A rational explanation - However tenuous - Has far more empirical value than the hare-brained hysterical nonsense that believers in the paranormal would have you believe.
Take this 'out-there' response to a skeptical analysis of the "Flatwoods Monster". It can be ripped to shreds very quickly indeed!
The writing in inverted commas ("") are the words of the skeptic, followed by the non-skeptic's response. My running commentary is in italics.
Link to the original website follows at the end of the post... Y'all (Sorry, couldn't help it!)
Joe Nickell needs a common sense check because I think his is running a little bit low. I encounter people like this all the time and quite frankly I’m tired of them thinking that people from West Virginia is [sic...?] stupid! It’s just not so. Make no mistake, Most hillbillies are very keen. One has to be very smart to live off of the land like they did back then & even now. I live about 45 minutes from where this happened (Mm-hmm. And I'm sure that home town pride has nothing to do with this scathing attack on rationalism!) and need to comment on some of his “theories”.
“This is a lesson in how observations by eye witness accounts can be faulty.”
So is he saying that a whole town isn’t capable of giving credible testimony?
Nope. He's questioning the reliability not the credibility. You can genuinely believe anything you like, and appear perfectly credible and honest. Doesn't mean you saw what you genuinely and credibly think you saw...!
“the UFO observed by the witnesses was actually a meteor.”
Really? So I’m assuming that Nickell thinks that people from W.V. don’t know what a meteor is.
Doesn't seem like he's thinking anything of the sort. Mistaking one object for another is a common enough occurrence all around the World, and seems to transcend intelligence. Even Einstein could've hallucinated like a madman for all we really know. Nothing to do with a specific class of people - Everything to do with the fallibility of the human experience.
Does he know that a lot of people at NASA are from W.V.?
True or not, that's a damned redundant point...
“The light from a nearby plane beacon will explain the witness accounts of a red, flashing object at the top of a hill. The witnesses, looking for an extraterrestrial explanation, had temporarily forgotten the well known beacon.”
Temporarily forgotten. Now that’s funny. Something that people are used to seeing every day suddenly think it’s a UFO or wants it to be.
It's fair to suppose that a landmark that's been taken for granted by most local residents would unlikely be mistaken for anything else under ordinary circumstances - However, isn't the planet Venus often mistaken for a UFO? By people who have seen Venus day-in-and-day-out for years? People are willing to suspend their disbelief when atavistic 'self-preservation' and 'predator evasion' instincts kick-in.
“The skid marks of the alleged UFO were explained by a local teenager who took his pickup to the scene, burning out and leaving the marks.”
Wow! Now it didn’t take a genius to figure that one out huh? We’ve never seen what it looks like when someone burns out in a truck because we’re so ignorant.
Yet we have seen the "tire-treads" of spaceships - I mean so that we can make some sort of comparison...?
“The nauseous smell and the sickness relating to the incident can easily be explained by the type of grass that grows in the area.”
I don’t know of any grass here that has a nauseous smell other than a swamp & most of them aren’t that bad.
I want to say something witty or funny or stupid in answer to this, but I think the respondent's set too high a benchmark...
“Obviously, those who saw the monster were caught up in the moment, and over-estimated the size of the entity.”
Yeah. sure. MMm HMmm. That’s because we don’t know how to guesstimate.
I believe that the 'Guesstimate' (S.I. Unit = ?!?) is a unit of magnitude defined as being "One meter, divided by a Planck length in any nth dimension, multiplied by a variable Eta to the power of BS".
“The red glowing eyes, and the wings hanging down were nothing more than a large owl who happened to be perched on a tree”
Exactly. Exactly. So he is saying that hillbillies are so ignorant that we don’t know what an owl looks like, right? Most West Virginians know every animal here. Even the ones that come through during migration.
Well I doubt most people would see an Owl for an Owl if they thought they'd just seen a spaceship crash to the ground. Your misled brain has already been handed a red-herring on a silver platter. All that's left is the punchline! And if that's a nocturnal bird with (admittedly) eerie characteristics, and the flexibility of a boneless contortionist then yes - An Owl would make the perfect ET.
“This explanation, my friends, is called debunking.”
No, My friends. This is called insulting to West Virginians. Over a hundred people witnessed what happened that night. Common sense is in abundance here. Always has been. A whole town doesn’t just get freaked out over an owl.
Towns and people have been far more scared by far less than Owls in the past. And they will be again... As they did in this case...
These are some of the smartest and strongest people in the world. If a West Virginian tells you about something that they’ve seen, then I can assure you that it is exactly what they witnessed.
Are West Virginian brains less likely to jump to conclusions than other brains? Are west Virginians less likely to get caught up in mass hysteria than anyone else? If so, get off your ass and start drawing up plans for world domination - Because I can assure you that no other people on Earth would ever have the temerity to claim such clarity...
I would like to invite Joe Nickell to come to the Mothman festival though it would be wise to check his belittling attitude towards West Virginians at the door.
Because, despite their infinite wisdom, West Virginians (As described above) are apparently childishly vindictive and immovable to good practice.
I do apologize. I pasted this into a quote after reading the mind-boggling first argument, but before reading the entire bit, and so I had to contain my giggles whilst trying to deal with the issues raised by our hillbilly friend (His/Her word, not mine!)
I do not believe that Joe Nickell made any specifically derogatory remarks against natives or residents of West Virginia, nor do I believe he used the word "hillbilly" once in his argument - So the respondent's prickly defense of that lifestyle is, frankly bewildering, and overshadows the merits of an otherwise perfectly reasonable and balanc.... Oh it's all just a crazy rant