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Close encounter

In UFOlogy, a close encounter is an event where a person observes evidence of extra-terrestrial visitation of the Earth. Close encounters are categorized into three degrees or "kinds," thus:

More recently, some groups have referred to alien abductions as close encounters of the fourth kind, and encounters in which humans and aliens communicate as close encounters of the fifth kind.

It is remarkable that this system qualifies encounters on the basis of the observer's experience, as opposed to the evidence available, or even the falsifiability of the claim.

The classification system was first suggested by UFOlogist J. Allen Hynek in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Study.