Tuesday, January 10, 2023

MUFON 2022 Final Statistics

     The Mutual UFO Network released their December sighting statistics a few days after the new year. This last month of the year saw a bit of a dip in reports with just 561 total reports. This is compared to a high of 934 in August, 786 in September, 826 in October, and a sagging 684 in the month of November. The lowest month of the year was February's 399 total reports.

 
   
Of the 561 total reports for November 442 were documented in the United States. Canada, France, and the United Kingdom were all tied for second with 24 reports each. The reports fall off the face of the Earth after that with six reports in South Africa and five in Australia. The 442 U.S. sightings are the lowest total since April's 399. August was not only the highest total reports but also the highest U.S. reports with 744. September dipped to 660, October had 643, and November finished with 544.

    The state with the most sightings was California with 51, this is typical since California also has the largest population of any state. Texas was next with 37, followed by Florida with 25, Georgia  and Nevada with 22, New Jersey 19, and Ohio with 17. Pennsylvania and Michigan both had 16, Arizona and North Carolina both had 13, Washington and New York had 12 each, Oregon had 11, and Illinois and Missouri had 10.

2022 totals: 7,539 reports / 6,032 United States reports. Although adding up the U.S. states and District of Columbia only brought the total to 5,975.

January 559 (total)/426 (U.S.)

May 602/483

September 786/660

February 399/330

June 633/516

October 826/643

March 417/338

July 634/507

November 684/544

April 504/399

August 934/744

December 561/442

     This breaks down to an average of 628.25 total reports per month and 502.66 average per month U.S. In 2021 there was a total average of 563 and 455 for the United States. In 2020 the average total reports were 632.5 and U.S. was 489.

    The states according to the year ending data is listed below. I did notice some statistical deficiencies in some of the months (as noted in the year total difference above) that showed as many as ten reports missing. I did chalk some of that up to U.S. territories being lumped into the U.S. average but my data focuses solely on the U.S. states as well as the District of Columbia which is collected as well.

   

1. California 615

14. New Jersey 147

27. New Mexico 80

40. Mississippi 36

2. Florida 432

15. Oregon 142

28. Maryland 78

41. Montana 27

3. Texas 402

16. Georgia 137

29. Connecticut 66

42. Hawaii 25

4. Pennsylvania 257

17. Nevada 117

30. Kansas 64

43. Vermont 23

5. Michigan 254

18. Tennessee 114

31. South Carolina 63

44. Rhode Island 20

6. New York 227

19. Massachusetts 113

32. Utah 63

45. Wyoming 20

7. Ohio 226

20. Indiana 109

33. Idaho 53

46. Nebraska 17

8. Arizona 212

21. Kentucky 107

34. Louisiana 52

47. Alaska 16

9. Washington 210

22. Oklahoma 101

35. Alabama 49

48. North Dakota 16

10.  Missouri 202

23. Virginia 98

36. Iowa 48

49. South Dakota 16

11. Colorado 198

24. Wisconsin 96

37. Maine 41

50. Delaware 12

12 North Carolina 162

25. Minnesota 89

38. New Hampshire 37

51. Washington D.C. 7

13. Illinois 155

26. Arkansas 87

39. West Virginia 37

                                    


     While California tops the list it should also be noted that it also tops the list in population. The 615 reports translates to just 1.55 sightings per 100,000 people. Florida's 432 reports equal 2.22 reports per 100,000 people. Casually looking at the list it is fairly in line with the population statistics although Nevada's 117 reports give it a 3.8 per capita (nearly 4 out of every 100,0000 people reported a UFO there) which makes it the highest per capita.

    New Mexico also earned a 3.8 per capita as well with its 80 reports. Vermont's 23 reports earned it 3.7 sightings per 100,000 medal. Maine earned 3 per 100,000. and most other states were below the 2 mark. The 5,975 sightings I calculated translates to a 1.82 reports per 100,000 people for the average.

Saturday, October 15, 2022

Autumn Tales: A Horror Anthology

 


Back in late September I saw a Facebook post from a friend stating that his publishing company, Anatolian Press LLC, was looking for advanced review copy readers for an upcoming release. The one thing I love almost as much as writing books is reading them. Other than molding my own personal projects I have been fortunate to have been able to preview many books over the years providing various editorial guidance or merely providing a review such as the case with this latest effort.

    A few things about this book caught my eye. First, this was a horror anthology of short stories written by (at the time) eight different authors.This is obviously right up my alley as my life has been consumed with all facets of the paranormal, supernatural, and otherworldly for about half of my existence. The other wonderful thing about this book is that the authors and publisher are donating the royalties to help fight human trafficking.

    Human trafficking is a topic that many seem passionate about, but it also seems to get the cold shoulder from the media and is largely ignored by the public. It's a scary topic and it seems that if people can keep scary topics at arm's length, then it might not affect them. The problem is that it is affecting way too many people to be ignored. According to Collective Liberty, the organization where the royalties will be donated, over 40 million people were trafficked globally in 2018. Trafficking includes people for forced labor and sex and is happening closer to you than you might think.

    When I signed up to be a review reader, I knew a ninth author had been added which was Daniel Bautz. Dan had reached out to me over 14 years ago to be the first guest on his podcast, The Grand Dark Conspiracy. Months after that first interview, I returned once again to talk UFOs and cryptozoology as well as the Georgia Bigfoot hoax that was in the news. The following month Dan added a new segment to his monthly two-hour podcast called the Paranormal News Insider. After seven years with The Grand Dark Conspiracy, which later became Darkest Hours Late Night, my podcast went off on its own where I have endured more changes since.

    As of the debut date of the book, Autumn Tales: A Horror Anthology, it now boasts ten authors and ten unique stories. I was only able to read nine of these and I was not prepared for the content. Each story has its own feel since it is carefully crafted by an individual author. Each author injects their own passion for writing and each style makes this an even more enjoyable book to read. As you move story to story you feel as though it is being told to you by the author by the fireside and as each tale ends your attention moves around the ring to the next participant. It is a simple yet effective format for telling chilling stories.

