Oh, Elusive LA Butterfly, Are You Fiend or UFO?
Lately there have been several “Time Traveler” stories in the blogs, but the one that really attracted my attention was the story I first saw in Lon’s Phantom and Monsters Fortean News about the return of a giant butterfly to the skies of Los Angeles.
The reason I was so struck by it was because it claimed that the recent, very odd “giant butterfly” sighting recalled similar reports from witnesses to the 1942 Battle of Los Angeles.
The article was picked up by several other blogs including Cryptomundo where Loren Coleman wondered whether the “butterfly” was really Mothman and that Los Angeles was being warned about impending disaster.
The thing was, I had done a lot of research on the Battle of Los Angeles for a writing project and never seen any mention of witnesses describing the unknown slow-moving object in the skies that February night in ’42 as a giant butterfly.
I even had discussed my puzzlement over the “return of the butterfly” with a friend who suggested that maybe this was an example of the past changing a la the timeslip story I recently posted on MU about how quantum physics suggests that time is unfixed and events in the present can change the past. Of course, my friend’s explanation could have been a polite way of dodging the two more obvious answers: either I had NOT read everything on the Battle of Los Angeles or I had forgotten what I’d read.
Vindication came yesterday when I read Micha’s Fortean Fallacies: Bad Evidence, Misinterpretation and Urban Legends in his blog Gralien confirming my own conviction that no such reports had been published. Today, was planning to weigh in on how difficult it is to keep stories straight in a world of blogs and tweets, especially when discussing anomalous events, and how important it is that researchers like Micha check source material before spreading the tale any further.
This seemed like pretty solid advice, which in good conscience I thought I should follow. I went back to my own archived articles on the Battle of Los Angeles, found a copy of the Reno Gazette story from February 26, 1942 that had been named as the source of the 1942 giant butterfly sighting, and that Micha had searched thoroughly without finding mention of the winged apparition.
Well, dear reader, you could have knocked me over with a butterfly. There it was, the winged anomaly reported by several witnesses. I can’t explain why it shows up in my version of the Reno Gazette and not the one that Micah used as research. I promise you, I would have sworn on the graves of Charles Fort and John Keel that such reports did not exist.
But I was wrong, I guess. Whether it’s a weird quirk of quantum space-time or for some reason there were multiple editions of the Reno Gazette that day (which seems doubtful), I have no clue. Either way, citizens of Los Angeles, keep your eyes on the skies, get your Earthquake Preparedness Kit re-stocked, and try to influence current events in such a way that you will change the past thereby sending butterfly/mothman back to the oblivion from whence he came.