“Best UFO Cases” by Isaac Koi
Given the problems with the various lists covered in Parts 3 to 12, I thought that it might be interesting to find out which UFO cases are most frequently discussed in books about ufos and SETI.
If ufologists wrote books solely with the objective of presenting the best available evidence, then the most frequently discussed cases would be the ones that the most authors regarded as the best cases.
I therefore set out to prepare a list of the UFO incidents most frequently discussed in a reasonably large sample of UFO and SETI books.
Over four years and 963 books later, I have prepared a “Top 100” list of UFO cases based on the frequency of discussion within these books.
Each of the 963 books (and each of the references to the discussion of each of the “Top 100” cases) are listed in a document I refer to as Koi Chrono Core (“KCC”) which I made available free of charge on the Internet back in 2006 (see Footnote 13.01)
Clearly this method of compiling a list of the “top” cases is biased in favour of older cases. The older the case, the more books have been published since that case. Thus, an incident in 1947 discussed in 20% of UFO books published since that date will rank higher than an incident in, say, 1999 which has been discussed in 100% of the relevant sample of UFO books published since that date. Also, since my sample of UFO/SETI books is limited to those in English, there is a strong bias in favour of books by authors from the
In decreasing order of the numbers of references, the Top 100 UFO cases were:
1. Kenneth Arnold's first sighting (1947) 359 references
2. Betty and Barney Hill abduction (1961) 292 references
3. George Adamski encounters (1953) 231 references
4. Roswell (1947) 228 references
5. Socorro sighting by Lonnie Zamora (1964) 180 references
6. Thomas F Mantell incident (1948) 179 references
7. Antonio Villas-Boas abduction (1957) 174 references
8. Washington National sightings (1952) 171 references
9. Pascagoula abduction (1973) 142 references
10. Chiles and Whitted sighting (1948) 115 references
11. Travis Walton abduction (1975) 114 references
12. Maury Island incident (1947) 99 references
13. Tunguska event (1908) 95 references
14. Kelly-Hopkinsville incident (1955) 92 references
15. Reverend W B Gill sightings (1959) 92 references
16. Levelland, Texas incident (1957) 91 references
17. McMinnville photographs (1950) 90 references
18. Rendlesham Forest incident (1980) 89 references
19. Andreasson abduction (1967) 87 references
20. Herbert Schirmer abduction (1967) 87 references
21. Lakenheath episode (1956) 83 references
22. Valensole incident (1965) 76 references
23. Gulf Breeze encounter (1987) 76 references
24. Alexander Hamilton airship (1897) 74 references
25. Coyne helicopter sighting (1973) 73 references
26. Trindade Island photographs (1958) 72 references
27. Gemini 4 sighting (1965) 71 references
28. Ubatuba incident (1957) 69 references
29. Incident at Exeter (1965) 68 references
30. Cash/Landrum incident (1980) 68 references
31. Lubbock Lights sightings (1951) 66 references
32. Jimmy Carter sighting (1969) 65 references
33. Gorman "dogfight" near Fargo (1948) 64 references
34. Tremonton, Utah film (1952) 64 references
35. Valentich disappearance (1978) 62 references
36. Truman Bethurum contact (1954) 62 references
37. Fatima apparition (1917) 61 references
38. Flatwoods incident (1952) 61 references
41. Great Falls, Montana film (1950) 58 references
42. Day family abduction (1974) 58 references
43. Clyde Tombaugh sighting (1949) 57 references
44. Nash and Fortenberry sighting (1952) 57 references
45. Eagle River encounter (1961) 57 references
46. BOAC stratocruiser sighting (1954) 55 references
47. Jet chase near Tehran, Iran (1976) 55 references
48. Flight 19 incident (1945) 54 references
49. "Lady" animal mutilation (1966) 54 references
50. Steven Michalak encounter (1967) 54 references
51. Aurora, Texas airship crash (1897) 53 references
52. Greenhaw encounter (1973) 53 references
53. "Linda Cortile" abduction (1989) 53 references
54. Kinross incident (1953) 52 references
55. Apollo 11 sightings (1969) 52 references
56. Alan Godfrey encounter (1980) 51 references
57. Wellington/Kaikoura incident (1978) 50 references
58. John Martin sighting (1878) 49 references
59. Orfeo Angelucci encounter (1955) 49 references
60. Delphos Ring incident (1971) 49 references
61. The Northeast Blackout (1965) 47 references
62. Rex Heflin photographs (1965) 46 references
63. RB-47 radar/visual incident (1957) 45 references
64. Carl Higdon contact (1974) 45 references
65. Trans-en-Provence encounter (1981) 45 references
66. Charles B Moore sighting (1949) 44 references
67. E J Smith sighting (1947) 43 references
68. Stanford, Kentucky abduction (1976) 43 references
69. Fred M Johnson sighting (1947) 41 references
70. Fort Itaipu, Brazil sighting (1957) 40 references
71. Muroc Field sightings (1947) 39 references
