Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Are there experts in the paranormal? Part I

    This has been a hotly debated topic ever since ghost investigation went mainstream about the time the Internet went full speed just after the mid-1990s. While many people feel that one cannot be an expert in a topic that is not fully understood, or explainable, others readily refer to themselves as experts in either the whole topic of parts thereof (such as an EVP expert).

    My goal here is not to settle the debate but to look at both sides of the argument. There is a lot of baggage to unpack on this topic and after writing notes on this for months I realized I couldn't get my thoughts out in just one post. Part I will explore the basics and I'll tackle other related topics as I move forward. 

    What does it take to become an expert in an area or a field as a whole? Is someone being referred to as an expert really something worth bragging about or being upset by? Are there shadier things to worry about in the ghost field?

    More than once in my many years of being a public speaker on a variety of paranormal topics I have been introduced as an expert of some sort without prompt of course. I used to clarify that I did not feel I was an expert, but over time I've just sidestepped the comment and accepted it as an honorable gesture. It seems some get their feathers a bit ruffled when they hear someone refer to themselves as an expert.  Yes, it is a bit concerning when someone jumps into the paranormal and all they really have is having watched a few seasons of a television show as their training. Many of these television trained ghost hunters waste no time in jumping into client cases as well as claiming to be experts in either the whole or parts of the field which is concerning as a reflection to the rest of those involved.

    Before we get too carried away let's define an expert. According to Merriam-Webster
An expert is "one with the special skill or knowledge representing mastery of a particular subject or having, involving, or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience."

    According to Wikipedia:
"An expert is somebody who has a broad and deep competence in terms of knowledge, skill and experience through practice and education in a particular field. Informally, an expert is someone widely recognized as a reliable source of technique or skill whose faculty for judging or deciding rightly, justly, or wisely is accorded authority and status by peers or the public in a specific well-distinguished domain. An expert, more generally, is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study. Experts are called in for advice on their respective subject, but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study."

    These definitions don't seem too farfetched for someone to be an "expert" in a particular part of the paranormal such as EVP recording or interviewing or even the field as a whole although less believable due to the number of topics involved. The last part is a notable one, "...but they do not always agree on the particulars of a field of study." Some fields have room for interpretation, and I feel that most aspects of ghosts or other paranormal fields are not clearly defined for just one possibility in most of the aspects involved.

    To me, a person's credibility as an "expert" is more believable when there is a heaping helping of skepticism or understanding of how and why the paranormal is defined as a pseudoscience. In addition, acknowledging other fields that can help define or interpret subjective interpretations of various phenomenon adds credibility. For someone to stand up and declare that all orbs (or at least 99% of them) are ghosts and offer minimal skepticism cries true believer, not expert.

    This is the line that begins to form where I would argue that no one can be an expert in the highly interpretive world of the paranormal. Is it all ghosts, strange creatures, and aliens, or is is subjective environmental interpretation, misinterpretation, or pure belief fooling people? Can there really be a middle ground on the topic as a so-called expert?

    It should be believed that most people in the ghost field over value their knowledge of the field. How could an expert in the field of ghosts not have read a journal from the Society of Psychical Research? How could an expert in the paranormal never have conducted objective research experiments? Most people in the field have not done either one of these and there is far more missing from the arsenal of an expert that most are not doing. But is that just a "paranormal expert" thing?

    A cognitive bias known as the Dunning–Kruger effect haunts the general public and the paranormal. According to this principle, people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. This tends to occur because a lack of self-awareness prevents them from accurately assessing their own skills. People in the paranormal feel like they have knowledge because they have memorized and rehearsed what others have said based on opinion. This repetition has now made these conjectures into perceived "facts" which are then repeated by newcomers and so on.

  There seems to be a large gap between knowledge of ghost investigators and the application of that knowledge. Take into consideration that an overwhelming majority of investigators state that hauntings (residual activity/place memory/repetitive hauntings, etc.) occur far more than intelligent apparitions (intelligent hauntings). However, when these same groups take to the dark to conduct an investigation the first thing they do (after turning on all of their gadgets and stare at the screens) is ask questions. What sense does that make? What's worse is that anything and everything that happens ends up being a ghost. Most ghost investigators claims to be open-minded skeptics but tend to act like true believers once the lights are off. There is even beliefs that some techniques can summon demons such as using a Ouija board. But is it a conduit of the devil or belief?

 
     Despite being a children's game and marketed as a parlor trick for decades the cardboard and plastic game has a reputation worse than the devil itself (mainly due to the Catholic church and the movie The Exorcist). However, groups use the same approach as one would with a Ouija board with handheld electronic gadgets without hesitation.

    Perhaps I've wandered a bit off topic, but I do feel the paranormal investigation arena has been self-taught for decades and the information gathered is extremely flawed. The big issue is that a true expert would see when something is wrong and correct it. However, in order to be respected one must follow what everyone else does and not veer too far off the path so it seems.

    Personally, it doesn't bother me when someone says "expert" as long as they do demonstrate knowledge that is level-headed, coherent, and is not based completely on conjecture along with understanding basic scientific principles that balance out paranormal thought. However, I have heard other words that make my skin crawl.

    There are plenty of groups and individuals that advertise themselves as "professional" paranormal investigators or ghost hunters. I would guess they mean they are professional in the way they act and present themselves and not professionals as meaning they are performing work in a profession. Right? Sometimes I wonder what part of the definition they are referring to with being "professionals" and does this mean that other groups are just amateurs? I know, many are, but what really separates one group from another? Size? The amount of tools? Certainly not the matching black shirts or the bad ass poses since everyone does that in the graveyards.

    According to Dictionary.com, professional is defined as:

adjective
1. following an occupation as a means of livelihood or for gain: a professional builder.
2. of, relating to, or connected with a profession: professional studies.
3. appropriate to a profession: professional objectivity.
4. engaged in one of the learned professions: A lawyer is a professional person.
5. following as a business an occupation ordinarily engaged in as a pastime: a professional golfer.
6. making a business or constant practice of something not properly to be regarded as a business: “A salesman,” he said, “is a professional optimist.”
7. undertaken or engaged in as a means of livelihood or for gain: professional baseball.
8. of or for a professional person or his or her place of business or work: a professional apartment; professional equipment.
9. done by a professional; expert: professional car repairs.
noun
10. a person who belongs to one of the professions, especially one of the learned professions.
11. a person who earns a living in a sport or other occupation frequently engaged in by amateurs: a golf professional.
12. an expert player, as of golf or tennis, serving as a teacher, consultant, performer, or contestant; pro.
13. a person who is expert at his or her work: You can tell by her comments that this editor is a real professional.

    I'm not sure how many weekend ghost hunters or paranormal investigators are getting paid, but that's not something many people think is legit (a topic for another blog post). As far as I know being a paranormal investigator is nothing more than a hobby or pastime, it's not a profession and you cannot get a scientific degree in any topic relating to the paranormal other than parapsychology. Also, another topic for another day is the fact that to be a parapsychologist you have to take masters classes at an accredited university. Online classes that hand out certifications in parapsychology do not make it legit (or legal) for you to call yourself a parapsychologist. 

     In the definition of both expert and professional we saw words like "training" and "knowledge". Other than watching multiple seasons of television shows how do groups gain their knowledge? Can you get what you need from television, the Internet, and books? In the next part of this blog topic, I'll begin to talk about the next issue that deals with the "experts" and "professionals" which is certification programs. Some people hate them, many groups do them, but are they something that should be allowed to happen? Are they worth getting upset over? Are they worth anything at all?

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Top Ten Paranormal News Stories of 2020

 


10. MUFON director arrested


Jan Harzan, the head of the Mutual UFO Network which is the largest UFO research and investigation outlet in the world, was arrested on July 3rd on charges of soliciting a minor “for the purposes in engaging in sexual activity” according to the police report.

The Huntington Beach Police Department arrested Harzan as well as another gentleman on July 3rd and July 8th respectively surrounding sting operations in adult men targeting minor females. A Facebook post on the Huntington Beach Police Department’s page said in part, “On July 3, detectives contacted a male by the name of Jan Harzan after Harzan solicited sexual activity from a detective he believed was a 13-year-old girl. The suspect solicited the minor to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity, and when the suspect agreed to meet the supposed minor, detectives were there to take him into custody.”

