actual pdf version)

Where Are the Close Encounters? 

By Mark Rodeghier 

Source: International UFO Reporter (IUR); (August 2006); V30 No4, pp 26-27 

            Those of us who follow the ebb and flow of raw UFO reports, whether to MUFON or CUFOS, or to well-known websites, including the National UFO Reporting Center, have come to recognize the drop in close encounters. Whether it is physical trace events or a good old fashioned CE3 with the sighting of a humanoid, these cases seem much less frequent now-a-days.

            The latest report from Chris Rutkowski’s Canadian UFO Survey ( confirms this trend. Figure 1 shows the number of reports received each year across Canada. For whatever reason, reports in general have greatly increased in this decade, although the total dropped a bit in 2005. There are far more UFOs reported now than in the 1990s in Canada. The same is generally true for the United States, although perhaps with not as great an increase since 2000. 


            What about close encounters? Have they followed the same trend? Figure 2 provides the answer. 

            The number of reports is much smaller – only about 4% of reports are close encounters over the 17-year period in Canada – so there are larger relative swings from year to year. But close encounters generally do increase, beginning in the current decade, although not to the higher levels of the 1990s.

            But is this the whole story? I’d suggest not, I and colleagues have noticed that close encounters are not as common, compared to other cases. To investigate this, we need to look at the percentage of all sightings that are close encounters.

            Figure 3 shows the percentage of all reports that are close encounters, by year. It is immediately evident that our sense of the data has been correct. There has been a fairly steady drop in the percentage of close encounters since the first year of the Canadian survey in 1989. Close encounters now comprise only about 2 percent of all reports. 

            What does it all mean? Are UFOs reluctant to come near to witnesses? Do they no longer land? Since witnesses generally can’t seek out a UFO close encounter, it would seem that influences beyond witness behavior would be underlying this trend. Still, if witnesses were now more likely to report distant events of lights in the sky, but less likely to report close encounters, we would see the same pattern. But I can’t easily imagine why that disparity would be true.

            This pattern is further evidence that the characteristics of the UFO phenomenon are not fixed and immutable. The appearance and behavior of the phenomenon has changed quite a bit over time (e.g., from disks to triangles), and this change is one of the latest examples. It would certainly be interesting to see data for other countries to see if this trend holds more broadly.

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