping hours. Rather, they tend to arrive in the evening, especially on Fridays, when folks are sitting on the front porch nursing their fourth beer, the better to appreciate flashing lights in the heavens.” (https://www.economist.com/united-states/2014/06/28/everything-you-need-to-know-about-ufos)
It’s disheartening that I would have to explain that, from literally hundreds and perhaps thousands of interviews with UFO witnesses in which I have participated, absolutely none were involving inebriated persons. And in a review of just the UFO reports in the files of the National Research Council of Canada, it was found that a large percentage of witnesses were on-duty constables of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police or members of the Canadian Forces, including pilots.
Amazingly, Impey tries to prove he actually has an open mind on the subject of UFOs by concluding his opinion piece with a review of the current state of SETI and stating: “…I don’t think belief in UFOs is crazy, because some flying objects are unidentified, and the existence of intelligent aliens is scientifically plausible.”
The paradox of his accepting that some UFOs are unidentified after lambasting UFO witnesses and mocking belief in UFOs as a kind of religion is truly remarkable. He’s simply not persuaded that UFOs are alien craft based on what he has read, which seems rather limited at best. He is apparently unaware of the multitude of excellent theses and articles published in peer-reviewed publications about UFOs.
Impey doesn’t even bother to address the present-day discussions in ufology surrounding recent American military admissions of investigations into UAPs and eyewitness reports by pilots and other reputable persons. His vague review of the subject is enough to justify his sharing an opinion on the subject with the world, as he is a distinguished scientist, after all.
And you’re not.
Monday, October 05, 2020
No need to exaggerate numbers of UFO reports
Yes, Virginia, the number of UFO reports is higher during the pandemic.
As someone who has been studying UFO report data for many years, I have seen fluctuations in yearly and monthly trends, and changes in the characteristics of the objects reported over time. I have made this data available for anyone to examine since the late 1980s, and I have worked with investigators, researchers and organizations to publish an annual Canadian UFO Survey that tabulates and breaks down the data for easy consumption.
Rarely, however, have I been asked by media or journalists about my research. Pop culture dictates that media darlings attract more interest than anyone presenting facts and doing critical analyses.
But recently, I was asked about news stories that either suggest UFO reports have increased during the pandemic or that such an increase is “greatly exaggerated.” Which is right?
Since 1989, details about UFO reports in Canada have been solicited from all known and active investigators and researchers for analyses and comparison with other compilations. Before that time, individual researchers usually maintained their own files with little or no communication to others. Even today, it is known that some representatives of major UFO organizations often do not regularly share or share case data, and some parent organizations do not do much analyses with the data they do receive, although this is changing.
Ufology Research of Manitoba (now Ufology Research) conducts a systematic collection of raw UFO report data in Canada and prepares yearly reports for general circulation. We believe the dissemination of such data could be of great advantage to researchers in the hope of better understanding the UFO phenomenon.
Statistical studies of UFO data are not without their limitations and problems. Allan Hendry, formerly of the Center for UFO Studies, in his landmark book The UFO Handbook, pointed out flaws in such studies and asked: “... do UFO statistics represent a valid pursuit for more knowledge about this elusive phenomenon, or do they merely reflect frustration that none of the individual reports are capable of standing on their own two feet?” (1979, p. 269)
Hendry asked six questions of statistical ufology:
1) Does the report collection reflect truly random sampling?
2) Have the individual cases been adequately validated?
3) Are apples and oranges being compared? Are NLs necessarily the same kind of UFO as DDs?
4) Are differing details among cases obscured through simplification for the purpose of comparisons?
5) Does the study imply the question: “Surely this mass of data proves UFOs exist?”
6) Do the correlations really show causality?
The Canadian UFO Survey was undertaken with these and other critical comments in mind.
For the annual Canadian UFO Survey, UFO reports were obtained from contributing investigators’ files, press clippings and the files of the National Research Council of Canada (NRC). The NRC routinely received UFO reports from private citizens and from RCMP, civic police and military personnel. Included among the NRC reports are many observations of meteors and fireballs, and these had been added into the UFO report database since 1989. Many of the reports were obtained via email and online newsgroups, and when social media became widely used, reports have also been received via Facebook, Youtube and Twitter. Finally, some declassified documents of the Department of National Defence contain reports of unusual objects in Canadian airspace, and these also have been included in the database.
The number of UFO sightings officially reported each year in Canada throughout the past 25 years was initially comparatively small. In 1989, 141 UFO reports were obtained for analysis and in 1990, 194 reports were recorded. This yearly number has risen over the years to around 1,000 reports each year. As of 2019, the Canadian UFO Survey has run 30 years, 12 years longer than Blue Book officially existed, and has more than 21,000 UFO reports as data, several thousand more UFO reports than Blue Book itself.
