How many genuine UFOs are seen in Oregon every year?
This is a very difficult question to answer definitively. Here are some elements to consider quite apart from the definition of "UFO." The definition of "UFO" is the easy part as you'll see later.
- People are many times reluctant to report a sighting because of the ridicule factor. In the last 60 years, government and media disparagement of the UFO phenomenon has created a climate in the U.S. and around much of the world where people feel foolish merely reporting something odd they have seen maneuvering in the airspace around them. This seems odd on the face of it since you would think that governments would encourage their citizens to report possible hostile intrusions into sovereign airspace as an attack on their countries. You would think that governments and militaries would welcome help from citizens in reporting these possibly hostile intrusions. But this is not the case.
- Ufologists guestimate for every sighting that gets reported perhaps as many as ten do not. Have you ever reported your sighting(s)? Ask your friends about their sightings. Did they report their sightings?
- People don't know where to report a sighting. No official reporting center or agency of any governmental organization (local, state, or federal, including the U.S. military) takes or compiles reports in any official way in the U.S. (However, this may be done secretly, hidden behind the massive secrecy apparatus in the governmental and corporate world in the U.S. This is plausible, but we don't know if this is true in public ufology.)
- Only citizen-supported UFO investigative organizations collect and investigate UFO sightings in the U.S. People tend to report their sightings to the first organization they may find, which today is mostly via the Internet. There are a number of places to report your sighting such as NUFORC, MUFON, UFOs NW, HBBC UFO Research, etc. But this is a hit and miss affair. If you call up a governmental authority (police, sheriff, military base), as likely as not you'll not get a referral to any of the citizen-based UFO groups.
- UFO reporting/investigation groups come and go over the years and when they go kaput, don't always pass on their accumulated reports to other UFO groups that spring up and continue the long tradition of citizen-supported UFO investigative groups.
- Existing groups don't always cooperate in sharing UFO reports.
Now that you know some of the real problems investigators and ufologists face just trying to get a handle on this very basic question about UFOs, we will take a crack at answering it: How many genuine UFOs are seen in Oregon every year?
Since we are affiliated with MUFON, Inc., we went directly to the MUFON Case Management System (CMS). You in the public use the "front end" of this system to report sightings to MUFON at mufon.com. We local MUFON investigators use the "back end" of CMS to report our findings about the cases you report and make our best determination of what the stimulus was for what you saw. The MUFON CMS gives three basic categories for the stimulus of a UFO sighting:
- IFO. This is an "identified flying object" and may be any of a variety of human-made (or caused) objects or effects, or a natural object or effect generally known to the scientific world, like ball lightning. (Natural phenomena not known until the last 50 years to science have virtually never been reported as UFOs. For example, in 1989 the upper atmosphere "sprite" electrical phenomenon was observed for the first time, but this has never been reported as a UFO.)
- Unknown. This is the genuine UFO, which is more or less an intelligently guided, anomalous effect or object. These are of various descriptions ranging from classic, "nuts and bolts-looking" flying saucers or objects (triangular, chevron, box-like, etc.) to balls, orbs, arrangements, etc. of single or multiple colored lights and other effects.
- Hoax. This is, of course, a human-caused, deliberate attempt to fool a witness into thinking that he or she saw or experienced something anomalous. A hoax can also be an attempt to fool a UFO investigator that something anomalous was experienced (or videotaped or photographed) by the hoaxer.
The UFO Activity in Oregon
As of August 2008, the MUFON CMS gave us a total of 273 cases reported for Oregon, mostly describing cases taking place since about 1999. Here's how they breakdown.
- Unknowns: 55. (These are genuine UFOs or "flying saucers.")
- IFOs: 19. (These are Identified Flying Objects.)
- Hoaxes: 17. (These are mostly kids typing bogus UFO reports into the CMS.)
- Insufficient Data: 34. (This means just not enough reported data to make a judgment one way or the other.)
- Assigned: 96. (This means we are still investigating these cases with our limited resources.)
- Old sightings: 41. (These are not worth investigating with our limited resources.)
Thus, so far, we have 55 genuine UFOs (Unknowns) over about seven years, but we have the 96 uninvestigated (Assigned) cases outstanding. To count the uninvestigated cases and add them to the investigated cases, let's assume the same percentage of Unknowns (55) to Hoaxes (17) plus IFOs (19) plus Insufficent Data (34) as in the investigated cases. This is about 44% Unknowns (UFOs). Thus, 44% of 96 (the Assigned cases), which is about 42 Unknowns, will likely come out of the Assigned cases once they are investigated. So, over seven years we have 42 probable Unknowns plus 55 Unknowns, which is 79 divided by 7 years. This equals about 14 Unknowns (genuine UFOs) a year for Oregon in recent times.
However, as indicated above, anyone in the UFO investigation business—like Oregon MUFON—knows that far more UFOs are seen than are reported. It is very difficult to get a handle on this number. You could easily double 14 and not be wrong. You might even say there are ten sightings for every one that gets reported to any UFO investigative organization, and you still might not be too far off. There are probably easily 100 genuine UFO sightings per year in Oregon.
But, of course, these figures are quite uncertain and will remain that way until academia gets serious about UFOs and does the long-term study that they should. The key to lighting a fire under academia is the U.S. Congress. If enough of us call our U.S. representatives and make a big enough ruckus, then eventually Congress will make federal dollars available to academia so that it will be OK for the academics to study UFOs without fear of ridicule. (We need to understand that academics are abject cowards when it comes to studying the entire field of the paranormal, of which UFOs are a part. Dangle "safe" federal dollars in front of them, however, and, guaranteed, they'll take the bait.)