Surveying Databases for Close Encounters of Third and Fourth Kind
Updated: Mar 8
by Mike Jamieson
In the earliest decades of the 20th Century a NYC recluse named Charles Fort catalogued many reports of anomalous events, including sightings of what he concluded were extraterrestrial craft and encounters with ET beings.
Decades later, beginning in 1952, the husband and wife team of Coral and Jim Lorenzen would begin their work, soon making them the pioneers of focused study on cases now called “close encounters of the 3rd and 4th kind”. The trail they pioneered, where today people like Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke walk to bring us valuable stories, has brought back to us a treasure trove of reported encounters with the occupants of so-called “ufos”.
This paper surveys the databases that exist for reported cases of encounters with beings associated with craft exhibiting extraordinarily advanced technology. The beings themselves often display unusual capacities, so there is the difficult-to-grasp thread of “high strangeness” in many of these stories.
The first body of data to note comes from the early 20th Cenury. Charles Fort compiled anomalous events by poring over old newspaper accounts, historical documents and records etc for years in the NYC libraries. Later in life he published books which became classic, well-known works. This spawned the Fortean movement of exploring anomalies of all sorts that people report.
Jerome Clark (here in The UFO Book, 1998) identifies Fort’s work:
“After these two failed efforts [to submit his works] Fort found his own voice in The Book of the Damned (1919), written with the distinctive blend of mocking humor, penetrating insight, and calculated outrageousness that soon would be described as ‘Fortean’. In this and 2 other books, New Lands (1923) and Lo! (1931), as well as in correspondence with readers and in letters to newspapers, Fort outlined his evidence for otherworldly visitation.”
The first real focusing in on close encounters that went beyond sightings of craft in the sky and included reports of landed craft and sightings and even encounters with the craft’s occupants came from the work of a wife/husband team who formed the first major UFO organization in 1952.
Coral and Jim Lorenzen didnt feel that occupant sightings and encounters should be ignored, and by developing over time an extensive international network of field investigators as well as panels of scientific consultants, they gathered reports of ce3s from newspaper accounts and their own investigations.
The other major UFO organization, formed in 1956, would in its initial years be very reluctant to address these types of cases. The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) focused on sightings of craft in the sky and the occasional cases involving the craft affecting power systems (of cars, for example, that come in close proximity.
During these early years, the head of NICAP, Marine Major Donald Keyhoe, would especially focus on the government coverup issues in his tv appearances and in his popular books.
The Lorenzens, on the other hand, shared many ce3 cases in their also best selling paperbacks as well as their APRO Bulletin. The cases they shared would become a significant part of the compilations others would develop from multiple sources and investigations. Issues of the APRO Bulletin from 1952 to 1977 are freely available at:
“Close encounters of the third kind” is a categorization offered by Dr. J. Allen Hynek in his 1972 book, The UFO Experience, A Scientific Inquiry. These cases were ones “in which the presence of animated creatures is reported”.
In the late 1970s and early 80s, ufologists Ted Bloecher and David Webb compiled decades of close encounter of the 3td kind cases up through 1977 reports.
That compilation is archived here:
Webb and Bloecher used 7 categories to the HUMCAT cases (showing different evident features):
Type A: Entity is observed inside the object (the true ‘occupant’ report.
Tupe B: Entity is observed entering and/or leaving the object.
Type C: ‘Inferred’ association: entity is observed in the immediate area of a UFO sighting, but is not seeing entering or leaving the object.
Type D: ‘Circumstantial’ association: entity is observed during period of general UFO activity in the area, but no object is reported by the witness of the entity.
Tupe E: No association can be established between entity and UFO activity.
Type F: Situation in which no entity or UFO is physically involved, but information reportedly is conveyed by means of telepathic ‘contact’ or psychic experience.
Type G: Witnesses experiences an on board situation, either voluntary or by abduction. Entities may or may not be present, but their presence is implicit or explicit.
The earliest index of cases in the HUMCAT database covers 1790 thru 1896 and following indexes cover subsequent time periods.