As noted, one trend that I have been reporting on for a few years is that the number of UFO reports in Canada has risen steadily during the past 30 years, but may have plateaued in about 2013, remaining around 1,100 reports per year. The past few years has seen a definite drop in cases, and 2019 actually recorded only 849 reports.
[NB: As can be seen by the data and analyses presented in the annual Canadian UFO Survey, most UFO reports either have possible/probable explanations or have insufficient information for evaluation. Very few are left unexplained, and even these don't mean that aliens are visiting Earth.]
A graph of more than 30 years of data shows the general increase over time, as well as fluctuations and peaks in report numbers.
One aspect of the Canadian UFO Survey is that data are tabulated and the statistics run in the early part of the following year. Usually, results of the annual study are posted in about March of the following year. In 2020, for the 2019 survey, the pandemic delayed the production until the summer. The analyses of the 2019 data showed a decrease in the number of UFO reports over 2018, the previous year.
However, by summer 2020, there were stories in media that UFO cases had increased during the pandemic, while others said they had not done so. I decided to look at the first half of 2020 for case numbers to supplement the 2019 results. I was surprised to find that the claims of an increase appeared true.
A comparison of MUFON report data for Canada during the first half of 2020 with that of the same period in 2019 showed a distinct increase.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Total
2019 16 28 21 10 25 25 125
2020 23 24 35 46 43 25 196
There were 71 additional cases in Canada reported to MUFON between January and June of 2020 than in 2019, or an increase of about 57 per cent.
Yet in an article in Astronomy magazine it was argued that the increase in UFO reports during the pandemic is “greatly exaggerated.”
When overall MUFON UFO data was examined, it was found that:
There were about 3,800 cases reported between January and late September of this year, which is a roughly 20 percent increase compared to 2019.
This was for all UFO reports, both national and international, and for all reports submitted during that time, not just occurring during that specific period.
Steve Hudgeons, MUFON international director of investigations, was quoted in media:
“It's not really that alarming. It fluctuates a lot,” says Hudgeons, who admits to fielding many questions about the subject this year. “I wouldn't say there’s a large increase at all.”
But they say that level of annual variation is normal for their dataset. And, in fact, reported cases have mostly been declining in recent years.
There’s no question that annual UFO report numbers go up and down from year to year. However, even 20 per cent could be significant. And more than 50 per cent of an increase in the case of Canada appears significant. Why would Canada be different?
The writer for Astronomy magazine also looked at UFO reports as noted in the database of the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), which is another source of data for the Canadian UFO Survey.
“…most of the news stories written about the rise in sightings have taken their numbers from another online reporting site called the National UFO Reporting Center. Like MUFON, they've been collecting accounts of UFO sightings for nearly half a century, largely through a phone hotline and, in recent decades, an online form.
“Back in April, they [NUFORC] received more than twice as many reports compared to the same month the prior year. But those numbers happened at the height of lockdowns, at the same time a sensational news story was published in The New York Times that revealed previously classified footage of UFOs captured by American fighter pilots. But soon after, their reported sightings returned back to 2019 levels-which were significantly less than they were just 5 to 10 years ago.”
The implication here is that the NYT story precipitated the rise in UFO reports in NUFORC’s database. The problem is that this is very selective.
Let’s look at the NUFORC data for the first six months of 2020 versus 2019:
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Total
2019 349 219 328 389 543 477 2305
2020 604 604 808 1036 556 359 3967
As noted in the Astronomy article, April reports in 2020 for NUFORC were very high compared with 2019, in fact not just “more than twice as many” but closer to three times as many. And yes, that was the month that a public relations firm helped advance the US Navy media story about the USS Nimitz UFO videos.
But as can be seen in the full data, the increase in UFO reports in 2020 began in January, with almost twice as many that month, and nearly three times as many in February, all before the media blitz in April.
If you look at NUFORC data in January to June 2020 compared with the same time period in 2019, there is an increase of about 72 per cent.
Now, have UFO report numbers fallen back to “normal” levels since then? Yes. But was there an increase in UFO report numbers during the pandemic? Maybe.
Lockdowns in Canada did not occur until March 2020. During than month and April 2020, MUFON UFO report numbers in Canada increased from 35 during the same period in 2019 to 89 in 2020.
But the NUFORC data showed large increases in UFO reports beginning in January, long before the reality of the pandemic was really felt in the USA. So it would not seem that the increase during the first quarter of 2020 had anything to do with the pandemic.
Rutkowski hopes the reason there’s a spike in UFO sightings during the pandemic is because Canadians are getting outside more, working from their backyards and appreciating nature.
“It’s a beautiful sky out there and there’s lots of opportunities to see some things,” he said.
Note that my explanation has nothing to do with aliens or extraterrestrial spacecraft, although the Astronomy article mocked UFO sightings in the context of wishful UFO fans reporting “alien encounters.”
The facts are that UFO report numbers have increased during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether there is a causal relationship between the pandemic and objects observed in the sky remains to be seen. (Pun intended)