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Old 03-31-2011, 07:39 AM
panzersiddhartha panzersiddhartha is offline
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Re: Does ball lightning really exist? = Yes!

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...g-really-exist

This topic confused me greatly.
I was glad to see the question and was expecting a swift "Does Australia really exist? We have about as many witnesses, but one can never be completely sure until we see it ourselves." but instead even Cecil was uncertain. I am from Sweden and ball lightning are not uncommon enough to be doubted in my part of the world. My father watched one bounce around in the kitchen back in the 80s, my mother saw one leap from a phone a few years from then (melting the phone) and my sister and I saw one back in 2002, ours just being a bright orb shaped ~1 foot wide flash of light in mid air in the stair case when we were running around turning off TVs e.t.c. with a huge storm over our city. The thing that has puzzled people over the centuries seems mostly be about how the plasma balls manage to get created inside buildings without being connected to the outside, and what they consist of when they are the kind that bounce around in swamps, hitting trees, ground e.t.c. making strange sounds for several seconds. For me any doubt surrounding ball lightning is as amazing and surprising as if someone would question the existence of rainbows. Sure, you don't see them every month, but they definitely exist.
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Old 03-31-2011, 11:15 AM
John W. Kennedy John W. Kennedy is offline
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Cecil is nevertheless correct; the subject of ball lightning has always been controversial among scientists.

I note you are from Sweden; are you anywhere near Hessdalen, Norway?
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Old 04-04-2011, 02:09 AM
wbeaty wbeaty is offline
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Unlike with rainbows, there was no theory to explain ball lightning at all. It's not plasma, plasma (such as electric arcs) is far less dense than air, and rises quickly.

Up until the 1970s the major part of the scientific community was certain that BL did not exist, and any eyewitnesses therefore were either hallucinating, were liars, or were so incompetent that they'd mistaken retinal afterimages for a genuine object. BL was in the same class as ghosts, aliens, and sea monsters: if there are lots of eyewitnesses, it just means that hoaxers and lunatics are common!

What gets lost here is the strong possibility of selecting of evidence: self-fulfilling prophecies. We can reason thus: we can assert that BL doesn't exist, because if it was real, then reliable witnesses such as meteorologists and astronomers would report seeing it, and they don't. (In fact, these experts were seeing it, but they'd never honestly say this, since it would damage their reputation for sane honesty.)

The few texts which took BL seriously were asserting that BL is incredibly rare. A survey in the 1980s showed the opposite: a few percent of the population has seen it themselves. So perhaps it was incredibly rare for any reliable people to admit seeing such a 'taboo' phenomenon, and risk being labeled as crazy or dishonest.

Last edited by wbeaty; 04-04-2011 at 02:12 AM.
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Old 04-04-2011, 03:52 AM
Floater Floater is offline
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My mother has always been very scared of lightning. Whenever there is a thunderstorm she disconnects all electric appliances she can. It was only last year or so she told me that when she was young she had seen a ball of light come out of a wall socket during a thunderstorm, move across the room and disappear. If that wasn't a ball lightning I don't know what it was.
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Old 04-04-2011, 06:49 AM
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Not to sidetrack this thread but I'd suggest to Floater that you may wish to buy a few surge protectors at the hardware store and use them to save your mom from all the unplugging. I only use them for my computer & monitor myself but they could keep power-line surges from affecting ones other appliances, too.
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Old 04-04-2011, 10:30 AM
Floater Floater is offline
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Nothing has happened so far (and she's been living in that house for almost forty years now) so I don't think there's much need for surge protectors.
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Old 07-13-2017, 09:41 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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Bumped because the article is back on the Straight Dope front page.

A big development in 2014: https://www.newscientist.com/article...the-first-time
And here's the Wiki article on BL generally: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_lightning
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Old 07-13-2017, 12:09 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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I witnessed ball lightning exactly once in my life, and it was enough. I was about 10yo, sitting in the kitchen with my mom and aunt, when the lightning shot from one end of the kitchen to the other. Scared the bejesus out of us.
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Old 07-13-2017, 03:11 PM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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Western science has done a vast amount of good for the world, but it does have two glaring weaknesses. Two attitudes are incredibly common: (1) that something cannot possibly exist unless it is witnessed by the "right" people; and (2) anything that contradicts the current state of scientific knowledge cannot possibly be correct.

