Misleading "worldwide" UFO reporting map - actually based on US data

Rory

Closed Account
This map has been doing the rounds on Twitter (and maybe elsewhere) with some people claiming that it shows a highly unusual imbalance in reports of UFO sightings across the world.

1666724343668.png

The map originates with a now unlisted YouTube video and the problem is, as confirmed in the video description, that the data used to construct the map is taken solely from the National UFO Reporting Center (nuforc.org) - a US-based organisation that, while accepting reports from other countries, is overwhelmingly a hub for US sightings. Hence the "unusual imbalance".

As of today its database contains around 140,000 reports, with about 86% of them being from the US, and 12% each from Canada and the rest of the world.

No doubt a South American Spanish-speaking database would likewise reveal an imbalance in a different direction. Same in Germany. And so on.

Conclusion: it's a US map. That's why the sightings are mostly in the US.
 

Rory

Closed Account
Go on then, reveal :)

Okay, here's the true world map according to GEIPAN (unit of the Frech Space Agency):

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 14.17.17.png
Source: https://www.cnes-geipan.fr/en/search/cas

Interestingly, outside of Europe - and in particular France (2880 reports) - we only see small clusters from Guadeloupe, Martinique, Reunion, and other French-speaking places.

Conclusion: only French-speaking people report UFOs. ;)

What might explain this large variation in UFO sightings per capita across states?

Stats from NUFORC, Analysis by Sam Monfort.

Unfortunately that analysis also makes the error of thinking NUFORC "keeps careful logs of all UFO sightings worldwide" (direct quote).
 
Last edited:

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I tweeted the original map last year, calling the US UFO density a "culture-bound" phenomenon.
Source: https://twitter.com/MickWest/status/1409717891088359443


Obviously you can't tell that just from the US NUFORC data, and it's hard to compare with other countries.

BUT, the Geipan database has only about 3,000 entries.

NUFORC has 141,000

MUFON has 126,000

Population of US: 330 Million
Population of France 67 Million

The US has five times the population, but over fifty times as many UFO reports.
 

Rory

Closed Account
Oh indeed, I don't doubt that people in the US are much more prone to imagine they've seen aliens or something weird - but this thread is purely about the map in question and showing that it can't possibly tell us anything about the spread of UFO sightings across the world, as some people have suggested.

NUFORC has 141,000 [entries]

The US has five times the population, but over fifty times as many UFO reports.

Small correction: it's about 43/44 times (and NUFORC has 125,000 US reports - 141,000 is the worldwide figure).
 
Last edited:

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Small correction: it's about 43/44 times.
I was using 150,000 as a low end ballpark, assuming most people don't report to both NUFORC and MUFON.

Heck, the very fact that there's multiple places to report will increase the number of reports.
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
Here is some more info on where the data came from, NUFORC as Rory alluded to in the OP.

The National UFO Reporting Center was founded in 1974 by noted UFO investigator Robert J. Gribble. The Center’s primary function over the past four decades has been to receive, record, and to the greatest degree possible, corroborate and document reports from individuals who have been witness to unusual, possibly UFO-related events. Throughout its history, the Center has processed over 150,000 reports, and has distributed its information to thousands of individuals.

The principal means used by the Center to receive sighting reports is this website, which has operated continuously since 1994. Prior to that period, the telephone hotline and the U.S. mail were the primary means of taking reports.
Content from External Source
Its data base is made up of voluntary reports.

The Center’s independence from all other UFO related organizations, combined with its long standing policy of guaranteed anonymity to callers, has served to make it perhaps the most popular and widely accepted national UFO reporting facility anywhere.
Content from External Source
I always thought MUFON was the "goto" organization for reporting UFOs. I'd never heard of this one until last week when the map came up.