    As a researcher of paranormal topics, I was thrilled to read about aliens, abductions, ghosts, Bigfoot, vampires, werewolves, and other topics within these stories. These fictional stories pull no punches, however, and describe the deepest fears associated with these topics through the careful weaving of storytelling, characterization, and setting. Each story provides a brutally honest view of the world and just as enjoyable is that each one has their own feel through culture and timeframe. The ghosts and other monsters are not perfect, they are not ones we would recognize through the many nonfiction books that describe them or internet pages written that provide categories of them, which makes them all the more evil and all the more perfect.

The book is available on Anatolian Press LLC, as well as Amazon for Kindle as well as on softcover and a special edition hardcover. The book makes its debut on October 15, 2022, just in time to consume it before Halloween.


Saturday, January 1, 2022

The Top Ten Paranormal News Stories of 2021

 The Top Ten Paranormal News Stories are put together strictly by my opinion. They are collected from the stories I’ve talked about all year long and are ranked by a few pieces of criteria. First, have they made a positive impact on one area of the paranormal? Many stories I talk about are hoaxes and misinterpretations, but what stories have created an awareness of a paranormal subject or taught the general public something, or better yet has something been learned about our mysterious world? Granted, even hoaxes can teach us something if we know for sure they were a hoax. Some feel all hoaxes harm the paranormal, but I say some educate us on what to look out for as far as a story or types of data that is presented. It’s easy to believe everything, but hard to be skeptical when you want deep down to believe.

   Second, how viral was the story? Many stories I talk about are popular on paranormal websites but have not been heard of outside of this arena or where the story took place. A story that is big at a regional level will have more weight than a local story and a global story will be higher than that. Also with this I look at how much it was talked about through social media as well as how long it lasted in the news as a developing story. Lastly, I look at the reality of the story. Meaning, does this story include a real person or it is possibly just a story made up for website hits? I usually do this early on to make sure these are truly newsworthy stories to begin with, but still some stories are a bit questionable in their makeup and are just stories hyped up for the paranormal community.

#10 Loch Ness Monster drone hoax

  On September 27th a canoeist named Richard Mavor posted a video of personal drone footage to his YouTube channel Richard Outdoors where viewers quickly pointed out at around 3:50 into the video a strange shape can be seen under the water.

  Mavor was in the area canoeing for charity and decided to take some 4K drone footage of the beach he was at. It was in this footage that people pointed out that he might have just filmed the most elusive water monster in the world. Mavor claims he did not see the shape in the water while he was filming.

  The story quickly spread to the media, and it became the biggest Nessie sighting of 2021. Based on the story initially I didn’t feel it was a hoax and felt it was just a case of mistaken identity with the object being a submerged log or a sand bar. Apparently, I was too generous on this story as many began to take a close look at the video including the YouTube channel ParaBreakdown.


  Analyzing the object, it could have been simply a photograph layered into the video, which would point toward an intentional hoax. Looking at the shape closely Sam Shearon was able to pull the image out a bit more in the video and was also able to compare that image to a toy plesiosaur. It’s pretty much an exact copy of the photograph and is embedded in the video.

  Long time Nessie hunter and researcher Steve Feltham felt immediately that the video was a fake. He said, “There appears to be no natural movement in the object, and an unlikely degree of illumination, I have spent many hours as a passenger in a microlite flying low over the loch trying to spot a silhouette in the dark waters, and things just do not show up that clearly, it looks almost like the object is illuminated.”

  While ParaBreakdown showed the video with the image highlighted next to the photograph of the toy that was used Steve saw evidence of his own. He pointed out, “Mavors had actually used a small section of the drone footage elsewhere in his holiday video, but the clip he duplicated did not have the Nessie image superimposed onto it, whereas the drone sequence did. It's utter nonsense, a schoolboy mistake in the world of hoaxing, never show the investigators your ‘before and after’ workings.”

  He added, “Someone quickly found the online image of a plesiosaur that he had used to create the Nessie shape, which he simply superimposed onto his drone footage. When a researcher asked to see the original footage, he had unfortunately deleted it already, more red flags. Lie upon lie upon lie.  The mystery around what he has done has been completely solved, it's a poorly executed deliberate hoax and now all that is left is for him to own up.”

  Last year we had the Loch Ness Monster photo that turned out to be a catfish that was blended into a photograph. These are examples as to why a mere photograph just won’t bring any valuable evidence on its own of an unknown creature. It also highlights the fact that every time we advance with technology that advancement is eventually used against people for something.

  Why it’s in the top ten: The Loch Ness Monster gets more headlines around the world than any other cryptid. Despite a lackluster year of sightings this story was by the far the largest for Nessie.
  Why it’s only number ten: Despite the interesting backstory and the “I didn’t see it when it happened” angle the story was quickly torn apart by internet sleuths. Had it lasted longer or become a larger story it might have been the biggest hoax of the year.

#9 Pilot reports UFO/UAP/missile over New Mexico
 

  A member of the flight crew of American Airlines flight 2292 radioed to Albuquerque Center that they had encountered something strange. The encounter happened on February 21st at 1:19 Central Standard Time over the northeast corner of New Mexico. The transmission was as follows, “Do you have any targets up here?  We just had something go right over the top of us   - I hate to say this but it looked like a long cylindrical object that almost looked like a cruise missile type of thing - moving really fast right over the top of us.”

  The rest of the flight was apparently uneventful, and the plane landed in Phoenix, Arizona. Many outlets have been carrying this story, and there has been a lot of speculation about what was seen. The audio transmission of one of the crew members is the only evidence that this event occurred and was downloaded by Steve Douglas who published the 14 second audio on his Deep Blue Horizon weblog. 

  Many articles on this incident focus on other reports of cylindrical objects that seem to defy logic. One problem is that all we hear is a short sample of the crew member and Albuquerque Center, we never hear a response. Douglas states that the response was walked on by another frequency. Douglas provides the MP3 sample of the crew member, but he’s also copyrighted it. I’m not sure you can copyright someone else’s conversation especially since anyone can get the same recording as they are generally public domain.

  No one has come forward with any audio from Albuquerque Center or Phoenix for any replies to this inquiry. The website The Drive stated they talked with Douglass and have reviewed an hour before and an hour after the transmission. They are attempting to get the audio authenticated from the FAA and hopefully get a comment about it. 

