UFO Sightings Are On The Rise — Is The Internet To Blame?

We’ve seen many maps and databases charting the number of UFO sightings over the years, and a new analysis by Sam Manfort reveals a continuing trend: Sightings of UFOs have increased since 1980, particularly within the United States.

Manfort’s data comes from the National UFO Reporting Center, or NUFORC, which includes a total of 104,947 sightings since the year 1905. According to this data, a dramatic spike in reported sightings has occurred since 1980/1990. Many of these were of unexplained lights in the sky.

Why the increase, though?

With websites like NUFORC’s and the MUFON online database, it’s easier than ever to report a UFO sighting and for it to propagate online (on websites not dissimilar to this one, in fact). Manfort suggests this may be a cause for the increase in reported sightings.

I do believe that’s part of it. While we’ve always been fascinated by the supernatural, the Internet has allowed much greater access to paranormal work and ideas. We’ve come a long way since those late nights listening to Art Bell on Coast to Coast AM back in the 90s, I’ll tell you that.

And if we’re talking about a spike that began back in the 80s/90s, I actually wouldn’t doubt that Coast had something to do with it.

At any rate, these days, more people are aware of the possible existence of UFOs. This may lead to more reports, simply because we’re paying more attention to the skies around us. We also have handy smartphones, now, which means more photographic “evidence.” It all adds up.

And that’s not to mention the rise of drones, something that no doubt muddies the waters of UFO investigation. They often appear simply as lights in the night sky, and this could explain the increase in “mysterious lights” as seen in the NUFORC data. There are also likely more aircraft in the sky in general.

There’s always, of course, the possibility that we’re seeing an actual increase in extraterrestrial, or otherwise unexplained, activity. But I’ll leave that for you to decide. A UFO, after all, doesn’t necessarily mean anything strange is afoot. But it could.

You can view Manfort’s complete work, as well as commenters sharing their own ideas, over at his blog Visualize This. You may also want to check out a similar visualization from 2015, which also used NUFORC data to chart where and how often UFO sightings were reported within the United States.


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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