The National UFO Reporting Center is a non-profit Washington State corporation, and it is applying for federal 501 C (3) non-profit status.
Content from External Source
In reference to Mick's map, maybe the fact that the organization is based in Washington State helps explain the high number of sightings there. I don't know about Vermont:
1666730621612.png

These 2 guys have been running NUFORC for closing in on 30 years. Pretty much since it went online:
1666730844528.png
Peter Davenport has been director of the National UFO Reporting Center since 1994. He has also served as the director of investigations for the Washington Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network. He often presents lectures on specific UFO cases, most notably the Phoenix Lights sighting.

Peter has had an active interest in the UFO phenomenon from his early boyhood. He experienced his first UFO sighting over the St. Louis municipal airport in the summer of 1954, and he investigated his first UFO case during the summer of 1965 in Exeter, New Hampshire. He has also been witness to several subsequent anomalous events, possibly UFO related, including a dramatic sighting over Baja California in February 1990, and several nighttime sightings over Washington State during 1992.
Content from External Source
1666731011933.png
Christian Stepien has had a life long interest in UFOs and is an avid student of the phenomenon. Since 1994, he has served as the webmaster for the National UFO Reporting Center web site, as well as the developer of the center’s database and reporting software.
Content from External Source
All above External Content from :https://nuforc.org/about-us/

As for the origins of NUFORC, it also has Washington roots. Seattelite Bob Gribble caught the UFO fever in the '50s and ended up running various UFO newsletters and such before forming NUFORC in '74:

Seattle firefighter Bob Gribble’s fascination with UFOs began in 1954 when he happened to pick up a copy of True Magazine. An article about UFOs grabbed his attention. Riveted, he quickly ordered Flying Saucers on the Attack by Harold Wilkins that was advertised in the magazine. Fascinated, he read it multiple times. Next came Donald Kehoe’s book, Flying Saucers Are Real. Now, Gribble was thoroughly hooked. Reading these books began his life-long conviction: UFOs were real, and they were no joke. Most people satisfy their curiosity by reading about the UFO phenomenon. But Gribble was not your ordinary person. He wanted to learn more, to do more. Jumping into the UFO field, which was in its infancy, Gribble established and headed one of the very first UFO organizations, The Space Observers League, a Seattle-based organization he headed. This was before NICAP and APRO.

In early 1955, Gribble renamed the group Civilian Flying Saucer Intelligence. Upping his game, he began a newsletter detailing new cases, even though he had no writing experience. Energized by his passion to spread information about UFOs, he worked feverishly on the first issue of Flying Saucer Review: A Report on Interplanetary Spacecraft..

In 1957, Gribble renamed his organization Aerial Phenomenon Research Group (ARPG) and began publishing the A.R.P.G. Reporter.

Once again, Gribble saw a need and strived to fill it. In late 1974, he founded the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC).
Content from External Source
Something interesting about the database though, is that most of the older, pre-internet stuff, was kept by Gribble until he gave it to a researcher, Wendy Conners:

By 2004, Gribble was drowning in tapes and archived materials. Feeling overwhelmed, and perhaps a victim of his own success, Gribble was about to toss out what we now recognize as a priceless historical archive. Instead of taking the treasure to the dump, he donated them to Wendy Connors, a respected UFO historian living in Albuquerque, NM. Just in case she might find them useful!
Content from External Source
Conners is apparently a crypto-aeronautic researcher:

...Connors was a crypto-aeronautic researcher who specialized in the preservation of early historic recordings and photographs dealing with the UFO phenomena from the period of 1947 to 1973. She was instrumental in SHG holding one of the largest audio and photographic archives in the world dealing with crypto-aeronautics.
Content from External Source
And it seems, she ended up deciding what of the old stuff was used (bold by me):

Amazingly, Connors listened to every single recorded call NUFORC received in order to create something usable from this unwieldy mass of raw data. She decided to organize and select reports that showed a broad-based overview of the UFO phenomena being observed and reported at that time.
Content from External Source


All of which resulted in 44 hours of audio reports, which seems to skew Washington. So, if anyone is board this winter and wants to listen in on some early reports about Travis Walton and other "barn burners" from the mid '70s let us know what you hear:

The result of Connor’s effort was Night Journeys in Ufology: 1974-1977, a 44-hour long compendium with 252 tracks that are indexed and summarized. Examples of reports Connors picked included a “barn-burner” event reported by a Naval intelligence pilot in 1977 whose FA-11 was paced by a large triangular craft with a porous foam-rubber-like surface; eight early reports concerning the 1975 Travis Walton abduction in Arizona; reports by no-nonsense truckers and mothers with children aboard whose vehicles are disabled by craft hovering nearby, with possible missing time; an egg-shaped object maneuvering around a police helicopter in Washington State, affecting the instruments; and another Washington State case involving a UFO chasing a car that also involved the appearance of something that looked like a tree crossing the road in front of the car.
Content from External Source
The historic 44-hour Night Journeys in Ufology audio archive documenting the beginning of the modern UFO era is now in the public domain on Michel M. Deschamps’s extraordinary site, Northern Ontario UFO Research and Study (NOUFORS)
Content from External Source
All External Content above about Gribble and Conners: https://nuforc.org/gribble/

So, it's possible that, the whole database is the result of one researcher's compendium of one UFOlogists collection of voluntary reports from some time up to 1994, and the continued on-line voluntary collections since, as reported to 2 other UFOlogists.
 

Rory

Closed Account
I don't know whether this is the best place (since the debunk's all done) or the other thread is (Szydagis's number two) but it would be interesting to note how other countries gather data and how easy it is to make a report.

If I search for "report a ufo sighting" the top hit (on a clean browser) is an FAA page that recommends the National [US] UFO Reporting Center. They also suggest there might be other places but "etc" is as detailed as that gets.

So far so easy for the US. But if I try the UK the top results are sites like The National Archives or the MODs FOI releases, both listings of past reports, and the first results for actually filing a report are for NUFORC.

Also, the MOD's recording and investigation actually ended in November 2009, with about 640 reports having come in that year before recording ceased.

Year-on-year figures I don't immediately see, with the top results once again directing me to articles on "European UFO hotspots" (but with very small numbers taken from the obviously deficient NUFORC); and the French one I only found because of seeing it in a post on Twitter.

Anyway, would be interesting to see links for other countries' databases and reporting sites and: a) get a more true idea of numbers; plus b) get a good sense of how large a factor "ease of reporting" plays in all this.

In reference to Mick's map, maybe the fact that the organization is based in Washington State helps explain the high number of sightings there. I don't know about Vermont.

Could be that - one imagines it might be more publicised and more well-known in its home state - though, as you say, Vermont has a slightly higher number of reports per capita than WA, and Montana, Alaska, New Hampshire, Maine and Oregon are very similar.

Mountains and trees?

I was using 150,000 as a low end ballpark, assuming most people don't report to both NUFORC and MUFON.

I guess it's okay to do that - though if we're going to add 20% to the US figure we also have to add it to the French figure also, and then we're kind of back where we started. Also we might imagine that the French are less likely to report a UFO so perhaps we should add more than 20% to their figure?
 
Last edited:

Ann K

Senior Member.
It's complicated, as there are going to be lots of factors influencing the frequency of reports. Even within the US there's some odd variations.
One explanation of the map pattern is that the skies have much greater visibility in the dry areas of the west than they do in the more humid east. Nope, that can't explain things like Maine, but I'm sure it's a factor, especially for the ones in which stars are misidentified as UFOs. I was amazed in Utah to see constellations that I have never seen in Ohio.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Nope, that can't explain things like Maine,
Stephen King? :) i'm guessing water access might increase sightings too. although i guess it would depend ont he direction they saw the ufo.

map of 2012 sightings
1666737307116.png
https://www.arcgis.com/apps/View/index.html?appid=6cd609921ebc44ff914a4e8059813b16

Connecticut is weird, its mostly up the 1-84/i-91 corridor i would have thought most sightings were to the east in the really rural bits . note: in my many decades of life i have never even heard of someone in connecticut seeing a ufo, there was one small plane pilot but he was flying out over Long Island Sound.
 
