2015 Canadian UFO survey released
Another year has passed and another Canadian UFO survey has been published. As always, I want to congratulate the individuals involved for publishing something that other UFO organizations appear to be afraid to do. They actually list all the sightings they collected and then classify them so the reader can see the results.
The survey for 2015 has 146 cases listed as “unknowns”. These “unknowns” are what everyone focuses their attention upon but I have to wonder if anybody even bothered to look at the data very closely.
According to the survey:
Defining an unknown
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.1
This implies that the “unknown” classification is to be applied to cases where the report indicates something exotic was seen and a thorough evaluation had been conducted. A quick review of the survey indicates that it appears that there are some “unknowns” that should not have been given this classification.
The first thing I noticed about the unknown classifications are that certain fields are not complete. I would assume it might be a case of bad data entry but it was not just isolated cases. Almost half (69/146 by my count) of these cases do not have a duration for the event. The definition of an unknown is that the report contains enough information to eliminate a conventional explanation. One would think that “duration” would be an important bit of information in evaluating the case.
Allan Hendry once stated the following about having the proper data to make an IFO/UFO evaluation:
In my own reports, I would never have dreamed of making an IFO/UFO judgment without important parameters like shape and dura- tion.2
It wasn’t duration that was the only thing missing in some of these “unknowns”. By my count, seven did not have a time listed and one did not have a specific location given other than British Columbia. In my opinion, one has to at least consider lumping these cases into the “insufficient information” category and not the “unknown” classification. How can these reports actually be consid- ered to have enough information to even attempt a solution? If no solution can be attempted, then they really can not be classified as “unknown”.
How reliable is reliable?
Some of the other sightings listed as “unknown” that caught my eye seemed dubious at best. Even more strange was how they managed to get high reliability ratings. Reliability is a subjective measure and I found several examples which made me ques- tion the scale being used.
This sighting report on the 22nd of May could be found in the MUFON database.
I was outside my parents place at 12:20 recording myself because I was seeing weird stuff in the sky and everything went quiet for a moment, and just not your normal quietness, anyways I saw a orb in the sky flying all directions until it took off towards the north and vanished. Then another showed up to the NE and was bobbing up and down like a yo-yo and vanished quite quickly. Suddenly no more than 5min after another craft showed up above the trees in front of me no more than 100-150ft from me with red and green lights pul- sating around the object and all of a sudden the lights went out and it started to glow red in the center a bit and it just kept getting more red and as it was turning more red it was making a humming or roaring sound and it kept getting louder the more red it got. as this was happening I was walking back closer to the house and gradge and it took off with the whitest light that I have ever seen and just as it was flying over me it stoped and I know this sounds crazy and Im not religious so anyways it stoped above me and opened up and it was a Angel I saw her wings face smiling at me and her feet were crossed and in that short moment she made me understand that everything is going to be ok for us, I never felt more at peace and anyways shortly after she folded up her wings and took off. My mom was heading home from work around 2:00am in the morning and when she was coming close to Harcourt she saw weird red orb in the sky and my mother does no believe in that kind of stuff, so when I was telling my story to my mom and dad,she said she also seen something the same night. I don’t think that I got anything on my cell but ill give u what ever I can to help? I took a little bit of video audio but I stopped recording shortly after I started hearing weird sounds because I stopped it and ran for the house, I wasn’t really concerned about my cell at the time but when I seen the glowing object I tried to get it to record but no success. not sure may have been my own fault because I was so stunned when I seen the glowing object. Sorry I wish I could have got it!3
This was given a reliability rating of “6” out of “10”. The highest rating I saw in the database was a “7”. This means this is one of the more reliable sightings in the database. Do we really consider a sighting of an “angel” to be an actual event? I admit the possibility exists he saw something unusual but when the sighting is laced with religious overtones bordering on miraculous visions, a certain amount skepticism begins to surface. Certainly, a reliability of “6” is a tad inflated in regards to this sighting.
I really had to wonder about this October 11, 2015 sighting, which read:
This list is just a suggestion but it uses a graduated scale that makes the report more and more reliable as certain standards are met. A single witness case can be considered reliable but only to a point. Eventually, there needs to be some sort of confirmation to increase that reliability. Getting to a rating of 9 requires multiple witnesses, who provide information that can be quantified and be used to compute the object’s location, altitude, and speed. Looking at the scale above, I would state that most of the reports in the Canadian UFO survey would fall in the 1-5 category.
Despite the present ability of people to hoax photographs and videos, I decided to include them in the UFO report scale. Most pho- tographs in these databases are taken by honest people. However, the potential for hoax exists, especially when the photographs appear to contain some form of exotic craft or there are inconsistencies in the images compared to the report given.