Also, according to the police report Harzan was arrested on multiple felonies and was specifically targeting minor females online. Harzan retired from IBM after 37 years in the information technology business, according to his MUFON bio. 

Why this story made the top ten: Despite being threatened by the monolith saga of December, Brazil UFO crash, workout ghost video, the Wisconsin Bigfoot bulletin and other stories, this one affects the largest UFO organization in the world. Despite the uptick in popularity and recognition of UFO and related phenomenon this is another black eye for the organization as well as the field of research. Short term affects seem minimal, but this story may wear down the organization’s foundation and public trust.

Why this story is only number ten: Although this was a shocking story involving MUFON it seemed to disappear as quickly as it appeared.


9. Lake monsters (other than Loch Ness)    

A 34-year-old British tourist was kayaking in the Nahuel Huapi Lake in the Patagonia region in Argentina when he disappeared back in late January. Sadly, the remains of the kayaker were later found about 20 miles away from where he had last been seen. Parts of the lake had been closed due to high winds which more than likely was the cause of the death. 

This explanation probably satisfied most, that was until a video surfaced a few days later of what appears to be a large monster swimming beneath the surface of the lake. The video doesn’t show much more than what looks like a wave in the middle of a narrow stretch of the lake, but it’s certainly caused some panic in the region and the video was the subject of many news reports in the area. 


A local legend exists of a creature named Nahuelito. The creature is generally described as a giant serpent and usually the same as the Loch Ness Monster appearing as a plesiosaur. In fact, a three-hour drive south of the lake is a small lake that is named Laguna del Plesiosaurio, which is purportedly where a few other sightings have occurred.

Rumors of this creature have persisted since the late 1800’s and the media took a heavy interest as early as 1922 which predates the Loch Ness Monster’s popularity. 

A video taken by Blake Neudorf and his father who were out on a dock at Lake Okanagan back on July 10 of 2018 finally hit YouTube on January 2nd of this year and the video has since taken off with over 50,000 views on the original video and several thousand on other sites as well as news stories covering it in the British tabloids. Lake Okanagan is purportedly home to Ogopogo, the British Columbia, Canada version of the Loch Ness Monster.  


In early February a strange creature was seen on the beaches of Mexico. People were walking along a beach about a dozen or miles or so northwest of Puerto Vallarta Mexico on the Pacific coast when they spotted something dead on the beach.

They initially thought it might be a dead dolphin, but as they got closer they realized it had an extremely long tail, no fins, as well as no eyes. The creature also had a mouth full of long sharp teeth.

There was a lot of speculation that the creature could not be identified by fishermen which meant it was something never seen or could be a genetic freak, but the creature was obviously one that lives in the depths of the Pacific Ocean where it would not need its eyes. 

A mysterious ten-foot-long creature in a lake in China frightened villagers, stunned the Chinese media, and has left everyone else baffled. That’s what the headlines say about a short viral video of a strange looking object submerged under milky brown water that could be a river, lake, or even a pond although it’s referred to as a reservoir in the story. This would suggest a manmade lake which would eliminate the possibility of a strange unknown creature. 


The ten second footage shows the mystical creature moving up and down at a fast speed. The social media animal experts have all weighed in their opinions and while many feel this could be the Chinese version of the Loch Ness Monster there are some other lesser exciting arguments being tossed around.

While some think this could be a crocodile or large snake, others suspect this could be a shoal of fish, a group of fish crowded together. When watching the video near the beginning you can see a small splash occurring at the far side of the mass about midway. This would indicate a group of small fish swimming together and seems like the most plausible answer.                                                                                                                               


The Loch Ness Monster’s American cousin is feeling no love. A “Champ Challenge” was created in early October to get people to look out for the elusive Lake Champlain monster that doesn’t get much media attention anymore. 

Through the years the best proof gathered comes in the form of a photograph taken in July of 1977 by Sandra Mansi. In the photo you can see what appears to be the head and neck rising out of the lake with part of a body visible out of the water. People are still looking for Champ but with all the attention that the Loch Ness monster has received lately the folks at Port Henry, New York are hoping that some attention can be had for Champ.


Adam Schwartz from Calgary was out in West Kelowna for Thanksgiving (Monday October 12th) and was hanging out near Lake Okanagan. Schwartz stated, “We were just hanging out on the shore, It was a really calm day and no boats were passing by or anything. We were looking out at the water. Then, all of a sudden, we saw this weird formation of waves that were kind of going against the current of what was coming in.”

He said the waves were moving really weird for about 30 seconds, he was then able to record the sighting for another 30 seconds before it disappeared. He also states he has spent some time on Lake Okanagan on vacations over the years and has heard all about the legends. After his sighting was captured on video, he uploaded it to TikTok which has since gone on to gather thousands of views.  

In late October a story out of China and North Korea involved one of the lesser-known lake monsters. This creature is called the Lake Tianchi Monster and resides in Lake Tianchi which is also known as Heavenly Lake of Tianshan or just Heaven Lake depending upon if you’re in China or North Korea. 

Heaven Lake is an alpine drift lake that was formed from volcanic activity and is part of the caldera that was formed after a massive volcanic eruption in 946 A.D. It’s a beautiful lake surrounded by snowcapped mountains, until you stand back and realize it’s water inside of a giant volcano surrounded by other volcanoes. The lake straddles North Korea to the southeast and China to the northwest.

It’s recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as being the highest volcanic lake in the world and is considered a culturally significant area to all Koreans. It’s covered with ice from mid-October until mid-June, but the creature that is said to live there has been seen since at least 1903.


This latest sighting comes from a caretaker at the mountain known as Mr. Yu. Mr. Yu was taking video of the lake and managed to get a black creature swimming in the water. The video was taken about 1,640 feet above the lake from the surrounding mountain area. Mr. Yu did not see the black spot initially but when he finally did he continued to film it. He said that in the past he has seen similar things that he was able to determine were boats, but this latest sighting he says was definitely not one as he says the area is currently closed to the public.

Why this story made the top ten: A collection of lake monster stories? What’s not to love? While none of these alone would have surfaced in the top ten by bundling them together they easily swim in at number 9 on the list as most of these stories gained worldwide attention and a depth of speculation.

Why this story is only number nine: Despite these intriguing stories nothing relevant came out of them other than curiosity and a distraction from Covid-19 coverage.


8. “Mad” Mike Hughes death and ‘Flat Earth hoax’   


Mad Mike Hughes, known as a Flat Earth believer who fires himself into the sky with a home-made steam powered rocket, died from injuries resulting from a crash. The crash occurred on February 22nd in the desert near Barstow, California about a two-hour drive northeast from Los Angeles.

The 64-year-old was filming an episode of a new television series called “Homemade Astronauts” for the Science Channel when the accident occurred. Hughes was attempting to get his rocket to 5,000 feet but it only managed to get just shy of 2,000 feet. 

Mike’s parachute seemed deploy just after takeoff and was shredded from the rocket’s steam exhaust. The premature parachute launch pulled the rocket off to a curved course and without it the craft headed straight down to the desert floor after its apex gaining speed until impact. Onlookers were horrified knowing likely they just watched a man die.

Justin Chapman, a journalist on the scene, published the launch via Twitter with a 48 second clip stating, “Mad Mike Hughes just launched himself in a self-made steam-powered rocket and crash landed. Very likely did not survive.”


Hughes’ rockets were all self-made and he stated he builds them by trial and error and has had several crashes over the years including one less than two years ago that caused him back issues. His rockets were launched from the back of a truck trailer. Chapman also commented that he thought the parachute might have been accidentally launched due to the rocket rubbing the launch apparatus, meaning the trailer.

Many headlines speculate that the reason for the rocket launches was to prove that the Earth is flat. Hughes had said this during a 2017 interview. However, during a 2019 interview with Space.com Mike clarified his statement by saying, “This flat Earth has nothing to do with the steam rocket launches, it never did, it never will. I'm a daredevil!” He also added that his biggest intention was to inspire people.

