Zone of inﬂuence
I kept such ideas to the fore during the next two or three years, and something rapidlybecame apparent-something I did not recall reading about in any of the UFO books that Ihad avidly consumed during my youth. Yet here it was, seeming to be a central feature of many close encounters. There appeared to be a zone of inﬂuence surrounding these closeencounters. If you were inside of it, then you experienced the episode in all its glory and asa total reality. If you were outside of it then the UFO sighting might as well have nothappened.Even if the witness said that little aliens got out, formed a brass band, and gave a fullconcert before taking off again, nobody outside the zone of inﬂuence seemed to be capableof knowing a thing.
A trip to Oz
The more that I explored the growing number of close encounter cases that came my way,the more that I saw these subjective elements were a key aspect of what witnesses wereexperiencing. I realized that you often had to ﬁnd the right questions, or the witnesseswould not tell you about these things.Partly it was because they themselves never saw them as signiﬁcant. Mostly it was becausethey were afraid that they might detract from the credibility of their sighting, and that youmight consider that they were imagining things. So far too often these hidden features werenot being reported unless you looked very hard for them.So I did try, and discovered that witnesses would report a whole series of symptoms thatwere common to close encounters, but not to non close encounters.If someone saw a light in the sky or even had a mundane UFO encounter with a strangelooking craft, then these things would rarely appear. But if they had a close encounter, thenthese symptoms were there more often than not.Witnesses would tell me that they felt a strange sensation prior to the encounter—a sort of mental tingling as if they were aware that something was about to happen. They wouldeven tell me that they just had to look up and see what was there-as if it had called to themsilently.Then I would be told that during the experience time seemed to disappear and lose allmeaning. It was as if the encounter were happening in a timeless, magical void. Furtherclues kept popping up the more that I tabulated these cases. For instance, there were claimsthat at the onset of the episode all ambient sounds faded away—bird song, the wind in thetrees, distant train noises, etc.All these clues pointed towards an isolation factor at work, as if the witness were beingsingled out and put into a cocoon whereby he or she could, experience the UFO, whereasanyone outside of it could not. As I started to work out the statistics for the cases that I hadgathered, this sense of isolation became very obvious. What I called medium deﬁnitioncases-where a clear object with structured shape was seen-had about 2.6 witnesses per case