About This History

What to leave in; what to leave out.

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That was Bob Seger’s musing in his hit recording from 1980, Against the Wind.  Similarly, we were faced with this enduring question in writing a historical accounting of the Marfa lights.

 

In choosing the elements of a history on any subject, you need to decide how to set the chronology.  Is it set by the date an event occurred, or by the date when it was first recorded by a witness to the event?  You will find both types of histories in the literature. For this history, we used the occurrence dates of the events.

 

More difficult choices arise in deciding what to include in the history.  Everything that occurred is part of the history.  But, which events have been, or will be, really important in shaping our perception of what a Marfa light is?  This judgment of which events matter is highly subjective, and you’ll find that the literature contains varying renditions of the Marfa lights histories.  In some cases, we included a historical item simply because it was the first of its kind to occur, or because it included highly credible sources.

But the fact that some documentation/video has been widely viewed was not a factor for including it here.  In the last ten years, there have been a number of commercial efforts to expose the Marfa lights to mass markets.  Examples of videos containing a Marfa-lights segment, that are not included are — Miracle Hunters for the Discovery Channel in May 2004, Cantore Stories: Mystical Marfa for The Weather Channel in April 2010, and Monumental Mysteries: Ames Pyramid for the Travel Channel in August 2013.  These efforts did not find any new “mysteries”.  Nor did they provide any explanations of the previous mysteries.

 

Many people examining the Marfa lights have reached conclusions about what they saw and what those observations meant.  An important consideration in the decision to include those studies is whether an independent expert in the field would draw the same conclusions.  We didn’t include anything in this history simply because of an author’s conclusions.  Instead, we considered the soundness of their analysis as the criterion for inclusion.

 

It’s also very relevant to consider whether the writer has even been to Marfa.  You should regard with suspicion the opinion pieces of arm-chair historians ― no matter how widely accepted their web pages ― if the authors haven’t been to Marfa and haven’t personally read the source documents. 

 

Please e-mail us if you know of historical elements that you think should have been included, or ones that should have been omitted.  We'd love to hear from you.

 

Bob and Judy Wagers


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