Darren Shuster, a public relations representative for Hughes told Buzzfeed news, “We used flat Earth as a PR stunt. Period.” Shuster clarified by saying, “He was a true daredevil decades before the latest round of rocket missions. Flat Earth allowed us to get so much publicity that we kept going! I know he didn’t believe in flat Earth and it was a shtick.” The truth may never be known but “Mad” Mike Hughes will more than likely go down in history as a Flat Earth believer who lost in his quest to find his personal truth.

Why this story made the top ten: The saga of Mike Hughes has lasted many years and has tied in with Flat Earth stories in the past. The crash and death of Hughes was widely covered by the media in the pre-pandemic 2020.

Why this story is only number eight: The death and attention of the plight of Hughes led to the reality that his adventures had nothing to do with the Flat Earth hypothesis, only that he was a daredevil.


7. SpaceX “UFOs” 

We didn’t have to wait very long for the SpaceX launches to create drama in 2020. On January 6th SpaceX launched 60 more Starlink satellites bringing the total to 180. These latest satellites are coated with a dark cover to help lessen the reflectivity from the sun during darkness, the sun is frequently reflected to the viewers on the surface from medium to high altitudes (due to the Earth actually having a curve to it).

UFO reports flooded in a few states including Nebraska and Texas. Numerous photographs of the line of satellites being launched were taken in the Lone Star State, but luckily many knew what they were looking at. 

New Zealand residents feverishly reported seeing numerous UFOs in the sky in late January. As expected, Elon Musk’s Space X Falcon 9 rocket deposited 60 more starlink satellites and again caused numerous people to report UFOs. This is the fourth trip and this launch was delayed shortly by weather before being launched.

In their defense, many people did report what looked like satellites on social media, but many others were perplexed by the long string of lights in the sky.  


Strange lights in the sky over Manitoba late March stirred up a lot of attention. People flocked to social media to talk about their experiences of seeing lighted objects moving through the sky. In April, residents over the United Kingdom witnessed strings of light dancing across the sky thanks to SpaceX.

Musk plans on putting up 12,000 suitcase sized Starlink satellites in orbit to provide internet to those who cannot currently get it. Worse yet, there other companies are set to launch thousands of their own satellites similar to Musk’s. By late March there were about 300 of the Starlink satellites in orbit but they have already been noted to be creating issues for astronomers and now confusing stargazers; and sadly, the situation will only get worse from here.

The issue is that despite being suitcase sized they will appear bigger and brighter than most of the natural stars in the sky.  Scott Young, manager of the planetarium at the Manitoba Museum, said of the Starlink satellites, “They’re unusual sightings now, but pretty soon it’ll be the new normal… all you’ll see are these satellites. Imagine trying to find constellations at night. Imagine if only a quarter of the dots you’re looking at are actually stars.”

We’re obviously aware that the world is changing, and things are generally never the same after technology moves us forward, but while the world is still dealing with light pollution in many places at least there’s a way around that. Putting up artificial stars will rob our children of being able to see the sky for what it is. For me it’s always a thrill when I can spot a satellite from the ground, but once these 12,000 plus satellites are in place one will probably be amazed to see a natural star or planet.   

While Belgium didn’t have any reports for the month of March sent to MUFON an article from the Telegraph points out that Belgium had a record month of UFO sightings. According to the article there were 87 reports in March and 188 for the year of 2020 so far.

The COVID-19 lockdown certainly narrowed the country’s attention and kept everyone looking for anything to do. Second, the weather had been clear for much of the month. Third, from March 28 to April 1st there were at least 50 reports of a row of lights moving from west to east. Of course, these sightings coincided with another launch of Starlink satellites.   

According to K102.5 Kalamazoo’s Greatest Hits radio station, the Starlink satellites did a flyover which caused an influx of UFO reports in early May over southern Michigan. The satellites also created a bit of concern back on April 19th in Great Britain and parts of Europe as people saw the string of satellites flying across the sky.     


We’re also still dealing with the Kessler Syndrome or Kessler effect where space pollution with satellites and other debris may limit us to travel into space in the future. The key part to the Kessler Syndrome is having too many objects in lower Earth orbit. This increases the chance of collisions. A single collision could create a chain reaction that could create even more debris and continue to destroy satellites leaving us without our space-based technology and ultimately having us trapped on Earth.

Currently there are about 2,300 active satellites orbiting Earth with about 3,000 littering space in addition to tons of other pieces and parts stuck in orbit for periods of time until they burn up in the atmosphere which for some may never come or take years to occur.

In October, the European Space Agency released its annual report on space debris, and it states that risk of dangerous collisions is on the rise. Also in October a close call between a defunct Russian satellite launched in 1989 and a spent Chinese rocket launched in 2009 could have created thousands of pieces of space junk that could have created a chain reaction like the Kessler Effect. SpaceX plans on putting up 42,000 or more Starlink satellites to bring Wi-Fi to the world, but at what cost?

If you want to see if the Starlink satellites are going to pass over your area you can check out the website: https://findstarlink.com/ 

Why this story made the top ten: UFO sightings were said to be on the rise this year, but so were Starlink launches. The launches are not only causing UFO sightings but also concern by astronomers and other scientists about our ability to see the night sky and to not end up trapping ourselves on Earth.

Why the story is only number seven: Surprisingly, the satellite launches created minimal accounts of UFOs compared to what I had predicted. The negative press was minimal about Starlink this year compared to last year and it looks as if these launches will increase and these UFOs will become more recognizable over time.


6. Arecibo observatory 


One of the most heartbreaking stories of 2020 related to the paranormal came to a crashing conclusion at 7:55 AM on December 1st. The location in Puerto Rico had suffered moderate damage from Hurricane Maria in late 2017 as well as from several earthquakes since which put a strain on the budget for the facility. A cable break in August of 2020 brought concern to the structural integrity of the platform, but plans were in place to help reinforce it.

However, a second cable break on November 6th put the observatory at high risk of self-collapse. The National Science Foundation conducted surveys of the damage and engineers had determined the structure unsafe and the 900-ton platform would eventually be destroyed as safely as possible by a controlled demolition. On November 19th, the facility was officially decommissioned by the National Science Foundation.


Many were hopeful that the telescope could still receive emergency funding to be repaired despite the claims by engineers that the cable failures meant the health of the structure was worse than initially believed. On November 21st, a petition was started on Whitehouse.gov to stabilize the structure that contained 20 tons of lead weights and is a potential hazard to an aquafer below. The structure is also vital to the safety of Earth due to the observatory’s unique ability to spot near-Earth objects that threaten life due to potential impact.

Ángel Vázquez, the observatory's director of telescope operations, was in the control room with others removing valuable equipment on the morning of December 1st when the platform gave way. He stated that during the week other cables on the arm that broke began to fray with strands visibly coming from the cables which eventually led to the breakage.


Drone footage captured the moment one of the cables came undone and snapped causing other cables to break and allowing the platform to swing and essentially destroy itself landing on the outside of the 305 meter or 1,000-foot-wide spherical reflector dish. No one was harmed in the uncontrolled collapse.

The Arecibo observatory was completed in 1963 and was the world's largest single-aperture telescope for 53 years, surpassed in July 2016 by the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) in China. The observatory is well known for its “Arecibo Message” sent in 1974 by Frank Drake that includes data about Earth and humans. However, the merits and discoveries are long including the discovery of the first exoplanet, binary pulsar, in addition to a huge chuck of data to the Seti@home project and other SETI projects. 

Why this story made the top ten: Arecibo was one of the most unique radio telescopes even after it was no longer the largest. The observatory has carried out more work for SETI projects than any other telescope and is well known for its message sent into outer space in 1974. Most astronomers agree the loss of this telescope will hurt efforts of locating near-Earth objects and the work this unique telescope was able to conduct.

Why this story is only number six: Despite its work for SETI and science the paranormal community seems unaffected by the loss of the observatory. While 2020 was full of devastating losses, fear, and more important things to worry about the observatory’s destruction was more of a burden for scientists.


5. Mysterious Western US Drones          


Since mid-December, Sheriff departments in Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas had been inundated with calls of swarms of giant drones in the sky. One witness described seeing about a dozen or more drones that had a wingspan of at least six feet.