The problem with assigning reliability ratings is that a majority of the people filing the reports are not very good at articulating their observations in a way that can be properly evaluated. It is my opinion that the survey has accepted this poor data as the norm and substandard reports are being given average ratings. This inflation of reliability ratings can produce questionable results.
How much investigation?
The survey makes it clear that some, if not a majority, of the cases were never really investigated beyond evaluating the report found in the databases. Even the “most reliable/interesting” cases of 2015 apparently were not well investigated. One of the cases was explained in SUNlite 7-2 and I have to wonder about some of the others.
A mass sighting?
There were ten cases that the survey singled out as being the most interesting. Many were single witness cases but others seemed to include multiple witnesses, which might result in something meaningful being extracted from the report. Unfortu- nately, just because the report states there was more than one witness does not mean that this helped in evaluating the report’s reliability. One such case came from the NUFORC database and involved a large group of people seeing an enormous craft hovering over a metropolitan area:
This is the first time I have ever seen something like this. I live above a hotel niteclub and the noise keeps me awake til the early AM hours. I heard a bunch of people outside the bar at closing making a rackett after leaving the bar. They were shouting ohs and ahs and look look look very excitedly. I looked to where they were pointing and saw above the tall building across the street a brightly lit triangle. Now this is the same area of the sky that the planes travel for landing at the local airport, so at first I thought it was a very low and slow plane heading for the airport. But the craft was going too slow and too low. I guess it was only 500 feet above ground elevation. A RCMP police car pulled up as the people were standing in the street disrupting traffick, so there maybe a police report to this incident. But anyway, the vehicle seemed to notice the commotion below and stopped dead. It stayed stopped for about 2 minutes, I guess, as I was so awestruck I lost track of the time.
The craft was large.. I guess about more than 200 feet long from point to wide end of the triangle. But I could not see the whole thing as the back end was blocked by the highrise building across the street. I could only guess as I only saw the whole thing when it took off later. It brightened to twice the illumination as it stopped as it seemed to be aware of the people below and the flashing RCM Police car lights.. At this point in time two more police cars arrived with their sirens and lights flashing and when this happened the craft’s lights went out and it took off towards the airport very fast but without any noise at all! There were about 50 people in the street in various levels of intox- ication myself and my friend and three police witnessing this sight.10
This sighting had a reliability rating of “7”, which probably has a lot to do with the claims made in the report. Despite rating it a high quality sighting, there is little in the way of details. We do not even know which direction the witness was facing. More importantly, it is a report by one individual. With so many people and the local police involved, one would think that there would be more infor- mation/reports. A check of the Kamloops news media archives revealed no information about this incident despite the police being involved and there are no other reports in the NUFORC or MUFON database.
I asked Chris Rutkowski if he had more information. He responded that the RCMP confirmed that they were present that morning but there were no details. He also implied that there may be more reports from the 50 witnesses but they did not appear in any database or the survey. Without more details it is hard to accept this case’s “high reliability” because of a single report and the RCMP admitting that they were at the scene of a large gathering of people near a bar at 3AM.
A star or planet photograph?
Another “7” reliability sighting was on October 11th. It only involves one witness but they managed to take photographs to sup- port their claim. The MUFON report of this even reads:
At & about Sunrise on 11th & 12th of Oct 2015 , a radiating “object” in the shape of a large diamond has appeared , colour as witnessed was in gold tone , photographic evidence ( 12 in total but only 3 close-ups are attached in this report ) shows different rotating-changing shapes in all kinds of hues , from white to pink to green to near metallic to blue & so forth . Sighting in Toronto Canada , all info is included within the pictures as is my copyright included as well .
btw , I have been in some contact with Andre Morin the Director of MUFON Canada
I’m willing to forward to you all of the rest pictures of this particular sighting/s but only through email submission , not on public form . Peace .11
The photographs attached to the report were taken with a Kodak Easyshare M1063 camera, which is a simple point and shoot. Exposure times ranged from 1/2 second to 2 seconds. Again, we have a highly reliable report that lacks any real details that can be evaluated. Missing are basic directions of observation and estimated position in the sky.
The fact that the witness saw the event on two successive mornings (not the one listed in the survey) should ring alarm bells that it may have a potential astronomical observation. Besides many bright winter sky stars being visible that morning, the planet’s Ju- piter, Venus, and Mars were all close together in the east. Because the witness stated that it was about sunrise, I suspect his object might be Venus but it is difficult to say. The photographs really do not help resolve the case. They show some sort of point source that is out of focus and not stationary.
