Sunday, February 28, 2010

Debunking from the bunker: A guide to some total horseshit on the fringe.

The Mothman of West Virginia

West Virginia. A state noted elsewhere in this blog and the world in general for the abnormal concentration of Fortean events and high weirdness it contains. A large, sparsely populated woodland of undocumented ancient Indian burial sites, mines that snake endlessly under the mountains, of odd beasts and apparitions most plentiful.

Not that the tourism bureau would ever put that on a pamphlet.

The most famous resident of the state is of course the Mothman. First reported outside of Point Pleasant on December 12th of 1966, in the area of an abandoned WW2 munitions plant.

The creature chased two married couples in a car at high speed while emitting an ear-splitting screech. It was said to stand taller than a man and had a rather impressive wingspan. The thing also sported large, round eyes that glowed an eerie red.

So to avoid rehashing the entire case again, you can read about it in other places in considerable detail, lets just lay all our cards on the table.

It was a bird. Specifically, judging by the witness drawings, it was a Barn Owl. It was a large, dark, mamma Barn Owl defending her nest. Most likely in one of the old TNT storage bunkers.

Aside from its appearance (looks like an owl), wings, flight, reflective eyes (flashlights or camera flash can induce an effect known as 'red eye'), ear-splitting screech, high speed in flght, nocturnal behavior, what does that leave? Alien? Creature from another dimension? I love crazy shit as much as the next person. Seriously, do you read this blog? But really now.

Yes, there was a lot of odd shit going down around the time. Reports of UFO's, run-ins with Men in Black, mysterious phone calls, and the collapse of the Silver Bridge. Just before the collapse stranded motorists reported seeing the Mothman fly out from under the bridge, moments before it all came down.

Usually eyewitnesses are the weak link in a police investigation, due to the inherent unreliability of human memory. Normally I am a bit more forgiving in cases like this but these people observed something dark flying at high speed and considerable distance moments before they were swimming in the frozen Ohio river. Not the best circumstances to get a good look at anything.

Combine those factors with the general Mothman hysteria brewing at the time and you have a recipe for some down-home-country-fried confirmation bias.

As for the UFO reports? Hell, I dunno. Could have been Martians or Meteorologists. Or mine surveyors. Or the government. Which leads me to the next point.

Men in Black. Mysterious government agents were reported all over town. Acting weird and intimidating witnesses unsuccessfully into silence. Most times I think MiB's are indeed government agents, just not of the super-secret alien kind. Overworked and frustrated FBI agents sent out to the middle of nowhere to interview hysterical eyewitnesses to a UFO or something (remember, this was during the Cold War) could probably be a bit gruff. Maybe even come off as threatening to a small West Virginia community not used to having Uncle Sam in the backyard poking around. Now in cases where UFO witnesses need to be both interviewed and discredited on the spot (because they actually saw something inconvenient) the agents probably act in a bizarre and atypical manner, so that when they tell their story later it sounds insane. But I digress.

Of course their are official records. The initial witnesses, before all of this got out of hand or the name Mothman was invented, went to the police and told their story. About a menacing spectral creature. The police felt they were telling the truth as they had experienced it. What the Point Pleasant police department will also tell you if you ask nicely and don't come off like a nut is that they received other reports from the same area at the same time.

About a big fucking bird that was screeching and chasing cars.

The Tale of the Nazi UFOs, or, Why don't we all speak German?

Long a staple of conspiracy theories, the Nazi party. After all, who makes a better bad guy than a Nazi? Maybe an evil robot. Or a Nazi robot...

Anyways, the Nazis were up to all kinds of weird shit during WW2. Especially at the end when Der Fuhrer was getting desperate (and crazier) for a fantastic new weapon to repel the Allied forces and secure the future of his thousand year Reich.

They had guys in Tibet seeking lost cities of white people and their fantastic mystical secrets. Himmler had agents plundering everything in Europe and the Middle East that even smelled like a holy relic. There were expeditions to both frozen poles to seek everything from natural resources to (maybe) the entrance to the hollow earth. That was just the weird mystical stuff.

His scientists did have a bit more luck however. An uncanny combo of genius and frenzy to survive at all costs gave Nazi Germany a technological edge on the rest of the world. A conservative estimate would put their level of tech at the close of the war at about 50 years ahead of everyone else.

Night vision optics on tanks, and even on rifles. Ballistic missiles. Jet and rocket powered aircraft. Very nearly the atomic bomb. Fortunately most of these innovations came far too late in the game for them to do Hitler any good. A lack of natural resources and production facilities meant most of these marvels never made it past a few prototype units before the fall of the Reich.

Which brings us to UFOs.

It is often said that Hitlers brain trust was attempting to reverse engineer alien tech. Either received as part of a trade or recovered from a derelict ship. Of all the innovations that could have turned the tide, it would have been this.

Despite the advanced level of technology the Germans had at the close of the war it was never centralized. Which it would have had to be to even attempt to decode the technology of a space faring race in 1945. I doubt we could do it successfully today. Hitler kept all of his secret labs scattered about and teams that were working on the same projects had no idea what anyone else was doing. This was the fact that undermined their nuclear weapons program and space programs. Each team had a bit of the puzzle, but they were not allowed to compare notes.

So, assuming you could get past the technological and bureaucratic roadblocks in the way, and you have some Nazi Saucers. Where were they? There were enough loyalists even at the end to ensure that despite the Nazis losing the war London, New York, and Washington D.C. would have burned under the ray guns of the remnant Nazi space fleet.

What we have here is some fanciful thinking, mixed with some very real and very scary technological innovation. The same men who built the V-2 (first man-made object to achieve sub-orbital flight, which is what Virgin Galactic plans to do in about 5 years or so) and the ME-262 (first jet airplane) are the same men who helped put Neil Armstrong on the moon. NASA was started by Nazis, true story.

