Your Assistant State Director has been fooling around with learning more about statistics lately. That's right — the subject of that universally dreaded undergrad course in virtually all colleges and universities: Statistics 101. Don't worry. I'll do the work, so you don't have to. I'll just present my results, and I'll try to give you an honest assessment of what the results mean and don't mean.
Ufology over the years has generated a lot of sighting data and ufologists have studied the data statistically some, but the statistical data and conclusions tend to be buried in the UFO specialty literature in UFO journals like International UFO Reporter, MUFON Journal, MUFON Symposia Proceedings, and various books by a few ufologists like Richard Haines, Jacques Vallee, Richard Hall, et al. The few public governmental UFO studies (for example, Project Blue Book Special Report 14 and the Condon Committee report) have concentrated on statistics, of course, because natural world or human-related studies (like psychology, sociology, economics, etc.) generate tons and tons of data that must be reduced statistically for us to begin to understand data at a more general level.
Gathering stories is fine, and doing historical study is fine, but scientific study almost demands statistical study. And statistical study is tedious and must be done carefully to yield meaningful results. So, statistical study demands time, money, and expertise — something that is chronically lacking in the world of serious citizen-driven UFO study. But we do what we can and have, over the years, given the public some reliable and accurate ideas of what the UFO in all about.
So, what do these bunches of UFO numbers and categorial data gathered by the citizen-run UFO organizations mean in the aggregate? Statistics to the rescue! Statisticians and statistics scientists and mathematicians have developed an astonishing array of techniques to wring meaning out of all kinds of data. But, despite statistics being a science itself, proper use of these techniques is practically an art, so even in the vast scientific journals literature, you will find at times statistical studies done wrong. Here at Oregon MUFON, I will do my best not to overstate the meaning of my little studies for you. Statistics is not quite rocket science, but it must be done with care.
There are two basic parts to statistics: descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics helps us understand what the data before us looks like all taken together. Various charts and plots help us with this. Inferential statistics helps us understand cause and effect relationships between (and among) different kinds of data. I'll be doing mostly descriptive statistics and, perhaps, studies that may be suggestive of cause and effect relationships between various UFO data ("variables"). But I won't be doing any proofs of cause and effect relationships because those require "classically" designed experimental setups. However, as this series goes along, I will be showing associations and, perhaps, even correlations between "variables." And these could be very interesting.
The obvious UFO data are data gathered from individual sighting reports. Today, MUFON gathers more sighting data on a daily basis from self-reports from the public than any other organization. Report your sighting here.
In my "UFO Stats" occasional series, I will concentrate on Oregon data but also feature other states' data, too, to see how we differ or not. I hope you enjoy these articles as they come along.
I occasionally get email about where Oregon UFO sighting hotspots might be. Good question. Are there any real UFO hotspots in Oregon? Yes and no. Read on. But be sure to read through to the end to learn about my "fool proof" way to see UFOs.
Hotspot Spots Across the Nation
The history of UFO reports shows that there just might be some hotspots here and there around the United States (and world). For example, in the 1990s, the Gulf Breeze, Florida, area seemed to be one. For a number of years, MUFON investigators showed up weekly and recorded some interesting lights in the sky UFOs. And here's another one — the Hudson River Valley in the 1980s and 1990s. The 1980s saw lots of low-level, huge UFOs and in the 1990s, the New York burg of Pine Bush saw lots of activity. See our Books link for documentation. Also, the town of Sedona, Arizona, is a noted UFO hotspot, at least according to many New Age folks, anyway. And we even have our own New Age hotspot practically in our own backyard.
A Nearby Hotspot?
Drive around 100 miles east and into Washington to just south of Mt. Adams and you will arrive at New Age guru James Gilliland's ECETI Ranch. For Portland area people, the ECETI Ranch offers a nice venue in which to possibly see UFOs, especially if you don't mind the New Age culture there. Try it sometime. It's fun. http://www.eceti.org/Eceti.IndexII.html
A Data-Driven Approach
At MUFON, our mission is studying the UFO phenomenon through rational means. So, let's find some UFO sighting data reported over the last 70 years and see what this data might reveal about UFO hotspots in Oregon. A nice source of UFO data for the U.S., especially, is Peter Davenport's National UFO Reporting Center. http://www.nuforc.org/
Now, mind you, this data is essentially unevaluated UFO report data and, thus, is not limited to genuine UFOs. In other words, expect much of the data to be identifiable objects/phenomena. Investigator Peter Davenport simply does not have the time to thoroughly go through all the reports that come in to his site and carefully separate the IFOs from the UFOs. But he certainly does a heroic job. Despite this, the number of UFO reports is related to genuine UFOs.
Some percentage of all reports will be of genuine UFOs in the experience of the vast majority of UFO investigators down through the years — nearly 65 years or so of citizen UFO investigations. As a result today, most ufologists and UFO investigators believe that a good estimate of genuine UFOs in the report data is about 10 to 20 percent. So, report data gives a reasonable idea of "real UFO" activity. It is just less than the total number of UFO reports would indicate.
