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The 2011

CANADIAN UFO SURVEY:

an analysis of UFO reports

in Canada

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

Compiled by

Geoff Dittman

and

Chris A. Rutkowski

 


Data Sources:

 

Yukon UFO

UFO Updates

Saskatchewan Provincial Paranormal Research Centre, Inc.

Para-Researchers of Ontario

National UFO Reporting Center

Filers Files

UFOINFO

UFO*BC

UFOS North West

Alberta UFO Study Group

Mutual UFO Network

Houston, BC, Centre for UFO Research

UFO Watch

Ufology Research

Transport Canada

National Defence and the Canadian Forces

YouTube

Centre Etude dOVNIs (Quebec)

NOUFORS

OVNI-QUEBEC

PSICan

OVNI-Alerte

Sightings.com

 

 

Editor

Chris Rutkowski, Ufology Research

 

Data Entry, Compilation and Analyses

Geoff Dittman, Ufology Research

 

 

Published by

Ufology Research

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

 

© 2012 Ufology Research


The 2011 Canadian UFO Survey

 

Overview

 

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. No comparable studies are currently produced by any other research group in North America. Similar programs exist in several other countries such as Sweden, where UFO report data is analysed by the Archives for UFO Research, and in Italy by Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici.

 

2011 marks the 23rd year of collecting and analysing Canadian UFO report data by Ufology Research.

 

UFO data from 1989 to the present is available online at: http://survey.canadianuforeport.com


The 2011 Canadian UFO Survey: Summary of Results

 

·         There were 986 UFO sightings reported in Canada in 2011, approaching three each day.  This is near the record for numbers of reports in one year, when 1,004 reports were received in 2008.

 

·         Ontario had an all-time record high number of UFOs reported in 2011. In fact, the percentage of reports in Ontario compared with the rest of Canada has been increasing steadily during the past ten years.

 

·         In 2011, about 11 per cent of all UFO reports were judged unexplained. This percentage of “unknowns” falls to less than one per cent when only higher-quality cases are considered.

 

·         There is an average of two witnesses per UFO sighting.

 

·         The typical UFO sighting lasted approximately 11 minutes in 2011.

 

The study found that more than half of all UFO sightings were of simple lights in the sky. Witnesses also reported point sources of light, spheres and boomerangs.

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.

 

For further information, contact:

Ufology Research,

e-mail: canadianuforeport@hotmail.com

Twitter: @ufologyresearch


Is it Meaningful to Collect UFO Report Data?

 

Is there any value in collecting and analyzing UFO report data? Polls by both professional and lay organizations have shown that approximately ten per cent of all North Americans believe they have seen UFOs. Given the population data available, this implies a very large number of UFO reports. In North America, this means more than three million Canadians have seen UFOs, and more than 30 million Americans. If UFOs are trivial and non-existent, as some claim, then one might ask why such a large percentage of the population is labouring under the delusion of seeing things that are “not there.” If, on the other hand, UFOs represent a “real” phenomenon, the data should be examined for insight into its nature. In either situation, it can be argued that UFO reports deserve and merit serious scientific attention. In general, the public equates UFOs with alien visitation.  However, there is no incontrovertible proof that this is a real connection.

            Another question that might be asked is: “Do collections of UFO report data really represent what is being seen by witnesses?” This is a valid concern, and something that has been voiced in several UFO-related forums. If, for example, analyses show that most UFO reports are of orange objects, does that that mean that most UFOs are orange, or only that most reported UFOs are that colour? Or, if most reports are found to have explanations, does that mean that most UFOs are misidentifications?

            Ufologist Brad Sparks has raised some good points in earlier discussions. In 2007, he noted:

 

Most 'UFO' witnesses do not report a quote "UFO" or "flying saucer" or "alien spaceship."

 

The UFO label is slapped on by the agency or the Ufologist collecting the report. Most witnesses report quite correctly and neutrally an "object" or a "light" and not a quote "UFO". These are indeterminate sightings and they constitute the vast bulk of all sightings. They are not UFOs. The witnesses do not even say they are 'UFOs', for the most part, and the witnesses are not required to be the PhD scientist investigators of their own cases - except by debunkers who then seize on the witnesses' failure to produce PhD-level lab reports on their sightings.

 

By [J. Allen] Hynek's definition, published back in 1972 (and even earlier but anyone can get hold of his classic 1972 textbook of Ufology, The UFO Experience) a sighting is not classified as a 'UFO' until after it has been scientifically and competently investigated first.

 

If cases are passed through the Hynek screening then most of those cases will never be explained as IFOs.

 

http://www.ufoupdateslist.com/2007/jun/m16-003.shtml

           

The UFO reports collected and analysed in this annual survey are the only data upon which Canadian studies of UFOs can be reasonably based. As UFOs are a worldwide phenomenon, the results of analyses of Canadian UFO reports can easily be applied to cases in other countries. In effect, this is the empirical data for research in this field. If one wants to know what people really are seeing in the skies, the answer lies within these reports.

 


 

The Investigation of UFOs and the Collection of UFO Data

 


Many individuals, associations, clubs and groups claim to investigate UFO reports. Some solicit reports from the general public. Comparatively few actually participate in any kind of information sharing or data gathering for scientific programs. Some are primarily interest groups based in museums, planetariums, church basements or individuals’ homes, and do essentially nothing with the sighting reports they receive. A few organizations, such as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) solicit reports and dispatch regional investigators to interview witnesses about their experiences.

