Ball lightning is as mysterious as Big Foot and as controversial as UFO’s. No scientist has ever been able to conclusively prove its existence while at the same time no scientist has been able to prove it doesn’t exist. All we have are sketches and eyewitness accounts which unfortunately hold no weight in the scientific community.
So where does that leave us? Is ball lightning real or is it just a myth?
That may be a difficult question to answer. We do have a lot of theories that claim it could exist, but none have been able to recreate the elusive phenomenon in a scientifically controlled environment. It could be as simple as a misidentified electrical discharge. Eyewitnesses would say otherwise.
Although eyewitness testimony can be important, it is not considered proof. Memories are not recorded like a video in the brain. They are stored as little bits of data all over the brain. The brain reconstructs the memory much like a puzzle. The problem is, none of us have perfect recall (unless you are a Savant). Our brains fail to recall all the pieces and must fill in the gaps with “best-guess” data from other memories, and when that fails, make something up. This can lead the person to believe certain things about an event that weren’t necessarily true. Moreover, the whiteness is usually not prepared for what they saw. They are often startled and emotional, which also affect memory recall.
With no scientific evidence, and only eyewitness testimony, it’s impossible to recreate it. But there is no shortage of theories.
Some suggest it could be subterranean energy that is created by enormous stresses in rocks. Or, it’s a super heated plasma from unknown origins. It’s possible it’s nothing more than an optical illusion. More often than not, it’s simply a case of mistaken identity (see below). This list goes on, and on. .
Some mistake welding slag, Saint Elmo’s Fire, arcing electricity and rapid oxidation as ball lightning. If these things were ball lighting, then it wouldn’t be that phenomenal. These things have been witnessed by millions for more than a hundred years.
Those who claim to have seen ball lightning say it’s nothing like that. They say it had extraordinary capabilities. It hovered or slowly floated in mid-air, then rapidly disappeared. Sometimes exploding with a loud bang. Some even claim it has passed through solid objects only to reappear on the other side.
Until a scientific paper is written on the reproduction of ball lightning, which has been verified by other independent scientists, most will continue to hold a sort of agnostic opinion on the subject.