The Earthlight Debate Continued

Claude Maugé and Paul Devereux
Magonia 29, April 1988

I thank Paul Devereux for his criticisms of my review of Persinger’s ‘tectonic strain theory’. As for the earth lights theory in general, I totally agree with Devereux’s statement that “it is highly desirable that such an area be fully investigated”; the last sentence of my paper attests my willingness. I must however comment on Devereux’s criticisms.

He is right when he asks us to take account of all the work going on in the area, at physics, geophysics, epistemology, history of science, and so on. But we must indeed stop somewhere. Moreover, Persinger’s series in Perceptual and Motor Skills truly deserves the label of science. I am however more cautious in my opinion about Space-Time Transients, which combines too many phenomenon, and about Earth Lights, which mixes very interesting observations with quasi-occultism.

Devereux states that the earthlights theory is strongly supported in British regional studies. Let us accept the fact, although dots on a map are not a definitive proof of a correlation. What I dispute is that the earth lights hypothesis is supposed to give an account of most of the sightings. This is possible but it is not yet proved. Therefore I choose for the moment the sociopsychological hypothesis, which seems to me to be more economical. But if Devereux or Persinger can convince me that their hypothesis is better, or that mine is wrong, I shall adopt theirs without quibble.

As far the Egryn 1904/05 events, there was indeed no “media industry devoted to UFOs at the time”, but did the papers, or some of them, not report the events in religious terms?

Devereux is interested to know what basis I use to say that more than 90% of Persinger’s data is noise. I thought that he was well aware that almost all ufologists do acknowledge such a rate for explained or in a raw database, and that UFOCAT is such a raw base and not a sound cases set. See, for example, Willy Smith’s criticisms, or my own estimate for traces cases in Belgium and France in Magonia no. 13.

According to Devereux, earthquake lights are “already a known, accepted and established” fact. There are indeed geophysicists who accept them; but are these all geophysicists, a majority of them, a minority, or only a few?

The last point I shall comment on is the fact that Devereux is acquainted with the most advanced physicists in the quantum field and co-operates with leading geologists. This is certainly true, but it proves nothing. Only the publications of these important people will be able to prove anything. Here Devereux uses the classical argument from authority, and this reminds him of his own sightings which he considers to have really taken place, and to be a proof UFOs. It is normal that he thinks so, but his conviction is personal, and has no logical value.

Paul Deveraux Replies: At his request, I respond to points raised in Claude Maugé’s letter. At the outset I need to reiterate that I fully accept that most reported UFOs do “not relate” to actual sky borne phenomena, and that psycho-sociological factors are a key element in the matters dealt with in ufology. Further, as I stated in my paper at the July International UFO Conference in London, and in an article to be published by BUFORA Journal, ufology is not to be confused with UFOs. Only a part of the ‘ufological pie’ deals with actual unexplained phenomena; most of the slices deal with hoax, psychosocial and otherwise generated pseudo-phenomena. I a1so am critical of Space Time Transients for the reasons Maugé states, and because of others as well (e.g. the piezo-electrical explanation). However, it is a major work and the statistical approach adopted by Persinger at least to some extent minimises the ‘noise’ in the database he used. Were this not the case, I’d bet the UFO-geology correlation would be virtually 100%!

I do not know what Maugé means by “quasi-occultism” in Earth Lights. I think there is much to be learned from studying so-called ‘occult’ materia1. Therein lies the basis for an extended natural science in my opinion. ‘Occult’ simply means ‘hidden’ and it is our duty to bring the hidden to the light or day. If Maugé is using the term in its loose sense to mean false material, I am prepared to tackle him privately on the issues raised in Earth Lights.

Maugé is justified to choose psychosocial explanations, but only for part of the material in ufology. Psychosociology cannot and does not answer the whole range of reported material and available evidence. If I was bloody-minded enough (I am but I don’t have the time) many so-called psychosocial theories could be exposed as little more than opinions. There is no indisputable psychosocial theory extant in ufology. Some of the theories make sense to me, however, and I feel we should accept them on at least a prima facie basis for some of the material circulating in ufology.

Maugé’s comment that “dots on a map are not a definitive proof of a correlation” is pure philistinism – a simple failure to respond to serious evidence. The dots are not the correlation, but they define correlations which are the result of accurate and painstaking research. Maugé is not being asked to ‘accept’ anything: the data are there for anyone to study. Moreover, the ‘dots’ add up in the 1977 Dyfed outbreak the reported incidence of geographically-locatable UFO events in areas where sufficiently detailed geological information is available increases almost logarithmically with proximity to surface faulting.

Wherever correlations between geology and reported UFO incidence has been studied in the greatest detail, the correlations have been remarkably tight – more so than I would ever have expected myself allowing for all the variables in human nature and human reporting. I do not expect everything to be an earth light!

Yes, the Egryn lights were reported as manifestations of the Holy Spirit; which precisely supports my point in suggesting that UFOs are explained in the prevailing cosmology of the times they are seen in. Today they are seen as ET spacecraft by positive-believers or relegated to psychosocial effects by negative bel1evers. Thus the possibility of there being a truly unexplained phenomenon actually occurring in the sky has been largely overlooked.

Most modern geologists accept the existence of earthquake lights. I dare say that there are some ‘old school’ geologists who dismiss them, but they are a dying breed. I can state that leading officers in both British and US Geological Surveys certainly accept EQLs, which must be as good a litmus test as any.

I do not mention physicists, etc., in order to establish authority, but merely to point out that when Earth Lights was published. I found scientists to be more open and genuinely inquisitive than ufologists. Ufology has become something of a closed shop, while the rest of the world has passed it by. Its narrowness of intellect and vision renders ufology to some extent unscientific. and makes it a bit of an anachronism. Good Lord, in America they are taking ufology back to the 1950′s!

Yes. my own UFO experiences are subjective to anyone who was not with me at the time. I cannot do much about that. But they happened, and I am entitled to report them. From my experiential standpoint it is Maugé who is indulging in subjectivity. I have to accept the reality of the events; he has the luxury of considering they were not objective. I know he is wrong in such an assumption, but I cannot prove it. In Earth Lights I suggest someone attempt a psychological study of the Ravensbourne event, using polygraphs on me and other traceable witnesses. I could hardly do more to ‘objectivise’ the event.

Whatever some ivory-tower ufologists may think. data and research confirm the reality of some form of earth-light phenomenon. In the landscape detailed work has been done, both here by my colleagues and I, and in the USA by Derr, Brady, Persinger. et al. which now make Space-Time Transients and Earth Lights rather out of date. I am most anxious to publish updated material to defuse some of the misconceptions. but that is in the publishers’ hands, not mine! Work is also on-going in the UK – Project Pennine, for example. In the laboratory, rock-produced light phenomena are being studied that so far elude analysis by normal instrumentation. As John Derr has said, we are at the beginning of a new era of geophysics.

Time and events have passed Maugé’s concerns by. We are certainly puzzling over what the actual mechanism may be, and the nature of the energy produced, but the existence of the phenomenon itself, and the geological link it has, is certain.