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Re: Ball lightning, very close hit

Original poster: William Beaty <billb@xxxxxxxxxx>

> What is ball lightning right now, except a religious belief to some
> people?

Have you studied the topic?  Obviously not.  I strongly suggest that you
read the Ball Lightning article in this months' issue of Skeptic magazine.
Track down some of the references given.

Also see Dr. Martin Uman's popular book "All About Lightning" and his
technical book "Lightning."  The scientific opinion on BL has shifted from
ridicule to tenative acceptance.  This only occurred in the last 10-20
years, so lots of people who are not directly involved in the research are
unaware of the change.  For example, the annual BL symposium for
professional physicists is now in its 9th year.  In part the change
occured because several physicists themselves have directly witnessed the
phenomenon in the field, with one particular incident occurring in an
airliner with several scientists on board returning from a conference.

Where rare natural phenomena are involved, the background, education, and
reputation of eyewitnesses is the key to separating the hoaxers from the
genuine, as is the issue of hostile disbelief where eyewitnesses fear
being labeled as "true believers."  As with any other emotion-based
prejudice in science, hostile disbelief can be just as bad as gullible
acceptance, since they both easily lead to cherry-picking, to selection of

> That said, if ball lightning DOESN'T exist because it can't ever be
> reliably shown to be replicated and/or theoretically posited, a thousand
> years from now most true believers will still be passive disciples of
> the idea.

Wrong, because a growing number of physicists have turned into so-called
"true believers" and are now looking at possible physical mechanisms, and
publishing papers on various aspects.  With this movement away from
ridicule, chances become far better that a researcher will be in a
position to take measurements: stumble upon the natural phenomenon and aim
a spectrometer (etc.) at it.  As is probably obvious, the Neils Bohr of BL
research hasn't yet come along and solved the theoretical mystery.

(((((((((((((((((( ( (  (   (    (O)    )   )  ) ) )))))))))))))))))))
William J. Beaty                            SCIENCE HOBBYIST website
billb at amasci com                         http://amasci.com
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