Paranormal Phenomenon and Economics

Peter Leeson, an economist from George Mason University, and Claudia Williamson, an economist from Appalachian University, are currently working on a UFO-Bigfoot sightings project. Their preliminary results indicate that there is a positive correlation between the number of UFO sightings in a state (per 10,000 residents) and the number of Bigfoot sightings in a state (per 10,000 residents). In other words, the more UFO sightings there are in a state, the more Bigfoot sightings there are in a state. Further, six of the top ten UFO and Bigfoot states are the same: Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Alaska, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Peter Leeson suggests that there can be many explanations for this correlation.

More after the jump….

Peter Leeson argues that there may be more opportunities for people to witness both types of phenomenon in states with a lot of sightseeing (like Washington) and hence there will be more sightings of both phenomenons in those states. He also argues that states with a large tourism industry may see more data points of both phenomenons because locals may claim to see more UFOs and Bigfoot in order to attract more tourists.

I think this correlation between UFO sightings and Bigfoot sightings may be driven by a variation in the quantity and quality of data collection organizations for paranormal phenomenon across US states. States with many organizations that collect data on paranormal phenomenon are likely to collect more data points on both UFO sightings and Bigfoot sightings. On the other hand, states with very few organizations that collect data on paranormal phenomenon are likely collect fewer data point on both UFO sightings and Bigfoot sightings. Therefore, states with more UFO sighting data points will have more Bigfoot sighting data points and states with fewer UFO sighting data points will have fewer Bigfoot data points. There will be appear to be a positive correlation between both, but essentially the correlation is driven by the data collection process, not a causal process.

There could be other explanations for the correlation between UFO sightings and Bigfoot sightings. Perhaps aliens are trying to perfect their human form in secret laboratories in the wilderness and they keep getting it wrong. Regardless of the reason, these preliminary results lend themselves to an incredibly fun and interesting topic of conversation.

Julie VanDusky-Allen

About Julie VanDusky-Allen

Julie VanDusky-Allen is at Boise State University and received her PhD in Political Science from Binghamton University in 2011. Her research focuses on institutional choice and development, political parties, the legislative process, and Latin American politics.

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