Anyways, the level of tech they were displaying in the waning days of the war was straight out of comic books for everyone else. Of course UFO stories came out of that, nobody seeing these things had any idea this shit was even supposed to be real. Add to that some embellishment, post-war disinformation, fuzzy memories, mis-identification (when they engaged the allies they were reported as UFOs) and wishful thinking and there you go. Nazi UFOs on the moon and shit.

As an aside, my grandfather served in WW2 as many did. His company aided in taking a Nazi airfield near the close of the war. Among the planes they seized (and later blew up if I recall correctly) was a ME-262. The airfield was practically abandoned and their was no fuel in any of the tanks. Most of the tires were flat. The Nazis retreated because they had no resources to fly the aircraft any longer.

Anyways they had at least one ME-262 and my grandfather said he and the rest of the men were laughing at the Nazi's because they didn't know how to make an airplane. Because it had no propeller. How was it supposed to fly?

It was not until the US Army unveiled the P-80 that my grandfather realized what he had seen. A Nazi jet fighter.

Chemical Warfare: Chemtrails and you

Short one this time.

Chemtrails is a popular name in the tin foil hat community (of which I am a proud, button wearing member) for aircraft exhaust plumes. The theory goes that the government is seeding chemicals and/or biological agents into the air/clouds. To test bio-warfare agents or mind control the population.

This is crap.

The reason this is crap is simple, money and efficiency.

Take a look at what state and local governments put into tap water sometime. Go ahead, I'll wait. Your tap water, and by extension 90% of bottled water, contains all kinds of deliberate additives and contaminates. Fluoride is a great example. Its an industrial byproduct so its easy to find, its added to all but a handful of counties in the US, everyone tells you its good for you because that is what the dentists and the FDA say. Everyone accepts it. Hell, only 2 or 3 bottled water companies filter their product in such a way as to remove fluoride. Everyone gets it on a daily basis.

Why not just do that with whatever mind control drugs are in the airplanes? Jet fuel is expensive, very expensive. Planes require constant expensive maintenance and upkeep. Pilots like to drink and tell stories. Gassing people with military aircraft for years and years does not make good sense. Hell, if you needed to keep a population docile with drugs and suddenly there was a war and you needed those planes to fight well then you sir are fucked.

However if those drugs are added regularly to the water its a lot easier to maintain the dose.

I am not saying that people within the government would never experiment on the citizens. Hell, its happened a number of times as a mater of historic record. Though I am sure we will go over some of those soon. All I am saying is chemtrails would be the least efficient way to deliver anything other than maybe cloud seeding chemicals. You know, for making it rain. Too much dissipation in the air, doses would be wildly inconsistent, virtually impossible to track the success of any sort of experiment.

It would be pissing money away on a scale even our government would object to.

+ + +

That is all for this exciting issue. There will be more updates, I promise. Last year was a bad year.

Special thanks to all three of my readers who responded to the poll! pat yourselves on the back for making me feel loved!

I should before I go come clean about the Mothman. I think the popular image of the winged, cuddly bug man is awesome. The whole lore around the creature is a wonderful bit of modern folklore. Someday my wife and I hope to attend the Mothman festival in Point Pleasant actually, and we will no doubt spend far too much money on booze and silly souvenirs.

However, I still think it was a mother Barn Owl defending her nest against boozed-up teenagers and their noisy sedans. So instead of hating on rural WV for being full of easily duped rednecks, victims of their own hysteria and imaginations, just accept the events that happened for what they were. Mass hysteria with a very real origin point, that quickly snowballed into something bizarre.

It's not just the hicks who find themselves the victims of mass hysteria. Back in the 1930's a young radio director named Orson Wells put on an adaptation of a Victorian science-fiction novel that panicked most of the Eastern Coast of the united states into thinking Martians were invading, including New York City.

So I say, embrace the Mothman! To that end I implore all of my readers in even semi-rural areas to build an owl box or two. For fun you can even paint images of the Mothman on the sides, or shape the entrance like the iconic eye-witness drawings! Arts and crafts are fun!

/End Transmission.


M. Garbutt said...

I love your writing. You have such a wonderful way of laying things out, my attention span is actually ok with it. :P

On the subject of Mothman, I agree that it was more than likely a bird/owl. I would like to propose, however, that it was a Great Horned Owl rather than a Barn Owl. The GHO has a wingspan 11" bigger than the BO, and is much more common, which could account for it being in more than one place. You're unlikely to come across three or four nests of barn owls in an area that size. The only problem with this idea is the call of the GHO. Not as screechy as the Barn Owl. Otherwise, I agree completely.

We West Virginians can be a superstitious lot. ;) There are lots of great ghost stories and things that predate Mothman, but are very similar, and most of them can be traced to animals, most of them not native to the area.

Done rambling. I have nothing to add about Nazis and chemtrails. :P


A Fancy Gentleman said...

@ Shel:

I agree that the Great Horned Owl is a good candidate, and they were considered. I go with it being a large specimen of Barn Owls because of the screeching, being more common to the area, and the general outline of them looking more like the witness drawings (with wings slightly uplifted, to appear larger and more threatening).
Anyways, just my personal theory. The Great Horned Owl being much larger also makes it highly likely, just thought the more common Barn Owl had more traits that went along with the dreaded Mothman!
Thanks for the kind words Shel, it means a lot to a crazy old drunk. Feel free to spread the joy of this blog to your friends and family. If nothing else people like to point and laugh at the tin foil hat people.
If you shall excuse me, I have to adjust the fit of mine. Too many signals from the bad UFO's bleeding through the fillings in my teeth...