UFO UpDates
A mailing list for the study of UFO-related phenomena
'Its All Here In Black & White'
Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Nov > Nov 1

Percentage Of UFOs That Are Unknowns?

From: Chris Rutkowski <rutkows.nul>
Date: Wed, 31 Oct 2007 16:16:18 -0500 (CDT)
Archived: Thu, 01 Nov 2007 11:12:51 -0400
Subject: Percentage Of UFOs That Are Unknowns?

In reviewing the debate that has ensued regarding the "true
percentage" of UFOs that are classified as "Unknown", I must say
that I am puzzled by the exchanges, and the attacks on me and my

Some have invoked the figures and statistics offered by eminent
ufologists who laid the foundation for "modern" ufology, namely
Hynek and McDonald. Is the percentage of "real UFOs" as high as
25%? 40% or as low as a few percent?

There's even some odd controversy about labeling the data as
"UFOs" instead of "unidentified aerial object" or something a
bit more obtuse. We've been accused of calling case reports UFOs
when witnesses only report odd lights in the sky.

I have to set the record straight because this is getting out of

First of all, Ufology Research collects Canadian UFO reports and
does some simple statistical analyses on the data every year in
order to get an idea of the demographics, trends and
characteristics of the reports.

We call the reports "UFO Reports" because that's what most are
called _before_ we get them. They're labeled as "UFOs" by the
websites which post witnesses' sighting reports and they're
called "UFOs" by official government sources. I can't believe I
have to remind anyone on this List that UFO simply means
Unidentified Flying Object and does not necessarily eman 'alien

As for witnesses not calling them UFOs, I find that few
witnesses who contact Ufology Research directly call them
anything other than that. Certainly some call them things like
"odd light in the sky" or "something that didn't look like an
aircraft", but we don't assume they are talking about aliens at
the outset. Just unidentified objects.

We then go through the several hundred reports thus obtained,
coding them for data analyses and evaluating them based on the
information contained in the case reports or narrative
descriptions we receive. If a report is well-investigated (and
very, very few are) it allows us to suggest explanations for it
based on the information. For example, a starlike light hanging
in the night sky for two or three hours is very likely a star or
planet, and we will often give such a report a "possible" or
"probable" designation. It's actually very difficult to justify
a "fully explained" label unless it's a series of fireball
reports that come from a wide area and coincide with a meteor
shower or are associated with a sky-camera video of a fireball
at that exact time, for example.

If a sighting involves the observation of an object with some
structure, seen maneuvering unlike a plane or meteor,
investigated well, with multiple witnesses at close range, I'd
call that a "high-quality unknown". Cases like that are
relatively rare. It's those that constitute the "few percent" of
all UFO data in a given year.

If you look in our annual Canadian UFO Surveys (and apparently
some people do), you see that we have about 15% of the cases
listed as "unknowns" every year. These may include reports of
structured objects that sounded like they were not planes, but
the witnesses were vague in their descriptions or were not
contacted by investigators directly. Maybe accurate directions
were not available, or there were inconsistencies in the report.
If so, they're "unknowns", but not "high quality unknowns".
Obviously, if there are enough concerns with the report, the
case gets labeled as "insufficient information".

Where's the problem with this kind of analysis? We're not making
assumptions about the objects seen, their origin in- or outside
our Solar System, or about the colour of aliens' skin. We're
looking at data using an appropriate methodology. We're refining
our procedure every year, and making more data available for
anyone to examine.

So where's the beef?

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



[ Next Message | Previous Message | This Day's Messages ]
This Month's Index |

UFO UpDates Main Index

UFO UpDates - Toronto - Operated by Errol Bruce-Knapp

Archive programming by Glenn Campbell at Glenn-Campbell.com