If the platypus weren't already proven to exist beyond the shadow of a doubt, and you showed a stuffed one to several random scientists, at least 90% of them would instantly dismiss it as a hoax.

This is also why so many scientists are dismissive of UFO reports: THEY can't imagine (or more accurately, refuse to imagine) a scenario by which intelligent aliens might be visiting us, and therefore they blithely assume that such a thing is impossible, instead of bothering to look at the evidence.
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:10 PM
eburacum45 eburacum45 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
This is also why so many scientists are dismissive of UFO reports: THEY can't imagine (or more accurately, refuse to imagine) a scenario by which intelligent aliens might be visiting us, and therefore they blithely assume that such a thing is impossible, instead of bothering to look at the evidence.
This is not true at all. Many or most scientists in the SETI field are open to the idea that advanced alien civilisations, if they exist, could come here and make contact; in fact they think that this sort of contact is a very real possibility (and indeed should have happened long ago).

But after looking in depth at the reports almost all of them reject the idea that UFOs have anything to do with this possibility. And they are almost certainly correct.
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Old 07-13-2017, 04:19 PM
Stranger On A Train Stranger On A Train is offline
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Thi sis a bit of nonsense; the criteria for the validity of a phenomena isn't that "the 'right' people" observe it, but that there is objective external evidence. All eyewitnesses, including trained observers, are at best suspect at making reliable and quantifiable observation of events. And while we tend to prefer explanations which fall within the conventional understanding of science and view explanations which require changing the existing paradigm (hence the mantra that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,") but after some natural resistance science welcomes novel explanations because they can open up entirely new fields of research and application, e.g. quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, endosymbiotic theory.

Scientists are dismissive of reports of purported UFOs not because the lack imagination or "blithely assume that such a thing is impossible," but because these observations are inevitably inconsistent with any physical or objective evidence despite decades of reported observations and abductions. Reports of interactions with or abductions by supposed aliens show a distinct trends that can be readily attributed to cultural influences e.g. the reporting of "Greys" after the publication of Whitley Streiber's Communion and Jimmy Guieu's docu-dramas and promotion of the description of Grey-type aliens. If aliens were actually coming to Earth in such a way as to be visible to random observers in such a flagrant fashion and leaving the evidence from crashes or implants, we'd expect to have a large body of documented public evidence. But we don't; even a cursory examination into the "evidence" offers nothing of substance.

Many reputable scientists do, in fact, believe that aliens (or at least extraterrestrial life) exist, and would welcome contact and communication with them; hence why we have a SETI program, and while exobiology has gone from being a fringe discipline to a field of study driving many of the mission goals of our interplanetary space exploration program. But there is no credible evidence that personal observations of UFOs actually represent aliens come to visit us, nor that the supposed evidence for previous alien visits in the artifacts of ancient cultures are anything more that weaving together misinterpretations of ancient legends and artifacts.

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  #12  
Old 07-13-2017, 06:07 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quote:
Quoth Flyer:

Western science has done a vast amount of good for the world, but it does have two glaring weaknesses. Two attitudes are incredibly common: (1) that something cannot possibly exist unless it is witnessed by the "right" people; and (2) anything that contradicts the current state of scientific knowledge cannot possibly be correct.
Those aren't weaknesses of Western science. They're weaknesses of people in general. Scientists try to avoid those biases, but we're only human, same as anyone else.
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Old 07-13-2017, 08:10 PM
thirdname thirdname is offline
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If ball lightning exists, there ought to be a bunch of cellphone videos of it by now.
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Old 07-14-2017, 06:40 AM
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The key point is lack of a Scientific explanation. No one has an acceptable explanation for the phenomena: creation, duration, motion, appearance, etc.