  A day later there was more evaluation by those who heavily research stories like this such as Scott Brando of UFO of Interest as well as Mick West of Metabunk.org. It seems there are a couple of candidates of aircraft that flew close to the American Airlines flight. A Learjet with the tail number N738RJ flew over the airliner at about 5,000 feet and around 33,000 feet away. While this sounds far away it isn’t for aircraft flying 300 miles an hour plus and the smaller Learjet could be misinterpreted to look like a missile from the angle.

  The big issue with the analysis is that this incident happened at least eight minutes prior to when it was reported. It’s possible the pilot and other crew talked about it before reporting it or it could have come from someone else on the plane.

  The big issue with the analysis is the fact that the FAA responded to the claim by stating, “A pilot reported seeing an object over New Mexico shortly after noon local time on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021. FAA air traffic controllers did not see any object in the area on their radarscopes.” Interestingly, an American Airlines spokesperson told Fox News in a statement, "For any additional questions on this, we encourage you to reach out to the FBI."

  Why it’s in the top ten: One of the biggest private pilot sightings of a purported UFO in recent memory and was splashed on every newspaper around the world. 
  Why it’s only number nine: This report may have been big news, but since it never had any follow up it quickly disappeared as quickly as it appeared, just like the strange cylindrical object.

#8 Patterson-Gimlin film a hoax in July, might be real in December

  On October 27, 1967, the 53-second-long encounter of a purported Bigfoot encounter near Bluff Creek in northern California was filmed by Roger Patterson and observed by Bob Gimlin. Since then, the film has been the center of belief and controversy. Many feel the film provides the best validation of the existence of Bigfoot while many others feel the film is a hoax with a person in a costume.

  Roger Patterson maintained that the film was legitimate despite potential evidence against it all the way up to his death from Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1972. Bob Gimlin has kept a low profile for many years until riding the speaking circuit at conferences and conventions talking about Bigfoot in recent years. He’s maintained to this day that the film is legitimate despite not making any direct money from it and his name being attached brining him a lot of strain on his marriage and personal life.

  Of course, a cast of characters have made claims that they were part of the hoax and that a suit was used by Patterson to fool Gimlin. Over the years a variety of statements have been made in an effort to discredit the Patterson Gimlin film despite a lack of evidence.

  Now a claim by Rictor Riolo, a cast member of Spike TV’s Ten Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty, posted online that a video exists that contains scandalous statements about the video. In part the post read, “Russell Acord has recorded a confession video of Bob Gimlin and plans on releasing it after Bob and his wife have passed away. Russ told me it is scandalous.”

  Thomas Steenburg decided to call Gimlin the following morning for clarification on the claims and stated, “At 9:30 [the following] morning, I called Bob himself. Bob hadn’t heard any of this because it was brand new, and I asked Bob straight out. Is there a video of you making a confession about the Patterson/Gimlin Film? Is this true, yes or no? And he said, emphatically, no. It’s not happened. He doesn’t know why Accord is saying this, but he planned on having a harsh phone conversation with him that day.”

  The plot also thickened as Steve Kulls, the Squatch Detective, made a statement on his YouTube channel. The video of which is now marked private, he explained that Richter is not lying, and that Russell had also told him that Gimlin had said the film is now what everyone thinks it is. Comments on Steve’s video included Finding Bigfoot’s James “Bobo” Fay who stated in short that Gimlin had made a death bed cowboy promise to Roger Patterson about the film but never elaborated. This cowboy promise might be the fact that despite dying of cancer Patterson wanted to go back out and get proof of Bigfoot with Gimlin once he felt better and that promise may have been that Gimlin agreed to do so.

  Despite these claims there is no change in the validity of the film and it’s sad to know that when Bob Gimlin passes away there will be a line of people ready to step in and make claims about what they know about the film to jockey for attention and fame. Obviously then Gimlin will no longer be able to defend himself. Gimlin will turned 90 this year just over a week prior to the film’s 54th anniversary of the film in October.

  The amazing thing about the Patterson Gimlin film is it’s either all or nothing. With many ghost and UFO videos you might have a UFO, balloon, reflection, airplane, hoax, or many other things. A ghost video might be a hoax with CGI, fishing line, or other means, a misinterpretation, or a genuine ghost. The Patterson-Gimlin film is either a person in a suit or the real deal and that’s it.

  The television show called “The Proof is Out There” is in its second season on the History Channel. The show covers paranormal topics as well as other viral subjects floating on the Internet and examines video evidence of UFOs, cryptids, ghosts, and other strange phenomenon and by using different people with varying backgrounds they determine the validity of these pieces of data with a vague grading scale. So far, the show really hasn’t done anything that is groundbreaking to me, but that changed on the December 3rd airing of the 13th episode of season two.

  This episode was titled Bigfoot Revealed and took a new look at the old film and brouhgt in a variety of people to give their opinion on pieces of it that have been the most controversial. They explain that many have based their opinion on the film that was filmed initially on horseback by Roger Patterson who jumped off and chased after the creature now known as Patty to get a closer look. This made the video very jumpy in addition to being very grainy. The original film is missing and presumed gone and 22 other copies of it exist that are varying quality.

  Engineer and computer scientists Isaac Tian helped splice together the 22 films using artificial intelligence to create the best video from algorithms to help integrate all the frames as well as stabilize it to help create the clearest view of the film ever. In recent years we have seen stabilized views of the video as well as it in 4K but this latest view gives more detail that we’ve previously seen and some of it has turned out to be shockingly convincing.

  The show does a good job of balancing the topic by mentioning the fact that there is heavy doubt about the validity of the video along with the stories of people coming forward stating it was faked with a person in a costume. They also integrate other more convincing or ambiguous videos of purported Bigfoot videos which helps solidify the precedence that the Patterson-Gimlin film brings as well as showing the clearest and most unobscured look at the creature ever.

  In one footstep we can now see detail of the right foot flexing in the middle of the foot with the toes curling backward as Patty takes a step. If this were a costume it would more than likely be built around a shoe which would make this pretty much impossible to do. They also show how the skull seems to match the anatomy of Lucy, the best example so far of Australopithecus, an ancient hominin that is said to potentially be the ancestor of Bigfoot as well as the variety of creatures around the world such as the Yowie of Australia and Yeti of the Himalayas if they are to be real creatures.

  The video, according to Cliff Barackman shows point-for-point the detail of Lucy’s head. The interesting thing here is that the discovery of Lucy occurred seven years after the Patterson-Gimlin video was filmed making it unlikely anyone could have created the creature to fool anyone.