Hotspots Based on Over 2000 Sightings
So, I went to nuforc.org and pulled out all the Oregon UFO data going all the way back to the 1950s. The number of reports in the NUFORC database is around 2200. Yes, that is over 2000 in the last almost 70 years. As you might expect, the ease of reporting UFOs since the advent of the Internet has greatly increased the number of sighting reports. A goodly portion of NUFORC's (and MUFON's) reports are from the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s.
The data reveal that there are reports from virtually every city, town, hamlet, village, etc., in Oregon — some 270 of them. Wow! All over Oregon. But that's really what we UFO investigators expect. UFO sightings are all over the place. So, I decided to limit the cities/towns to (an arbitrary) ten sightings or more. This gave me a more manageable 43 cities/towns. You can see the result in the bar charts of UFO sightings on this page at the bottom.
Note that there are two bar charts. The first one shows the number of reports per 1000 people. This tells you the likelihood that you will see a UFO if you live in the corresponding city. This gets at the hotspot idea. The second bar chart simply gives the total number of reports for each city. These numbers more or less follow the population in a given city. The more population, the more reports.
How Likely Are You to See a UFO in Oregon's Hotspots?
So, I divided the sightings per city/town by the population in each city/town (and I decided to show the sightings per 1000 people). As you can see, the clear winner in the UFO hotspot competition is Lincoln City with Brookings and Tillamook as the runners up. Look at the cities a little closer and note the higher ones and the lower ones. You'll see Florence, Newport, and Seaside. Hmm, the big winners are on the Oregon Coast! And the next group of higher ones are Baker City, La Grande, and Prineville in Eastern Oregon. (But not Bend. Go figure.) Note that the Oregon Coast has that big expanse of ocean to look out over and Eastern Oregon has those wide open spaces. Are people just looking more often because of these great viewing opportunities and they just happen to see more UFOs per person? We don't know.
But look at Scappoose and Clackamas. Maybe there's something in the water! Or they have a lot of smokers (who go outside to smoke)?! Then there are the low ones. They all seem to be the cities/towns with big populations. Are folks in the bigger cities too busy to look up?! We don't know the answers to these "why" questions. Only establishment academia has the resources to answer these "why" questions in any systematic way. And academia does not study UFOs, much to their shame. Thus, we the people are left in the lurch.
So, what do we learn about Oregon UFO hotspots from this little exercise? Move to Lincoln City or at least the Oregon Coast if you want to maximize your chances of seeing a UFO, or move to Portland and keep your eyes to the skies! But even if you do move to the coast, your chances of seeing a UFO are only four in 1000 in Lincoln City over 70 years or so.
But wait! It's not quite that bad. Ufologists estimate that only perhaps one in ten or twenty or thirty people report their UFO sightings to some "official" organization such as a citizen-organized and run UFO study group like MUFON, CUFOS, or NUFORC. These are the citizen organizations that systematically gather data these days. It is not your UFO discussion/news websites as valuable as a few of them are. In the meantime, no truly official organization in the United States cares about your UFO sighting at this time. If you attempt to report your sighting to the military, academic establishment, or local or national law enforcement, you will get a blank stare and a pat on the head these days. Or if they are nice, you might get a referral to NUFORC, MUFON, or CUFOS.
How to Maximize Your Chances of Seeing a UFO
Finally, this is what you've been waiting for. So, see what you think. It's an entirely different approach.
Over the last thirty years, it has become increasingly clear to ufologists that UFOs are part of the world of paranormal phenomena. And, additionally, that the paranormal world is tied into psychic phenomena. For example, almost invariably, when people have had a very close UFO sighting/experience with some communication aspects, they talk about hearing from the UFO or from some "being" communication that is not through their ears, but rather somehow directly in their heads. This is recognized by parapsychologists as telepathy. It is a psychic experience. You can learn more by looking under the heading Paranormal World in the Books link. So, some ufologists are beginning to think that there sometimes just might be psychic links with UFOs even outside a close encounter UFO experience. I'm one of those ufologists.
Seek Out a Regular (Psychic) UFO Spotter
Therefore, if you’d like to maximize your likelihood of seeing a UFO, you should find a person who claims to see UFOs on an on-going basis and who says they seem to have an intuitive/psychic connection with UFOs. (Yes, they do exist. I’ve documented the efforts of two of these people on oregonmufon.com. Look in the UFO Cases link and find the cases with “Milwaukie" in the title for one of these people. I’ve known quite well three of these people in Oregon.) Once you’ve located one of these frequent experiencers, spend some time skywatching with them and you just may have your own daytime or nighttime UFO experience, just as I have. See more of this on oregonmufon.com.
I believe you can increase your chances of having a UFO experience by working on enhancing your native psychic abilities. As I have indicated above, UFO experiences are a kind of transpersonal ("psychic") psychological experience. So, in a way, you can create your own personal "hotspot" and you don't even need to travel farther than your own balcony, back deck, or backyard. Good luck to you in your hunt for that elusive UFO sighting.