ABSTRACTED FROM A PRESENTATION GIVEN BY PAUL AT THE DANA CENTRE, SCIENCE MUSEUM, LONDON, ON 9 DECEMBER, 2003.
- First may I say that I think most UFO reports are the product of (i)misperception of mundane aerial objects whether manmade or astronomical; (ii) mirage effects; (iii) hoax; (iv) psychosocial effects ranging from mental aberration to temporary personal stress conditions affecting a witness’s perception or interpretation of a perception; (v) the occurrence (unawares) in the witness of trance conditions, such as when awaking from or falling into sleep, or when driving, especially at night. Of all these, I’d suggest simple misperception is by far the greatest cause, though I suspect the trance explanation is involved more than we might suppose, especially in the case of reported alien abductions.
- Having said all that -- as a result of my own experience as well as my own research -- I ALSO think there is a small rump or residue of sighting reports that DO actually relate to genuinely unexplained phenomena. In my opinion, a percentage of this small rump of sightings relates to geophysical or meteorological phenomena that I have termed ‘earth lights’. These seem to be exotic natural phenomena apparently belonging to the same family as earthquake lights and ball lightning but with their own distinctive characteristics, such as sometimes displaying greater longevity than earthquake lights or ball lightning. There certainly seems to be an association between the appearance of earth lights and factors such as stresses and strains in the earth’s crust, but these do not have to amount to earthquakes as such – for instance, evidence suggests that the pressure of bodies of water on underlying geology can provide sufficient tectonic forces to produce luminosities in the atmosphere. And there are doubtless many more sources of energy, geological and meteorological, that could power these lightforms. We simply do not yet know for sure, nor do we know how the lights keep coherent forms and apparently move about, but that is true too of ball lightning. I suspect that these phenomena have much to teach our physicists, especially when we learn to look for them and study them without prejudice – on the one hand the prejudice of overly-conservative scientism, or, on the other hand, the prejudice of. those who insist on an extra-terrestrial explanation. We must always be aware that ‘UFOlogy’ is not the same thing as the UFOs, the phenomena, themselves.
(And, incidentally, the question as to whether there is other intelligent life in the universe has nothing directly to do with whether or not UFOs exist or are extra-terrestrial craft. It is a red herring that often gets into the argument about UFOs. There could be a billion alien civilisations across the universe without any of them having visited our planet.)
- Let’s have a look at a few images of the sort of light phenomena I’m referring to.
[SLIDE PRESENTATION MADE]
- ‘Earth lights' are or were known to traditional and ancient peoples: they were fairies to the Irish and other Celtic peoples, though also harbingers of death known as ‘corpse candles’ to the Welsh; the disembodied heads of women who had died in childbirth to Malaysians; the lanterns of the chota admis, the little men, according to the people of the Darjeeling area; manifestations of Bodhisattvas to Chinese and Tibetan Buddhists, who built temples where such sightings occurred; they were devils to people in western Africa, and so on and so forth.
- But can exotic phenomena like these still be eluding science? Well, why not – look at the recent discoveries of gigantic light phenomena like ELVES, a discoid type lightning of enormous size, and SPRITES, multi-coloured discharges of energy rising thousands of feet above some thunder clouds. And remember, science still cannot adequately explain ball lightning!
- What are earth lights? Well they certainly have electrical and magnetic attributes, and some form of plasma is assumed. Modern witnesses who come close to earth lights typically report hallucinatory episodes – suggesting magnetic fields that are known to be able to affect parts of the brain. One thing that has struck me in poring over witness reports from different periods of time and parts of the world is the similarity of descriptions stating that earth lights sometimes behave as if they have a rudimentary intelligence, like inquisitive animals. (Intriguingly, it was very recently announced that scientists in Rumania had created laboratory plasmas that they observed behaved exactly like living cells.) Another type of observation noted in witnesses’ reports from all times and places that has impressed me is that the lights sometimes display illogical effects, such as, and particularly, being visible from one side but not the other. This makes me suspect that earth lights may be macro-quantal events -- phenomena that should exist only at the sub-atomic quantum level, but have somehow manifested on our larger macro-scale of experience. More modest macro-quantal phenomena have already been produced in the laboratory, and I think earth lights, produced in the greatest laboratory of them all (the one that belongs to Mother Nature) have remarkable lessons to teach us.