72. Gary Wilcox encounter (1964) 39 references
73. Spaur/Neff Ravenna sighting (1966) 39 references
74. Cedric Allingham encounter (1954) 39 references
75. Salem, Massachusetts photograph (1952) 38 references
76. Reinhold Schmidt encounter (1957) 38 references
77. "Doctor X" UFO encounter (1968) 38 references
78. Maureen Puddy encounter (1973) 38 references
79. Gordon Cooper sightings (1963) 35 references
80. Cisco Grove incident (1964) 35 references
81. Topcliffe incident (1952) 34 references
82. Gemini 7 sighting (1965) 34 references
83. Voronezh, Russia landing (1989) 34 references
84. Cynthia Appleton encounter (1957) 33 references
85. Claude Vorilhon contact (1973) 33 references
86. Livingston incident (1979) 33 references
87. Jose A y Bonilla photograph (1883) 32 references
88. Ummo photographs (1967) 32 references
89. JAL 1628 sighting over Alaska (1986) 32 references
90. Operation Mainbrace sightings (1952) 31 references
91. Stephen Darbishire photograph (1954) 31 references
92. Walesville Incident (1954) 30 references
93. Red Bluff sighting (1960) 30 references
94. Charles L Moody abduction (1975) 30 references
95. "Battle of Los Angeles" (1942) 29 references
96. Larson abduction near Fargo (1975) 29 references
97. Farmington sightings (1950) 28 references
98. Oloron “Angel Hair” incident (1952) 28 references
99. Tully “saucer nest” incident (1966) 28 references
100. Loch Raven Dam incident (1958) 27 references
It should be noted that I am not suggesting that UFO books are in fact written solely with the objective of presenting the best available evidence.
The objectives of authors of ufologists are not in fact limited to presenting the best case in support of an argument. Entertaining stories are included in book after book, almost regardless of their evidential value. Furthermore, some authors appear to be lazy and others are ignorant of the range of cases - thus, discussions of cases in the few books some of them have read (particularly Ruppelt, Keyhoe and Condon) get recycled endlessly – sometimes almost verbatim.
The contents of the list of the most frequently discussed UFO cases
indicate to me that the authors of most UFO books are not primarily
concerned with highlighting the best cases and/or are unaware of the
The list above of the “Top 100” cases therefore has about as much connection to a list of the “Best 100” cases as the weekly “Top 10” popular music charts have to a list of the “best music”. The weekly “Top 10” music charts are lists of the music with the most sales. This is arguably not the same as the best music. Music charts frequently include items that would cause a music connoisseur to shudder (e.g. “The Birdie Song” by The Tweets , Black Lace's “Agadoo”, the Macarena, and anything by Iron Maiden and similar noise-makers (see Footnote 13.02 and Footnote 13.03). Similarly, the fact that Adamski’s sighting is in the list of the Top 100 at all (let alone as the Number 3 case) may cause some shudders.
On the positive side, it makes sense for authors to illustrate their points by reference to cases that readers may be familiar with (i.e. the "classics") so that basic details can be assumed rather than having to have everything spelt out in detail. It is notable that when various ufologists have advanced lists of the “best” UFO cases, generally the only ones that are referred to in subsequent discussions are ones which are included within the “Top 100” list above.
If a ufologist mentions during an online debate his list of the “best” cases and (as happens fairly frequently) includes one or more cases which are not within the “Top 100” list above, the cases not within the “Top 100” are generally ignored in any subsequent discussion. When ufologists do give a list of the “best” cases, they rarely provide references to material relating to these cases. If a case within such a list is not well known, rather than ask for relevant references most readers appear to simply ignore that case. Any ufologist or group preparing a list of the “best” cases may wish to keep this point in mind and include relevant references to any less well known cases.
It is notable that the above list has a considerable degree of overlap with some of the polls of ufologists discussed in Parts 5 to 9 of this article, particularly those polls which involved the largest number of researchers. I would highlight in particular the oldest poll, i.e. Vallee’s poll discussed in Part 5 – the results of which were published in 1966. Jacques Vallee himself commented that the sightings nominated in his survey were “ranked practically in the order of the publicity they have received, regardless of their intrinsic value or their convincing character … Clearly, the group take it for granted that the most publicized cases are the most convincing, when even a small amount of research would have brought to light an entirely different type of reports” (see Footnote 13.04).
