New York Skies (Cheryl Costa)

UFOs, Aliens and Abductions Survey

Columnist Cheryl Costa goes over a recent survey on extraterrestrials conducted by 20th Century Fox.

In the middle of July 2017, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment commissioned a national survey conducted by Toluna regarding UFOs, aliens and abductions. The purpose of the survey was to celebrate and promote the Aug. 1 release of its film Phoenix Forgotten.

Before we get to the statistics, let’s briefly review a bit of history about the Phoenix lights. Twenty years ago on Thursday, March 13, 1997, the populace of Arizona and northwestern Mexico experienced a highly unique and massive UFO sighting event.

Around 7:30 p.m. a series of stationary lights appeared over a space of 300 miles, starting around the Nevada state line, moving southeast over Phoenix and continued toward regional Tucson. It was finally reported in the Mexican state of Sonora.

Eyewitnesses were reported to have observed and videotaped a craft estimated to be several football fields long in length. Observers described that when the huge craft passed overhead, stars would disappear behind the object, only reappearing after the UFO passed. The craft was also reported to have been completely silent.

Of course, the sighting event caused a great deal of public concern and controversy. Regional and state governments, in an effort to calm everyone down, made light of the event. Personnel with the United States Air Force did their best to explain the whole thing away as fighter jets deploying flares.

The Phoenix lights sighting event was used as a backdrop for a fictional modern alien abduction horror movie.

Let’s look at the July 2017 survey numbers based on a statistical sample of 1,756 Americans ranging in age from 18 to 55 and above. The gender ratio was 68.34 percent female and 31.55 percent male. Regional samplings were as follows: West, 34.34 percent; Midwest, 18.91 percent; South, 30.01 percent; and Northeast, 16.74 percent.

The education level was 99 percent high school graduates. The majority ranged from some who attended college, to some who received bachelor’s and graduate degrees.

The survey reported that 47 percent of Americans believe in aliens, which is about 150 million people. That number is up 5 percent from the 2012 survey commissioned by National Geographic. Unfortunately, the survey didn’t measure those who are on the fence about the existence of aliens or the percentage who flat out don’t believe they exist.

The survey reported that 38.78 percent of Americans believe aliens have visited Earth before, which is around 124 million Americans. It also reported that 16.74 percent say they have seen a UFO. This indicates that 53.57 million Americans say they have seen a UFO; that’s 1 in 6 Americans. The old rule-of-thumb estimate was around 1 in 10.

Since we don’t have a reported time frames, let’s do some rough math. The age range and number of the participating respondents shakes out as follows:

  • Ages 18-34: 25.74 percent
  • Ages 35-54: 35.08 percent
  • Ages 55 and above: 39.18 percent

Looking at the high percentage of folks over 55, I decided to assume a period over the last 50 years (1967 to 2017) as a proposed sample period for UFO sightings. So, if we divide the 53.57 million who say they witnessed a UFO by 50 years, that equals about 1.07 million sightings per year. Interestingly, that number jives with the numbers estimated from the 1 in 10 number and the 121,000 sightings reported 2001-2015. I find that very intriguing.

The survey reported that 18 percent of Americans believe abductions happen, which is about 57.6 million Americans or roughly 1 in 5. It also reported that 27 percent of Americans know someone who claims to have seen a UFO, which is about 86.4 million or roughly 1 in 4.

Finally, the survey indicated that a majority of the respondents, about 50 percent, believe abductions happen because of a genuine interest in human anatomy.

For those interested in the Phoenix lights event, a simple Google search will yield plenty of written material and lots of video from the event.

Let’s take a look at some recent UFO sightings from around the country:

  • July 15, 2017: At 1:45 a.m. a resident of Vero Beach, Fla., observed a bright orange fireball UFO.
  • July 15, 2017: At 3:30 a.m. a resident of the municipality of Weed in Siskiyou County, Calif., reported a bright flashing light that rose out of the eastern sky.
  • July 15, 2017: At 3:50 a.m. a resident of Wilsall, Mont., witnessed a huge, bright white light hovering over the Crazy Mountains.
  • July 15, 2017: At 2 p.m. a resident of Lapine, Ore., reported observing white-silver metallic object.
  • July 15, 2017: At 9 p.m. a resident of Post Falls, Idaho, reported seeing three glowing lights at ends of a huge triangle. He later observed the craft over Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He stated that it was totally silent.
  • July 15, 2017: At 9:40 p.m. a resident of Greensburg, Pa., witnessed the appearance of two sets of orange-red spheres flying together.

If you are interested in joining a monthly UFO discussion group in the Onondaga County area, drop Cheryl an email at [email protected]. If you have a UFO sighting to report, you can use either one of the two national database services: or Both services respect confidentiality. Follow me on Twitter @American_Skies.

Attention, Central New York residents: Join a monthly MUFON-sponsored speakers presentation and discussion group in Syracuse. Regularly held the last Saturday of the month, it runs from April 29 through October 28, 11 a.m. – 1 p.m, May Memorial, 3800 E. Genesee St. Plenty of off-street parking is available.


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