There have been claims of creating ball lightning in the lab but they don't seem to match the observations very well.

So there are 3 criteria:

1. Very common public observation.
2. Repeatable laboratory observation.
3. An explanation of the phenomena with formulas, etc.

You need at least one of these in order to establish something as real. Ball lightning doesn't have any.
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Old 07-14-2017, 11:20 AM
Flyer Flyer is offline
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If ball lightning exists, there ought to be a bunch of cellphone videos of it by now.
So--
You take a phenomenon that is quite rare, and when it does occur, is very often terrifying; and you think that there should be lots of videos of it?

Seriously???

When somebody sees ball lightning, it's a mighty good bet that they've never seen it before in their lives. If they're not petrified with terror, they'll be busy trying to figure out just what exactly the thing is. If they're too frightened for that, then they'll be too frightened to even think about recording it.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:17 PM
krondys krondys is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
So--
You take a phenomenon that is quite rare, and when it does occur, is very often terrifying; and you think that there should be lots of videos of it?

Seriously???

When somebody sees ball lightning, it's a mighty good bet that they've never seen it before in their lives. If they're not petrified with terror, they'll be busy trying to figure out just what exactly the thing is. If they're too frightened for that, then they'll be too frightened to even think about recording it.
Yes, much like your UFO idea above... paranormal activity claims seem to have really died down since nearly EVERYBODY has a high-quality camera with them at all times. If these things were even half as common as claimed 30+ years ago, evidence should be mounting wildly now. Instead, we get... nothing.

If ball lightning happens, even rarely, SOMEBODY will catch it on video at some point. Until then, we have the always-sketchy eyewitness reports as the best evidence, which is not super useful.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:28 PM
DPRK DPRK is offline
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But there are videos of natural ball lightning, at least the 2014 one if not before.

It's a rare phenomenon that occurs during a thunderstorm, so understandably there are not lots of videos of it, but it is an exaggeration to dismiss all the existing ones as "sketchy reports".

ETA the 2014 recording was not made by a cheap mobile phone, either.

Last edited by DPRK; 07-14-2017 at 01:32 PM.
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Old 07-14-2017, 01:53 PM
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Is there any reason to think ball lightning has a single common cause? Since it's not readily reproducible or explainable we only have the description of something like a blob of fire or a plasma that moves around. There could be many different explanations for the observations.
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Old 07-14-2017, 06:01 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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I remember seeing a few years back the idea that ball lightning was hallucinations caused by strong electrical fields affecting part of the brain.
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Old 07-14-2017, 10:53 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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The 2014 one may have been vaporized dirt (indeed, being caught by a spectrograph leaves little doubt as to that), but that doesn't explain the common reports of ball lightning moving through walls. I'm inclined to agree with TriPolar that there are at least two different phenomena that get called ball lightning.
  #21  
Old 07-15-2017, 08:18 AM
ioioio ioioio is online now
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Ball lightning is real. My cite is my grandparents, whom I never knew to lie. The location was their farm house in western Kansas in the 1950s. Both grandparents were in the kitchen when the glowing orb rolled in a straight line from the bedroom, through the kitchen, and through the living room. It disappeared when it met the outer wall. Subsequently, several household appliances had to be replaced.

Unfortunately, my grandparents are gone, so I can't ask further questions, e.g., about the weather. I'll see if my father remembers more of the story.
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Old 07-16-2017, 04:18 AM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is offline
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I'm inclined to agree with TriPolar that there are at least two different phenomena that get called ball lightning.
Which leads us to a different principle: just because we have confirmation (and an explanation) for one manifestation of the phenomenon, it doesn't mean we have that for other variations. The "glowing orb moving inside a house zapping appliances" requires more evidence than the 2014 incident. And for any given incident, there may be a mix of real and bogus (for example: the ball was real, but it was actually outside the house, only lasted a second, and the appliances were fried due to ordinary lightning strike).
  #23  
Old 07-16-2017, 06:35 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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The ball lightning I saw happened way too fast to capture, even if I'd had my iPhone back then. It just shot across the room and vanished. My mom, my aunt and I just sat there in shock for a second, before the "WTF was that?!?!" set in.
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Old 07-16-2017, 09:04 AM
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So there are 3 criteria:

1. Very common public observation.
2. Repeatable laboratory observation.
3. An explanation of the phenomena with formulas, etc.