Sheriff departments were then joined by the FBI, FAA, and the Air Force in getting to the bottom of the mystery that has many residents in these three states feeling nervous, vulnerable, and downright scared. A local CBS affiliate waited for nightfall with one of the witnesses and was able to document the drones from a distance.

The FAA and Air Force have both claimed they did not know who was behind the drones and the FAA has even said they’re not even sure if these are drones, despite the numerous witnesses and videos. None of the agencies felt that the drones posed any sort of threat and seemed to downplay the activity which seemed suspicious although it might have been to calm the growing concern.

Colorado, seemingly being the epicenter behind the sightings, even created a task force that searched for a command vehicle that could have been deploying the drones. They were looking for potentially a closed box trailer with antennas or a large van. A specialty armed airplane with three cameras that see in color and infrared even went in search of the drones with no luck.  


The Air Force Global Strike Command oversees underground Minuteman silos across northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and western Nebraska, the areas where the drones have been spotted. The Air Force uses drones to keep other drones away from bases to keep the United States bases secure from prying eyes or from other aerial attacks. The Air Force denied that the drones are theirs, which technically they belong to a third party and not the Air Force. So, it’s possible these drones were theirs, but they don’t want that information going public.

The military drone hypothesis was made from drone and aviation experts in Colorado, some of which had their own interesting sighting. Chris Swathwood, the chair of the legislative affairs committee for the Colorado Aviation Business Association and a seasoned drone pilot stated, “We did get eyes on one about 200 to 300 feet above, and it was moving at about 100 knots. It was a large, fixed wing aircraft. It was dark, and it had lights unlike any other manned aircraft would normally have.”

Swathwood also stated he felt the drone was more than eight feet in size and would use a runway to take off or could take off vertically, but it had a drive motor in the back propelling it forward. He also said this type of drone is more like something the military uses for large areas of surveillance and could be remotely flown from just about anywhere and would cost likely over $100,000 each to build.

The U.S. Air Force as well as oil and gas companies have denied using these types of drones in the past. So far, Amazon, Paragon Geophysical Services, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Colorado Department of Transportation and UAV Recon have also denied having connections to the drones. 

Officials are warning people not to shoot at the drones, as besides being highly dangerous it is also illegal. Drones are highly regulated, and this latest activity is making officials think that drones should have ways to be identified from a distance so that mysteries like this are not turned into potential threats. In fact, in December the FAA announced a proposed rule that would ensure all drones registered by the agency have remote identification technology. 

On the other side of the coin, it has also been proposed that maybe someone saw a handful of drones in one location, but others are seeing something different such as satellites or even stars and have misidentified them. Drone paranoia has grown large in these states and many claims of sightings yielded no actual sightings by trained observers reacting to the area so it’s possible that this flap of drone sightings might be spurred by panic.     

On Tuesday, January 7th a medical helicopter pilot reported a drone had come “in dangerous proximity” to the aircraft. Pilot Kirk Peebles stated the drone passed within 100 feet of his helicopter. The Colorado Department of Public Safety then began to use more ground-based teams as well as aircraft to potentially get to the bottom of the mystery quicker. 

A Multi-Mission Aircraft took flight with cameras that had infrared and other ways of capturing video but was unable to find anything valuable. The MMA was tasked with finding a ground control vehicle for the drones. Any video captured by the MMA will not be released until the investigation is over. 

On Saturday January 11th, Colorado Department of Public Safety officials tested a small drone at low altitude as part of training for state workers. The training is aimed at helping the workers be able to identify smaller drones at a close distance versus large aircraft at a further distance.

There has been some talk by a few experts that many witnesses are probably seeing aircraft at a distance instead of drones, so the state is conducting some research and training for this scenario. They plan on testing the drone for a few nights and have warned the public of the tests so these flights will hopefully not get reported.  

Since the first large drone sightings there has been no physical evidence of large drones. Could this be a case of mass panic over a random sighting of something or could it be some sort of conspiracy theory? 

Once these sightings began to get national attention over 70 local, state, federal, and even military officials met in Brush, Colorado to help get to the bottom of the drone mystery. A joint drone task force was formed with ten to fifteen separate agencies actively working together to solve the sightings.

What about the helicopter pilot that states a drone came into “dangerous proximity” to his aircraft? How could we doubt the account of a trained pilot? Consumer drone company DJI has gathered several news reports of purported aircraft and drone collisions each with a not cut and dry outcome.

An August 2015 account of a small twin-engine plane that hit an unidentified object was fueled by speculation it hit a drone. Microscope research indicated a bird was responsible. A British Airways pilot reported hitting a drone at 1,700 feet in April of 2016 while on approach to Heathrow Airport. The media pushed the drone hypothesis heavily although no evidence was discovered of a drone and no damage to the plane was seen also the U.K. Transport Minister later said it might have been a plastic bag.

An airliner in Mozambique claimed to have hit a drone after hearing a loud bang. Despite a large dent in the nose of the plane it was determined to be structural failure, not an impact. A pilot in Australia claimed to have hit a drone while landing in July of 2017. DNA tests confirmed the plane had struck a bat. Many other incidents have been noted of balloons that were reported but drones were used in the media instead.

Another organization analyzed 764 reports of drones and found that only 27 were legitimate near misses of an actual drone: that’s just 3.5%.

When these sightings broke it was just days after the FAA proposed a rule that drones be identified remotely by using an identifier and GPS coordinates to a central database via a cellular signal. Granted, the big push behind this is in part that many companies including Amazon and the United States Postal Service are using drones more and more for commercial uses as well as that drones and their owners are hard to track by authorities who see illegal activity with their use.

Are these sightings being used to push an agenda to track drones? Probably not, but it sure does help to justify it.  

Officials revealed that there have been 90 incidents of drones since late November, 14 of which were just hobby drones. The other 76 cases are unresolved. With the big attention on the drone story 23 more cases have filtered in within the last week. Of these cases only 4 are a mystery while 19 have been determined to be hobby drones, planes, as well as planets or stars. People are seeing everything and reporting it as these drones.

One of the 19 reports turned out to be the Fort Morgan Colorado helicopter incident. Just one small daytime drone was reported, and the drone was not in a path or area that it should not have been. 

Officials have now admitted what many had been saying all along, there have been no confirmed circumstances of illegal drone activity. Along with this they have planned to pull back the investigation into the mass sightings of drones.   

David Hambling, a contributor to Forbes Magazine states that through documents obtained through the Freedom of Information act reveals that 24 nuclear sites suffered at least 57 drone incursions from 2015 to 2019. This doesn’t include the other areas like military bases and nuclear silo areas that have also recorded drone activity.

Some of this might just be curiosity seekers, but this is also alarming, but this doesn’t mean that UFOs are buzzing these areas. It shows how vulnerable these sites might be to terrorists as they could use a medium sized drone to put a hole in a cooling pool which could cause a horrendous radiation fire.

Why this story made the top ten: This was a big story to begin 2020 on. This was the most viral story of the month of January until the novel coronavirus invaded the United States and Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and others perished in a helicopter crash.

Why this story is only number five: While this seemed like an intricate story it more than likely was based on fear and virality. While there may have been some legitimate sightings of drones most of the reports were more than likely misidentification. This story was quickly lost in a very eventful January.


4. Loch Ness Monster radar and sightings      

It did not take long for the first official Loch Ness Monster sighting of 2020. The sighting came from a live webcam near Urquhart Bay on January 18th. Eoin O'Faodhagain, a long time Loch Ness Monster fan who has plenty of his own sightings over the years, was the person who sent in the sighting.

The sighting has been added to the Official Loch Ness Monster Sightings Register that is run by Gary Campbell. Last year Eoin had four sightings all from the webcam which added to the record 18 sightings on the register for 2019 which was the highest amount since 1983.

There does seem to be something moving in the water in the video, but there is hardly any detail to make out just what could have been behind the movement. Eoin states, “There were no boats or birds to see at the time of the sighting.” Of course, this does not mean that the Loch Ness Monster was responsible for these sightings.  