  They also analyze the back of the head, legs, as well as the buttocks of the creature. In the end, while most of the cast are true believers in Bigfoot there is one skeptic that seems to be a bit more convinced by the new view of the video. The final judgement of the video according to host Tony Harris; the Patterson-Gimlin film just might be real. The entire episode is available to stream for free on History.com and I urge anyone who either does not believe or is on the fence about this video to watch it.

  Why it’s in the top ten: The Patterson-Gimlin film is the most iconic piece of cryptid folklore ever. It has formed the mold for every other fabricated video for Bigfoot and many other creatures. The fact that it is still heavily debated proves just how iconic it really is and no one can explain it or explain it away.
  Why it’s only number eight: While both ends of the spectrum were on display this year neither story seemed to gain a lot of attention and the good news is the video will live on as the most debated piece of folklore in history.

#7 2021: The year of the serval
 

  On Wednesday, June 30th Kristine Frank woke up to find a large serval hovering just six inches from her face. The cat had entered the house through an open door. Kristine scared it off her bed and she said it cowered in the corner. After getting out of the room her husband was able to open another door allowing the cat to go back outside.

  The cat didn’t seem too intimidated and hung around for a few photo opportunities before disappearing into a nearby golf course. So, I say large serval but it’s just two feet tall. Still, it was obvious to the woman that it was not an ordinary house cat. The serval essentially has the same size and diet as the fox. Servals have been kept as pets for thousands of years stretching back to Ancient Egypt. Despite this fact they are still wild animals although not a threat to humans.

  Authorities searched for the serval (named Nala) and finally captured it and hoped to relocate the animal to an accredited sanctuary. This story continues to add to the growing number of stories where people are put in danger by exotic animals being kept as pets. Anna Fyfe, owner of the long-necked, long-eared serval, says that she had the cat while living in South Carolina where it is legal to own the cat. She’s currently living in Georgia attending college at the University of Georgia where the cat escaped. Nala typically stays at her parent’s house in South Carolina, but she brought it to Georgia to stay with her for emotional support after a relationship ended.

  In part Fyfe’s statement to the press was, “The DNR did an amazing job at helping catch Nala and making sure everyone is safe, even though she is just a kitty and is harmless. They are not letting me keep her. They are taking her away to a sanctuary — I completely understand, they’re only doing their job. I’m just devastated because Nala is my baby. I wanted to bring (Nala) over to Georgia to stay with me because I couldn’t even sleep at night. She really helped me get through everything ... I couldn’t have got through any of this without her.”

  Alicia Prygoski, a senior legislative affairs manager with the Animal Legal Defense Fund says, “Wildcats are not meant to be pets.” Meanwhile, Fyfe says the cat was declawed and slept in the bed with her. She argued, “Yes, she is illegal in Georgia, but her home is in South Carolina, I think she should be taken back there. She's probably scared and confused right now.”

  Kim Kelly, a legislative affairs director at the Animal Legal Defense Fund says, “Even if this owner had the best intentions, it is not a domesticated house cat. These cats retain natural behaviors. They have the propensity to harm other animals.”

  Fyfe seems determined to get her cat back despite the plans to take it to a sanctuary. She says, “I will try to fight this the best I can. I don't think it is fair for her to go to a sanctuary. It is not a good life for her considering her life she had before.”

  In December of 2001 a seven-year-old boy was attacked by a serval who had escaped its owner. The declawed cat knocked him to the ground and bit him on the neck before being chased off by bystanders. In June of 2000, a man was walking a serval in New York when it suddenly attacked a four-year-old boy. The boy needed plastic surgery after a bite to the neck and face. The owner walking the cat also received several stitches to the hand. In October of 2019, a serval was shot and killed after attacking a dog and nearly attacking a sheriff’s deputy in Fairfield County Ohio. A serval attacked a child during a birthday party at a zoo in Indiana in 2018 requiring stitches. Numerous reports of servals escaping private owners’ litters newspapers across the United States despite warnings of what these cute but potentially dangerous cats can do.

  Yes, they are cute, yes, they are smaller, but they are wild cats with killing instincts. They have a much higher bite force than a house cat and have more aggressive tendencies especially if their needs are not met. They also have the tendency to urinate on everything as well as hiss constantly. These behaviors get worse with age and cannot be retaught.

  Multiple sightings north of San Diego California in early September made headlines as another serval was scaring residents and eating chickens. The owner of the cat has come forward and says its name is Pharoah and escaped an enclosure back on August 7th of this year. They presumed the animal had been killed by coyotes.

  Emily Shultz states that her husband and her mom bought the cat four years ago from a breeder in Mississippi and thought it was an F-1 Savannah cat. A couple of weeks later the cat was safely captured and returned to their owner.

  Also, in early September a pair of African servals escaped from a Huntsville Alabama pet store called 256 exotics. The exotic pet store focuses on reptiles and amphibians and other smaller birds and animals that are non-native. They also sell Savannah cats which are cats bred with servals. Alabama is one of 18 states that does not require a license to own a serval, but it looks like they may be breeding the serval to create Savannah cats which are still very popular to buy.

  Carol Baskin, of the Netflix documentary “Tiger King” fame weighed in on the escape of the animals on Facebook by saying, “Ask the USDA to cite this facility and seize the exotic cats to send them to legitimate sanctuaries that do not buy, breed, sell or allow public contact with wild animals. It’s not that these animals belong in cages, It’s just that it’s not legal to release them because they’re not native to the US. They’re native to Africa and since these cats were born in the US, they can’t be released to Africa…they’re stuck in a cage for the rest of their lives. But at least if they go to a legitimate sanctuary you’re not adding to the problem, as they are in these breeding facilities.” The cats were captured and brought back to the facility on September 22nd.

  In mid-October missing cousins to servals sent police into overdrive and the city of Royal Oak Michigan on high alert. Elaine Westfall is the owner of four African caracals named Bam Bam, Pebbles, Wasabi, and fire. At least two of the medium-sized wild cats escaped their elaborate enclosure and tiptoed through the neighborhood. Police were notified and immediately warned schools in the area and made it sound as if a 500-pound tiger was on the loose.