You need at least one of these in order to establish something as real. Ball lightning doesn't have any.
Yes, that's the trouble. You have a very rarely occurring event that when it does occur, happens quickly and is surprising and even terrifying such that the witnesses cannot really respond to document via video, camera, etc. It is not something that can be demonstrated in the lab to occur, probably because the mechanism of how such a thing could exist is mostly speculation. Without a concept of what it could be, it's difficult to begin trying to quantify some sort of formulas and such. Ergo, it is an unexplained phenomenon that is very rare and by reports seems to behave inexplicably. That leaves people who don't witness it directly (the vast majority of people) skeptical. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but it does make it hard to believe that it does exist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
So--
You take a phenomenon that is quite rare, and when it does occur, is very often terrifying; and you think that there should be lots of videos of it?

Seriously???
I'm with you on that. I suspect that even in the case where someone is, say, filming a youtube video during a thunderstorm or taking video of their friend behaving like a moron or whatever and suddenly there's a lightning strike nearby and then a glowing orb of what appears to be electricity shoots through the room, it will be difficult to retain composure enough to keep the camera steady and film the event. Handheld camera shots are notorious for being very jerky and waving all around when something startling occurs. You might get a glimpse of whatever is occurring, then the image jumps around and starts showing the floor or the ceiling or someone's pocket or whatever. It's not being aimed while the operator is ducking looking around for where to go, turning and running for cover, or just plain staring stupidly at the event in shock.

However, given the growing dispersion of always-on cameras through home surveillance videos, nanny cams, security monitoring, etc, there is a growing likelihood that one of these rare occurrences should be caught on camera.
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Old 07-16-2017, 07:19 PM
Common Tater Common Tater is offline
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I knew ball lightning was somewhat rare or unusual but didn't know it was controversial as such. Saw it one time many years ago when camping in the slickrock country of Utah. It skipped and rolled right through camp.

Unplugging sensitive or expensive electronics is not a bad plan as a thunderstorm approaches, btw. Unless you've a whole house or dedicated surge protector, forget it. The el-cheapo surge protectors aren't going to help much. It doesn't take a direct or even a near hit necessarily to send or induce a spike. Also the surge after an outage is restored can be a bit on the high side.
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Old 07-16-2017, 08:15 PM
Darren Garrison Darren Garrison is offline
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Every once in a while during thunderstorms, when a bolt of lighting fires some distance away but close enough that the sight and sound are almost simultaneous, there will be a large and loud spark pass between two objects in my living room--for instance, once between the knob on an open door and a wall. Anyone else ever get that?
  #27  
Old 07-17-2017, 12:44 PM
Cayuga Cayuga is offline
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Western science has done a vast amount of good for the world, but it does have two glaring weaknesses. (2) anything that contradicts the current state of scientific knowledge cannot possibly be correct.
Not "cannot possibly be correct," but rather "must be extremely well documented and analyzed before being accepted as correct.

And that's not a glaring weakness of Western science; it's one of Western science's main strengths.



Quote:
Originally Posted by ioioio View Post
Ball lightning is real. My cite is my grandparents, whom I never knew to lie.
No one is accusing anyone of lying. The assertion is that eyewitnesses are mistaken. They're telling the truth they're saying what they think they saw.

Both in forensics and in psychological studies, eyewitness accounts have proven to be astonishingly inaccurate.
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Old 07-18-2017, 07:05 AM
DesertDog DesertDog is offline
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Not "cannot possibly be correct," but rather "must be extremely well documented and analyzed before being accepted as correct.

And that's not a glaring weakness of Western science; it's one of Western science's main strengths.