Storm Ciara battled the United Kingdom and Ireland over the weekend of February 8th and 9th. The storm ultimately killed 13 people as it brought high winds and heavy rains to the UK, Ireland, and western Europe. The storm also deposited a giant skeleton on the shores of Aberdeen Scotland on the northeastern side of the country.

A photograph of the large skeleton with a person standing next to it was posted to Fubar News of North Scotland. The photo generated a lot of speculation and the media quickly jumped on it. The Liverpool Echo newspaper ran a poll asking its readers what they thought the skeleton was from. The largest percentage at 43% feel it’s a whale while 42% think it’s a publicity stunt, Nessie at 8%, and dinosaur at 7% but most headlines used the Loch Ness Monster as a hook for readers. 

Irish hospital clerk Eoin O'Faodhagain again caught a glimpse of the purported lake monster on the Loch Ness Live Cam which is stationed near Urquhart Bay. This second sighting of the year shows a small white shape that seems to come out of the water and float on the surface for just a few seconds.

This sighting was recorded off the web cam on Monday morning, April 13th at 8:11 AM local time. Of the sighting O’Faodigain said, “It was three to four feet out of the water at its highest but mainly low to the water for most of it. Putting up a wash of white water as it moved to see it at that range, it would have to be at least ten feet long. As you can see from the video there are no boats present before the object appeared out through the surface water. Loch Ness at the moment is like a ghost lake there is no activity of any sort out on the lake these days due to the present circumstances. It's exhilarating to get another sighting especially when it's the second one on record this year, back to back.”

It doesn’t look like much to me and I’m thinking it might actually be condensation or some sort of reflection on the lens of the camera. It might even be condensation or a close object near the lens such as a bug or bead of water on a spiderweb close to the camera.    

April 22nd brought the third Loch Ness Monster sighting of 2020. This sighting is thought to be the largest ever recorded with what is described as a 30-foot long shaped that purportedly came four to five feet out of the water. Such a sighting would have to help validate the Loch Ness Monster at this point, right?

This third sighting of Nessie for 2020 was again longtime Loch Ness Monster watcher Eoin O'Faodhagain. His last sighting came just a week and a day prior to this one and is seemingly the same thing he caught the first time. The footage doesn’t exactly show anything of detail and the size is left to perception and speculation.

The webcam is called Loch Ness Live Cam and can be viewed at https://lochness.co.uk/livecam/.   


Steve Challice, who was on holiday with his brother in Scotland for two weeks in September of 2019 had taken hundreds of photographs during his trip. It was only during lockdown that he went through his photos. 

During a trip to Urquhart Castle on the 15th or 16th of September he saw an object in the water he assumed was a fish and began taking photographs. Challice commented, “I started taking a couple of shots and then this big fish came to the surface and then went back down again. It only appeared in one shot and to be honest that was something of a fluke. I watched for a while as you can see from the last picture but didn't see it again.”

The only picture the creature appears is one where a creature appears to be partially out of the water and moving. Other pictures show a trail in the water where the creature seems to be moving. He said he was photographing the opposite shore when he saw a ripple and began taking photos. He estimated the creature was about 30 feet away and about 8 feet long.

Roland Watson, an author who runs the Loch Ness Mystery blog, says, “If this is a genuine picture of a creature in Loch Ness, it would easily rank in the top three of all time. At this point, I am in an ongoing conversation with Steve as to the objections and concerns I have about this being a photoshop picture. So, we will see where that takes us.”

According to the Daily Record a digital photography expert has also stated the photograph appears to be Photoshopped. The expert cites that color saturation and indistinct lining of the purported animal makes the photograph suspect.

Steve, however, states the photograph is genuine but he’s not claiming it’s the Loch Ness Monster. He says that he posted the photograph so that hopefully someone else could identify what it was. He says, “Personally I know there has been some interest and some people are saying it's the monster, but I don't believe that. I have to say I don't believe in the Loch Ness Monster and frankly I think if anything is there then there is a logical explanation for most of the sightings. My guess would be that what I captured was a catfish or something like that. As seals get in from the sea then I expect that’s what it is and that would explain why these sightings are so few and far between.”

The photograph was posted on the Facebook group Anomalous Universe and Roland Watson had followed the conversation once the photo was posted. The person responded to criticism about the image being CGI by saying, “No it's just a fish but not sure what sort. Love the idea of cgi but I'm not that good at it... Lol”.

However, Watson did some surface level digging and found the man’s LinkedIn page which shows that he’s a 3D graphical artist. Watson called out Challice to which he replied, “I didn't say I didn't do cgi I just said that I'm not that good. The photo is genuine, and it was taken at Loch ness last September. Will happily show you the rest of the images when I get home next week.”  

It didn’t take too long for this story to completely unravel and it turned out that the creature was a catfish and a giant one at that. Unfortunately, it wasn’t actually swimming in the waters of Loch Ness. 


This catfish is a wels catfish and was captured in the river Po in Italy back in 2018. The fish was estimated to be 105.5 inches in length and around 286 pounds.

Catfish have pigmentation patterns on their backs that are unique like human fingerprints. Jeriah Houghton spotted the image and compared the pigmentation on both the Italian catfish and the purported Loch Ness Monster image and discovered they were exactly the same.  

The 5th official sighting was the 5th webcam capture of the year and the second for Kalynn Wrangle of the United States who now owns two sightings on the list one from April 10 and the latest from June 3rd. 

Sadly, these sightings are captured from a webcam that seems to be thousands of yards away from the loch and can’t see much detail to actually tell what is occurring. It is a boat, is it the wind, a bird, fish underwater? It’s nearly impossible to tell. Maybe this is by design.   

The sixth official sighting of the Loch Ness Monster occurred on July 8th and it’s the first of the year that happened in person.  This sighting happened near Fort Augustus when 35-year-old Ross MacAulay spotted something large in the water about 100 yards away from a pair of kayakers. 


Just like the other sightings this year of the Loch Ness Monster this one is hardly discernable. It’s like a fleck of white in the water filmed with a digital zoom about a mile away..

However, the story says that Ross and his friends were completely baffled as to what the object was, and he estimated it to be about 12 feet long. Of his encounter Ross stated, “There were a couple of kayakers, but 100 yards ahead of them was something below the surface. At first I thought it was a big rock under the water and I just carried on driving. Then I thought 'there's never been a rock there before' - so curiosity got the better of me. I turned round and parked in a long lay-by. The object had moved and was now out in the middle of the loch. The kayakers were much further behind. The creature must have done 400 yards in a minute - and against the wind. I started filming it for five minutes. There was no long neck, no head, just the hump bit. I would say it was 12ft long and 4ft wide, at its widest. It was light grey and it went under the water then up and then disappeared.”  

On August 29th Mr. Van-Schuerbeck was on holiday with his family, or a vacation to those of us in the United states, when he took a picture of Loch Ness and later discovered he might have found the elusive beast. Van-Shuerbeck was looking over his photos when he saw what appears to be something sticking up out of the water of the loch, but the object is so distant it’s nearly impossible to tell what it is.  

On September 8th, an unidentified man was walking around the loch on the new Loch Ness 360 trail when he took photographs of what he feels is the Loch Ness Monster.

The man states that he is a “lifelong Nessie skeptic” although according to the article he was shocked and baffled when he had his sighting. The man stated, “I was just enjoying the wonderful views, mind elsewhere on a lovely clear breezy day, when I stopped dead in my tracks. From where I stood, at a clear vantage point in the hills, there was a very defined dark shape beneath the water.”

Over the last weekend of September Corey and Lauren Sturrock were walking along the loch at around 3:40 PM when they saw a giant creature rise out of the water.

Mr. Sturrock stated, “I have been camping and walking on Loch Ness my whole life and I have never believed in the Loch Ness monster. But what my wife and I saw was something quite extraordinary and I would like to know if other people have seen the same. It was, what looked like to me and Lauren, like a massive eel. It was the size of a bus. It was massive. We saw the water rippling as if something was swelling, and that is what grabbed our attention. We then saw this thing, that looked like a massive eel rise from the water, and then go back under again. There was a large swell. Other people walking on the same path saw it as well.”

