February 23rd has passed, and for those of you who remember, several weeks ago, I made a wager with Chris Rutkowski concerning the effect The X-Files would have on UFO sighting reports in North America.
The results, now that the deadline has passed and The X-Files is officially over (for now), are interesting.
**Please note that MUFON CMS was used as the only source. This kept it simple.**
Using sighting report submissions over the last five years between the dates of January 23rd and February 23rd, I averaged the number of cases reported to MUFON in the United States. The average number equalled 477 submissions between the above dates.
This year, there were 336 submissions of sightings in the United States between those two dates.
Using the same method, Canada had an average sighting count of 23. Between those dates, 33 sightings were submitted.
The numbers here raise some interesting points. First, sightings in the United States fell significantly compared to the five year average. Secondly, sightings in Canada increased significantly compared their the five year average.
According to Chris Rutkowski,
“First of all, although CMS covers a lot of ground, it’s not the only source for UFO reports. It may have some inherent collection bias. In 2013, for example, in the Canadian UFO Survey database, there were 160 UFO reports for all of Canada during the two months of January-February 2013. We don’t break them down by weeks. Looking at the 2014 data from the database, I can see there were 57 Canadian UFO reports between January 23 and February 23, 2014. That’s significantly more than the average number from the CMS data.
I can note that although we don’t have tabulated 2016 data yet, this year seems pretty quiet so far. Few cases are coming through the various channels, including MUFON. So the increase in Canadian cases within the CMS data for 2016 might just be a blip.”
I was incorrect in my claim that there would be a correlation between The X-Files and an increase in the number of submitted sightings. While I do not have the numbers from other reporting agencies, I do not think that it matters.
There seems to be little correlation between a single pop culture television paranormal drama and the reporting of UFOs. That being said, I’m not willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I am still convinced that the media does play a role in the sighting/reporting of UFOs. While there may be no evidence to suggest that single programs will sway the population to “see” and report UFOs, do UFO sightings increase or decrease based upon high media publicity? In other words, if UFOs are in the media a lot, due to an alleged wave or flap, major incident, public awareness increase, or the development of many related television programs or films, will the increase of significant media attention move people to make sighting reports?
I do not have a firm answer yet and I am unsure if there is a way to track this type of information.
One thing that is confirmed? I lost the wager. I owe Chris Rutkowski dinner.
Enjoy resting upon your laurels Chris...for now.
Photo courtesy of Thomas Fricke Photography.