No one is accusing anyone of lying. The assertion is that eyewitnesses are mistaken. They're telling the truth they're saying what they think they saw.

Both in forensics and in psychological studies, eyewitness accounts have proven to be astonishingly inaccurate.
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.
--Carl Sagan

Something woo-claimers, from cryptozoologists to anti-vaxxers to ghost chasers, seem to either not know or ignore if they do know.

Never mind the ordinary witness, even trained scientists have fooled themselves as to what they saw. Take the cold fusion guys, Fleischmann and Pons. They were so convinced of what they saw, they left the country so they could continue to get funding.
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Old 07-18-2017, 09:29 AM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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And then the claim just becomes whether something is extraordinary, and what evidence one would expect. If Nessie were real, then it should be easy to get a good picture of it, but nobody has. On the other hand, even if ball lightning is real, it would be extraordinarily difficult to get a picture of it, so the lack of pictures doesn't mean anything. Furthermore, we've already shown that at least one kind of ball lightning exists, because we were lucky enough to get a really good picture of it, so the question is just whether there's some sort of ball lightning that behaves in the way it's often described (like moving through walls), and evidence of that would require not just pictures, but video, which would have been nearly impossible until very recently (and which is still quite difficult).
  #30  
Old 07-18-2017, 10:22 AM
Kavaj Kavaj is offline
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I am from Sweden and ball lightning are not uncommon enough to be doubted in my part of the world.
I know this is six years old but I wanted to respond to it anyway. I'm Swedish and there is no general acceptance of ball lightning here and most Swedes have never seen it. I know exactly one person who claims to have seen one and he's someone I knew a little as a kid and haven't had contact with for ages. It's rare here too. I don't know why the thread starter would think differently.
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Old 07-20-2017, 07:31 PM
Murph1111 Murph1111 is offline
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Not "cannot possibly be correct," but rather "must be extremely well documented and analyzed before being accepted as correct.

And that's not a glaring weakness of Western science; it's one of Western science's main strengths.

No one is accusing anyone of lying. The assertion is that eyewitnesses are mistaken. They're telling the truth they're saying what they think they saw.

Both in forensics and in psychological studies, eyewitness accounts have proven to be astonishingly inaccurate.
Seems to me that eyewitness accounts should be reasonably reliable, when it comes to events inside one's own home, which is familiar territory where unusual things would stand out. You don't really have to be a "trained observer" to tell the difference between a normal room and a room with a glowing "something" in it.

Now, the witness's interpretation of what that "something" is could be completely wrong - but doesn't that call for offering an alternative that explains the observation, rather than just dismissing the experience as "a case of the vapors"?

Compare this with, say UFO sightings - there are a huge number of common, well-understood alternatives to explain "a light in the sky" as being something other than a craft filled with little green men.

Scientists could provide a list of commonly understood glowing items that can appear, float thru a room, and disappear as alternatives to "ball lightning". If they don't have such a list - well, isn't that the sort of thing scientists are supposed to be curious enough to investigate?
  #32  
Old 07-29-2017, 10:04 PM
Morgan McMorgan Morgan McMorgan is offline
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I've seen ball lightning