Skeptics have frequently complained that ufologists have failed to nominate the “best” cases (see Part 2) and in the absence of any response which points them at the best available evidence have tended, not unreasonably, have tended to focus upon those cases which are not frequently discussed.
However, various authors have commented on the apparent confusion between the “best” cases and those which are merely the “best publicized”. For example, Hilary Evans has written that he tends to agree with the comment of Belgian ufologist Jacques Scornaux that “The refutability of a case is directly proportional to the publicity it receives” (see Footnote 13.05). In a comment similar to the remarks made by Hilary Evans and Jacques Scornaux, Jacques Vallee has suggested that “The cases that receive a high level of media publicity are especially suspect” (see Footnote 13.06).
Jacques Vallee has suggested that Dr Menzel concentrated on the most publicized cases, rather than the best cases. He has commented that “… very few of the cases [Dr Menzel] studies would be worthy of consideration in an objective system of analysis where weights are distributed according to well-defined criteria, and not according to the amount of publicity the case has received in ‘enthusiast’ circles obviously unconcerned with scientific analysis” (see Footnote 13.07). Similarly, Vallee has suggested that “[UFO] reports are analyzed one at a time, with an amount of energy directly proportional to the publicity that they have received in specialist ‘enthusiast’ reviews or in the press, radio and television. A side effect of this process is that the most interesting reports are completely unknown to the public and to civilian scientists who might, otherwise, have a very different attitude towards the subject. The more widely discussed cases, such as
Given the number of complaints that skeptics do not address the “best” cases but merely weak cases (even if well publicized), it is very surprising that ufologists have not been more active in preparing lists of the “best” cases. In the few instances where ufologists have sat in a room together to draw up an agreed list of the “best” cases, they have subsequently done a rather poor job of drawing attention to those lists (see, for example, Part 10 and Part 11 of this article in relation to the National Enquirer’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the Rockefeller Briefing Document respectively).
In these circumstances, skeptics can hardly be blamed for having concentrated on the cases most frequently discussed in the UFO literature.
If your favourite case is not included within the “Top 100” list above, all I can say is:
(1) Blame the authors of the relevant books. They selected which cases to discuss the most, not me. The list of the “Top” 100 cases certainly does not represent my personal “Best” 100 cases.
(2) Feel free to conduct a similar exercise yourself or draw up your own list on the basis of your own (preferably expressly stated) criteria. Various possible qualitative and quantitative criteria are discussed in the final parts of this article (i.e. Part 15-29).
The next time you hear someone refer a skeptic or scientist to the UFO literature generally (or are tempted to do so yourself), pause for a moment and remember the content of the above list of the Top 100 UFO Cases. These are the sightings they will come across most frequently.
Is that what you want? If not, you will need to be more helpful than merely suggesting they read “the literature”.
[Footnote 13.01]: “KCC” stands for “Koi Chrono Core”, a 1,800 page draft chronology of UFO and SETI events by Isaac Koi which can be downloaded from the Internet free of charge:
as a 1.6 Mb zipped file: http://tinyurl.com/re7ae
as a 9.1 Mb unzipped file: http://tinyurl.com/oahe7
Also, a PDF version is available at the end of the page below:
[Footnote 13.02] See:
[Footnote 13.03] See:
[Footnote 13.04] See “Challenge to Science : The UFO Enigma” (1966) by Jacques Vallee and Janine Vallee at page 286 (in Appendix 5) of the Ballantine Books paperback edition, at page 236 of the Tandem paperback.
[Footnote 13.05] Hilary Evans in his “The Evidence for UFOs” (1983) at pages 16-17 (in Chapter 1) of the Aquarian softcover edition, citing Inforespace, Brussels, No. 4 (
[Footnote 13.06] Jacques Vallee in his “Confrontations” (1990) at page 15 (in the Introduction) of the Ballantine Books paperback edition.
[Footnote 13.07] Jacques Vallee in his “Anatomy of a Phenomenon” (1965) at page 90 (in Chapter 4) of the Henry Regnery hardback edition (with the same page numbering in the Tandem paperback edition), pages 97-98 of the Ballantine Books paperback edition, page 130 of the 1966 revised and enlarged Ace Star paperback edition.
[Footnote 13.08] Jacques Vallee in his “Anatomy of a Phenomenon” (1965) at page 90 (in Chapter 4) of the Henry Regnery hardback edition (with the same page numbering in the Tandem paperback edition), page 91 of the Ballantine Books paperback edition, page 124 of the 1966 revised and enlarged Ace Star paperback edition.