Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Earthlights

When Holly Stevens and I were in the United Kingdom in May, 2009, filming four episodes of Ghost Cases, we had the opportunity to work with Steve Mera, Dave Sadler and the rest of the team from the Unknown Phenomena Investigation Association, aka the UPIA. The UPIA investigators employ a skeptical and rationalist approach to the paranormal, but they also keep an open mind about the possibility that our current science might not be able to explain everything about our world. In short, they are looking for answers, not confirmation of an existing belief system. It was a distinct pleasure working with them.

In the two videos below are some outtakes from footage shot for an episode that looked into stories of paranormal activity at the Bridestones, a neolithic burial chamber located outside of Congleton, England (the UPIA website has some great photos here). In the first of these clips, Dave recounts some of the allegedly paranormal activity that has been reported at the Bridestones, including a man who reported "missing time"; in the second, Steve and I wandered out into an adjacent field to discuss the phenomenon known as "earthlights", a possible explanation for many allegedly "paranormal" incidents, from centuries-old tales of fairies and will 'o' the wisps, to modern stories of UFOs. You'll notice the time code at the bottom of the footage, which also gives you an inside look at how material like this is edited together for television.





The earthlights theory is largely attributable to Paul Devereaux - you can read more about it at his site. He writes:

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’.
For more information on "spooklights" and related phenomena, check out this very good article by Dr. David Clarke. He writes:

Methane exiting from the surface of the marsh would be expected to burn, if ignited, as a flickering, fixed flame, but would hardly move through the air or against a prevailing wind. The marsh gas explanation for spooklights has been superseded by others, some fanciful and others plausible. Popular at the moment is the ‘earthlights’ theory which is a convincing connection between lights and the faulted geology of the regions in which they appear. Although no clear production mechanism has yet been discovered which scientists are entirely happy with, the theory suggests the lights are the product of a build up of electrical charge in areas of geological stress. Rather than being directly caused by earthquakes or tremors, the lights are symptoms of the earth’s internal traumas, springing into life as electrons are slowly released into the air and possibly through the water table as strain waxes and wanes in zones of geological faulting.
You can also find a brief synopsis by the UPIA here.

Paul Kimball

2 comments:

cmp said...

Thanks for posting. i live 5 miles away from The Bridestones but until recently I'd never visited it. Remarkable to touch something so old and to reflect on all humanity has experienced since then.

Ryan P. said...

Thanks Paul - great stuff as always!