I didn't know what it was when I saw it in 1983 (i was already an adult, well educated, and an acknowledged skeptic of many 'scientific mysteries') I had not yet heard the term 'ball lightning'.
I was seated indoors, next to a window on the 3rd floor, during an electrical storm. I was using a sewing machine, and had the stereo on in a distant room, but there was a speaker on the far side of the room I was in. I watched the storm move over the Bay and come closer to my part of the city.
Suddenly, a streak of bright light passed thru the window and made a loud noise as it hit the metal sewing machine. I pulled my hands back instinctively and only felt a mild electrical shock. Then I watched as a ball of "sparkling light" (a bit smaller than a soccer ball) travelled across the floor -rapidly- and seemed drawn to the speaker, as it curved in that direction and hit the speaker with an even louder bang than the first noise. It blew the speaker (damaged the electrical system).
I was stunned, and immediately replayed the incident in my mind several times, as I questioned what I just saw. I was surprised that the lightning hadn't damaged the sewing machine. I was also confused, as I had no idea that lightning would pass thru window glass, strike something, and *then form a ball of light/energy* that could travel across a room and 'disappear' when it came in contact with an electrically-charged object (the speaker).
After a lot of searching scientific articles (this was before the Internet, so there wasn't a lot of bogus stuff to wade thru, but not much on the subject of lightning that hadn't killed or injured someone) I came across the term 'ball lightning' and my experience fit the description.
I (the skeptic) wouldn't have believed it if it hadn't happened to me. I say to the other skeptics on this thread: you will believe it exists when you witness it. I hope you get the opportunity. It was one of the most fascinating experiences and one I will never forget. Witness ball lightning and you too will believe!
  #33  
Old 08-03-2017, 04:43 PM
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All these descriptions of ball lightening seem close to a description of the "spook lights" that have been seen (and, a few times, photographed) in a small area known locally as the "Devil's Promenade", on the border between southwestern Missouri and northeastern Oklahoma west of the small town of Hornet, Missouri.

I first heard of it in a book entitled "Ozark Superstitions", written by Vance Randolph back in the late 1940's. Other sources (there are lots of these on the Internet) give examples dating back a century or more.

Here is a typical site:

http://www.legendsofamerica.com/mo-spooklight.html
  #34  
Old 08-08-2017, 07:51 PM
EERA EERA is offline
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Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
Western science has done a vast amount of good for the world, but it does have two glaring weaknesses. Two attitudes are incredibly common: (1) that something cannot possibly exist unless it is witnessed by the "right" people; and (2) anything that contradicts the current state of scientific knowledge cannot possibly be correct.

If the platypus weren't already proven to exist beyond the shadow of a doubt, and you showed a stuffed one to several random scientists, at least 90% of them would instantly dismiss it as a hoax.

This is also why so many scientists are dismissive of UFO reports: THEY can't imagine (or more accurately, refuse to imagine) a scenario by which intelligent aliens might be visiting us, and therefore they blithely assume that such a thing is impossible, instead of bothering to look at the evidence.
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Originally Posted by Stranger On A Train View Post
Thi sis a bit of nonsense; the criteria for the validity of a phenomena isn't that "the 'right' people" observe it, but that there is objective external evidence. All eyewitnesses, including trained observers, are at best suspect at making reliable and quantifiable observation of events. And while we tend to prefer explanations which fall within the conventional understanding of science and view explanations which require changing the existing paradigm (hence the mantra that "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence,") but after some natural resistance science welcomes novel explanations because they can open up entirely new fields of research and application, e.g. quantum mechanics, plate tectonics, endosymbiotic theory.
That is how it is suppose to work, but that does not mean it is how it actually works.



Peer review was never intended to be a verification authority of the nonsense you wrote despite that being what people believe it to be.

Peer review isn't even repeating the experiment and seeing if you get the same results.

Peer review is SUPPOSE to be simply providing all the data required so that we know exactly how you manipulated your trials and fudged your data to get the results you're so happy about.

Yes... I am implying BOTH that stuff that gets through peer review clearly has manipulated data... but also that should not be a reason for excluding something. Even taking the mean is "manipulating" your data, it's hard to really say when the manipulation is done with malicious intent or with ignorance... nor is it easy to say when manipulations are some how intrinsically "bad" or "wrong".




See, Flyer's claims is about the reality we live in, not the reality we claim we live in.

There is PLENTY of time to write a rebuttal to any article published in an academic journal that "contradicts the current state of scientific knowledge" or even completely refutes what is considered "absolutely true"...

Plenty of people choose to do so when researchers are pushed into those "non-academic journals that don't have a peer review system that we agree with".


Really, we live in a world that is obsessed with appeal to authority, appeal to novelty, and bandwagoning. So yes, by the way academic currently works "something cannot possibly exist unless it is witnessed by the "right" people."