            Some websites seeming to be major UFO research groups actually do little more than publish witnesses’ accounts without thorough investigation or even referring witnesses to investigators or researchers in their area. While witnesses may be applauded for their courage in giving details of their UFO sighting to a webmaster, without proper investigation their report may be of relatively little use to serious UFO researchers.

            Because there is no way to enforce standards in UFO report investigations, the quality of case investigations varies considerably between groups and across provinces. Quantitative studies are difficult because subjective evaluations and differences in investigative techniques do not allow precise comparisons. Ufology Research’s requests for data from Canadian UFO researchers and investigators, and our transcribing of information from others’ websites, unfortunately allow input of only basic information for analyses.

            Most Internet postings of UFO report information are woefully incomplete and do not show any actual case investigation results, often forcing an evaluation of “Insufficient Information.” This certainly causes skewing of data and the loss of what may be excellent cases for examination. However, the limitations of in-person or onsite investigation will always be a problem in UFO research. Case data which can be obtained from such sites usually includes things such as date of the sighting, the time, duration, number of witnesses and their location—facts which are not subjective and can be used in scientific studies before interpretation.

For the purposes of this and other scientific studies of UFO data, UFO sightings that have been made to groups, associations, organizations, websites or individuals are considered as data in this study. This may be at odds with some definitions of the term UFO, which is often considered a synonym for “flying saucer” or “alien spacecraft.” The dictionary definition of UFO is simply an aerial object that is not identified by the observer. Some scientific definitions add the additional qualifier that a UFO also is unexplained even after rigorous investigation by trained researchers. This is not how the term is used in common discourse, nor is it so on any website devoted to the collection of UFO reports. Therefore, it should be stated at the outset that the analyses given here are regarding UFO reports, not necessarily UFOs themselves.

The collection of Canadian UFO data is challenging. However, the data obtained for analysis yields results that can be compared with other studies. This is useful in understanding the nature of UFO reports not only in Canada, but can shed light on the nature of UFO reports elsewhere in the world.


 

 

UFO Reports in Canada

 

The following table shows the number of reported UFOs per year since 1989, collected by Ufology Research.

 

Year

Number

Average

1989

141

141.0

1990

194

167.5

1991

165

166.7

1992

223

180.8

1993

489

242.4

1994

189

233.5

1995

183

226.3

1996

258

230.3

1997

284

236.2

1998

194

232.0

1999

259

234.5

2000

263

236.8

2001

374

247.4

2002

483

264.2

2003

673

291.5

2004

882

328.4

2005

769

354.3

2006

738

375.8

2007

794

399.8

2008

1004

430.0

2009*

 

 

2010

968

438.2

2011

986

461.9

Total

10625

 

 


*― Data for 2009 has not yet been added to the database.

 

The number of UFO reports per year has varied, although there has been a general trend towards a steady increase in yearly UFO report numbers over 20 years, peaking with more than 1,000 reports in 2008. Since then, UFO report numbers have remained high, within a few dozen of the 2008 record. Although there may be perceived notion that UFOs are not being reported with as much frequency as in the past, this is not true. UFOs have not “gone away.” This data clearly contradicts comments by those who would assert that UFOs are a ‘passing fad’ or that UFO sightings are decreasing.

 

UFOs and IFOs

 

UFO data routinely include reports of meteors, fireballs and other conventional objects. This is because in many instances, observers fail to recognize stars, aircraft and bolides, and therefore report them as UFOs. Witnesses often report watching stationary flashing lights low on the horizon for hours and never conclude they are observing a star or planet. On the other hand, witnesses professing a familiarity with aircraft or living near airports will frequently report a UFO that has all the characteristics of a conventional aircraft but fail to identify it as such.

Sorting IFOs from UFOs is an arduous task. This is significant, as present-day ufology often ignores or marginalizes this task and simply heralds new or sensational cases without doing due diligence in taking a hard look at the reports themselves. Historically, analyses of UFO data such as the American projects Grudge, Sign and Blue Book all included raw UFO data which later were resolved into categories of UFOs and IFOs. Sometimes, observed objects were quickly assigned a particular IFO explanation even though later investigation suggests such an explanation was unwarranted. The reverse was also true.

Since many UFO reports can be explained and reclassified as IFOs, this fact attests to the reality of the objects seen. UFO reports actually reflect real events which occur. When a UFO is reported, a real object has been seen that was not just a fantasy of a witness’ imagination. This does not mean that an alien spacecraft was observed―only that an object or stimulus of some kind gave rise to a report.

 

 


 

Method

 

Data for each case was obtained by Ufology Research from participating researchers across Canada or through data mining of known websites devoted to UFO reports. The information then was coded by members of Ufology Research and entered into a database and statistically analysed.

 

An example of the coding key is as follows:

 

Example: 2011  01 09 1530 Vernon BC DD 900 silver  2    ps  6   5  UFOBC  p  4 objs. seen

 

Field:        1        2   3     4         5        6    7    8        9    10   11 12 13    14       15    16

 

Field 1 is a default YEAR for the report.

Field 2 is the MONTH of the incident.

Field 3 is the DATE of the sighting.

Field 4 is the local TIME, on the 24-hour clock.

Field 5 is the geographical LOCATION of the incident. 

Field 6 is the PROVINCE where the sighting occurred.

Field 7 is the TYPE of report, using the Modified Hynek Classification System.

Field 8 is the DURATION of the sighting, in seconds (a value of 600 thus represents 10 minutes).