Last edited:

Ann K

Senior Member.
Peter Davenport has been director of the National UFO Reporting Center since 1994. He has also served as the director of investigations for the Washington Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network. He often presents lectures on specific UFO cases, most notably the Phoenix Lights sighting.
I thought the "Phoenix lights" had been thoroughly debunked a long time ago. Indeed, Metabunk had a thread on it. If that's his lecture specialty, I strongly suspect him of being a non-skeptical devotee rather than a mere recorder of facts and events.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
i'm guessing water access might increase sightings too. although i guess it would depend ont he direction they saw the ufo.
Thanks, nice map ...however the population density is much greater toward the coast, so that's more likely to be the reason, I think.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Thanks, nice map ...however the population density is much greater toward the coast, so that's more likely to be the reason, I think.
true. and that other map...montana only has like a million people (and hey have dinosaurs ;)) so when you do sighting per population it gets kinda screwy.
 

Rory

Closed Account
If we really wanted to work out why some places in the US had more reports than others we'd have to do all sorts of cross-checks. Population total is of course the first level but it doesn't really tell us very much - what I'd be thinking about are things like:
  • Air traffic
  • Number of days/nights with clear skies
  • Outdoorsiness of the population
  • Rural vs urban vs wilderness distribution
  • Light pollution
  • Mindset of population (age, beliefs, mental health, drug use)
  • Likelihood/convenience to report
  • Interest in sci-fi/movie goingness in general
  • Number of tourists and visitors
  • And - if you're a believer - number of military and nuclear sites (interesting to note that New Mexico apparently has less sightings than might be expected)
Here are some more figures from NUFORC showing the all-time number of reports per capita (including the Canadian provinces):

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 11.51.05.png

And the "reports per person per square mile" over both the last five years and the total lifespan of the NUFORC database:

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 21.38.15.png
(IMPORTANT NOTE: The all-time number of reports for Alaska is actually 561 - literally "off the chart" - but in order to keep the rest of the columns legible it's been clipped at 150.)

Or if you prefer a visual map (last five years only):

1666738706216.png

And change over the last five years:

1666739123208.png
Source: https://myvision.org/guides/united-states-of-ufos-and-aliens/#comparing

There may be some patterns there - northwest and northeast vs south, perhaps? - but there's also a fair bit of randomness.


Very nice map. But isn't it weird how the sightings just stop at the Canadian border?

Sorry. Couldn't resist. ;)
 
Last edited:

deirdre

Senior Member.
Here are some more figures from NUFORC showing the all-time number of reports per capita
yea so conn is about 2x to montana even though we are pink and they are dark maroon.

here's a close up of montana's 2012 sightings. alot on rivers, fishermen. campers? which makes sense they'd be out late night with no tv or concert to look at.
1666739360594.png
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
Montana 876 reports per million people, Connecticut 534.

Full list (RPM = reports per million):

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 17.15.53.png
Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 17.16.08.png
Is that total sightings Rory, or last 5 years? Washington is clearly an outlier. They're 3rd in overall sightings (6885) behind only California (15457) and Florida (7790), states with 3-4 times the population. Either aliens really like the Pacific Northwest or people up there see a lot of weird s*&$t in the sky.

Or the whole thing is skewed Washington because that's where it started and where it's based. That leaves us trying to explain Vermont, Montana and maybe Main. I've got some ideas I'll take a look at tomorrow.
 

Rory

Closed Account
Is that total sightings Rory, or last 5 years?

That's total.

Washington is clearly an outlier. They're 3rd in overall sightings (6885) behind only California (15457) and Florida (7790), states with 3-4 times the population.

I don't know if I would say Washington is an outlier: it still lags behind Vermont in sightings per capita and is pretty closely matched with six or seven other states.

As an example, since state boundaries are mostly arbitrary, let's add Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire together to form a northeastern counterpart (and call it New Verhampmaineshire).

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 21.48.36.png

So about 45% of the population and 42% of the number of sightings. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to propose that if there were double the number of people in that area there might also be double the number of reports.