  Police recovered the cats and returned them to Westfall but have also issued her five citations as well as a demand that she must make the cats leave the neighborhood. Caracals are similar looking to servals but have a uniformed colored coat as servals have spots. Caracals and servals also both have large ears, but caracals have tufts of fur on the tips like the lynx.

  Caracals are quick runners with long legs and while shorter than servals they are stockier and can weigh up to 50 pounds. They’re also known to be able to leap at least 12 feet into the air and like the serval is an escape artist to those that are kept as pets like in this story. Westfall states she has spent at least $50,000 purchasing the cats from Africa and Florida as well as creating the elaborate enclosures in her backyard and garage. 

  In December San Diego encountered another escaped serval that ended up breaking into someone’s home. This cat was thought to be the same cat that had escaped earlier in the year. Also in December a family in Richland Mississippi responded to reports of serval sightings in the area. They had lost their pet serval who had escaped in mid-September. Two servals escaped an enclosure in September in Alabama and a serval escaped a petting zoo in North Carolina in July.

  Why it’s in the top ten: These escaped exotic pets have been popping up for years, but this year these stories were front and center in the media and social media stirring up a lot of debate on a variety of topics surrounding exotic animal ownership.
  Why it’s only number seven: Serval stories were outnumbered by alligator discoveries in places they don’t belong as well as a story that was more viral overall dealing with an escaped animal.

#6 Bigelow Consciousness Study

  Robert Bigelow, who has funded a few UFO research projects in the past is now focusing his efforts, or should I say money, on finding out if there is life after death. In early January Bigelow announced his intention of finding evidence of life after death.

  Bigelow, of course, is known for Bigelow Aerospace and his 2008 contract with the Defense Intelligence Agency to investigate UFOs as the Bigelow Aerospace Advanced Space Studies not to mention Skinwalker Ranch and his other ties to the government which helped create the focus on UFO research that has become mainstream today.

  Bigelow has offered $1 million to find credible evidence to support the existence of life after death. The Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies was created to, “try to conduct research and facilitate research into the possibility of the survival of human consciousness beyond bodily death,” according to Bigelow. It was established in June of 2020.

  Bigelow attempt to find evidence came in the form of essays. The BICS will award $500,000 for the top essay submitted on the topic, $300,000 for the second best, and $150,000 for the third. Essays will be judged by five renowned experts, and essays must be received by 5 PM Pacific Standard Time on August 1st. Applicants have to apply and be approved to be able to submit essays. Winners would be announced on November 1st.

  With the passing of his wife Diane last year after 55 years of marriage as well as his son and grandson who both committed suicide years ago, he began to personally ponder the question of what happens next. He is personally convinced that consciousness does in fact survive the death of the body.

  Bigelow received over 2,000 responses to the contest with nearly 40 countries representing. They then narrowed the papers down to 200 and hired six writers and academics that were familiar with the topic to act as judges. While the original intent was to award three winners the judges felt there was some very high-quality proposals and they opted to award 29 essays as winners with the last 15 being honorable mentions.

  This meant the prize money went from nearly $1 million to $1.8 million with 11 participants after the top three earning $50,000 and the next 15 earning $20,000 each. The winning essay belonged to parapsychologist Jeffrey Mishlove and was titled, “Beyond the brain: survival of human consciousness after permanent bodily death”. His 98-page essay included video clips as well as testimonials on near death and reincarnation experiences.

  All of the essays are available to be downloaded as PDF files at the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies website at Bigelowinstitute.org. Bigelow plans to edit the 29 essays into a series of books which he intends to give away for free to university libraries, hospitals, hospices, and religious organizations.

  Why it’s in the top ten: This story perfectly bookended the year from the announcement to the reveal. This story is one of the few that has had a large positive impact on the paranormal as this is the most work that has been done on life after death studies in decades.
  Why it’s only number six: Despite the work and monetary rewards the papers did little to actually discover or validate anything about the afterlife or consciousness, but hopefully its effects will linger.

#5 Houston tiger scare


  On Sunday May 9th residents were beyond startled when they saw a tiger laying in the grass in a street lined with homes in a west Houston residential street. An off-duty police officer approached the tiger with a handgun and pointed it at the animal but never fired. After a few tense moments of the tiger wandering the neighborhood after getting up. Then a man came out of a house and led the tiger into his home.

  Moments later the man, now known as Victor Hugo Cuevas, 26, loaded the tiger into a white Jeep Cherokee and drove off just as police arrived. Cuevas evaded police after a short pursuit but was later arrested at his parent’s home and was charged with felony evading. He did not have the cat with him, and he and his lawyer stated that he was not the owner of the tiger which remained on the loose.

  Cuevas’ lawyer stated that his client was the hero in this situation as he is the one who caught the tiger. Although he’s the one who had possession of it in a residential neighborhood and he is lawyered up because he is currently out on bond from a murder charge stemming from a 2017 fatal shooting.

  I’ve said it before, you never know what animal might be in your neighborhood. Earlier this year a similar incident occurred in a San Antonio neighborhood where a man had a tiger escape and jumped into a neighbor’s back yard. Before the police arrived, he brought it back to his home and into an enclosure where he had other tigers. A separate tiger was captured later that month in a different neighborhood and was relocated to a wildlife rescue ranch in Texas.

  Another story that I’m surprised hasn’t been mentioned in all the news covering this latest event in Houston is the tiger that was discovered in an abandoned building in Houston back in February of 2019. That tiger, now known as Loki, was trapped in a cage and near death. Tigers are a little less dangerous when raised in captivity in close proximity to humans, but they are still extremely dangerous predators that can turn into a killer in the blink of an eye. 

  Sadly, there are around 5,000 to as few as 3,500 tigers are estimated to be living in the wild around the world. Meanwhile, there are estimated to be about 5,000 alone in the United States in captivity. The big problem with this is that only about 6% of these tigers are in zoos or other facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Most tigers, and many other exotic animals, live in people’s backyards or roadside attractions that generally fail to provide for the animals physical or mental welfare.

  The tiger was located on Saturday, May 15th. Victor and his lawyer had denied that the tiger belonged to Victor, but Michael Elliot, the lawyer, stated that the person who had the tiger called Victor’s wife Gia stating they had the tiger and were willing to turn it over to police.

  It’s also been released that Victor and his wife owned the tiger for about nine months which is how old the tiger was. The tiger is named India who was evaluated and sent to the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch wildlife sanctuary in Murchison, Texas.