Field 9 is the primary COLOUR of the object(s) seen

Field 10 is the number of WITNESSES

Field 11 is the SHAPE of the object(s) seen

Field 12 is the STRANGENESS of the report.

Field 13 is the RELIABILITY of the report.

Field 14 is the SOURCE of the report.

Field 15 is the EVALUATION of the case.

Field 16 includes any COMMENTS noted about the case.

 


 

Analyses of the Data

 

Distribution of UFO Reports Across Canada

 


In 2011, Ontario had about 41 per cent of the total number of UFO sightings reported in Canada, the most reports of any province. British Columbia was second, with about 22 per cent of the total. Overall, Ontario cases represent almost 30 per cent of all Canadian reports in the Ufology Research database, only slightly more than BC’s 29 per cent. If UFO reporting was simply a factor of population, one would expect percentages of 37 per cent for Ontario and 13 per cent for BC. Quebec should therefore have 23 per cent of all cases, but overall this percentage is only about nine per cent. In 2011, the number of UFO reports in Ontario was the highest on record, with a few provinces having second- or third-highest levels.

 

TABLE 1

     Distribution of UFO Reports by Province

 

 

NT

NU

YT

BC

AB

SK

MB

ON

PQ

NB

NS

PI

NF

1989

1

0

0

15

16

18

22

34

28

1

3

0

3

1990

2

0

1

76

9

10

20

21

36

7

5

3

4

1991

0

0

1

59

22

7

6

30

16

9

7

1

4

1992

1

0

3

90

8

9

23

56

10

9

3

0

4

1993

5

0

0

157

56

93

74

51

32

3

3

1

7

1994

3

0

3

14

39

8

10

51

34

6

9

0

6

1995

4

0

0

45

10

11

48

41

20

0

1

0

1

1996

35

0

0

43

10

11

39

63

45

1

9

0

1

1997

22

0

8

99

11

5

32

72

24

1

6

1

3

1998

2

0

22

58

6

14

15

59

15

1

0

1

0

1999

0

0

20

118

19

1

6

79

8

1

0

1

6

2000

0

0

26

102

17

8

19

53

22

0

15

0

0

2001

1

5

18

123

40

12

20

87

34

5

21

2

6

2002

0

2

20

176

51

6

36

128

34

4

23

0

3

2003

2

1

16

304

76

19

25

150

49

4

21

2

4

2004

3

1

2

247

99

45

112

254

64

21

23

2

9

2005

1

0

3

209

90

77

43

214

77

15

16

4

12

2006

2

8

1

209

55

98

54

188

76

12

25

1

5

2007

6

0

7

192

66

36

44

329

93

24

31

2

6

2008

0

1

6

272

157

41

52

334

62

28

34

2

10

2009*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010

0

0

3

204

85

30

88

405

71

25

42

5

9

2011

2

1

3

216

101

31

81

406

77

27

31

2

5

 

NT

NU

YT

BC

AB

SK

MB

ON

PQ

NB

NS

PI

NF

Total

91

19

163

3073

1044

575

886

3126

941

205

328

30

109

 

 

In addition, geographical names of UFO sighting locations were examined for trends. Many cities were found to have multiple reports, and these are noted in the following table. Large metropolitan areas include their suburbs.

 

Canadian Cities With Most UFO Reports in 2011

 

Rank

City

Province

Number of Reports

1

Toronto

ON

34

2

Calgary

AB

26

3

Kelowna

BC

19

4

Winnipeg

MB

18

5

Vancouver

BC

17

 

 

 

 

Metropolitan Areas

 

 

 

Vancouver

(Incl.New Westminister, W. Van., N. Van., Burnaby, Surrey, Abbottsford, Port Coquitlam, Langley, N.Surrey, N.Langley, Richmond, Delta, N. Delta, Coquitlam, Port Moody)

 

44

Toronto

(Incl. Mississauga, Brampton, Scarborough, Oshawa, Whitby, Ajax, Pickering, Etobicoke, Newmarket, Richmond Hill, Markham, Oakville)

 

107

 

 


 

Monthly Trends in UFO Reports

 

Monthly breakdowns of reports during each year tend to show slightly different patterns.. UFO reports are generally thought to peak in summer and are at minimum in winter, presumably due to the more pleasant observing conditions during the summer months, when more witnesses are outside. In Canada in 2011, July and August numbers were again high, but report numbers were unusually high in fall and winter as well.

 

 

 

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

1989

13

9

6

9

5

9

5

5

12

32

27

9

1990

17

7

6

47

10

10

9

47

15

16

10

0

1991

13

7

17

12

7

12

16

25

16

12

11

17

1992

15

16

27

16

22

16

23

19

11

16

21

21

1993

59

15

20

22

14

38

27

49

41

152

24

21

1994

16

12

15

21

15

37

19

8

15

10

7

13

1995

14

12

13

9

9

10

28

33

28

11

11

5

1996

37

18

20

16

8

20

30

32

10

22

30

11

1997

19

11

31

29

17

13

29

29

22

16

26

37

1998

3

4

8

5

9

13

16

40

45

35

7

4

1999

8

20

22

7

31

10

27

36

30

29

30

7

2000

21

17

15

21

12

11

19

46

20

44

15

19

2001

36

19

33

25

17

26

51

81

25

17

27

16

2002

31

54

41

28

36

44

73

74

42

26

19

14

2003

41

46

46

46

31

30

131

102

46

64

43

47

2004

59

53

72

68

82

97

96

113

83

46

56

53

2005

36

59

81

59

45

50

96

123

70

56

47

45

2006

33

43

41

66

65

108

113

113

61

36

20

29

2007

45

35

95

76

56

90

80

105

94

64

50

41

2008

64

65

66

58

81

71

148

128

114

82

94

33

2009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010

40

30

34

38

64

78

196

115

94

106

82

86

2011

94

64

67

63

76

69

102

142

97

91

48

72

 

J

F

M

A

M

J

J

A

S

O

N

D

Totals

726

623

776

746

713

873

1346

1468

997

977

710

608

 

 

UFO Report Types

 

An analysis by report type shows a similar breakdown to that found in previous years. The percentage of cases of a particular type remains roughly constant from year to year, with some variations. Proportionally, Daylight Discs were unusually low in 2011, with the lion’s share of cases being Nocturnal Lights.

