sightings have doubled in Canada: Are there aliens among
By: Leslie Scrivener, Feature writer
Published on Sunday, June 02, 2013
to explain the stunning increase in UFO reports - all
those humming, blinking, blinding lights - which have
more than doubled in Canada in the past year?
observers simply seeing the orange glow of Chinese lanterns
they inspired by guitar-strumming Canadian astronaut Chris
Hadfield to gaze skyward, seeking the bright light of
the orbiting space station and seeing other strange phenomena?
it evidence of Laurentian University Prof. Michael Persinger's
"tectonic strain theory" that luminous shapes
as ufologists would have it, are more of them watching
was a busy month in the UFO world: Ufology Research, based
in Winnipeg, issued its Canadian UFO Survey. Not surprisingly,
reports peak in the summer months.
Washington, D.C., six former members of Congress - each
paid $20,000 for their time - and 40 witnesses met in
a series of hearings to plead for a UN-sponsored world
conference on UFOs.
McGill University psychology professor Don Donderi published
the book UFOs, ETs and Alien Abductions - A Scientist
Looks at the Evidence. He asserts that UFOs are here and
we'd better get used to them.
Fair magazine had a profile on once-esteemed Harvard psychiatrist
John Edward Mack, who studied the testimonies of UFO abductees
and advocated for them.
tonight, Discovery airs a two-hour documentary, Aliens:
The Definitive Guide, in which the world's top scientists
discuss their search for life beyond Earth.
of them is MIT astrophysicist Sara Seager, Toronto-born
and educated, who gets all kinds of letters from people
who have seen strange things in the sky and would like
her to explain. "What am I supposed to say?"
she asks in an interview.
is searching for what she calls the Goldilocks planet,
one far out in space that might support life - not too
hot, not too cold, just right.
don't know of a single scientist who actually believes
in UFOs and that aliens have visited," she says.
She needs to see hard evidence, hardware that can be objectively
studied - put on a lab bench and analyzed. In the meantime,
"It's good to get the message across that we are
doing the real search for aliens, though not necessarily
is, they will likely not find a reptilian creature of
science fiction. "It could be microbial life."
Winnipeg, Chris Rutkowski and Geoff Dittman recently released
their analysis of the leap in UFO sightings in Canada
- 986 reported in 2011; 1,981 last year, or about five
every day. Ontario has more sightings thanany other province,
but it also has the largest population.
is more activity in the sky and possibly more people looking,
Rutkowski says. Most reports are of lights, which could
be popular Chinese paper lanterns that float high with
a heat source, military exercises, airliners viewed at
odd angles, or comets entering the atmosphere. Access
to UFO sites on the internet makes it easier to report.
a small number, about 8 per cent of the Canadian sightings,
have no obvious explanation.
share the view with most astronomers that there probably
is life out there but it's difficult to get here from
there and vice versa. We don't have enough information
to say these are spacecraft from other planets,"
probability of that is not zero, but it's very small."
the 148 sightings that couldn't be explained last year,
not one included a report of alien creatures.
argues we need to understand what people see and experience
in the sky and that the science of UFO investigation has
become nearly extinct.
has viewed the phenomenon as too silly to bother with
or dismissed because it can be easily explained,"
says Rutkowski, an author and researcher. "I think
those positions are untenable because polls have shown
that one in 10 Canadians believe they have seen a UFO.
That's three to four million people with UFO experiences."
of the reports in Rutkowski's survey came from Rod Buckmuller,
58, retired from the courier business and living on Lake
Timiskaming near North Bay. The day after he and his wife
Barb saw coloured lights zipping near their house, he
sat down to record the experience.
was 10 p.m. on Aug. 9. Barb was smoking on the side porch;
he was letting the dog out. She screamed for him to come
quickly. She'd seen red and white lights above the tree
line. They'd crossed the lake and then shot high in the
air. By the time Buckmuller spotted the object - he thought
it was a disc about a metre in diameter - it was rotating
slowly and the red light gave way to a green one.
both heard a whirring sound. For a while, it hovered near
a utility pole. "It was moving in a very controlled
manner," says Buckmuller, who walked down the road
near his house to get a better view. "If I had the
chance I was going right up to see what it was. I wasn't
scared. I was really curious."