  Why it’s in the top ten: Loose exotic animals that are treated like pets have become a growing problem in the United States. This story shocked the nation and lingered in the news and social media for quite a while and has stirred some debate with lawmakers.
  Why it’s only number five: Once the tiger was captured the story disappeared.

#4 Starlink’s unintended consequences

  Since May of 2019 these rocket launches as well as the string of lights of the deployed satellites have been confusing viewers on the ground all over the world. One would think that after over 1,800 of these being put in space people would be aware of what they were seeing. SpaceX UFOs was the number seven story in last year’s countdown and was the number eight story in 2019

  This year the madness started in early March as witnesses in New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, and other east coast states got a glimpse of a rocket carrying a payload of Starlink satellites. This led to some confusion and speculation that a giant UFO was headed our way. That same rocket would cause more panic on the west coast a few weeks later. Witnesses in the Pacific northwest saw a streaking fireball high in the sky. Some thought it was a UFO, a plane crash, or meteor but officials were quick to find out that it was the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that had been launched on March 4th that failed to make a deorbit burn.

  In early April concerned residents in Texas reported multiple lights in the sky to several news stations. Again, the speculation was UFOs or a crashing meteor but was once again the Starlink satellites. In early May there was widespread panic from Michigan, Wisconsin to Nevada and Texas over lights in the sky thought to be UFOs or all of the other things I’ve already mentioned. Calls flooded police and news stations but again turned out to be mundane Starlink satellite sightings.

  In late May I had a story where Canada had documented a notable surge in 911 calls following the launches where the deployment can be seen. Tracy Duval, a dispatcher, stated, “We were getting a lot of calls with the SpaceX satellite launches. They’re a very specific pattern in the sky, they’re not hitting the ground, and we can just explain very quickly to people that there are actual satellites. We have situations where people are saying that the aliens are coming.” The satellites are seen as they catch sunlight while in orbit a few hours before sunrise and a few hours just after sunset as the sun’s rays hit the craft in orbit and reflect the light back down to us. 

  In late August a story about Starlink being involved in close encounters of a potential collision kind surfaced. SpaceX’s Starlink satellite constellations are involved in about 1,600 close encounters each week. This is roughly 50% of all situations in which two spacecraft passes within a distance of 1 kilometer or .6 of a mile of each other.

  Hugh Lewis, the head of the Astronautics Research Group at the University of Southampton, U.K. makes estimates of orbital situations using data from what is called the Socrates database. Of course, Socrates is an acronym which stands for Satellite Orbital Conjunction Reports Assessing Threatening Encounters in Space. 

  Lewis told Space.com, “I have looked at the data going back to May 2019 when Starlink was first launched to understand the burden of these megaconstellations. Since then, the number of encounters picked up by the Socrates database has more than doubled and now we are in a situation where Starlink accounts for half of all encounters.”

  In December I reported on residents as far south as North Carolina and north to Connecticut as well as far west as Arizona reporting lights in the sky of the deployed Starlink satellites. Starlink was also mentioned in the aftermath of the Russian anti-satellite test where Cosmos 1408 was destroyed creating about 1,500 pieces of trackable pieces of orbital debris along with hundreds of thousands of smaller pieces that are not that still pose a grave threat to anything in orbit. Starlink was forced to shift satellites to avoid the debris which also affected the International Space Station crew.

  Why it’s in the top ten: The Starlink satellites (and rockets that launched them) have probably accounted for more UFO sightings this year than all of the balloons, meteors, and swamp gas explanations in the last ten years.
  Why it’s only number four: Despite the growing amount of satellites to the constellation and the trouble they are causing with mounting space junk the public seems to be finally catching on to what they are seeing after two years.

#3 Thylacine lives on
 
  The thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian tiger, received a bit of a revival of sorts in the paranormal news this year. This carnivorous marsupial has been in the news quite a bit over the years and many sightings have taken place despite most experts agreeing that the accidental death of a captive thylacine at the Hobart Zoo in 1936 was the last of its kind. Australia has kept records on thylacine sightings despite scientists stating the creature died out on the mainland thousands of years ago.

  Interestingly, a non-peer reviewed paper was published on January 19, 2021, that states that the thylacine may not have gone extinct back in 1936 but may have persisted until the 1990s or perhaps 20 years ago or might, just might, still be hiding out somewhere.

  Several reliable sightings were documented in the 1960s by trappers and bushmen. There was even a credible sighting in 1982 by a parks ranger which led to an intense localized search for the creature by authorities. However, a documented sighting accompanied by physical evidence still has not appeared.

  On February 22nd Neil Waters of the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia released a 3 minute 20 second video outlining a new discovery. He stated that his team has not only discovered one, not two, but three Tasmanian tigers in the wild and not only that it seems the three are a breeding pair and a joey. The photographs were discovered on a trail cam in Tasmania.

  Waters seemed matter-of-factish that many will agree this is a living thylacine in the wild and the youngest one is recognizable by the tail and stripe markings. He was even talking about moving forward with making the thylacine critically endangered or even just an endangered species with the Australian government. 

  Waters states that his committee is in line with this being a group of thylacines, but an independent expert, Nick Mooney, was evaluating the photograph before they make the announcement public hopefully on or about March 1st.

  On the afternoon of February 23rd Mooney made a public comment about what he saw in the photos. Nick Mooney, honorary curator of vertebrate zoology at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, was quoted by a museum spokesperson saying, “Nick Mooney has concluded, that based on the physical characteristics shown in the photos provided by Mr. Waters, the animals are very unlikely to be thylacines, and are most likely Tasmanian pademelons.”

  He went on to say, “TMAG regularly receives requests for verification from members of the public who hope that the thylacine is still with us. However, sadly, there have been no confirmed sightings documented of the thylacine since 1936.”

  Neil Waters and his Thylacine Awareness Group have made bold claims like this in the past and while many were anxiously awaiting the news many others speculated that this would just be another attention-grabbing moment to advertise his movie or ask for money for further research.

  The pademelon is a small to mid-sized marsupial that is a cousin to the kangaroo and wallaby. They are very similar to a small-sized wallaby, are nocturnal, and are generally solitary animals, and a few have stripes, but not as pronounced as the thylacine. They also have long thick tails like their cousins as well as the thylacine. Many are confused as to how one could mistake the two animals.