You know what is a common factor though?

All the top six states border Canada!
 
Last edited:

Ann K

Senior Member.
As an example, since state boundaries are mostly arbitrary, let's add Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire together to form a northeastern counterpart (and call it New Verhampmaineshire).
As a child I had a jigsaw puzzle of the states, but all the tiny states of New England were on one piece. Thanks to our dog this was known as the state of Terrychew.
 

Rory

Closed Account
All of which resulted in 44 hours of audio reports, which seems to skew Washington.

Thinking about how evidence for that might show up in the data I figured that the early years might possibly feature Washington more heavily, with other states "catching up" once the reporting centre became more widely known and used.

Here are the numbers of reports for Washington, New York and Florida, years 1944 to 1994:

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 22.37.05.png

And 1994 to the present day:

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 22.36.47.png

Doesn't look to me that it shows a skew towards Washington (though there may still be one). Does seem to show the effect of when internet reporting began though in the mid-90s (note the different scales on the two charts).

I suppose the best way to look at this would be to cross-check it with MUFON's similarly-sized database. But is that a member's only thing?
 
Last edited:

captancourgette

Active Member

Rory

Closed Account
hmmmm I wonder if you laid a bigfoot sightings map over it

That's actually quite a good suggestion (might tally with the "mindset" category).

I'll have a look for a decent and easily pasteable full state list. But according to this site good ol' Washington is number one both in terms of sightings per capita and sightings overall:

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 22.57.17.png

Probably bigfoot has more specific requirements than UFOs but will definitely be interesting to see if there's any correlation.
 

Rory

Closed Account
I'll have a look for a decent and easily pasteable full state list. Probably bigfoot has more specific requirements than UFOs but will definitely be interesting to see if there's any correlation.

In some cases yes, in some cases no (compare Montana, Washington and Oregon to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont):

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 23.16.55.png
 
Last edited:

Rory

Closed Account
And here's a quick chart showing the ratio of UFO reports to bigfoot sightings:

Screen Shot 2022-10-25 at 23.36.55.png

Which is kind of revealing in some ways:
  • Nevada with its lack of forest is #1 (176 times more likely to report a UFO than bigfoot)
  • Smaller more heavily populated eastern states are near the top (or bottom, depending on your viewpoint)
  • New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont rate pretty highly, despite having (I imagine) plenty of places for bigfoot to hide. May be that northeasterners don't much care for bigfoot; or that they really do see a shedload of UFOs; or that there's something peculiar about their UFO figures; or something else; or a combination
  • On average UFO reports are 36 times more common than bigfoot sightings
  • In West Virginia UFO reports are only 8.3 times more likely than bigfoot sightings
  • In overachieving and nation-leading Washington they're 10 times more likely (890 and 89 per million respectively)
No time right now for proper analysis though; maybe another day.
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
In some cases yes, in some cases no (compare Montana, Washington and Oregon to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont):
This is fun. Washington, Oregon are the classic Bigfoot states along with neighboring Idaho and Montana. It would be interesting if there was a breakdown for the northern 1/4 of California near the Oregon border. That's where Bigfoot really got started in popular culture.

Maybe as you suggest, it's a "cultural reporter" thing. We've seen on the forum, that at times, some people inclined to believe in UFOs are also inclined to believe in, or are open to, the idea of ghosts, Bigfoot and other paranormal explanations.

So, some people that see and reports UFOs, may be likely to report Bigfoot also. In addition, you may be someone that reports UFOs while your neighbor reports Bigfoot. In both cases it's depended on your geography and the cultural zeitgeist where you live.

There is the obvious geographical concerns, like the lack of forested areas in most of Nevada as you pointed out makes it hard for Bigfoot to hide out. But also, the zeitgeist of your area. Bigfoot is a thing in Washington, Oregon and far Northern California. I can take a drive today over to the north coast or up to Bend Oregon and I'm going to see big statues of Bigfoot at roadside attractions on either route.