the lights vanished. They'd watched for two minutes. "It
was a real object. Both of us saw it. It was not a radio-controlled
craft." The next day, Buckmuller was surprised to
see a cable company repairman working on the utility pole.
laments that the only organizations collecting data on
UFO sightings around the world are voluntary. "People
without official backing and, in many cases, individuals
without scientific background. It would be useful to have
an independent objective agency to collect UFO reports
to eliminate the sense of bias."
data collector, Peter Davenport, director of the National
UFO Reporting Centre, based in Washington state, says
spacecraft may visit Earth every day. It's the most important
scientific question confronting mankind, he says. "Are
we alone in this galaxy or are we not?"
for decades, governments have taken a hands-off approach.
the 1960s, Canadian UFO reports were captured in the National
Research Council's study of celestial fireballs and meteors.
Scientists examined the reports and often wrote personal
replies to those who sent in inquiries.
there were always doubts about the validity of the reporting.
"One must also recognize the data distortion which
goes on in the eye-brain mechanism of the observer, and
the psychology of the human both individually and en masse,"
cautions a 1972 NRC pamphlet called "UFO's: What
federal departments, including National Defence, Transport
and the RCMP, sent the council reports of sightings until
the mid-1990s, when the NRC stopped collecting. The files
are still available at the NRC archives in Ottawa and
governments take the view that UFOs are not a threat to
national security, may be no more than imaginary, or can
be explained as natural phenomena. The White House, in
a 2011 statement, said flatly there's no evidence of life
outside the planet or that no ET had contacted anyone
on its investigations of UFOs from 1947 to 1969, the U.S.
air force concluded that the sightings were not highly
sophisticated technologies that surpassed earthly scientific
the ex-McGill prof, disputes that. He says extraterrestrial
vehicles are a threat to national security, are
technologically superior to human invention and some of
these visitors have abducted earthlings, in a kind of
maintains that Earth is under extraterrestrial surveillance
and that governments should chase away those visitors
with fighter jets. (The U.S. air force, he says, surreptitiously
does that now, anyway.)
who co-wrote a university textbook on psychology and for
nearly five decades researched human visual perception
and memory, also argues that a lack of physical evidence
doesn't mean extraterrestrials don't exist. "Eyewitness
testimonies are also evidence," he says, adding perhaps
the spaceships just haven't crashed.
Persinger - known for his work creating mystical experiences
in the so-called God helmet - has long proposed that luminous
events that people call UFOs are natural phenomena, tied
to tectonic strains on the Earth that precede earthquakes.
a recent paper in the International Journal of Geosciences,
Persinger and geophysicist John Derr report that "pyramids
of fiery red colour" and "elliptical corona
of amazing brightness" were observed two weeks before
a 1749 London earthquake.
their theory, strains in rock caused by tectonic stresses
generate visible electromagnetic waves. Aluminum, silicates
and other materials in the Earth's upper crust contribute
to the illusion of metallic shapes people describe in
UFO sightings. Electromagnetic fields can also explain
UFO-related reports of cars stalling and electrical systems
being knocked out, as well as the seizures or amnesia
that some report in so-called alien encounters, he says.
in Sudbury, Michel Deschamps, 48, a shipper-receiver,
sees things quite differently: he counts 27 UFO sightings
since he was 9. He now gathers UFO research and reports
it on his website www.noufors.com (Northern Ontario UFO
Research and Study).
sightings have been what he calls lights behaving weirdly,
but he had a spectacular and frightening experience in
1990, in which a shiny sphere appeared to hover over the
site of the former Canada Forces Falconbridge radar station.
believes ETs have been investigating Earth since the first
atomic bombs were dropped. "That's what got their
attention and they've been coming even more."
other ufologists, Deschamps was heartened by the Phoenix
Lights incident of 1997, when thousands of people reportedly
saw a series of lights in a chevron high in the night
sky over the city. Some described it as a giant spacecraft
and prominent witnesses included the former governor of
Arizona, Fife Symington, also a former Air Force pilot,
who wrote a CNN commentary on the event.
can't wait to see what's around the corner," says Deschamps.
"Maybe something bigger. Maybe they will be more bold,
showing themselves in broad daylight andhovering over large
metropolitan areas for days on end. This would force the
government to cave and admit 'we've lied to you' all these