The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UFO reporting

Researchers have studied the relationship between confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in UFO sightings in the US

Ever wonder if societal factors like pandemics can affect UFO reports? In a recent article published in Journal of Scientific Explorationresearchers at the University of Vermont and the Center for UFO Studies have verified that it does not, but Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites did have an influence nonetheless.

The authors hypothesized that the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to business closures and social distancing measures, may have led to an increase in UFO sightings. The reasoning behind this hypothesis was that as more people stayed indoors and spent more time outdoors, available free time could have increased, which could lead to more UFO sightings. Furthermore, the authors tested the idea that increased feelings of anxiety and uncertainty may have led to greater attention to the environment, which may have caused people to notice unusual phenomena more often and understand what they were experiencing. relating it to him. with UFOs.

The authors analyzed data from the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), the two most comprehensive UFO reporting websites in the United States, from 2018 to 2020 and compared the number of UFO reports before and after the start of the pandemic. To test whether social factors may have influenced the number of reports, they used publicly available data for social mobility from Google Community Mobility Reports and SARS-CoV-2 cases and deaths, which are surrogate measures of stress and anxiety.

Their analysis showed that UFO reports increased in 2020 from the previous year by around 600 reports in each database. However, no relationship was observed between the number of reports (aggregated within the US or by state) with measures of mobility and pandemic health, which does not support the idea that social factors caused the increase in reports.

The researchers then looked for alternative causes and identified the start of regular Starlink satellite launches in late 2019 as a complicating factor. These launches include up to 60 small satellites at a time, which are highly distinct and often easily visible. As a result, many people have understandably reported them as UFOs. The analysis demonstrated a relationship between a release and subsequent reports. After eliminating those reports, they retested the association with pandemic health and social factors, but again found no relationship. Critically, with the removal of the Starlink report, there has been no statistical increase in reporting in 2020 and even a decrease in reporting to NUFORC.

The astronomical community is concerned about the impact of Starlink and other similar projects, which launch large numbers of satellites into relatively low orbits and could degrade astronomical measurements. The authors showed that the UFO community has a similar problem.


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on UFO reporting

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