He's a big deal in these areas, but maybe not in New England culturally speaking, even though there are plenty of woodland areas. One could argue there has just been to many people running around those woodlands for too many years, but what about Alaska?

IF Bigfoot were a real creature, then one would expect the remoteness of Alaska to be his ideal home. Much like the grizzly bear that used to be common all the way down into Mexico, most of the ones living in the US today are in Alaska. Why so few sightings, especially compared to UFOs? Bigfoot isn't a thing in Alaska it seems.

I can't help to think that if the Bigfoot sightings have a large cultural component, might not the UFOs as well?

1666801254220.png


Not to get off topic, just backing up a claim. Grizzly bear distribution:

1666804153053.png
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
This is fun. Washington, Oregon are the classic Bigfoot states along with neighboring Idaho and Montana. It would be interesting if there was a breakdown for the northern 1/4 of California near the Oregon border. That's where Bigfoot really got started in popular culture.
Northern Ohio doesn't have many bears. When one wandered through town, down to Akron and wherever it went next, its current location was daily news. I'm sure there were bigfoot reports following it. But one would think that residents of bear country would recognize a bear when they see it.

There was a TV show called "finding Bigfoot" which should have the title "NOT finding Bigfoot." I found it amusing when they heard animals in the woods at night and solemnly nodded and said "Sounds 'squatchy'". :)
 

Rory

Closed Account
This is fun. Washington, Oregon are the classic Bigfoot states along with neighboring Idaho and Montana. It would be interesting if there was a breakdown for the northern 1/4 of California near the Oregon border. That's where Bigfoot really got started in popular culture.

You're so right about that: dividing land areas by state lines certainly isn't the best way to do it since portions of some states will have more in common with their neighbours than with other parts of their own state, or regions within states would be better off considered separately. But I guess it's beyond the current scope to think about that level of detail.

And thinking about the best way to present such data, I'm not sure charts, incidence tables, heat maps, etc are as illustrative as I'd like them to be. How about something simple such as showing the +/- percentage difference from the average?

Screen Shot 2022-10-26 at 12.54.36.png

Makes it easy to see which states are plus/plus, minus/minus or a mix, and to what degree. Also, I think it helps bring out results that pique curiosity, such as those that are high in one but low in another.

Very interesting that Texas is way below the average in both categories. You'll have to forgive my stereotyping but if this is some sort of measure of lack of credulousness I wouldn't have bet on them to win.

Then again, it always has to be caveated with the fact that these aren't records of sightings, but records of reports of sightings. So it's really: who is most likely to see something they consider unusual and go to the trouble of reporting it.

Aside from some measure of internet access and use - and maybe a comparison with other things that are less/more likely to be reported - I'm not currently sure how one would factor for that.

Lots of other column headers that could be added to something like this to maybe flesh out a picture of what and why (though I'm far from certain even with all categories considered anything concrete could be deduced - other than the northwest corner is where the action's at).
 
Last edited:

Rory

Closed Account
Hey look: Vermont, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Montana and Maine are all among the highest states for marijuana use too. ;)

Screen Shot 2022-10-26 at 13.24.13.png

Source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/723822/cannabis-use-within-one-year-us-adults/

And you know who's bottom?

Texas.

Might have to add a column for that. Though given that many DMT users report seeing alien-type creatures - and in particular the mantis-oids - knowing the stats for psychedelics may be even more useful.
 
Last edited:

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
he's supposed to be part ape. and it gets cold here in winter.
Washington and Oregon get cold, as does Idaho and Montana. I think your guys in New England just don't believe the way us out west do. What do you call the little elf people that took Rip Van Winkle bowling for 20 years? That was up-state New York right, which is almost the same as New England. We need a chart that compares UFO sightings in New England to elf sightings. :D

"Sounds 'squatchy'".

Yes, a ridicules line. I only remember it from the commercials as I found most of those shows unwatchable. Of course, whenever the kids and I are up in the hills, we use the term 'squatch.