Less than two per cent of all reported UFO cases in 2011 were Close Encounters, emphasizing the reality that very, very few UFO cases involve anything other than distant objects seen in the sky. This is an important statistic, because the current popular interest in abductions and sensational UFO encounters is based not on the vast majority of UFO cases but on the very tiny fraction of cases which fall into the category of close encounters. Speculation on what aliens may or may not be doing in our airspace seems almost completely unconnected to what are actually being reported as UFOs.


 

 


TABLE 3

Report Types (Modified Hynek Classifications)

 

 

NL

ND

DD

C1

C2

C3

C4

EV

RD

PH

1989

84

20

16

10

7

0

2

2

0

0

1990

141

24

15

2

1

0

4

3

0

0

1991

110

26

13

7

4

1

2

0

1

1

1992

136

44

20

15

5

2

3

0

0

1

1993

372

77

26

8

2

1

1

1

0

0

1994/95

234

78

28

21

1

1

5

1

0

0

1996

170

40

27

8

3

4

1

2

0

0

1997

145

62

52

4

2

5

8

4

0

1

1998

115

23

25

6

1

0

0

19

0

3

1999

163

44

37

3

7

1

0

0

0

0

2000

179

31

26

4

2

2

0

0

0

3

2001

218

80

55

8

1

3

3

0

0

0

2002

293

94

76

8

5

0

1

0

0

2

2003

431

152

74

5

5

3

2

0

0

0

2004

520

203

136

7

6

2

3

0

0

3

2005

424

169

149

9

5

3

2

0

0

1

2006

508

65

85

12

1

4

1

0

0

21

2007

413

244

153

12

7

4

1

0

0

*

2008

442

353

175

10

7

2

0

0

0

8

2009*

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2010

467

324

132

14

9

0

4

5

0

13

2011

559

313

92

15

4

1

0

0

0

1

 

NL

ND

DD

C1

C2

C3

C4

EV

RD

PH

Totals

6098

2538

1440

189

82

44

42

66

1

60

 


For those unfamiliar with the classifications, a summary follows:

 

NL (Nocturnal Light) - light source in night sky

 

ND (Nocturnal Disc) - light source in night sky that appears to have a definite shape

 

DD (Daylight Disc) - unknown object observed during daytime hours

 

C1 (Close Encounter of the First Kind) - ND or DD occurring within 200 metres of a witness

 

C2 (Close Encounter of the Second Kind) - C1 where physical effects left or noted

 

C3 (Close Encounter of the Third Kind) - C1 where figures/entities are encountered

 


C4 (Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind) - an alleged "abduction" or "contact" experience

 

Note: The category of Nocturnal Disc was created in the 1980s by UFOROM originally for differentiation of cases within its own report files, and has been adopted by many other groups worldwide.

 

The category of PH indicates the sighting was entirely photographic, without any actual object seen visually. Many reports listed as NL or ND or DD may also have associated photos or video, so this should not be considered exclusive. EV indicates a case in which physical evidence was observed (not necessarily related to any observed object) and RD is a case in which an object was detected with radar but not necessarily observed.

 


 

Hourly Distribution

 

The hourly distribution of cases has usually followed a similar pattern every year, with a peak at 2200 or 2300 hours local and a trough around 0900 hours local. Since most UFOs are nocturnal lights, most sightings will occur during the evening hours. Since the number of possible observers drops off sharply near midnight, we would expect the hourly rate of UFO reports would vary with two factors: potential observers and darkness.

            There was one anomaly in the hourly statistics: there were fewer daylight cases in 2011, consistent with the low number of reported DD cases that year.

 

 

Time

2010

2011

12:00-12:59

8

7

13:00-13:59

12

9

14:00-14:59

7

8

15:00-15:59

13

7

16:00-16:59

15

7

17:00-17:59

24

19

18:00-18:59

33

26

19:00-19:59

54

63

20:00-20:59

78

96

21:00-21:59

107

114

22:00-22:59

140

148

23:00-23:59

132

109

00:00-00:59

53

50

01:00-01:59

48

38

02:00-02:59

30

27

03:00-03:59

22

19

04:00-04:59

11

14

05:00-05:59

7

15

06:00-06:59

17

18

07:00-07:59

7

6

08:00-08:59

5

1

09:00-09:59

5

1

10:00-10:59

7

2

11:00-11:59

12

3

 

 

 

 

Duration

 

The category of Duration is interesting in that it represents the subjective length of time the UFO experience lasted. In other words, this is the length of time the sighting lasted as estimated by the witness. Naturally, these times are greatly suspect because it is known that most people tend to badly misjudge the flow of time. Although an estimate of "one hour" may be in error by several minutes, it is unlikely that the true duration would be, for example, one minute. Furthermore, there have been cases when a UFO was observed and clocked very accurately, so that we can be reasonably certain that UFO events can last considerable periods of time.

The average duration of UFO sightings in Canada in 2011 was found to be about 22 minutes, up from 16 minutes in 2010. Both values are significant lengths of time, and suggest some simple explanations. Previous analyses have shown that long-duration sightings tend to occur in the early morning hours, from about midnight until 6:00 a.m.

The duration of a sighting is one of the biggest clues to its explanation. Experience in studying UFO reports has shown us that short duration events are usually fireballs or bolides, and long duration events of an hour or more are very probably astronomical objects moving slowly with Earth’s rotation.

 

 

Duration (in seconds)

2010

2011

 

 

 

1 to 5

52

51

6 to 10

34

20

11 to 20

23

16

21 to 60

58

51

61 to 120

53

53

121 to 180

35

33

181 to 300

52

63

301 to 600

34

34

601 to 1800

60

68

1801 to 3600

29

21

> 3600

50

25

Average

1344

971



 

Colour

 

In cases where colours of an object were reported by witnesses, the most common colour in 2010 was white, while in 2011 it was orange. The next most common colours in those years were reversed, with orange in 2010 and white in 2011. Since most UFOs are nocturnal starlike objects, the abundance of white objects is not surprising. Colours such as red, orange, blue and green often are associated with bolides (fireballs). Orange is most often associated with the observation of a Chinese lanterns, the launching of which became popular during the past few years. The ‘multicoloured’ designation is problematic in that it literally covers a wide range of possibilities. This label has been used, for example, when witnesses described their UFOs as having white, red and green lights. Many of these are certainly stars or planets, which flash a variety of colours when seen low on the horizon. Aircraft also frequently are described as having more than one colour of light, such as flashing coloured wing lights. However, seen from a distance, aircraft will often be visible only as moving white lights.

 

 

 

Colour

2010

2011

 

 

 

White

162

164

Multicoloured

95

82

Orange

158

219

Yellow

26

41

Red

77

103

Green

32

21

Silver

21

14

Black

26

24

Blue

30

16

Gray

8

7

Brown

0

1

Pink

2

3

Purple

1

1

 


Witnesses

 

The average number of witnesses per case between 1989 and 2008 is approximately 2.00. This value has fluctuated between a high of 2.4 in 1996 to as low as 1.4 in 1990. In 2010, the average number of witnesses per case was quite high, at 1.91, while the 2011 value was down to 1.74.

This indicates that the typical UFO experience has more than one witness, and supports the contention that UFO sightings represent observations of real, physical phenomena, since there is usually at least one corroborator present to support the sighting.

 

 

Number of Witnesses per Case in 2010

# Witnesses

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

>10

Number

507

283

84

34

21

9

5

3

1

3

7


Average:  1.91
Total # of witnesses in cases where exact # of witnesses known:  1,824

 

 

 

Number of Witnesses per Case in 2011

# Witnesses

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

>10

Number

562

279

68

37

9

8

2

5

1

3

3


Average:  1.74
Total # of witnesses in cases where exact # of witnesses known:  1,702

 

 

 


 

Shape

 

Witnesses’ descriptions of the shapes of UFOs vary greatly. In 2010, about 45 per cent were of “point sources”—that is, “starlike” objects or distant lights. In 2011, this number was significantly greater, at 56 per cent. The classic “flying saucer” or disc-shaped object comprises only around three or four per cent of all UFO reports, contrary to popular opinion.

The shape of a perceived object depends on many factors such as the witness’ own visual acuity, the angle of viewing, the distance of viewing and the witness’ own biases and descriptive abilities. Nevertheless, in combination with other case data such as duration, shape can be a good clue towards a UFO’s possible explanation.

 

 

Shape

2010

2011

 

 

 

Ball/Globe/Round/Orb/Sphere

186

144

Fireball

61

61

Boomerang/Crescent/Chevron/V/U

18

7

Cigar/Cylinder

35

43

Disk/Saucer

33

42

Irregular

130

97

Oval/Egg/Elliptical

15

24

Point Source

440

554

Triangle

42

43

Diamond

 

2

Rectangle

0

3

 

 


 

Strangeness

 


The assigning of a Strangeness rating to a UFO report is based on a classification adopted by researchers who noted that the inclusion of a subjective evaluation of the degree to which a particular case is in itself unusual might yield some insight into the data. For example, the observation of a single, stationary, starlike light in the sky, seen for several hours, is not particularly unusual and might likely have a prosaic explanation such as that of a star or planet. On the other hand, a detailed observation of a saucer-shaped object which glides slowly away from a witness after an encounter with grey-skinned aliens would be considered highly strange.

The numbers of UFO reports according to strangeness rating show an inverse relationship such that the higher the strangeness rating, the fewer reports. The one exception to this relationship occurs in the case of very low strangeness cases, which are relatively few in number compared to those of moderate strangeness. It is suggested this is the case because in order for an observation to be considered a UFO, it must usually rise above an ad hoc level of strangeness, otherwise it would not be considered strange at all.

The average strangeness rating for UFO reports during 2011 was only 3.35, down slightly from the 2010 average of 3.39, where 1 is considered not strange at all and 9 is considered exceptionally unusual. Most UFOs reported are of objects which do not greatly stretch the imagination. Hollywood-style flying saucers are, in reality, relatively uncommon in UFO reports. The overall Strangeness rating of Canadian UFO reports has been sliding slightly over time.

