The Hynek Scale is a Six-Item System for Classifying UFO Sightings and Alien Contact

Brilliance | Dec. 07, 2017

Ever see a mob of aliens pop out of a UFO but you just don't quite know how to describe it? Ugh, we know the feeling. For that, and probably at least one other good reason (right?), there is the Hynek Scale. Finally, a way to sort through all of your close calls with E.T.

We Really Want To Believe

All jokes aside, the overwhelming number of UFO sightings are nothing to brush off without some investigation into what's really going on. Enter J. Allen Hynek, astrophysicist, scientific adviser to UFO studies by the U.S. Air Force from 1948 to 1969, and founder of the Center for U.F.O. Studies in 1973.

"I started almost as a complete skeptic because I thought the whole thing was a question of post-war nerves," Hynek admitted about UFOs in a 1977 interview, "but it was a persistence of the phenomenon that refused to dry up and blow away that finally led me to the belief that we had a real phenomenon to deal with."

Phew, Close One

It was in his 1972 book "The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry" that Hynek penned what would become his legacy: his close encounters scale, also known as the Hynek Scale. This six-item list is a system for categorizing reports of UFO sightings and alien encounters. You've heard of Steven Spielberg's 1977 sci-fi flick "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," right? He got it straight from the 1972 text. Hynek even served as scientific advisor on the film, and makes a cameo (keep your eyes peeled for the Colonel Sanders-looking dude). Without further ado, here is the Hynek Scale:

Want to learn more? Check out Hynek's cultural phenomenon of a book, "The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry."

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