So it's really: who is most likely to see something they consider unusual and go to the trouble of reporting it.

I think that's key. NUFORC and its antecedents were all based in Washington and publicized in local media. It may have taken only a few acolytes to spread the word in Vermont and Montana to skew the numbers a bit.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Washington and Oregon get cold,
not as cold, from the sites i looked up.

as does Idaho and Montana.
we have more bigfoot sightings than Idaho and Montana.

note: i dont like this "per population" thing. it skews numbers esp as we dont know if the sightings were residents or tourists etc.

add:
Article:
How Tourism Fared in 2020
2020 estimates from the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research (ITRR) indicate that 11.13 million travelers came to the Montana during the year, down 12% from 2019. Half of those travelers (5.6 million or 51%) came during the third quarter (July-September).


Article:
Montana
Population Estimates, July 1 2021, (V2021) 1,104,271
 
Last edited:

jplaza

Active Member
note: i dont like this "per population" thing. it skews numbers esp as we dont know if the sightings were residents or tourists etc.
On the contrary. If you don't correct by population then you have the skewed numbers, you can't compare them.

It's not the same if you have a single person looking at some point at the sky, than having a hundred looking at different points in the sky. It is more probable for the hundred people group that any of them sees anything, than a single person. But that doesn't mean a ufo/bigfoot/chupacabra/whatever is reported more or less frequently in one situation than the other. You simple have more chances that anyone confuses a star with a UFO. That's why you need to correct somehow the number of reports with the population if you want to compare different regions.

But it is true that the "per population" thing is also tricky, as it varies with time. It's not the same population in the 70's than in the 90's. You can also have places that are more populated in summer than winter...
 

Rory

Closed Account
note: i dont like this "per population" thing. it skews numbers esp as we dont know if the sightings were residents or tourists etc.

It's a good point (included in my original list of factors) and could definitely skew things. Perhaps visitors are even more likely to see something (fresh eyes, excited tourists, etc).

We could adjust the population numbers by adding number of visitors divided by average length of visit for a rough but perhaps more accurate estimate.

(Eg, if 10.4 million annual visitors stay an average of a week that gives an additional population of 0.2 million each year.)

the "per population" thing is also tricky, as it varies with time. It's not the same population in the 70's than in the 90's

Another good point I've thus far been ignoring hoping no one would notice. ;)

Would be relatively easy to adjust for if the data's there. And I suppose would only make a difference if some states grew much more rapidly than others - which is probably the case.
 
Last edited:

Rory

Closed Account
I tweeted the original map last year, calling the US UFO density a "culture-bound" phenomenon.
Source: https://twitter.com/MickWest/status/1409717891088359443

Obviously you can't tell that just from the US NUFORC data, and it's hard to compare with other countries.

BUT, the Geipan database has only about 3,000 entries.

NUFORC has 141,000 125,000

MUFON has 126,000

Population of US: 330 Million
Population of France 67 Million

The US has five times the population, but over fifty forty times as many UFO reports.

Looking again at another nation-to-nation comparison.

NUFORC reports for first eleven months of 2009: 4,724
Subtract 12.5% (estimated) for non-US reports: 4,134
UK Ministry of Defence reports for same period: 642

US population (2009): 306.8 million
UK population (2009): 62.3 million

The US had 5 times the population and 6 times the number of reports.

Much closer ratio than the US to France.


That arcgis map is really interesting. Seems like it shows sightings are generally either in and around the cities or along the major highways and freeways (ie, where the people are). Does seem like quite a few were out fishing though, from a cursory scan.

Maybe the fact that the organization is based in Washington State helps explain the high number of sightings there. I don't know about Vermont.

Thinking about that, Washington is where the whole flying saucer thing kicked off; while Betty and Barney Hill popularised abductions near the Vermont/New Hampshire border.

One might imagine New Mexico would be higher in the charts if there was something to this idea. Only ranked 8th in sightings per capita - but at +62% above the average it's still well elevated.