If you were once one of those 'right' people, the very act of contradicting what people currently agree on gets you slammed with a permanent "Ad Hominem" label that cannot be removed and hence means that no one bothers to actually read your works... they just say "yep, this guy wrote this, thus it is wrong"
  #35  
Old 08-09-2017, 06:26 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Originally Posted by EERA View Post
Peer review is SUPPOSE to be simply providing all the data required so that we know exactly how you manipulated your trials and fudged your data to get the results you're so happy about.

Yes... I am implying BOTH that stuff that gets through peer review clearly has manipulated data... but also that should not be a reason for excluding something. Even taking the mean is "manipulating" your data, it's hard to really say when the manipulation is done with malicious intent or with ignorance... nor is it easy to say when manipulations are some how intrinsically "bad" or "wrong".
I think you are mistaken. Peer review serves the role of checking for mistakes. The first level mistake is not including the details of your methodology. That is certainly a key role for peer review, to point out where you have omitted something that is key to the process of how you achieved your results.

But what if during peer review, the reviewers identify a simple arithmetic error that you made in a series of steps, such that your answer is off by a magnitude of 10, and what looks like significant results is not actually significant when that error is corrected? Do you agree that the role of peer review is to catch that kind of mistake?

If so, then what level of error is appropriate and what level of error should be ignored?

Making a basic logical or standard process error is just as questionable as an arithmetic error. The reason science generates standards for how to conduct research is precisely to try to eliminate all the known causes of getting wrong answers, whether through missing some key observational difference, or making some error in judgment, or injecting places that are known to disturb the results of experiments.

There may be some validity to a criticism that scientists as a whole are too dismissive of some ideas that go against conventional wisdom current consensus, and that there is a certain amount of ad hominem that attaches to researchers who choose to study certain topics, but that is a different issue than the role of peer review per se.
  #36  
Old 08-09-2017, 07:14 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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I would argue that peer review doesn't end once the paper is published, either. When another group performs a similar experiment and compares their results to yours, that's a form of peer review, too, one which continues indefinitely after the original result.
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Old 08-12-2017, 04:31 PM
Irishman Irishman is offline
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Science is certainly an ongoing and cumulative endeavor. I'm not sure I would carry that under the heading "Peer Review", which is typically used to refer to a particular step in the publishing process, but I certainly acknowledge the value of repeating experiments or doing alternative versions of experiments to explore the parameters.
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Old 08-12-2017, 08:18 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
Scientists try to avoid those biases, but we're only human, same as anyone else.
Cite?
  #39  
Old 08-25-2017, 10:01 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is online now
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FWIW, the Perfect Master accepts the existence of ball lightning in a column posted today: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/...n-ufos-be-next
  #40  
Old 08-25-2017, 01:56 PM
Quercus Quercus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Flyer View Post
Western science has done a vast amount of good for the world, but it does have two glaring weaknesses. Two attitudes are incredibly common: (1) that something cannot possibly exist unless it is witnessed by the "right" people; and (2) anything that contradicts the current state of scientific knowledge cannot possibly be correct.

If the platypus weren't already proven to exist beyond the shadow of a doubt, and you showed a stuffed one to several random scientists, at least 90% of them would instantly dismiss it as a hoax.
So you're saying that scientists should believe that Jackalopes exist? I mean, you can show a stuffed Jackalope to a scientist.
  #41  
Old 08-25-2017, 02:11 PM
Jack Batty Jack Batty is offline
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I believe I witnessed ball lightening in my youth as well. It was either that or a severe hallucination out of nowhere.

This was a long time ago when I was in high school, so my memory of it is a little hazy but I recall being in my parent's house; I can't remember if it was storming outside or not but there was a big, loud snap or pop and I swore I saw a ball of light just blink in and out of existence - like a two foot arc-flash in midair, like a bubble bursting - in the center of the living room. I suppose the house may just have been struck by lightening and I saw it going to ground somehow. I remember excitedly telling my dad about the big ball of light I just saw but I don't think he ever really believed me.
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