|Could all of these noble gentlemen|
have been the victims of a hoax?
The most recent explanation? Lightning messes with your head.
If a lightning discharge lasts a long time, it may create the same magnetic fields that are used in transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which is used to stimulate neurons in the human brain.
Many patients who receive TMS report "luminous and apparently real visual perceptions in varying shapes and colors within the visual field."
So it may be that lightning creates a magnetic field that induces a brain hallucination that the recipient describes as ball lightning.
So ball lightning might be a hoax, a hoax perpetrated by lightning itself.
Mysterious Ball Lightning: Illusion or Reality? from Science Daily>>
See also my post: Strong belief has wrought the same wonder>>