Thinking about how to test the theory I was thinking one might expect a jump in reports in VT/NH in and after 1961. Unfortunately there are so few sightings - an average of 2 per year from '61 to '75 - that nothing can be surmised.

I did however notice that New Hampshire had a total of 19 reports in 1977-78, which is more than in both the 11 years previous and the 10 years that followed (no such spike in Vermont, nor a random sampling of three other states).

I'd prolly broaden it to cryptids in general, as each region has their own speciality 'skunk ape, mothman etc'

Got databases?

I think that's key. NUFORC and its antecedents were all based in Washington and publicized in local media. It may have taken only a few acolytes to spread the word in Vermont and Montana to skew the numbers a bit.

I dunno. I think if something like that had taken place it would show up in the numbers. Not seeing any evidence for it (post 21).
 
Last edited:

Rory

Closed Account
Looking again at another nation-to-nation comparison.

And another - here's the Dutch UFO reporting centre:

https://ufomeldpunt.nl/

Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 11.10.52.png

Over the same time period NUFORC recorded about 64,000 US sightings.

US population in midpoint of 2016: 323 million
Netherlands population (2016): 17 million

The US has 19 times the population of the Netherlands but only 5 times as many UFO reports.

Based on these numbers the US is positively uninterested in UFOs when compared with the Dutch! :oops:
 

Rory

Closed Account
Something interesting - here are the average sightings per month in the Netherlands:

Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 11.56.08.png

Which would seem to confirm the hypothesis that reports are more likely to be made during the summer when people are outside more and there are more visitors.

Likewise with the US:

Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 12.07.22.png
NB: Neither chart weighted for the variance in number of days per month.

Something that strikes me here is that: a) populous regions such as Florida and southern California that don't really have seasons may be skewing and smoothing that curve a little; and b) given that the places where UFOs are most often reported (per capita) are all northerly and somewhat chilly/grim in the winter it might be supposed that they're in fact a little underrepresented.

Here are Washington, Vermont, New Hampshire, Montana, Maine and Alaska by month:

Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 12.35.27.png
NB: Washington is divided by 5 to fit it on the chart.

Observation: it kind of fits the summer months pattern, but Vermont is pretty flat and Alaskan sightings are much more common between October and March:

Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 12.43.23.png

Weird.
 
Last edited:

Duke

Active Member
And another - here's the Dutch UFO reporting centre:

https://ufomeldpunt.nl/

Screen Shot 2022-10-27 at 11.10.52.png

Over the same time period NUFORC recorded about 64,000 US sightings.

US population in midpoint of 2016: 323 million
Netherlands population (2016): 17 million

The US has 19 times the population of the Netherlands but only 5 times as many UFO reports.

Based on these numbers the US is positively uninterested in UFOs when compared with the Dutch! :oops:
The Dutch are well known in aviation enthusiast/spotting circles to be among the most "airminded" in the world. The Dutch Aviation Society is extremely active, with numerous chapters throughout the country. It publishes a monthly magazine ("Scramble") that traces aircraft movements both domestically and internationally, and keeps readers up to date on all matters aviation related in the Netherlands. They also operate an active message board/forum.

A national interest in aviation doesn't necessarily correspond to an interest in UFOs, but those interested in aviation tend to look up. Hard to see a UFO if you're not looking skyward.
 

Rory

Closed Account
The Dutch are well known in aviation enthusiast/spotting circles to be among the most "airminded" in the world. The Dutch Aviation Society is extremely active, with numerous chapters throughout the country. It publishes a monthly magazine ("Scramble") that traces aircraft movements both domestically and internationally, and keeps readers up to date on all matters aviation related in the Netherlands.

Sounds like you're more clued in than me but I would guess other countries have similar numbers of spotters, enthusiasts and magazines. For example, according to a database of worldwide aviation magazines the Dutch have 3 monthly news-stand magazines, while France has 9 and the UK has 8, plus one weekly. Per capita it's pretty even.

Who are the other "most airminded countries"? Would be interesting to see if they have similarly large numbers of UFO reports.
 
Top