Ufology is alive and well in the United States and the field appears to be fast growing along with strong growth in witness testimony, according to statistics compiled through early November 2012 with the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON).
A November 4, 2012, story published in The Telegraph was one of several media outlets reporting on a statement made by Dave Wood, chairman of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP). Wood said a meeting had been called to address a crisis in the UFO subject to consider whether or not the subject was "a thing of the past."
Wood cites UFO groups who have gone under and a decline in interest and reports on UFOs.
Reached at his Cincinnati headquarters office today, MUFON Executive Director David MacDonald said ufology was alive and well.
"The fact is that MUFON is receiving on average more than 700 cases a month," MacDonald said. "Furthermore the evidence is there. We have it. There are people in prison right now, some on death row, convicted on less evidence then what we have to support our belief that UFO's are real. We have eyewitness testimony, sworn affidavits, physical trace evidence, photographs and videos."
MUFON is comprised of about 3,000 members and is the largest UFO investigation group organized on the planet.
While the witness database of reports appears to be growing by about 30 percent annually, here are some annual numbers of total reports from Robert Powell, MUFON's Director of Research: 2007, 2,203 reports; 2008, 4,220 reports; 2009, 4,990 reports; 2010, 4,534 reports; 2011, 5,137. During the first 10 months of 2012, MUFON has received a total of 7,272 reports.
Some U.S. groups studying ufology have also become extinct over the past few decades, or scaled back mainly due to a lack of funding. The Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in Chicago, for example, founded by Northwestern University astronomy professor Dr. J. Allen Hynek, announced recently they would cease print publication of their journal, International UFO Reporter.
MUFON was organized in 1969 and has maintained a steady and serious effort to professionally investigate UFO sightings. With a headquarters office now located at the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, each state has a state director, chief investigator and any number of individual field investigators. All incoming cases are available for viewing by the public at their web site - mufon.com - including the date, time, state, nearest city of the sighting - and a brief witness statement of the event.
A high percentage of incoming MUFON cases are revealed to be something natural or man made A smaller number of cases - possibly 5 to 10 percent - are investigated with a final determination of "Unknown." These Unknown cases are more interesting and are then studied with others of a similar determination for a longer term study.
Fletcher Gray is MUFON's deputy director of investigations, the STAR Team manager, and chief investigator for Texas. He disagrees with any decline in the amount of data available and believes there is a continuing interest in the subject.
"In 2006 there were 1,733 cases filed with MUFON," Gray said. "This is an average of 144 cases a month over a 12-month period. Here we are in 2012 and the year has not ended and MUFON's average caseload for the United States is more than 700 cases per month. In the last 10 months 7,272 cases have been filed with MUFON. That's a large increase in sighting reports. Granted that most of these cases are explainable, but I think the question that we need to ask is whether the public is no longer interested in ufology due to the lack of physical evidence? Collection of physical evidence is hard to come by."
< p>Stanton Friedman is a regular columnist for the monthly MUFON UFO Journal and a strong voice in ufology.
"As a retired nuclear physicist who has since 1967 lectured on subjects such as Flying Saucers Are Real or Flying Saucers and Science in all 50 U.S. states, all 10 Canadian Provinces and 18 other countries, I have learned a lot about the public's attitude about flying saucers. First I have had only 11 hecklers in over 700 lectures. Two of them were drunk. When I ask at the end of my lectures how many believe they have seen a UFO, typically 10 percent raise their hands. But 90 percent of them did not report their sightings. Almost invariably the reason is fear of ridicule. Military men who raise their hands typically claim they cannot talk about what they saw. I have seen no diminution in the 45 years I have been speaking. The great majority of my audiences have been college or professional groups.
"The claim that 98 percent of sightings can be explained as conventional phenomena is clearly contradicted by every large scale study. For example, in Blue Book Special Report 14, the largest unclassified study ever done by the Air Force, it was found that 21.5 percent of the 3,201 sightings investigated could not be explained completely separate from the 9.3 percent listed as insufficient information. The better the quality of the sighting, the more likely to was unidentifiable. A statistical comparison showed that the probability that the UNKNOWNS were just missed knowns was less than 1 percent. The University of Colorado study found that 30 percent of the cases studied in detail could not be identified.
"In The UFO Evidence, 18 percent of 4,500 cases could not be identified. The response to my five books clearly indicates that the public is interested in facts and data, not nonsense. My team won a debate about UFO reality at the Oxford University Debating Society getting 60 percent of the vote. I won two debates on Coast to Coast Radio getting 80 percent of the vote in one case, 57 percent in another. It is time the press did its homework on this very important subject."
While good UFO cases continue to occur across the country, several problems remain. Most ufologists believe that only about 5 percent of all UFO cases are actually reported. The pattern to where and when the incidents will occur remains a mystery. The objects appear to move quickly into a location without detection and then can move quickly away. Most UFOs appear to be silent - and together with the speed at which they move - frequently leave behind few witnesses that can verify the object was ever there in the first place.
< p>Here are some recent MUFON cases that turned out to be Unknowns: