Oz Factor
The Oz Factor, a term coined by ufologists and author
Jenny Randles (b. 1951), refers to the experience of being isolated
or transported by the real world of everyday life into another
environment which is quite similar to the real world but
changed enough to be noticeable and disturbing. Such reports
have been common in both UFO and paranormal accounts, but
had been pushed aside (their evidential value being somewhat
limited) until Randles called attention to such experiences as
a common element in some types of UFO encounters.
Folklorist Peter M. Rojcewicz recounted such an experience
in 1980 while working on his Ph.D. dissertation, which happened
to be on UFOs. While working in the library, he had a
strange encounter with a man who approached the table at
which he worked and engaged him in conversation. As they
talked on the subject of his dissertation, the man suddenly
shouted accusingly, ‘‘Flying saucers are the most important fact
of the century, and you are not interested’’ Shortly thereafter
he left. Rojcewicz was relieved at his departure, thinking the
man disturbed. However, as he tried to return to his work, he
had a feeling that all was not right. Unable to stay seated, he
wandered around the library. He noticed that no librarians
were staffing the desks and that no patrons seemed to be in the
library. In a mild panic, he returned to his working space and
tried to settle his mind. An hour later when he finally left the
library, all seemed to have returned to normal.
Such experiences often appear as an aspect of a longer story
of paranormal encounters, doing more to describe the atmosphere
surrounding more spectacular or definitive experiences.
Also, such stories appear closely related to phenomena
like déjà vu, which make an impact upon the person experiencing
them, but only minimally impress one to whom the story
is told. Stories abound of people who have felt a presence,
sensed some guidance or seen something that led them to
sense that they had been unwittingly pulled away from the normal
sequence of experiences. It is almost impossible to further
investigate the anecdotal accounts, however reality-shattering
they might be to the person experiencing them.
Randles, Jenny. ‘‘In Search of the Oz Factor.’’ BUFORA Bulletin
26 (July 1987) 17–18.
Rojcewicz, Peter M. The Boundaries of Orthodoxy A Folkloric
Look at the UFO Phenomenon. Bloomington, Ind. Indiana University,
Ph.D. diss., 1984.

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