Marfa Lights to Monstrous Heights

On December 30, 2010, in sighting in North America, by Jonathan Whitcomb

My recent press release (Unmasking a Flying Predator in Texas), to promote my new book (second edition, that is) Live Pterosaurs in America, received indirect attention from the Houston Chronicle, the largest-daily-circulation newspaper in Texas. It’s about Marfa Lights. But although my press release elicited the newspaper article, the staff writer, Claudia Feldman, wrote more about the scientific findings of James Bunnell, an aerospace engineer; Bunnell’s research shows that truly mysterious lights do fly above the desert bushes around Marfa, Texas. I am grateful that his findings were given credit in this article; Bunnell’s years of work have provided us with a treasure of data to analyze, enough to keep me busy at least.

How do mysterious lights flying in southwest Texas relate to the concept of modern pterosaurs living in North America? To be brief, the coorelation is indirect and questionable; it would be better to say “unclassified bioluminescent flying predator,” possibly similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea. But observations around Marfa, over many years, indicate some of the strange lights flying in this area of Texas seem to fly together in complex ways, in ways that suggest the lights are directed by intelligence or intelligences. In addition, the one-or-two-night limitations of those particular lights, and their returning about once a month, suggest the roaming habits of a group of predators.

A recent post on the blog Modern Pterosaur mentions how my hypothesis about Marfa Lights was dismissed by the Houston Chronicle staff writer because of my lack of direct experience with both Marfa Lights and the living  creatures described like pterosaurs. The blog post points out something important:

The writer of the Houston Chronicle article, Claudia Feldman, seems to have overlooked an important part of science: the theoretical scientist. Like a detective who questions eyewitnesses and pieces together ideas based on what eyewitnesses have said, the theoretical scientist does not necessarily need to be an eyewitness, especially when eyewitnesses are plentiful or especially trustworthy. One name that comes to mind is Albert Einstein. He had limited, if any, training in physics; he had never been to an area where there was a total solar eclipse; he never saw the physics experiments that caused him to work at his theories. But he trusted the data from the experiments of those scientists who worked hands-on with scientific equipment.

Of course there was no intent to compare me with Einstein, but the nature of indirect experience (coupled with intense or prolonged thought) can be critically important in scientific investigations. Here is a paragraph from the Houston Chronicle article, the words that sparked the above comment:

[Whitcomb] acknowledges that he has no scientific training, has never been to Marfa and has not seen the creatures whose patterns and habits he attempts to describe. He did make a trip to Papua New Guinea to investigate flying predators there but saw none.

Looking at this from another perspective, since Ms Feldman has written an article, giving an obvious opinion (that Marfa Lights are not caused by bioluminescent flying predators), what scientific training has she had? Has she ever seen any Marfa Lights? Her indirect experience (interviewing those with certain experiences) do not cause us to question her opinions; why should my indirect experience (interviewing those with certain experiences) cause her to question my opinions? She seems to have missed the critical point that my position as a writer is similar to her position as a writer: We both interview persons, then write about what we have learned. The main difference may be this: I have years of experience researching reports of living pterosaurs and flying lights that are coorelated to some of those apparent pterosaurs (and a few months experience researching Marfa Lights); Ms Feldman has a few days of experience researching Marfa Lights.

But what about Mr. Bunnell and one of his associates, both of whom are educated scientists? Ms Feldman’s article is mostly about them and their ideas. But the subject that elicited the Houston Chronicle article is the possibility of nocturnal flying predators around Marfa, and neither of those scientists appear to have had any training or apparent interest in biology.

So we are left with only one thing that appears certain in Texas: A major newspaper is not likely to print an article that promotes the monstrous possibility that glowing pterosaurs are living and flying above remote areas of Texas.

Some interesting asides:

Ms Feldman turned down my suggestion that I send her a complimentary copy of my book, Live Pterosaurs in America, for she was short on time. I now realize that she probably has no idea that my book has an account of a sighting that should be especially interesting to readers of the Houston Chronicle: Two eyewitnesses in Texas, years ago, saw an apparent pterosaur between Pasadena and Houston.

That same staff writer for the Houston Chronicle asked me questions about the creationist connection with living-pterosaur investigations, but she mentioned nothing about creationism in her article (I guess that might not mean much).

The newspaper article had more about Bunnell’s work and ideas than about mine, concerning Marfa Light research, but that in itself is not surprising, for Marfa Lights are his specialty. What is surprising is that I told Ms Feldman about the biologist Peter Beach, who has done living-pterosaur investigations; she wrote nothing about any biologist (the article was elicited by my press release on the bioluminescent-flying-predator hypothesis).

Much of my work in living pterosaur investigations has resembled that of a newspaper reporter, for I interview eyewitnesses; that fact seems to have escaped the notice of Ms Feldman, who emphasized my lack of personal experience observing Marfa Lights and living pterosaurs. If she had been able to spend the necessary time to interview eyewitnesses of living pterosaurs, or examine the details in the data accumulated by Mr. Bunnell, she would have had a wider perspective, not that her superiors in that major newspaper would have allowed her to turn against American culture regarding extinction assumptions.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Tagged with:
 

5 Responses to “Marfa Lights to Monstrous Heights”

  1. […] Contact Marfa Lights to Monstrous Heights […]

  2. All this should be considered in light of the wonderful investigation by James Bunnell and his valuable book, “Hunting Marfa Lights.” I have not yet come close to getting all that can be learned from his data and observations.

  3. […] critics blast my suggestions about Marfa Lights of Texas (bioluminescent flying predators, possibly related to the ropen of Papua New Guinea) and […]

  4. […] Marfa Lights to Monstrous Heights How do mysterious lights flying in southwest Texas relate to the concept of modern pterosaurs living in North America? To be brief, the coorelation is indirect and questionable; it would be better to say “unclassified bioluminescent flying predator,” possibly similar to the ropen of Papua New Guinea. But observations around Marfa, over many years, indicate some of the strange lights flying in this area of Texas seem to fly together in complex ways, in ways that suggest the lights are directed by intelligence or intelligences. In addition, the one-or-two-night limitations of those particular lights, and their returning about once a month, suggest the roaming habits of a group of predators. […]

  5. […] Bunnell himself admits that some mystery lights observed around Marfa, Texas, show complex behavior. He also admits that there are limitations to what his cameras can record in this large area where the lights are observed. We now examine some of Bunnell’s data for camera recordings of significant mystery light appearances from late 2000 through late 2008 . . . […]