Magonia 13, Summer 1983
After reading through the book Earthlights by Paul Devereux and his article in Magonia 12 in defence of his theory, I suggest that another, more neutral, opinion about it should be expressed within the pages of Magonia. I found Earthlights a most interesting and absorbing work, carefully done, with much thought given to it by its author, who I have no doubt is a most sincere and devoted researcher.
But whilst I found it fascinating, I also found it frustrating, and sometimes unclear about parts of the theory. I found it frustrating in that the author, whilst getting close to some possible truths about the nature and origin of the phenomenon, allowed himself to drift away from them.
The theory does not seem totally clear because of Paul’s insistence on the main core of the phenomenon being objective, then bringing in very strong elements of a very subjective nature in an attempt to explain the full extent of the UFO phenomenon. If the origins of the two aspects of the phenomenon are different, then why have a link at all? Could there not be some other expression for the shadow content of the reports other than PK manipulation of a plasma light?
The weak link in Paul Devereux’s chain of reasoning lies in the most vital part. The evidence of the cases themselves points away from a tectonic origin. Although the controlled laboratory tests are potentially the most important replicable evidence in support of the earthlights theory, it is curious how little space the book devotes to them. It would also, I suggest, have been better if there had been a wider review of the geological literature to examine the status of geoluminescent effects amongst specialists in the field. Perhaps even a ‘forum’ of geological opinion would have been profitable here?
I was interested in the similarity between many of the examples given in this book, and other forms of natural light phenomena – ball-lightning, mountaintop discharge, and so forth. However, interesting as these phenomena are, their relevance to ufology seems limited, and they cannot be put forward convincingly as a complete explanation for the UFO phenomenon – either objectively or subjectively.
Although I would agree that an electrical phenomenon might be the original stimulus of the ‘main-core’ phenomenon, I doubt that its origin is as proposed by Paul Devereux. He appears to take it for granted that the light effects associated with UFOs are of an objective nature – but although it has been assumed in the past that the UFO phenomenon is of an entirely objective nature, this is by no means proved. If there is an electrical phenomenon involved, might it not come rather from the human nervous system than from the external world?
In The Psychology of Consciousness, by Robert E. Ornstein  we find something of possible relevance to our study:
Wilder Penfield, among others, has demonstrated that the experience of vision can also be evoked by electrical stimulation of the central nervous system. Penfield performed brain surgery on patients with epilepsy and, as part of this procedure, electrically stimulated various areas of their brain; his patients often reported conscious experiences without any input at all.For instance many surgeons have found that electrical stimulation of the occipetal cortex usually leads to the experience of vision. We can understand then that seeing is a process which takes place not in our eyes, but rather with the help of the eyes. It is a process that is constructed largely in the brain, one largely determined by the category and output systems of the brain.Furthermore, we do not even need the presence of external light to ‘see’. If seeing is a certain pattern of excitation in the central nervous system then anything that produces that pattern will result in visual experience.
One can see this pattern at work with the dream state, where we have a pictorial image which is totally created within the brain, and viewed in a completely subjective manner, without any objective stimulus reaching the brain.
Yet the dreamer watches the events with the same apparent eye of objective consciousness, but in a totally subjective way. The dream is the result of electrical stimulation within the memory cells within the brain, and both the cause and effect of this is entirely within our own nervous system. The subjective has become the only reality, and as such can be said to exist whether or not it has any existence in an objective sense.
If, when Devereux talks of the creation of protoentities from the ‘UFO material’, he is talking of a process within the brain, I would accept it. But to regard this creation as being occasioned by psychokinetic impressions on a geoelectricai plasma is harder to accept than the idea of extraterrestrials visiting this planet.
I also wish that the author had not made such an important point of the localtion of stone circles. The relevance of this to the location of UFO sightings is unclear, very few reports emamate from these areas, although admittedly there are fewer people in these parts of the country to make such reports. Those parts of the country which boast the fewest stone circles are the south and east are by no means devoid of UFO sightings. The factors involved in the siting of stone circles in Britain are unconnected with any possible tectonic activity.
Aubrey Burl  states:
This region [eastern and southern - Britain] is a paradox. Covering nearly half of the 121,000 square miles of the British Isles, much of it lowlying, fertile, patterned with slow, wide rivers, some of its territories were the most heavily populated in the country. Yet only 12% of stone circles are located here. This is partly because much of the prehistoric landscape was avoided by man. Southern Britain presented an illimitable forest of ‘damp oakwood’, ash and thorn and bramble, largely untrodden……although this panorama of a widely hostile land is being modified by discoveries of henge and settlement on the heavy clays of the midlands it remains largely true. But the main reason for the scarcity of stone circles in eastern and southern Britain was the presence of alternative forms of building material. Here there was timber in plenty.
Burl concludes by pointing out that although this area has only 12% of the stone circles, it holds well over 50% of the (wood) henges. The distribution of the stone circles is therefore a result of the availability of building materials. Wood henges, which would have the same social and ceremonial function as stone circles were their substitute in the south and east. Their distribution has nothing to do with reactions to geoluminescent phenomena, as Devereux insists.
- John Harney’s original book review is here:
- and Paul Devereux’s response is here:
- ORNSTEIN, Robert E. The Psychology of Consciousness, Pelican Books, 1975.
- BURL, Aubrey. The Stone Circles of the British Isles. Yale University Press 1976