 

Reliability

 

The average Reliability rating of Canadian UFO reports in 2011 was 5.1, up slightly from an average of 4.9 in 2010. This was similar to other years, with approximately the same number of higher quality cases as those of low quality. Low reliability was assigned to reports with minimal information on the witness, little or no investigation and incomplete data or description of the object(s) observed.  Higher reliability cases might include actual interviews with witnesses, a detailed case investigation, multiple witnesses, supporting documentation and other evidence. Since data for many cases are taken from websites and second-hand postings, or in fact self-postings, there is usually no significant investigation of UFO sightings. Well-investigated cases likely comprise only a small fraction of all UFO data, a fact that makes posted UFO case data have limited value.

Reliability and Strangeness ratings tend to vary in classic bell-shaped curves. In other words, there are very few cases which were both highly unusual and well-reported. Most cases are of medium strangeness and medium reliability. These are the “high-quality unknowns” which will be discussed in a later section of this study. However, there are also very few low-strangeness cases with low reliability. Low-strangeness cases, therefore, tend to be well-reported and probably have explanations.

 

 

 


 

Sources

 

UFO data used in this study were supplied by many different groups, organizations, official agencies and private individuals. Since this annual survey began in the late 1980s, more and more cases have been obtained and received via the Internet.


The lion’s share of reports used as data came through Sightings.com, which has been relaying UFO cases reported through the former Houston, BC, Centre for UFOs (HBCCUFO), with about 32 per cent in 2010 and 35 per cent in 2011. This is a very popular website found through Google searches, and many people rely on it for UFO information and submit their reports there via a web form.

About 15 per cent of the total cases were obtained through the private and non-profit National UFO Reporting Center in the USA, which has a toll-free telephone number for reporting UFOs and a large sightings list created through voluntary submission of online report forms by witnesses. About nine per cent of cases were reported to the large organization known as the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), which has an efficient reporting system. One can speculate that if there were a well-advertised toll-free number and accompanying website for reporting UFOs in each Canadian province, perhaps yearly report numbers would increase dramatically.

Around two per cent of all cases came as a result of information obtained through Transport Canada and the Department of National Defence.

It should be noted that the preparation of this Survey is becoming quite challenging. Few UFO investigators or researchers actually submit case data to UFOROM anymore, requiring considerable searching of online sources. And, although many sites post information about UFO sightings, very little actual UFO investigation is being conducted. In fact, it could be said that the science of UFO investigation has nearly become extinct. This does not bode well for an area of study that is under constant criticism by debunkers wishing to prove the unscientific nature of the subject.

 


 

Evaluation (Explanations)

 

The breakdown by Evaluation for 2010 and 2011 cases was similar to results from previous years.  There were four operative categories: Explained, Insufficient Information, Possible or Probable Explanation, and Unknown (or Unexplained). It is important to note that a classification of Unknown does not imply that an alien spacecraft or mysterious natural phenomenon was observed; no such interpretation can be made with certainty, based solely on the given data.

An Evaluation is made subjectively by either or both the contributing investigators and the compilers of this study. The category of Unknown is adopted if there is extensive information or data available and/or if the contributed data or case report contains enough information such that a conventional explanation cannot be satisfactorily proposed. This does not mean that the case will never be explained, but only that a viable explanation is not immediately obvious. Cases are also re-evaluated periodically as additional data or information is brought to attention or obtained through further investigation.

The level and quality of UFO report investigation varies because there are no explicit and rigourous standards for UFO investigation. Investigators who are “believers” might be inclined to consider most UFO sightings as mysterious, whereas those with more of a skeptical predisposition might tend to subconsciously (or consciously) reduce the Unknowns in their files.


 

 


TABLE 4

Evaluation of Canadian UFO Data

 

%

 

 

 

 

 

Explained

Insufficient Evidence

Probable

Unexplained

1989

0.00%

52.50%

33.30%

14.20%

1990

0.00%

46.40%

40.20%

13.40%

1991

1.20%

48.50%

41.80%

8.50%

1992

8.00%

37.00%

33.00%

22.00%

1993

31.50%

34.80%

23.50%

10.20%

1994/95

19.10%

33.30%

35.20%

12.40%

1996

9.30%

40.70%

33.70%

16.30%

1997

6.00%

37.30%

43.00%

13.70%

1998

5.10%

38.70%

44.80%

11.30%

1999

3.80%

31.50%

51.90%

12.70%

2000

8.75%

35.74%

42.59%

12.93%

2001

5.88%

34.76%

44.12%

15.24%

2002

2.48%

39.75%

39.75%

18.01%

2003

16.34%

24.67%

42.50%

16.49%

2004

8.62%

22.68%

53.17%

15.53%

2005

12.09%

25.36%

47.85%

14.69%

2006

7.07%

44.84%

36.28%

11.82%

2007

2.03%

32.06%

50.12%

15.78%

2008

2.69%

27.99%

59.46%

9.86%

2009*

 

 

 

 

2010

1.96%

38.64%

51.34%

8.06%

2011

3.55%

40.67%

44.83%

10.95%


 

 

Explained

Insufficient Evidence

Probable

Unexplained

1989

0

74

47

20

1990

0

90

78

26

1991

2

80

69

14

1992

17

83

74

49

1993

154

170

115

50

1994/95

71

124

131

46

1996

24

105

87

42

1997

17

106

122

39

1998

10

75

87

22

1999

10

82

135

32

2000

23

94

112

34

2001

22

130

165

57

2002

12

192

192

87

2003

110

166

286

111

2004

76

200

469

137

2005

93

195

368

113

2006

52

330

267

87

2007

17

268

419

132

2008

27

281

597

99

2009*

 

 

 

 

2010

19

374

497

78

2011

35

401

442

108

 

791

3620

4759

1383

 

 

In 2010, the percentage of Unknowns was just 8.06 per cent, the lowest ever recorded. This rebounded somewhat to almost 11 per cent in 2011. There are several factors that affect this value.