Mr. Sturrock continued, “I reached for my phone – but it was all over in a matter of about 10 or 20 seconds – and it only showed itself for a few seconds. By the time I got my phone out it had gone underneath again. It didn’t look like all those Nessie drawings with the humps – it was just a large, or very large eel. After never believing there was anything in the loch, and no basis for belief in the Loch Ness monster, I would say that perhaps there are large eels in the water – and when they emerge they may look like a monster. Whatever it was it was some size.”  


Ronald Mackenzie was piloting the Spirit of Loch Ness tour boat on Wednesday, September 30th, during a dull day with just a dozen passengers onboard the catamaran- it can carry about 210 normally. The passengers were excited to see an eagle when he spotted something remarkably interesting on the boats sonar system.

Mackenzie explains his sighting, “It was right in the middle of the loch at about 170m to 190m depending on the story (558-623ft) down with the loch being at about 300 meters or 984 feet. It was big – at least 10m (33ft). The contact lasted 10 seconds while we passed over. We have real state-of-the-art sonar on the new boat. It doesn’t lie. It captures what’s there.”  

On October 11th another piece of sonar data was recorded showing something large just above the bottom of the loch. The sonar find was also captured by Ronald Mackenzie of Cruise Loch Ness. The previous image was said to be of a 32-foot-long object which later estimated to only be about 15 to 20 feet long.


This second sonar contact occurred about a mile from the previous one. Craig Wallace, an expert sonar operator, discovered the real Loch Ness Monster four years ago using new sonar equipment. This was a model of Nessie that had been used during the filming of The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes back in the 1970s. 

Wallace has offered to come back to Loch Ness and do more surveys if someone is willing to sponsor it. These sonar findings have furthered speculation that the quiet lake due to Covid lockdowns might be responsible for these sightings. But just like the last sonar image the possibility is high it is just a shoal of fish.  

Rod Michie of Jacobite Cruises stepped forward to add his sonar sighting to the two previous captures. The only issue is his happened back in June of 2015. He says of his image, “I used to see surprising things visually or by sonar, but every time there was a logical explanation. But this contact was different. It really is unexplained. The equipment is improving all the time and that is most likely to solve the mystery of Nessie. I saw things over the years that I did not want to make a lot of for fear of ridicule, but this sighting in 2015 was very similar to Ronald’s.”

He goes on to say, “I also know Ronald Mackenzie well and he is a genuine guy. There is something unexplained down there. My guess is that it is big eel – 20-30ft long.”

So, Jacobite Cruises is a rival company on the loch to Mackenzie’s so this to me sounds like an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of this story. Michie even stated he wonders if his image is possibly the lost model of Nessie that was used during the filming of the 1970s movie The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. The 30-foot model was discovered on the floor of the loch in June of 2016. It’s still there and its location is known so I’m not sure why Michie isn’t sure if it is or isn’t the model.

The 12th “official” sighting of the Loch Ness Monster occurred on November 24th near Urquhart Castle. Karen Scott and her partner observed the creature around 2:30 pm and stated that it surfaced, disappeared, and then resurfaced off and on for around five minutes but no photographs or video accompanied their sighting.

 A 13th sighting was reported in December of a November 15th encounter of spotting a “whitish grey” object in the water about a half mile away moving through the water.

Why this story is in the top ten: 2020 did not live up to the 21st century record number of sightings of 18 in 2019. But the sightings and stories of the catfish hoax and the sonar findings kept the Loch Ness Monster in the paranormal and mainstream news all year long and was a welcomed distraction to all the Covid-19 and political news.

Why this story is only number four: Collectively these stories cast a lot of weight for a creature that has been proven time and again that it does not exist. Last year’s number four story was the Neil Gemmel’s ‘Loch Ness Monster’ study that found no DNA that could explain a large creature in the loch. If it were not for the hoax and sonar findings the Loch Ness Monster may have gone unnoticed from the rest of the world outside of the United Kingdom.


3. U.S. government research on UFOs    


On Valentine’s Day Popular Mechanics published some new documents that showed that the U.S. government was doing some investigating and research into UFOs and related phenomena. Other information released from unknown sources to Popular Mechanics also refutes information released late last year that Louis Elizondo, now with the To The Stars Academy, was the leader of the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program also known as AATIP.

AATIP was revealed to the world in 2017 as The New York Times uncovered information surrounding the $22 Million program and was thought to be a secret UFO research program. Since then, the government had admitted that the program did research UAPs, Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, but again late last year claims that AATIP did not investigate these types of crafts.

Popular Mechanics emailed the Pentagon’s Senior Strategic Planner and Spokesperson Susan Gough for clarification of several discrepancies in the details and dates surrounding some of the information about the various programs including AATIP. Initially Gough responded she would examine the information and provide a response, but repeated requests for any statement have gone unanswered.

Motherboard recently contacted Susan Gough and states that she will release a new public statement about the findings in the following weeks as it pertains to the Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program or AAWSAP and AATIP programs. It will be interesting how the Pentagon will attempt to twist their way out of this one. While we’re finally getting some disclosure, we’re also getting the runaround and somewhere someone is not telling the truth or doesn’t really understand the information.    

The U.S. Army is working with Tom Delonge’s organization, The To the Stars Academy, because what is rumored to be exotic materials in the group’s possession. TTSA issued a press release back in October of last year to make the announcement. The press released announced that they had formed an agreement with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) to “advance materiel and technology innovations.” This collaboration is called a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement or CRADA (pronounced CRAY-DUH)

John Greenwald of The Black Vault attempted to obtain records relating to just what the deal between the Army and the TTSA is, but according to Greenwald the research and reports are exempt from the Freedom of Information Act per Army Regulation 70-57.

Greenwald instead used keywords “To the Stars” and “TTSA” in relation to all records and emails related to Dr. Joseph Cannon of U.S. Army Futures Command who is known to be working with the agreement. The Army responded that there were 29 documents but that they were not going to release these records as they were exempt from the request.

Motherboard reached out to Doug Halleaux, a spokesperson for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center, who said that document’s related to TTSA would be classified as “trade secrets and commercial or financial information [that are] privileged or confidential.” 

So, the big hush hush here is not about secret UFO technology, it basically boils down to intellectual property and the finances behind the deal. The To the Stars Academy signed a five-year deal last year purportedly based on the group’s possession of so-called metamaterials that the U.S. Army would like to research to use in a variety of projects.    

On April 27th, the U.S. Department of Defense officially released the three videos showing unidentified aerial phenomena. The three videos had been previously leaked by the To the Stars Academy and have helped put the topic of UFOs out of the forbidden realms right into the mainstream.

The official announcement from the Department of Defense page reads as follows, “IMMEDIATE RELEASE -Statement by the Department of Defense on the Release of Historical Navy Videos dated APRIL 27, 2020. The Department of Defense has authorized the release of three unclassified Navy videos, one taken in November 2004 and the other two in January 2015, which have been circulating in the public domain after unauthorized releases in 2007 and 2017. The U.S. Navy previously acknowledged that these videos circulating in the public domain were indeed Navy videos. After a thorough review, the department has determined that the authorized release of these unclassified videos does not reveal any sensitive capabilities or systems and does not impinge on any subsequent investigations of military air space incursions by unidentified aerial phenomena. DOD is releasing the videos in order to clear up any misconceptions by the public on whether or not the footage that has been circulating was real, or whether or not there is more to the videos. The aerial phenomena observed in the videos remain characterized as "unidentified." The released videos can be found at the Naval Air Systems Command FOIA Reading Room: https://www.navair.navy.mil/foia/documents.” 

This is just a clarification of the information that has been put out by the TTSA and the vast speculation behind the videos. Like mentioned in the statement the government has already admitted the videos were theirs back in September of last year, so this official announcement doesn’t have a ton of impact, but it rules out the TTSA making anything up about the videos.  

A lot of people feel the Department of Defense’s acknowledgement is a step in the right direction toward potential disclosure of more information. Many were excited or at least happy to hear that the videos are now official. But not everyone was so excited or took them seriously.

President Trump seemed skeptical about the videos during an Oval Office interview with Reuters shortly after the official announcement. He laughed and questioned whether the videos were really real. Trump has not been a big fan of UFOs and has admitted that he’s not a believer.  


Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid appeared on the Cyber podcast from Motherboard which explores UFOs and the paranormal. Reid says he’s done more than any other lawmaker to support the search for UFOs, but that statement doesn’t mean much because no one else is doing anything.

Reid was the backbone of the Advanced Aerospace Threat and Identification Program (AATIP) and the Advanced Aerospace Weapons Systems Applications Program (AAWSAP) that operated from 2007 to 2012 on a Congressional black budget of about $22 million.

Reid said, “I look at it this way, the world as we know it today is extremely large. It’s so big I can’t comprehend it. And I think that we as human beings have to be a little short sighted if we think we’re the only species in the entire universe. In the entire universe there is for sure more than one [species].”

While politicians generally sidestep talking about little green men or extraterrestrials Reid seems to feel that talking about strange things in the sky cannot be separated from aliens.

He says, “I don’t think you can separate them. I think it’s all one big basket of stuff. We learned with the work that we did that the sightings of aerial phenomenon has not been seen by a couple dozen people, not a couple hundred people. Thousands of people. Thousands of people. We have that down pretty pat. We know that unusual things have happened over decades on a regular basis and we know that in the Dakotas, a missile launching facility has been shut down because of something over one of them basically shutting off the power to them. We know the accounts off the coast of San Diego where ships have found these unusual things in the water and it shut down the communications on the ships.”

Reid stresses that while we should have no boundaries in what we search for people should not be afraid of what is out there. Reid has also stated that the three videos released by Tom DeLonge’s To the Stars Academy and recently acknowledged by the Department of Defense only scratches the surface of what remains classified and not yet publicly available.

The Pentagon has recently stated that AATIP was not studying UFOs this went against what Reid and Louis Elizondo had previously stated about the organization. So why are UFOs still taboo despite the mounting evidence?

Reid stated, “I think the legislators are afraid to do this for fear they’ll be charged with wasting taxpayer dollars. Even some of my staff told me to stay away from all this. But I never looked back. It was something I was interested in. I thought it was something that government should be involved in. And I think we have the Pentagon and other government officials don’t continue work on this it’s a really unfortunate thing for the country because other countries are doing it."     

At the end of June, the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee announced that it wants to impose rules on how information is shared by the Department of Defense about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena or basically UFOs. Although in the bill they also use the term anomalous aerial vehicles.

The regulation of the Pentagon’s tracking efforts comes from the Department of Defense’s confirmation that the three leaked videos were legitimate and that the Office of Naval Intelligence is tracking these objects systematically.

The report states, “The Committee supports the efforts of the Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Task Force at the Office of Naval Intelligence [ONI] to standardize collection and reporting on unidentified aerial phenomenon, any links they have to adversarial foreign governments, and the threat they pose to U.S. military assets and installations.”

The committee wants an unclassified report filed within 180 days of any incident although the report may include a classified annex meaning part of the information may be missing. The bill itself is heavy on a lot of other topics including cybersecurity and artificial intelligence reporting which is scary enough and the UFO stuff is merely in the comments.  

In August, the Pentagon has announced the establishment of a task force to review unexplained aerial phenomena that have been seen by the U.S. military. In a statement the Pentagon stated in part, “On Aug. 4, 2020, Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist approved the establishment of an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) Task Force (UAPTF). The Department of Defense established the UAPTF to improve its understanding of, and gain insight into, the nature and origins of UAPs. The mission of the task force is to detect, analyze and catalog UAPs that could potentially pose a threat to U.S. national security.”

The UAP task force will be operated by the Navy and report to the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. This work was already being done but now it will be a more formal process. The work completed by the task force will be classified, although this might change in the future if the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s proposal for an unclassified report on UFOs is adopted by the full Senate and House of Representatives.

Of course, all of this follows the release of three videos which have gone on to be known as “Gimbal”, “GoFast”, and “FLIR1” which is also known as the “Tic Tac” video. These videos were acknowledged and officially released by the Pentagon in April of this year although leaked to the public through the New York Times via the To the Stars Academy. Many claim these three videos are UFOs and defy rational explanation, although various explanations for all three videos have been made although largely ignored by a public that wants to believe. 

This task force creation is essentially a reaction to the reaction of these videos getting out into the public. UFO skeptic Robert Sheaffer weighed in on this topic by saying, “In the military, a task force is something that is put together to deal with a specific situation or problem. It is expected to produce a report and recommendations concerning that issue and is disbanded when such work is complete. So, this is not something open-ended and ongoing, like Project Blue Book. It does not suggest an ongoing government interest in unidentified objects.”

Other experts point out that this response to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena is anchored in the protection of our airspace which has been increasingly penetrated by other technologies from around the world. As our technology increases, we may also monitor how our technology could be perceived by others which might be another reason for this analysis.

Either way, on the outside it might seem like this is about tracking alien spacecraft in our airspace but it is really about understanding the technology advancements around us and how to keep track of it all.

Why this story made the top ten: UFO study has gone from swamp gas and X-File theme music with canned laughter to a serious discussion point within the U.S. government. These days it seems the government is doing more work to uncover UFO information than the public that feels they are covering everything up. UFOs, or UAPs, were in the news all year long this year and have finally become an accepted topic by the news.

Why this story is only number three: While the topic was in the news all year long there were no major strides to disclose any new information. We’re still as in the dark as we were in 2019, but the push seems to be headed in the right direction finally.


2. UFO reports on the rise?    


The number seven story this year was the increase of UFO sightings that were attributed to the SpaceX Starlink satellites. We also heard dozens if not hundreds of stories documenting the rise of UFO sightings in 2020. Many felt this was due to the pandemic and lockdowns, but the first week of January we had our first article on this topic.

This one focused on NUFORC, or the National UFO Reporting Center, which was created in 1974 and has been operated by Peter Davenport since 1994. Despite being essentially a one-man show, the organization stays current with sightings and has a hotline and dynamic website that displays hot cases generally with explanations.

NUFORC stays relevant by pushing stories into the media and in early 2020 noted that 2019 had a surge in cases. In 2018 NUFORC reported 3,395 reports and 2019 totaled 5,971 reports. NUFORC is only concerned with reports from the United States but does include other countries in their database which is free to use by anyone.

On the rise Davenport stated, “One of the mysteries of ufology is there is a fluctuation in the number of reports over the years. Some years it’s been low, but it’s gotten higher recently.”

Davenport does not investigate these reports and notes that some of them may be for the same object. Many of the reports are placed by anonymous people and the cases are never followed-up on.    

An early April article from the Daily Star states that the Coronavirus pandemic has sparked a 30-year high in UFO sightings worldwide. But the headline was a bit misleading.


The story points to the fact that since people have been on lockdown this has meant people have more time for stargazing. They do also state that the Elon Musk Starlink project has also been the culprit to some of the UFO sightings, but in all honesty, it is responsible for quite a bit of them.

The article also mentions the surge of UFO sightings out of Belgium. From the article it states that Frederick Delaere, from the Belgian UFO Reporting Centre, said Belgium’s coronavirus lockdown was likely the cause.

The real cause was the spotting of the Starlink satellites as a vast majority of the sightings reported the same exact thing in relation to the movement of the satellites being deployed. It might be partly that people are at home more, but they’re also bored and many of them scared. High UFO reports have historically come during uneasy times.

We can also really point the finger at the media for (which ever finger is up to you) their lack of research behind a lot of these sightings. But this isn’t new. We did see a spike in sightings reported by MUFON, but not quite at the strength that they were during the 2015 year during the height of the television show Hangar 1. 

In early September the National UFO Reporting Center, known as NUFORC, makes the news as they are reporting a 51% increase in reports through this time last year. Unlike MUFON, which has many investigators in nearly every state as well as many countries worldwide, NUFOC is operated by one person- Peter Davenport with support from a webmaster who fields the online form.

From his home in Harrington, Washington, Peter says he is taking 25 to 50 calls a day on UFO reports this year. Davenport’s nonprofit organization has reported over 5,000 UFO reports for 2020 with around 20% taking place in April. MUFON also encountered a historical month of April recording 1,026 total worldwide sightings. And in case you’re keeping score at home MUFON has recorded 5,851 reports so far this year. Last year the total for year for MUFON was 7,134.

