Thursday, January 21, 2010


More UFO Report Numbers

In Billy Cox's recent blog about UFOs, he reported on some statistical crunching of UFO sightings reported to MUFON during the past ten years.

He noted:

Those kinds of numbers intrigue Kristen Winslett of Hackettstown, N.J. In fact, Winslett likes to crunch all sorts of numbers. She’s a financial analyst who, in her spare time, does field research with the Mutual UFO Network.

Winslett recently spent about 20 hours organizing the sighting reports in MUFON’s global database from 2001-2009 — 14,362 in all. And she started noticing some trends, despite major holes in the data.

Seven percent were virtually worthless, and 21 percent had insufficient information. What was really pegged the needle were the nearly 45 percent unknowns. “Statistically, in this field, you should expect your unknowns to be less than 1 percent,” she says. She attributes the spike to reports and analyses filed and conducted by what she diplomatically refers to as people of “multiple skill levels.” Which shouldn’t be too surprising. After all, Winslett says, “this is a volunteer organization.”

With the exception of dramatic dips in 2003-05, UFO reports increased steadily throughout the decade.

So, not surprisingly, MUFON UFO reports numbers increased over the past ten years, paralleling those in Canada as noted in our annual Canadian UFO Survey. The slight difference is that MUFON saw a worldwide increase again in 2009, whereas Canadian report numbers took a 40& dive in 2009 from the all-time high in 2008. (See my previous posts.)

It should also be noted that the MUFON reports do not include most of the Canadian cases. Out of the 8,500 Canadian UFO reports filed during the past 20 years, for example, only four per cent were reported to MUFON. What would the MUFON stats be like, I wonder, if these were included?

It's also interesting that Winslett had about 14,000 cases from 2001 to 2009. The Canadian database alone, for the same time period, had about 6,000 cases. Since the MUFON database is international, but contains mostly American data, it is significant that Canada has nearly half of all UFO cases in the world, at least according to these numbers. But this makes sense if we realize, as noted above, most Canadian cases never make it into MUFON files.

Part of the reason for this, of course, is that there are so few MUFON investigators in Canada, and MUFON has a negligible public presence in the country.

But Winslett makes another point that is most significant in the context of UFO report data. She found that about 45% of the MUFON reports were listed as "unknowns," and noted that (as we have found for Canadian UFO data) the percentage should really be around one percent.

I've found the percentage actually varies year to year but hovers between three and five percent most years. I've also been taken to task by those who insist that the percentage of unknowns should be much higher - possibly around 25%. Otherwise, we'd be agreeing with Blue Book and Grudge UFO statistics, and everybody knows they can't be right!

Why the oversupply of "unknowns?" As Winslett said to Cox, people submitting the MUFON UFO report forms have "multiple skill levels." That means, essentially, that most people are calling their cases "unexplained" when there are actually explanations.

Surprised? Not me. It's an issue that I've been struggling with each year when I do the annual Canadian survey. As I stated in a recent book, UFO case investigation is a lost art. UFO reports are posted to websites and labeled "mysterious" even when there's not enough information to make the claim, and in cases when there is enough information, the evidence points to a simple explanation.

The problem is that most UFO reports are not investigated. At all. I don't count a single email exchange between a witness in Florida and a website manager in California as "investigation." In the "good old days" of ufology, the half-dozen major UFO groups each had scores of ardent UFO investigators at the ready, fired up by bi-weekly meetings, field trips and frequent newsletters.

Now, a UFO witness/buff simply posts an unsteady video of a light bouncing in a black sky to Youtube, sends a note to a UFO website and it's breathlessly described as a "beamship" on dozens of blogs worldwide. No investigation needed. Anonymity is "respected," mostly because no one bothers to check into the poster or his report at all. This is investigation?

So, another statistical study of UFO reports shows there is a real phenomenon worth studying, but the data needs some serious examination. Hear, hear!

MUFON is very interested in all cases worldwide so please feel free to log you case into the MUFON web site;

If you like, please feel free to send me an e-mail notifying me of your submission and I'll be sure to follow-up for you.


Kristen Ann Winslet
MUFON Field Investigator
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?