Beyond Belief: Strange, True Mysteries of the Unknown – Part 5

See parts 1, 2, and 3, and 4. Now onto Chapter 8 Spooklights and Fire Devils (I decided to do Chapter 9 separately as it requires more research than previously thought).

Chapter 8
First I’ll give some context because I had heard of these under different names so I’m thinking others have too. Definitions for spooklights are found here and here. “Fire devils” refers to fires that burn in a heterogeneous manner as if there is a sentient component at work. So for example, a house is on fire but there are a few personal articles found in the house that are totally untouched by the flames. However, the term is also used to describe fire whirls (not in this book, but in real life by normal people).

The best part about this chapter is how he explains 3 possible reasons for why spooklights aren’t real, and then proceeds to dismiss all of them because of lack of evidence/support. I wonder if he knows what irony is…

1. [They] are reflections from the stars and the moon. But the lights are just as clear on starless, moonless, cloudy nights. In fact, the darker the night, the brighter the lights.

They are both just as clear and brighter without the stars and moon, guys. So there. Also, bravo for giving an explanation that probably works in some cases but not all, and then completely disregarding it.

2. [They] are created by hoaxters with luminous paint or some other glow-in-the-dark materials. But no evidence has ever been found to support such a charge.

No evidence has ever been found to support “spooks” either, Brad.

3. [They] are caused by radioactive ores. But Geiger counters testing the entire area have discovered no trace of radioactivity.

Ok, he’s not even trying anymore. ‘Cause radioactive ores are the only things that glow or reflect, right? It couldn’t be, say, oxidation of hydrogen phosphide and methane, piezoelectricity, bioluminescence, an object or animal that can reflect light from sources such as the moon, a stray flashlight beam, etc.

Ok, these are pretty weird and interesting, but it may be that no single explanation is sufficient to describe what is happening. All of these suggestions may be true depending on the circumstances. So even though one of these explanations may not fit every “spook light”, there’s no reason to think that they are caused by ghosts either. [There is no evidence that these are caused by ghosts, because there is no evidence for ghosts.] How and why would they be causing these lights? What are the mechanisms involved? There are several natural explanations that may work, why assume that weird = ghosts?

Moving on. Basically the parts about fire consist of “this thing over here didn’t burn, therefore magic”. Rather than come to the obvious conclusion that the arrangement of the objects near other objects (such as a picture frame lying face down), the way air currents were flowing during the fire, the concentration of firefighting materials on those spots, or pockets of air simply left some uncharred items, they jump to the conclusion that “fire devils” controlled the fire to purposely not burn those things.

Face. Palm.

I have a new respect for stupidity. It takes a lot of effort to be this thick. I mean, I can see how an unskeptical mind might be taken in by some of the sexy details in these other stories, but honestly this is too far. Your house catches fire and a “fire devil” takes the time to move your shoes and prevent the fire from burning them (an actual tale in this chapter). Really? That’s as bad as underpants gnomes.

Like the story where a library caught fire and the only books that burned were the ones on witchcraft and sorcery. Fire devil? Or someone purposely committed arson directed at an ideology they didn’t agree with. It wouldn’t be the first time. And, what, the fire devil was protecting the other books? Or it set fire to the witchcraft books in the first place, which seems weird considering the other stories are about things that weren’t burned. Confused.

Coup de grace: Ball Lightening Tries to Hijack a Soviet Airliner (actual subheading title). So get this. Some author collected stories on ball lightening from “eye witnesses” and got a bunch of conflicting reports regarding the size of these “beings”. Some people described the ball lightening easily moving through windows and screens and they ranged from a golf ball to 3-4 feet across in size. Rather than conclude these people are batshit, he concludes that ball lightening must obviously be electrical (lightening? electrical? nooooo) because metal (the screen) is a good conductor and it could pass right through – despite that in the same story, ball lightening allegedly busted 2 holes through a metal plane while trying to “hijack” it.

I can’t make this stuff up.

Stay tuned for the next installment, part 6Chapter 9 The Terror of Spontaneous Human Combustion.

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