Damon Poeter September 19, 2011
Is an alien invasion imminent? The past six weeks have seen a spike in UFO sightings in the United States, according to an organization that tracks reports of unidentified flying objects.
The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) reports that there were 1,013 such sightings in August, up from an average of about 500 per month nationwide.
"It's pretty exciting," Clifford Clift, the international director of MUFON, told Life's Little Mysteries last week. "[T]hat's an interesting spike in sighting reports."
There might be several different explanations for the increase in UFO sightings, according to Clift—an actual alien invasion is just one possibility.
Clift told Life's Little Mysteries that UFO sightings periodically increase from time to time—when a big cluster of sightings happens in a short time, it's called a "UFO flap." One reason for this might be a psychological phenomenon called "priming."
When popular culture is focused on UFOs, sightings of them tend to rise alongside the increase in books, movies, and television shows about such objects, he said.
"It's likely that the media and [alien-themed] movies that are coming out, like Apollo 18 and Paul, are piquing people's interest in UFOs," Clift said.
Another possible reason for more sightings is that people are outdoors more in the summer, focusing more eyeballs on the night sky than during other times of the year and increasing sightings of the various objects that tend to get reported as UFOs—airplanes, shooting stars, satellites, weather balloons, and who knows, maybe even alien spacecraft.
There also could be some duplication of sightings going on, according to MUFON. Clift said his organization was still examining the data on UFO sighting reports from recent weeks, with an eye towards determining if during the summer months there had been many reports of many different objects or many reports of the same object, which could be the case if a few objects happened to be spotted in more populated areas.
Perhaps they should also be on the lookout for telltale trails of Reese's Pieces.