  Many were withholding judgment until the photographs were released although most people seem that they already knew how it would unfold. On Sunday morning February 28th at midnight in Australia he released a 19 minute plus video on YouTube talking about and showing off the latest photographs.

  Neil seems convinced without hesitation that at least the juvenile photograph proves beyond the shadow of doubt that it is a thylacine. He draws circles and other objects on the photos and even uses thylacine photos to overlay to prove his feelings that at they are definitely thylacines. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof and we’re just not seeing it here. He seems to try to say that the shapes, stripes, and other details make this a thylacine and seem to make it sound as if the burden to prove otherwise is on others. That’s not how it works.

  He only seems to put in the effort to support his opinion and not to compare it to pademelons or other creatures as he only dismisses the idea. He even enlists other handpicked animal experts to evaluate the footage. One would assume that these experts are also on Neil’s side with hoping these are proof of thylacines.

  The biggest problem here is that there is a debate. If there’s any doubt as to what these creatures even are how can we say conclusively that they are an animal that has been extinct for almost 85 years?
  
  He says he disagrees with Nick Mooney’s opinion and that Nick himself told him to get as many opinions as possible. He says that he’s going to let the majority of people judge it. Again, many of the people he’s getting the opinion on are those that are in his circle which is not helpful. No matter how many experts he lines up on these photographs no one can prove that these are thylacine based on the limited views and lack of supporting evidence of tracks or other sign.

  September 7th marked the day that 85 years ago the last known living thylacine died at the Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart of exposure. That day was also National Threatened Species Day. On September 7th the remastered video (digitized and colorized) of the last known thylacine was released by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) to remind us that our role in the survival of animals is larger than we realize.

  The original footage was shot back in 1933 on black and white film. In 1936 the species was granted protection status and yet 59 days later on September 7th the thylacine nicknamed Benjamin was left outside of its enclosure in suspected neglect. The last known shooting of a wild thylacine came in 1930 and despite numerous claims since then no has validated a wild thylacine since.

  Why it’s in the top ten: The initial announcement of evidence gave everyone hope that the Tassie tiger would finally be revealed as alive and well. Despite the evidence being a complete letdown, it captured the world’s attention.
  Why it’s only number three: If the evidence was something more credible there is no mistake this could have been the number one story. It fell short just as the evidence did, but it was still a captivating story.

#2 Oklahoma’s “Sasquatch Quest”

  On January 20th Justin Humphrey of the Oklahoma House of Representatives introduced House Bill 1648 which urged the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission to establish a Bigfoot hunting season. The bill sought to set season dates as well as licenses and fees effective November 1st. The thought isn’t about tearing up the state trying to kill the creature but that many people will buy these hunting permits as a pure novelty.

  Instead of revenue the bill attracted a lot of negative feelings in many different forms. Obviously, the pro-Bigfoot people were upset that the state is going to let people kill this elusive animal (if they could actually find them) and is promoting the killing of a creature that might be closer to humans than primates which could open up a legal nightmare for the state. It’s also a creature that is celebrated in the state with conferences such as the Honobia Bigfoot Conference.

  On the other side of the coin skeptics are upset that time and effort is being wasted on a mythical creature and is bringing embarrassment to the state. Micah Holmes, Assistant Chief of the Information and Education Division at the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation told Fox News last week, “Here at the department, we use science to make management decisions, and we do not recognize Bigfoot as a wildlife species in Oklahoma.”

  Humphrey plays it off as just a novelty as he said, “Having a license and a tag would give people a way to prove they participated in the hunt, the overall goal is to get people to our area to enjoy the natural beauty and to have a great time, and if they find Bigfoot while they’re at it, well hey, that’s just an even bigger prize.” In addition to this Humphrey is also proposing a $25,000 bounty for Bigfoot’s safe capture. 

  In addition to the House Bill 1648 for Bigfoot Humphrey also put together another bill, House Bill 1653 which was about vaccines. The bill states in part, “any designer or manufacturer of a vaccine shall notify distributors, retailers, and health care providers if the vaccine contains human parts, animal parts, metals in any quantity, tracking devices, or any DNA-altering properties.”

  The bill isn’t centered on Covid-19 vaccines specifically but carries the general cries of anti-vaxxers which include being tracked, having your DNA permanently altered, or being injected with aborted fetal cells. None of which are remotely true.

  Commenting on Covid-19 Humphrey said, “First, we must establish that China developed this virus. “It was designed to infect overweight, diabetic, elderly people who have low immune systems. Where are the majority of overweight diabetic people found? That would be America!” 

  As far as the Bigfoot hunting bill it never made it out of committee, but he says that his idea did its job by promoting tourism to southeast area of the state. While he thought he would have to go through the state wildlife department to issue hunting licenses he discovered that since his intent is not to kill, he can go through the state tourism department. 

  Humphrey is now working with state tourism officials to set up what he’s calling Sasquatch Quest. The big rule is that Bigfoot must be captured unharmed and no one else can be injured nor can any laws be broken in the process. I think that if you’re trying to catch a 600-pound wild creature that seems to be pretty intelligent there’s a degree of danger involved and more than likely someone is going to get hurt along the way.

  What’s worse, is that there is money involved. The original intent was to set aside $25,000 of state money as a bounty for capture. But now he says an upcoming Hollywood Bigfoot movie has pledged around $2 million and another private business promised an additional $100,000. The good thing is the state will not flip the bill, the bad thing is that money will attract people who are not just coming to Oklahoma for the scenery and fun.

  Humphrey says, “We’re having fun with it. It's a lot of fun. I'm enjoying it. But at the same time, I know a lot of people thought I was crazy. But I think if people chill out, (they could) see that this could be a serious deal bringing in a lot of money, a lot of tourism.” Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Department of Tourism has not commented.

  The good news out of this is that profits generated from the Bigfoot tourism campaign will be used to maintain the state’s lakes, parks, and roadways. One confirmed plan is to allow businesses along State Highway 259A to sell annual Bigfoot tracking permits. The highway runs through Beavers Bend State Park and the profits from the sales would stay in the area.

