A system devised by French UFO researcher Jacques Vallee. Primarily designed for the classification of UFO sightings as an extension of the Hynek Classification System which it supersedes, it also covers paranormal and generally unexplained phenomena. Compared to the Hynek system it introduces not only a grid system of taxonomy but also the all-important element of quality control that's required by a serious researcher.

The taxonomy of phenomena in this system occurs on three levels: the type of event; impact or intensity; reliability and verification of the report.

Event type

AN: Anomaly
Any unexplained phenomenon not involving UFOs. Broadly covers everything paranormal, including cryptozoology.
FB: Fly-By
Observation of a UFO in straight-line flight
MA: Manoeuvre
UFOs in non-linear motion or exhibiting other unusual (for a flying object) behaviour or attributes. Comparable to Hynek's original categories.
CE: Close Encounter
Contact with a UFO at a distance no greater than 500' (150m). This includes the basic three categories of the Hynek System plus two advanced cases.

Intensity rating

1: Simple observation of event
Visual sighting. The event is observed but is transient and leaves no traces other than those recorded during the event
2: Physical evidence
The event has a quantifiable physical effect on the environment or observer, such as marks, residual substances or physical effects associated with the activity observed.
3: Sighting of non-human entities associated with event.
In the AN class that means any appearance supernatural entities. In regard to UFOs it means sighting of its occupants.
4: Interaction with above entities
Reality transformation. Altered states of reality or consciousness as a result of contact. Dislocation, miracles, visions and the likes.
5: Critical or fatal impact on observer
Death, lasting injury and miraculous healing all fall in this category as do all events that have a profound physical or psychological impact on the witness.

Examples of constructs created using this system

  • AN2: Noticeable manifestations of the paranormal where the cause is not in visible evidence. Poltergeists, crop circles, materialised objects are all classified as AN2 events.
  • MA1: An UFO sighting in which the object is seen changing speed or direction.
  • FB5: An event in which a straight-flying UFO causes injury or death due to emissions, radiation or turbulence.
  • CE4: Alien abduction.

So, seeing a will o' the wisp where there should be none would be an AN1 event. Seeing a Yeti would be AN3, but seeing its footprints would only be AN2. Getting mauled by one would classify as AN5, but being taken by angels to meet the Virgin Mary would only be an AN4. Spontaneous Human Combustion is a classic, though not typical, AN5 that's cited as an example.

Credibility rating (SVP Credibility System)

Source, On-Site Visit and Possible Explanation. This is a three digit number. Each digit, ranging from 0 to 4, represents one aspect of a report's evaluation and credibility as follows.

First digit: Reliability of source

  • 0: Source unknown or unreliable
  • 1: Attributed to known source of unknown reliability
  • 2: Second-hand report from reliable source
  • 3: First-hand report from reliable source
  • 4: First-hand personal interview conducted by a source of proven reliability

Second digit: Site visit

  • 0: Not visited or unknown
  • 1: Site visited by casual person unfamiliar with the phenomenon
  • 2: Site visited by person(s) familiar with the phenomenon
  • 3: Site visited by experienced investigator
  • 4: Site visited by skilled analyst

Third digit: Possible explanations

  • 0: Attributable to natural causes
  • 1: Attributable to natural causes with slight modification of input data
  • 2: Inconsistent with natural causes unless one major parameter is altered
  • 3: Natural explanation means several major parameters would have to change
  • 4: Evidence wholly inconsistent with natural causes

So the above will o' the wisp seen by someone you totally believe who was sober at the time, visited by you and determined by a competent investigator to be a minor source of swamp gas in an unusual place, would be a 331 (the minor parameter that changes is that there's a bog 100 yards away and they may have misidentified the exact location). Your crazy Aunt Mary telling you in her living room that she was abducted there and probed by aliens from Betelgeuse would be rated 024.

The Vallee system is definitely an improvement over the limited Hynek scheme, allowing supernatural, paranormal and plain strange events to be easily classified and assigned priority according to a strict and simple scheme. Of course we know all those things don't really happen. Now could someone please come and get this AN4 bigfoot out of my bathtub before he AN5s me?

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