This has given rise to hypotheses that social factors, such as economic problems or media influence, may influence the number of reports of unidentified flying objects.
And the authors of the new work decided to check whether this is due to such a shock to society as the anti-COVID measures in 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic that swept the world at the beginning of 2020 had many consequences for society, in addition to deaths and a blow to the medical system.
In particular, measures to combat the spread of coronavirus have changed people’s behavior, restricted travel abroad, and during the most severe period of restrictions, residents of different countries canceled their plans and settled in houses left to themselves.
Many have increased levels of stress and anxiety. When the lockdowns eased a little, people began to spend more time outdoors and… look up.
All together, according to scientists from the University of Vermont and the Center for UFO Research, could lead to more reports of observed unidentified flying objects.
In the spring of 2020, even the Pentagon actively released videos and statements about “unidentified air phenomena” (however, the videos were filmed several years earlier).
“At the beginning of the pandemic, there was speculation in popular media that reports of paranormal activity (e.g. UFOs, ghosts, etc.) had increased due to factors related to the pandemic itself.
Past studies of these reports have suggested that growth is caused by social factors, so the pandemic has become a natural experiment to test these claims.
So, one of the reasons to talk about something seen in the sky could be the availability of free time, the scientists noted.
Compiling a report requires an effort to find an organization or site dealing with this issue and fill out a special form, then you need to send an email. In normal times, such regulation acts as a serious deterrent.
“The pandemic has led to an increase in the amount of time spent at home for a large part of the population.
While many continued to work remotely or attend school, the home environment was not as restrictive as at work.
Therefore, it would be natural to assume that the number of reports of UFOs has increased in proportion to the share of the population staying at home, compared with previous years,” the article explains.
To analyze reports of unidentified flying objects, the researchers examined two public databases: the non-governmental corporation NUFORC (National UFO Reporting Center) and the non-profit organization Mutual UFO Network, where volunteers work.
In addition, they took into account the mobility of people who used Google Maps on smartphones (that is, the amount of time spent at work compared to home), and information about new weekly cases of Covid-19 and deaths due to illness. This is how the levels of anxiety and stress in the population were determined.
According to the results, reports of observed UFOs actually increased in 2020 compared to 2018 and 2019: according to NUFORC, there were 5882 of them (against 3058 and 5262 in the previous two years), and according to MUFON, 4503 ( against 4315 and 3929 before).
However, such reports had little to no association with the various measures put in place to combat the coronavirus.
The complicating factor was the launch of Starlink. For example, at the end of May 2019, Elon Musk‘s SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket into space, for the first time equipped with 60 small satellites: they were clearly visible, which is why many people mistook these devices for unidentified flying objects.
In 2020, 14 more launches took place (each time the constellation reached 57-60 satellites).
The authors of the study removed reports from their data, where Starlink devices were mistaken for UFOs: after that, scientists not only did not reveal a connection between the pandemic and observations of unidentified objects in the sky, but the number of such reports in 2020 even ceased to exceed the number of observations in 2019.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone, and most people have been following public health news closely in its first year.
But the effects of restrictive measures and medical reports did not correlate with UFO reports. In general, our results do not support various hypotheses that one or more social factors provoked a change in the number of UFO reports.
Reports of observations of such objects remain mysterious in many of their characteristics, up to the question of why their number increases and decreases over time and depending on location, ”summed up the authors of the study.
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