  On Wednesday, May 26th, he announced that the bounty for Bigfoot had been raised again. He stated, “We're gonna offer $3 million, we raised the bounty today, $3 million for a live capture of unharmed Bigfoot.” He also stated that a film crew would be documenting various attempts to find the mythical creature over a six-month period. The series is set to appear in January of 2022.

  Why it’s in the top ten: This was probably the biggest Bigfoot story in years as far as how viral it was. It not only made a politician look crazier than normal, but it also stirred debate and discussion about this highly popular cryptid.

  Why it’s only number two: Despite this story being in the news for a good chunk of the year there was one story everyone was waiting on for a little longer.

#1 UAP Report finally revealed (and its fallout)


  Possibly one of the most important UFO stories in decades was finally unveiled on June 25th of this year after months of anticipation. The US intelligence community finally released its report on UAPs after much speculation. Unfortunately, it gave us about as much information as many thought it would.

  The short 9-page report stated that 144 reports originated from 2004 through 2021. Of these, 80 reports involved observation with multiple sensors. In 18 incidents described in 21 of the 144 reports there was observations of unusual movement by the UAP including patterns or flight characteristics. Of the 144 reports only one was able to be identified with high confidence which was discovered to be a large deflating balloon. Of course, this was the conclusion of the in-house investigation into these reports.

  Does the report point to alien powered craft flying through our skies? Not exactly, the report essentially points to the high possibility that these reports are due to foreign adversaries or like I’ve said even domestic technology that is more advanced than what the government is purportedly aware of.

  There is of course a list of issues behind UAPs which I have talked about over the course of the last few months. Many of these points are brought forth in this report including the lack of standardized report collection methods with most just taking statements or a mere collection of a single video. This isn’t good enough and while a small handful of reports have been researched thoroughly none of them are able to find any sort of potential logical solution or point confidently in another direction. 

  This is my issue that ties in with report collection; there doesn’t seem to be any apparent investigation going into most of these claims other than collecting statements and data. Many legitimate internet sleuths such as Mick West from Metabunk have been able to create a high amount of certainty toward potential explanations, but why can’t the government do this simple task?

  The other glaring issue with the report is that UAPs more than likely lack a single explanation. Are all of these sightings of alien spaceships or advanced foreign technology? Probably not and it may be possible that neither one of these explanations applies to the 144 current reports as well. Airborne clutter is the leading potential cause such as the deflating balloon identified in one of the reports, some could also be birds, recreational unmanned aerial vehicles or other airborne debris such as plastic bags. Many of these could confuse an operator especially with Infrared technology which seems to be at the center of many of these reports.

  Researchers outside of the government were able to discern that the glowing aura report was nothing more than a processing artifact that is common in thermal cameras. The Tic-Tac video coincided with movements of the camera meaning the object wasn’t performing fantastic maneuvers like advertised and even the object itself is in question. Even the Go Fast video was an illusion of speed due to camera movement and that object was actually doing wind speed which means it was more than likely a balloon.

  The Gimbal UFO shows that when the UAP purportedly rotated other patches of light in the scene rotated as well. This means the object was more than likely a camera artifact and shows a distant aircraft flying away. The aircraft was even identified by time and flight path although the government never commented. The triangle UAP video shows multiple points of light including stars as triangles. The filming method created an effect called Bokeh. All of these cases involved infrared cameras and a couple of them new cameras as well as new operators.

  The biggest letdown of the report is that is remains largely inconclusive. This means despite collecting these reports they have no idea what is causing most of them and still have a range of possibilities that could explain any number of these reports. To many this leaves the door open for alien operated UFOs, but as these reports come out we find there are actually logical solutions highly possible that may explain most if not all of them one by one.

  The biggest interest about the report is something that has already been discussed publicly and that is the fact that UAPs could threaten flight safety as well as be a national security threat. The UAP task force states that there were 11 reports of near misses by pilots with UAPs. While there is still no direct evidence any of these reports are foreign aircraft the government continues to keep a close eye on these reports as this is the highest potential threat.

  So just as many have speculated this report really doesn’t provide any answers and really just opens the door for even more questions. The only bright side is the fact that now the door is open for disclosure on this topic and the government will continue to monitor the skies and take reports on unidentified craft.

  After the release of the report the question was raised about how long the classified version of the report might be. Officials declined to answer the question and speculation began with many people making their own guesses from 70 to 400 pages in length.

  John Greenewald, author and podcaster who also operates the website The Black Vault, tweeted out last Thursday that he confirmed the actual length of the classified version of the UAP report. In an email from Sally A. Nicholson, a Freedom of Information Act liaison for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, stated simply that the classified version of the report is a whopping 17 pages in length.

  The upcoming financial year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act contains 1,362 pages and within it calls for a permanent office designed to address unidentified aerial phenomena or UFOs. In part the legislation reads, “Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Director of National Intelligence, shall establish an office within the Office of the Secretary of Defense to carry out, on a Department-wide basis, the mission currently performed by the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force as of the date of the enactment of this Act.”

  Despite the closure of Project Blue Book back in 1969 we found out in December of 2017 through the New York Times that the government had been documenting sightings of unknown craft in the skies since around 2008. In August of 2020 the Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Task Force or UAPTF was established to document and disseminate recent sightings. This, of course, led to the preliminary assessment of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena report that was made public at the end of June this year. 

  Outlined in the bill the new UAP office would be responsible for:

  • Developing procedures to synchronize and standardize the collection, reporting, and analysis of incidents regarding unidentified aerial phenomena across the Department of Defense. 
  • Developing processes and procedures to ensure that such incidents from each military department are reported and incorporated in a centralized repository. 
  • Establishing procedures to require the timely and consistent reporting of such incidents. 
  • Evaluating links between unidentified aerial phenomena and adversarial foreign governments, other foreign governments, or nonstate actors. 
  • Evaluating the threat that such incidents present to the United States. 
  • Coordinating with other departments and agencies of the Federal Government, as appropriate. 
  • Coordinating with allies and partners of the United States, as appropriate, to better assess the nature and extent of unidentified aerial phenomena. 

  Lawmakers will also require the new UAP office to provide the Senate and House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees with an annual report detailing its activities until at least December 31, 2026.

  Why this story is number one: UFOs are finally being taken seriously. Despite the reality of these reports being more for potential foreign technology it is mind numbing to see that the U.S. government is more concerned about UFOs than those who used to push the disclosure movement.