There were 108 Unknowns out of 986 total cases in 2011. If we look only at the Unknowns with a Strangeness of 6 or greater and a Reliability rating of 6 or greater, we are left with only eight high-quality Unknowns in 2011 (less than one per cent of the total). This is much lower than previous studies, where values closer to three or four per cent were noted. As a comparison, USAF Blue Book studies found three to four per cent of their cases were "excellent" Unknowns.

It should be emphasized again that even high-quality Unknowns do not imply alien visitation. Each case may still have an explanation following further investigation. And of those that remain unexplained, they may remain unexplained, but still are not incontrovertible proof of extraterrestrial intervention or some mysterious natural phenomenon.

The interpretation of the 108 Unknowns in 2011 is that these cases were among the most challenging of all the reports received. It should be noted that most UFO cases go unreported, and that there may be ten times as many UFO sightings that go unreported as those which get reported to public, private or military agencies. Furthermore, it should be noted that some cases with lower reliability ratings suffer only from incomplete investigations, and that they may well be more mysterious than those on the list of Unknowns. And, above all, these cases are not proof of extraterrestrial visitation.

            The increase in the numbers of UFO reports with time likely does not have a simple explanation. It could be related to a growing awareness within the general population that there are agencies which collect UFO reports. It could be that there really are more UFOs physically present in the sky. It could be that the collection of UFO data is becoming more efficient. It could be that there are more private websites allowing or inviting people to report their UFO sightings. While media have been noted as playing a definite role in UFO waves (a national increase in UFO sightings), media coverage of UFO reports has significantly declined over the past decade while the number of reports has risen. Perhaps a cultural factor is at work as well, where “aliens” and UFOs are now well-entrenched within the societal mindset and are accepted as more probable than fiction. This question by itself is deserving of scientific study.

 


 

Discussion

 

Some people might find the percentage of Unknowns to be lower than expected, while others (notably debunkers) would argue that it is far too high. Other studies of UFO data have found greatly disparate percentages of Unknowns among UFO data. Does the Canadian UFO Survey accurately reflect the characteristics of UFOs?

            Recently, Ray Dickenson broached the subject of percentages of Unknowns in the UFO–related discussion list UFO Updates (17 May 2012). He noted:

 

Subject: Realistic Ratios Of Unexplained Sightings?

 

To revisit this subject:

When CNES (French National Centre for Space Studies) released its UFO files in 2007 it said that 28% of those reports were unexplained. (http://www.cnes-geipan.fr/)

And today their site says 22% of ongoing reports are 'unidentified'.

 

In `UFO - Secret Access on the Record' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTPFF-qhqf8)(from about 59 mins), [w]e hear that after the Belgian wave, General Wilfried De Brouwer said that of several thousand reports a total of 650 were investigated and of those, 500 remained unexplained. That's approximately 77%.

 

Yet the media in UK and USA continually claim that "only 5%" of sightings are unexplained.

 

http://ufoupdateslist.com/2012/may/m17-010.shtml

 

Later, he noted:

 

“…there's several factors to the equation that most folk don't consider.

 

i) how many reports - of all those available - are investigated;

ii) how scientifically rigorous are the investigations;

iii) how truthful are the people who make those results available to the public.

 

http://ufoupdateslist.com/2012/may/m20-002.shtml

 

Canadian ufologist Don Ledger noted:

 

In my own experience with some 50 odd cases I've looked into over the years the witnesses have been forthcoming with great detail of the "object" and it's behavior. I didn't dismiss a case just because Venus, Saturn or Jupiter was present as did Project BlueBook. In fact in most cases there was no similarity between stars and the description of the object making a planet or star explanation ludicrous. The percentage went more the other way with 60 percent unknown.

 

http://www.ufoupdateslist.com/2007/jun/m17-006.shtml

 

Why, then, are there disparate percentages of Unknowns according to various experts? Much of the reason has to do with the data samples used. The Ufology Research database includes reports of UFOs from many sources, and includes reports of objects that were reported as UFOs but quickly identified as having explanations by the investigator or agency. Whereas some ufologists would discard these cases as data, Ufology Research believes that because the objects were originally reported as UFOs they must be used as data in any analyses of UFO reports.

            It is completely understandable that many ufologists would ignore such cases, as time and effort can be wasted documenting and investigating these reports, while other, more puzzling cases may await follow-up investigations as a result.

            One factor that may play a role in skewing the data is that witnesses may be reluctant to report their sightings to an “official” or government or military organization, fearing some kind of reprisal. Indeed, since a recent poll suggested that 79 per cent of Americans believe that their government is keeping information about UFOs from the public. This distrust may play a role in witnesses’ reporting of UFO sightings. (Source: http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-26/ufo-survey/55843742/1)

            Another reason to include these cases is that historical studies such as those by Projects Sign, Grudge and Blue Book all included cases which (rightly or wrongly) were classified as stars, birds, aircraft, etc. This means that IFOs were routinely used in studies of UFO data, precisely because they were reported as UFOs.