Hand holding an inexpensive point and shoot camera with a slow shutter speed is going to introduce apparent motion when the actual object is stationary. I tried to duplicate the effort using my smart phone (LG G4) and the star Capella (left image). I set the
exposure time to 2 seconds (in manual mode) and I used the zoom feature (image on left). I did nothing more than crop the image with no enhancement.
Another photograph I imaged involved a two second exposure of the star Sirius using a digital SLR with a 300mm telephoto lens. The resultant multicolored trail illustrates how much the star was scintillating during the two second exposure.
These images appear similar to the image submitted by the witness and lead me to believe that it is possible that the source might be astronomical and the operator of the camera created the motion seen in the images. Without more information, it is difficult to say.
The solution was there but...
On the first page of the Survey’s data table, we see two cases on the morning of January 10, 2015.12 A year ago, I had worked with Ted Molczan to identify these reports as a venting second stage following the launch of a Falcon rocket earlier that morning at 0947 UTC. This was published in SUNlite 7-213 and the track of the second stage across the sky was a reasonable match to what the observers reported. One of the sightings even had a video that looked a lot like a venting rocket stage. I was surprised to see the “U” label and a “6” value for strangeness on the two reports that I thought had been identified.
If those examining the report thought it was impossible for the sighting to have been visible from Elfros, SK, they are mistaken. Mol- czan computed an ephemeris which made the object visible in the Southeast and moving towards the East peaking at a generous elevation angle of about 12 degrees before decreasing in elevation as it moved towards the east. It is interesting to point out that witness gave a description of their UFO passing into the tree-line in the east as the sighting progressed.
It is peculiar that there is another entry on the list from Gimli, Manitoba only a few minutes after these two sightings. It also gave a description of a venting rocket stage but was listed as “probable”. Why was this case listed as “probable” when the others were rated as “unknown” even though the events appear related?
As a small nitpick, several of these sightings were listed as “daylight discs”. Sunrise in early January for Manitoba and Saskatchewan is after 8 AM. These objects would have been seen in darkness/ early twilight and not daylight.
This brings us to another one of 2015’s “most interesting” Canadian UFO sightings being visible from Lumsden, SK. The description sounds a lot like the venting rocket stage but the time was listed as 1300.
January 10, 2015 1:00 pm Lumsden, SK
Multiple aircraft reported a very large object with a small white light in the middle, surrounded by a halo, moving northbound in the vicinity of Lumsden, SK. One pilot reported the object appeared to descend from above FL410. The sighting lasted one to two minutes.14
One would think that the time would eliminate the Falcon 9 rocket as the source of the sighting. However, I suspected there might be a mistake in the time listed in the UFO survey. The source in the listing states “TC” or “Transport Canada”, which meant these re- ports came from airplanes in flight. Since airplanes are in different time zones, it would not be unusual for the times to be all listed in GMT/UTC/Zulu. If one converts 1300UTC to CST, the time is 0700, which is the time of the Falcon 9 venting event being visible! The fact that airliners saw this event at 0700 CST, and not 1300 CST, appeared to be confirmed by a comment by a pilot about the Elfros sighting at the UFO Stalker website15. He had remarked that a United Air Lines flight had seen it as well.
Chris Rutkowski provided me with a link to the source of the report16. In the e-mail exchange, he admitted that the original time of 1300 CST was incorrect and that it was Zulu time, as I had suspected. The report itself is not very informative but the general description indicates that this was, very likely, another observation of the Falcon 9 second stage venting!
After our e-mail exchange, Chris implied that he was going to correct the “unknowns” associated with this event. One small step at a time.
Is this the best UFOlogy has to offer?
Is the Canadian UFO survey just another collection of UFO stories or is it a serious effort to help resolve the UFO mystery? Every year the report is released and UFOlogist heap praise on the effort and some media outlets fawn over the information. While I like to praise the report’s effort, I notice that it is the same old exercise being repeated over and over proving something we already know: People report events they see in the sky that they perceive as exotic objects.
The only measurable results from the survey are the statistics that can be extracted from these reports. However, Alan Hendry once noted:
Do UFO statistics represent a valid pursuit for more knowledge about this elusive phenomenon, or do they merely reflect frustration that none of the individual reports are capable of standing on their own two feet? Are UFO statistics a bold first step....or a desperate last resort?17
While statistics are nice to see, I have to wonder if these are really adding to what is already known about UFOs. How do these sta- tistics differ from those found in Blue Book records or other UFO datasets? It has been close to forty years since Hendry made this comment and we still see UFOlogists trying to present these same statistics as something significant.
While the Canadian UFO survey is an honest effort to do something with the UFO data, it really isn’t enough. There needs to be a next step for the study of UFOs other than simply collecting UFO stories the same way people collect stamps or coins. Will that next step be forward or sideways?