He’s back. It’s 2021 and the Mothman is making another one of his goofy appearances. Just in time for Halloween! Except witnesses to this phenomenon don’t describe a “mothman.” That name was given to the experience by newspapers in the 1960’s. Multiple people are describing the same EXPERIENCE people described in the 1960’s. That experience involved more UFO sightings than Mothman sightings and today is no different.
Let’s start with the name and what people saw that inspired the name. The name was given to the Mothman by the local news. According to John Keel author of “The Mothman Prophecies” editors were inspired by the popularity of Batman at the time.
The original witnesses description of the Mothman does not sound like Batman or a Moth.
The young men said they saw the creature’s eyes, which glowed red, only when their lights shined on it. And it seemed to want to get away from the lights.
They said it looked like a “man with wings” but its head was “not an outstanding characteristic.”
Both were slightly pale and tired from the lack of sleep during the night following their harrowing experience.
They speculated that the thing was living in the vacant power plant, possibly in one of the huge boilers. “There are pigeons in all the other buildings,” Mallette said, “but not in that one.”
“If I had seen it while by myself I wouldn’t have said anything,” Scarberry commented, “but there were four of us who saw it.”
They said it didn’t resemble a bat in any way, but “maybe what you would visualize as an angel…”
Point Pleasant Register Nov 16, 1966
Everything old is news again and this sighting which occurred on Sept 24, 2020 as reported to UFO Clearinghouse described the object as follows:
I saw that this was not some person but some red eyed and what appeared to be a coat were actually wings which it spread out as it turned to look at me. At first I thought it was some kind of very, very large bird but I’ve never seen any bird that stood almost 7 feet tall. I’m 5’4 and this thing looked taller than me by at least 2 feet. This thing then started making some type of chirping sound, almost a half chirp and half click like someone was clicking their tongue but much much faster. It then made some type of screeching sound and took off running toward me, it got to within 10 feet of me and took off into the air and flew above me.
There have been numerous reports from the area around Chicago O’hare describing something similar since. NPR did a piece on the Mothman in 2019. Prolific Fortean Researcher Lon Strickland and friends report witness encounters regularly on his website Phantoms and Monsters. Witness reports continue into 2021.
There have been a lot of people who’ve experienced and described something similar since the Newspapers dubbed whatever Roger and Linda Scarberry saw that night “Mothman.” Is the Mothman really so popular as to inspire this amount of mass hysteria? Quite simply: No. This explanation is implausible. En masse, people don’t know anything about Mothman. Therefore, we find the mass hysteria explanation lazy.
Mass hysteria may have followed the initial sightings and were no doubt a part of the madness of Point Pleasant. Yet, some of those people who saw “The Mothman” developed conjunctivitis after the encounter. Ain’t it funny how folklore, tall tales, mass hysteria and genuine experiences all show up together? Always.
It’s that genuine experiences part that always gets people. Yet, how else would society react when one of its credible members sees something that defies known reality? Probably with mass hysteria.
It’s been a long time since the Richard Gere movie, and the newest sightings are occurring around UFO activity. Just like the incidents recounted around Point Pleasant, West Virginia in the 1960’s.
Check out our article The 2007 Chicago O’hare UFO Sighting for more information on the most well documented UFO sighting around the O’hare airport. Those are all just facts. People reporting what they saw and people taking reports.
By itself, reports don’t mean the experiences are genuine. Reporters take reports. Sometimes multiple people saw the same thing, that lends credibility. Photos and videos can easily be faked using your iPhone at this point. So, what is the standard of evidence for a genuine paranormal experience?
The theories now align with whatever the observer would like to believe.
The Crane or Owl
The number one suspect both in Point Pleasant and now around the Chicago area is a bird. The identity of the bird varies. The Mothman experience has been alternately accused of being an owl, a shitpoke and a sandhill crane. Much like UFO’s it stands to reason some reports would be misidentifications. The sandhill crane seems the most likely to cause a ruckus. It has red around its eyes, its wingspan can get up to 6 feet across and it grows up to 4 feet tall. Although, height is also what causes a problem.
Roger Scarberry who was one of the original Point Pleasant witnesses “scoffed” at the idea this was a sandhill crane. Mary Mallette said “I just wished Dr. Smith could see the thing.” Dr. Smith had put forth the crane theory.
Note: All of the bird theories assume all of the witnesses could not tell the difference between an object 4 and (at least) 6 feet tall..
The witness in Chicago stated she was 5’4 and capable of telling the difference as well.
So, either we believe Dr. Smith because we’ve never seen anything like this. Or, we believe multiple credible people telling the same story 55 years apart accompanied by UFO sightings. To us, it is clear that running to a prosaic explanation is not warranted at this time.
It’s not just the five witnesses mentioned in this article who’ve witnessed this. John Keel thought the Mothman was related to the bridge collapse in Point Pleasant West Virignia. He felt the frequency of weirdness around Point Pleasant was an omen of disaster. We’re not so sure, and that’s a good thing.
The “Mothman” sightings didn’t begin or end in Point Pleasant. We’ll highlight other cases which describe the same thing. To be clear, I have no idea what these people are experiencing. Only pointing out at least one of these cases (which reported medical effects, had multiple witnesses and were seen by credible observers) was Most Likely Real according to our veractiy system.
Although much like UFOs, once one is established to be real, the question of whether or not each case was authentic or not becomes less interesting to us as what the heck is it?