Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Phantom Menace

This book by paranormal investigator Lon Strickler contains the original witness reports concerning “Mothman in Chicago”. During 2017, there was a veritable paranormal flap in Windy City, with about 50 observations of a bizarre creature often compared to the famous Mothman of Point Pleasant, WV. Strickler has also included some earlier reports about flying humanoids and other weird creatures from the Midwest.

The first thing that struck me when reading the recent reports is that “Mothman” is something of a misnomer. The only similarity seems to be the creature's glowing red eyes. Otherwise, it's described as a black creature with huge bat-like wings and (sometimes) a pterodactylid head. Several witnesses compare it to a gargoyle. It's also extremely large. The creature has not been associated with UFOs and other paranormal activity, unlike Mothman who was part of a more general “flap” in West Virginia. The author has chosen to call the it the Chicago Phantom, but it seems the Mothman moniker is here to stay, since all winged humanoids are immediately associated with the Point Pleasant inhumanoid (also popularized by a film featuring Richard Gere).

It was interesting to read the comments of the investigators from Strickler's Task Force at the end of the book. One of them is willing to concede that many of the sightings might be misidentifications of cranes. A similar explanation has also been proposed for Mothman. However, everyone on the team agrees that at least some of the encounters must be genuine. But what is it? A flesh-and-blood cryptid? Or a being from another dimension of reality, which is Strickler's favored explanation?

The Chicago Mothman (or Batman!) flap has created conflicts between different factions within the community of paranormal researchers. Strickler's group are frustrated with MUFON, which claims that we're dealing with misidentifications of herons or kites. On the web, I found an article at Mysterious Universe titled “Mothman Problems” which promotes Allison Jorlin, who believes that most of the purported observations are hoaxes. Apparently, Jorlin was expelled from the Task Force by Strickler, who also had a fall out with Loren Coleman (Coleman has written his own book on Mothman, which I haven't read yet). Much frustration has been caused by Strickler's refusal to give other investigators access to the witnesses, but surely this doesn't in and of itself prove a hoax?

My guess is that the Chicago Phantom problematique will be discussed back and forth for years on various anomalist websites. The last word has not yet been said about this episode…

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