            The answer to the question: “What is the percentage of unexplained cases on file?” is not as simple as it should be. Because every organization and investigator had and has differing criteria for evaluating UFO reports, the percentage of unexplained cases compared with the entire data set will naturally vary, as shown in the following table.

 

Percentage of Unknowns in UFO Studies’ Databases

 

Source

Total Cases

Unknowns

%

High-Quality Unknowns

Condon Committee

117

0

0

 

Blue Book

12,618

701

5.5

 

Hendry (CUFOS)

1,307

113

8.6

1.5

GEPAN (France)

6,000

 

13

 

Ufology Research (Canada)

10,625

1,407

13.2

< 1

NICAP

5,000

 

16

 

Blue Book Special Report 14

3,201

 

22

 

CNES (France)

730

259

22

 

AIAA Review of Condon

117

 

30

 

Ledger (Canada)

50

 

60

 

Brouwer (Belgium)

650

500

77

 

 

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identification_studies_of_UFOs

                        and others

 

            In some instances, a low percentage of unexplained cases may be due to a bias within an agency or group highly sceptical of UFOs, going to great lengths to explain all reports. This was certainly the case for the Condon Committee, for example. Conversely, one would expect that a pro-UFO group would have a higher ratio of unexplained cases in its files.

            However, this is not always the case, because the previously-mentioned selectivity of reports will play a role as well. With the exception of the Condon Committee study, however, the general trend appears to be that the larger the database, the smaller the percentage of unexplained cases.

            It has also been said that the ratio of IFOs/UFOs is large because witnesses do not report UFOs, they simply report “unusual objects” or “balls of fire” or “orbs” or other terms that do not explicitly mean UFOs. This appears to be disingenuous. A sighting of any kind of object reported to a UFO-related website that advertises it posts lists of UFOs is logically a sighting of a UFO. Similarly, any witness who posts to a website with an online “UFO Reporting Form” is clearly reporting a UFO.

            Probably the most significant factor in calculating percentages of unexplained UFO cases is the low quality of UFO investigation today. During the period when the various USAF Projects were in operation, personnel were assigned to investigate UFO (or earlier, flying saucer) reports. Time and energy were spent in locating witnesses, interviewing them, visiting sighting locations and writing reports. During the early years of civilian UFO investigation, this was also the case, and thousands of volunteer UFO investigators could be dispatched to interview witnesses.

            This is not the case today. The only large, civilian, membership-based, investigative UFO organization in existence today is MUFON, and its members are often limited in their ability to travel to visit UFO sighting locations. Large online websites to which most UFO reports are posted today cannot offer anything like the detailed investigations of previous organizations.

            The result is that most UFO sighting reports are not adequately investigated. In some cases, an email or phone call is exchanged with a witness, if such contact information had been provided (most UFO reports online are anonymous). The sheer volume of cases prevents, in most situations, volunteer investigators and researchers from gathering sufficient information to evaluate all UFO cases received. Because of this, most cases in the Canadian UFO Survey are rated low on the Reliability scale. This obviously reduces the percentage of unexplained cases by some percent.

            The reality is that our study of Canadian UFO reports involves examination of nearly one thousand cases each year and for each one (painstakingly) coding information from the available source or sources. Each case, therefore, is read carefully for content, but Ufology Research cannot investigate UFO cases reported to disparate organizations and individuals across Canada. We rely on the available information in most instances, although there are some exceptions. We are confident that our percentage of unexplained cases within a set of heterogenous UFO sighting reports is reasonable.

 




Most Interesting Canadian “Unknowns” in 2011

 

The following are those Canadian UFO reports in 2011 which had a Reliability Rating of 6 or greater, a Strangeness Rating of 6 or greater and which were also assigned an Evaluation of Unknown.

 

January 4, 2011           Boucherville, Quebec                         

At about 6:20 am, a woman saw a large luminous object floating above an industrial park. It looked like a fluorescent green “Nike” swoosh. It was stationary for two minutes, then raced away towards Mt. St-Bruno and disappeared from sight.

 

February 2, 2011         St. Catharines, Ontario

At 9:30 pm, a softball-sized object was seen rapidly circling electrical transmission lines, then move suddenly down and fly within two metres of an astonished witness.

 

February 22, 2011       St-Vallier, Quebec

Around 7:00 pm, an object with an odd array of lights flew close by two witnesses in a car travelling on a highway.

 

June 4, 2011                Maple Ridge, BC

At about 11:00 pm, a witness saw a bright light hovering over some nearby houses. It moved in his direction and he was able to make out a “boomerang” shape with pulsating lights that began circling his house before it flew off.

 

October 13, 2011        Atlantic Ocean

At about 10:00 pm, a witness on the deck of a Carnival cruise ship saw a pill-shaped dark object pass by the ship only 100 yards away and 150 feet above the water.

 

October 19, 2011        Williams Lake, BC

At about 10:30 pm, three witnesses in a car were approached by a black, shiny, triangular object with coloured lights, that paced their vehicle for 30 minutes and moved overhead.

 

October 24, 2011        Chisasibi, Quebec

At about 10:00 pm, a number of people saw a bright ball of light hanging underneath a low cloud ceiling. It moved, stopped, then moved again and was visible for about five minutes.

 

December 2, 2011       Gatineau, Quebec

A fireworks blossom appeared in the sky and then a rectangular object with a blue spotlight descended and approached a witness. The object passed overhead, making a humming noise, then zig-zagged and vanished.