Of course, much of the spike in reports is due to the lockdowns imposed over the Covid-19 pandemic as people have had more time to think about and report sightings that happened previous to this year. But we should also consider that the news of the U.S. Navy releasing the archival footage of the already known three UFO videos certainly helped, also noted by Davenport is the influx of photographs and sightings of the Starlink satellites that are a line of UFOs high in the sky, as well as the History Channel's two seasons of “Unidentified: Inside America's UFO Investigation” that wrapped up last month.

While MUFON releases the total numbers of sightings NUFORC doesn’t always break things down, but in this article, we get to see a month-to-date total as well as month-to-month. January NUFORC recorded 601 reports (MUFON 628), February 604 (MUFON 540), March 807 (MUFON 883), April 1,034 (MUFON 1,026), May 556 (MUFON 759, June 357 (MUFON 601, July 615 (MUFON 769), and August 545 for NUFORC and 645 for MUFON.


Are these all the same reports? No. It’s important to note that many of these reports could be of the same sighting, explainable or not, and yes, most if not all of them either have been explained or may have a logical explanation short of a satellite, airplane, other misinterpretation, or a hoax. Also, these reports may reflect historical data. So, the big bump in April doesn’t mean that UFOs began to swarm Earth or more people were out looking for proof of UFOs it just means that more people decided to take the time to talk about a UFO experience they had which could have been in 1975 for all we know.  

An article by Astronomy in early October stated that sightings of UFOs might not have spiked due to Covid-19 lockdowns. They state that the National UFO Reporting Center, NUFORC, has reported a spike in cases in the spring that they feel is tied to the Pentagon’s official release or UFO tapes and the media that was generated by this story.

The Astronomy article states that the National UFO Reporting Center did encounter a large spike in the spring but that after these high months that the numbers went back to 2019 levels which have been lower than they have been over the last decade.

MUFON’s Steve Hudgeons, international director of investigations, states that overall cases have been declining over years. While the numbers have fluctuated over the last five years that I’ve been keeping a close eye on them you can see an average annual decline over that period of time and MUFON has been tracking them since 1969.

But what about stories being published that state that UFO sightings are on the rise? The Wall Street Journal had a headline that read, “UFO Spotting has Replaced Birdwatching as Pandemic Obsession.” New York claims to have had an increase in UFO sightings, last month the New York Post stated sightings were up 51% during the pandemic.

Steve Hudgeons has noted that despite an increase in the number of UFO reports there has also been a larger spike in reports that are easily explainable. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, feels that many UFO sightings are a result of the fact that most people rely on their cell phone as the main source of evidence. These devices do not have a mechanical shutter which results in smearing of moving objects. He says that birds become cigar-shaped objects and bugs become hypersonic UFOs since they don’t realize they are right in front of the camera.

Why this story made the top ten: Probably every single U.S. state ran an article about an increase in UFO sightings since last year and this was also a topic worldwide. With the support of SpaceX and the government release of UAP investigations along with the announcement of a task force investigating them no wonder people feel as though there is an increase in sightings.

Why this story is only number two: There really wasn’t much of a bump in sightings and reports have actually been down over the course of the last few years. Of course, there is a number one story that had a much bigger effect on the world.


1. Covid-19 shuts down the world (and the paranormal with it)


A paper published on February 4th in the Lancet doesn’t point toward monkey brains or bats as the culprit to the Coronavirus that would become Covid-19. They felt that an October 11, 2019 bright fireball over northern China is to blame. In their paper they hypothesize the meteor left small particles that made their way from the mesosphere and stratosphere to the surface after a month to start the outbreak in November of 2019. Their guess is that particles may continue to rain down over the world to create a continuing outbreak.

This wasn’t taken seriously though as similar reports have been made by the same researchers in the past without merit. But this story began to weave the novel Coronavirus in with the paranormal.

As March hit so did the panic and the pandemic. As toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and sanitizing wipes flew off the shelves local and state governments began to limit the number of people in gatherings and impose stay at home orders. This began a domino effect that led to the cancellation and rescheduling of dozens of paranormal conferences and conventions. While many felt that things would be back to normal by summer the realization was slow to hit as the lockdowns lasted into the fall and hardly any events went on as planned.


March also brought a pair of interesting coincidences and conspiracies. The first was about the book, “The Eyes of Darkness”, written by Dean Koontz in 1981. In this fictional thriller Koontz wrote about a virus named Wuhan-400 which was created as a weapon in a laboratory. Of course, this was a coincidence but has given some fuel to some conspiracy theorists that the virus was released by China for one reason or another on purpose.

Sylvia Browne, a self-proclaimed psychic medium and author who made numerous television appearances has suddenly been brought back into the spotlight. Browne died in 2013, but her 2008 book, “End of Days: Predictions and Prophecies about the End of the World”, has suddenly become a popular book due to a prediction she made about the coronavirus. But did she really?

Many people were talking about this prediction online and it was slowly gaining momentum until Kim Kardashian West decided to share it with a heavy sense that she believed it was true especially since it came from the reliable source of her sister Kourtney. Of course, her loyal followers have also followed this belief that Sylvia Browned did in fact predict the future which resulted in this story exploding.


Browne wrote, “In around [sic] 2020 a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes and resisting all known treatments. Almost more baffling than the illness itself will be the fact that it will suddenly vanish as quickly as it arrived, attack again ten years later, and then disappear completely.”

So, yes, she got the year right; that’s pretty impressive. But the passage says in around 2020. 2020 is a nice round date but around 2020 could mean a wide range of years. Benjamin Radford wrote about this in his blog for the Center for Inquiry where he says, “Most people would probably agree that 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022, and 2023 are “around” 2020. Using this range, we see that Browne’s spread is over seven (or more) years—well over half a decade.”

Sylvia then predicts a “severe pneumonia-like illness”. COVID-19 is not a pneumonia-like illness although it could lead to pneumonia, but it is a severe respiratory infection. Browne then states, “it will spread throughout the globe, attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes.”

Again, Benjamin Radford points out, “Covid-19 has now indeed spread throughout the globe, though the phrase “attacking the lungs and the bronchial tubes” isn’t a prediction but merely restates any “pneumonia-like illness.”

Browne then states that it will resist all known treatments. This is absolutely not true. Despite not being a vaccination at the time this does not mean that the infection is not resistant to any treatments to any of the symptoms.

She then says the illness will suddenly vanish and then attack ten years later. Well, hopefully COVID-19 will disappear as quickly as it has arrived as this is normal with outbreaks of any disease. I’m sure you’ve heard about lowering the curve, this means that when cases peak out and begin to decline, we can expect the cases to dissipate as quickly as they arrived. This is basic virology and simple science. As far as coming back in ten years we will have to wait on this one, but due to the fact of COVID-19’s spread it’s pretty certain that we will be dealing with this for years to come.

Sylvia Browne has a long track record of wrong claims and was even convicted of fraud, grand theft, and larceny back in 1992. She made numerous predictions of missing children that were completely wrong including the heartbreaking Amanda Berry case in 2004 where Browne told Berry’s mother that she was not alive. Berry’s mother died two years later with the thought that her daughter had died, but her daughter was found alive seven years later.

Browne even predicted she would die 11 years after she really died. She was even caught in a lie during an episode of Coast to Coast with George Noory where she changed her prediction based on information provided by Noory about miners trapped in the Sago mine in West Virginia in 2006.

Predictions like this rely heavily on vagueness of the information as well as people retrofitting information to fulfill it even if a lot of things are wrong with it.


Why this story was number one: Even if you didn’t get sick pretty much everyone in the world was affected by Covid-19. While many businesses suffered the paranormal conference scene was essentially shut down although some events did go on as planned with limited attendees or by using video conferencing software. Haunted houses took a hit and Halloween just wasn’t the same. Then again, all major holidays either took a hit or contributed to small outbreaks. Ireland had no bars open on St. Patrick’s Day! A couple of stories led to conspiracy theories about the pandemic, but they were mostly brought on by fear or misunderstanding as well as boredom, but it was the topic of the year by a wide margin.


Honorable mentions:


This year's countdown is dedicated to the life and work of Bigfoot researcher and friend David Dragosin.