Aside from old historical records, many old cases came to light as described here, by Jerome Clark, pg 261 of Vol 1 of The UFO Encyclopedia:
“As is the case with most pre-1947 20th Century UFO reports, whether of objects in the air or occupants on the ground, we must rely in large part on retrospective testimony from—and the fallible memories of—persons who came forward in the years when it became possible to talk about such things, or simply to put such experiences in a perspective unavailable to witnesses before the onset of the UFO age. Sometimes such testimony comes spontaneously from persons who contact UFO writers or organizations; at other times it has come from children or grandchildren who urged reluctant witnesses to report what for years were stories known only within families.”
The largest published compilation existing of ce3 plus cases goes beyond 1977 and is still being actively worked on by a Miami man working in law enforcement for over 30 years. Albert S. Rosales has been motivated by strange experiences he began having as a child in his native Cuba (born in 1958, he and his family migrated to the US and he is a long-time citizen).
For years, Rosales posted his growing compilations online but very recently the last remnants of that went off line. Instead, as he reported years he ago he was planning, he has published 15 volumes (inexpensively available). I have his “Humanoid Encounters: The
Others Amongst Us 1975-1979” on Amazon Kindle.
Rosales adopted the catergorization system Webb and Bloecher used for HUMCAT and added 2 more categories:
Type H: When there is a report of an alleged crash or forced landing of a UFO with recovery of its occupants or when an anomalous entity is captured or killed either by a witness or military personnel.
Type X: When the situation is so uncanny that it doesnt fit any of the previous classifications. A new classification, there are several such cases in the files already. I would call these cases “extremely high strangeness”.
I can remember (at his former website) him alerting readers of his archive that the bad cases (hoaxes, tall tales, delusions, etc) were not filtered out.
In the 1980s and beyond an enhanced focus on the cases Webb and Bloecher had classified as Type G (which includes “abduction” by aliens) would come to the forefront.
The Type G cases are commonly identified as “close encounters of the 4th kind”.
In the 1980s and 1990s (and beyond), 4 persons in particular would bring us many encounter stories that found a wide audience:
Budd Hopkins, NY artist
David Jacobs, Temple University historian and professor
Whitley Strieber, an author who at the time was rapidly becoming the next Stephen King John Mack, Harvard psychologist and professor, Pulitzer Prize winner.
In concrete terms, the picture comveyed by this story-sharing suggested a network of beings were engaged in a genetics/reproduction program.
Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs used hypnosis to uncover memories from people reporting “missing time”. As did Dr. Mack. Strieber’s stories are largely based on normal recall but in the earliest years he also resorted to being hypnotized.
Over time, Hopkins and Jacobs developed a picture from their cases which made them very nervous about the alien agenda. Whereas, Strieber and Mack felt features of this type of encounter were suggestive of an alien agenda of midwiving our growth and transformation.
In the August 24, 2011 NY Times article by Margalit Fox for the Art and Design section, written soon after Hopkin’s death from cancer, Hopkins’ conclusions were characterized:
“These narratives, Mr. Hopkins wrote, led him to a distasteful but inescapable conclusion: The aliens–‘or “visitors”, as he preferred to call them—were practicing a form of extraterrestrial eugenics, aiming to shore up their declining race by crossbreeding with Homo sapiens.”
While that was certainly what Hopkins thought in the early years, he later came closer to the developing view of Jacobs that the agenda was to supplant our dominant role here with a large number of hybrids suspected by them after the results of a 1992 Roper survey was published.
In a 2003 book he co wrote with filmaker (and his wife) Carol Rainey, it was suggested that these “transgenic” hybrids could pass for humans while following directions from the aliens while they live among us.
David Jacobs and Budd Hopkins teamed up with sociologist Ron Westrum in 1992 and devised 5 questions for a Roper poll. The questions they crafted were related to experiential signs in people experiencing missing time and who later uncovered memories of abduction by aliens. A few percent of respondents reported at least 4 of the 5 signs. To Westrum, Hopkins, and Jacobs that meant millions of us could be abductees and not know it.
In more recent years, criticism of methodology has arisen.
Thomas Bullard, PhD (academic folklorist) in writing the “Abduction Phenomenon” entry for the 3rd edition of The UFO Encyclopedia reports on the sharp critical eye turned on to the work of Hopkins and Jacobs [pg 12 vol 1]:
“The most damaging attacks on the quality and integrity of abduction investigation have come from people with firstand experience of it. Carol Rainey was the wife and coworker of Budd Hopkins during the writing of “Witnessed” and coauthor of “Sight Unseen”. Familiarity with scientific research led her to perceive a litany of faults and the well-meaning but amateur investigations she observed. Critics denounce lax standards of inquiry, lack of oversight or review, use of techniques that enable confabulation [ie hypnosis], and uncritical acceptance of claims so long as they fit the investigator’s agenda—naive and unregulated activities that would never be tolerated in therapy or research outside of ufology…”
[Carol Rainey’s article: “The Priests of High Strangeness”: Co-Creation of the ‘Alien Abduction Phenomenon’”; Paratopia Magazine, 1/15/2011… http://carolrainey.com ]
Budd Hopkins’ Intruders Foundation (formed in 1989) apparently didnt survive his death.
Historian David Jacobs, formerly with Temple University, reads his database developed from his own cases and says that he is now frightened. He maintains online the “International Center For Abduction Research” (ICAR):
[Update, March 2023: the above website no longer exists. Jacobs is of advanced age now.]
Key Books by Budd Hopkins:
Missing Time; A Documented Study of UFO Abductions, New York: Richard Marek Publishers, 1981
Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods, New York: Random House, 1987
Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge Abductions, New York: Pocket Books, 1996
Key Books by David Jacobs:
Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992
The Threat: The Secret Alien Agenda, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998
Walking Among Us: The Alien Plan to Control Humanity, San Francisco, CA: Disinformation Books 2015
One person who was quietly a participant in the earliest days of an alien abduction support group hosted by Budd Hopkins would later, with his wife Anne (now deceased), provide a public database of direct encounter reports in their cowriiten book The Communion Letters:
The Communion Letters, Whitley and Anne Strieber, Harper Prism, 1997
Subtitled: Authentic, vivid, first-person testimony selected ftom the hundreds of thousands of letters reporting actual encounters, abductions, and visitations.
At the time of outting himself as a so-called abductee, Whitley Strieber was already finding great success with best-selling books being adapted for the big screen.
A recent article chronicles what to him over subsequent decades, entitled:
"He was supposed to be the next Stephen King. Then the aliens came."
By the late 90s, Strieber and his wife Anne, who was most “hands on”, had collected and organized letters from many people who shared their own encounter experiences.
Anne Strieber often did followup interviews with correspondents. No hypnosis was used. So, this database is based simply on the collection and sharing of stories, and then published “as is”. It also represents a compilation of cases with much more detail shared about the cases than those identified in compilations noted earlier here by me.
I purchased Communion Letter last year and was in for a big surprise: five years before this book came out, one of their correspondents had contacted MUFON and I was one of two investigators called to duty on that! We met the man behind the story and his sister (and found him to be credible).
The title and opening lines of that story in The Communion Letters:
“Children Discover an Underground Facility
Thanks for the interest in the underground UFO base near Hamilton Field, California. When we moved there the area was still fairly rural….”
The Communion Letters (many thousands, not published in the book) are now archived at Rice University:
Early key books by Strieber on his experiences:
Communion: A True Story, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1987
Transformation: The Breakthrough, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1888
Harvard psychologist John Mack (who died in 2003, killed by a drunk driver in London) devoted his last years to hearing out from people their encounter stories. His vision of what it all meant was in line with the open-ended inquiry Strieber encouraged (ie, keep questions open). Also, like Strieber and others, he was seeing in the stories potential positive signs of a transformative agenda at work.
Key books on this by Dr. Mack
Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994
Passport to the Cosmos, New York: Crown Publishers, 1999
During the late 1980s thru late 1990s there were 4 key studies on CE4s by two individuals preparing academic papers for the Fund for UFO Research and for MUFON (Mutual UFO Network):
1) Comparative Study of Abduction Reports. Vol 1 of UFO Abductions: The Measure of a Mystery. Mount Ranier. MD; Fund for UFO Research 1987 by Thomas Bullard.
In The UFO Encyclopedia, 2018 3rd edition, vol 1, Thomas Bullard describes this paper as “a catalogue of reports in the literature up to 1985 [that] contains about 300 cases, 103 of which offer both extensibe information and a reliable investigation”.
2) The Sympathetic Ear: Investigators as Variables in UFO Abduction Reports; Mount Ranier, MD; Fund for UFO Research 1995 by Thomas Bullard.
Bullard in his UFO Encyclopedia article discussing alien abductions reports that this was “a survey of 13 abduction investigators’ draw on their collective experience with some 1,700 cases.”
3) “Commonalities and Disparities: Findings of the MUFON Abduction Study Project” in MUFON 1995 International UFO Symposium Proceedings by Dan Wright pgs 163-203.
Bullard describes this paper (pg 13 of The UFO Encyclopedia Vol 1): “Dan Wright’s MUFON Abduction Transcription Project results are based on 142 accounts directly from abductees”.
4) “What’s New in UFO Abductions? Has the Story Changed in 30 Years?” MUFON 1999 International Symposium Proceedings, pgs 170-99 by Thomas Bullard.
Bullard notes this was a comparative study of 437 cases from the literature.
Today, the Mutual UFO Network has an expansive investigatory network like it's predecessor the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO).
The variety of databases presented by MUFON include their monthly journal and online postings of cases reported and undergoing investigation and analysis. Only members, lowest tier at $60/year, have access after logging in:
MUFON has a growing and trained network of field investigators and expert consultants especially focused on experiencers of encounters of the third and fourth kind, the Experiencer Resource Team:
Aside from MUFON today, another vehicle for experiencers to approach has been individual therapists who often help with memory retrieval and support help. From 1993 to 2014 there was a non profit, now dissolved, called the Academy of Clinical Close Encounter Therapists (ACCET). Some of the still living therapists, like ACCET’s last director Barbara Lamb, are still active on an individual basis.
While the ACCET organization may have dissolved there is still a similar organization active, named Opus:
(The author identified on that page, Lester Velez, is a consultant also for the MUFON Experiencer Resource Team.)
They describe their Mission:
“OPUS, through its educational services and position of neutrality, provides a safe and caring meeting place for people and groups with the intention of working together to further our overall knowledge in these areas and better support people to integrate their anomalous experiences into everyday life. You can read more about this on our Experiencer Support page.”
A prolific MUFON investigator, Preston Dennett, has written many books of cases that he has personally investigated, and gets us all around the proverbial campfire at YouTube in a sharing of reported encounters:
Over the past five years there has been a massive research effort based on an in-depth surveying of “over 4,200 individuals from over 100 countries”. This project is the product of a non-profit calked The Dr. Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiences (FREE).
This study had 3 phases involving people responding to online questions via “survey monkey”. The pool of respondents for the 3rd phase was smaller, about 1000, as many open-ended questions (requiring detailed written responses) were asked to enable a qualitative analysis. The first 2 phases provided data that underwent quantitative analysis.
A wide variety of contributors took up the task of analyzing aspects of the data in a first volume work:
Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness and Contact with Non-Human Intelligence, volume 1, edited by Rey Hernandez J.D., M.C.P, Dr. Jon Klimo, PhD, and Dr. Rudy Schild, PhD.
There is what may be our most treasured body of data, presented through the hands of a retired professor from Montana State University. Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke for over 35 years quietly collected encounter stories with over 4000 taped interviews in her hands and 4 published books of well-described cases in our hands.