The ever-present video camera is creating a new form of “paranormal” news. Anytime anything even slightly strange occurs on a video surveillance camera someone is likely to cry “ghost.” The local news media will swarm all over it and before you can say “WTF” they have chosen the most sensational nonsense to air. The video will find its way onto the internet, creating speculation for a few days before it finally fades from the public’s short attention span. The appalling thing to me is the so called “paranormal experts” who confidently (not even a “maybe”) declare that it was “definite paranormal activity.” In the end they will look foolish because eventually someone will figure it out. It is your choice if you choose to look like a horse’s ass but I’m assuming that you would prefer not to. So here is a easy five step method that uses critical thinking to analyze those “scary” ghost videos.
- Does it move like an insect? If the object is moving about erratically like an insect, then it IS AN INSECT. Now I know many of you hard core believers will question how I would know how a “ghost” moves. You actually do if you have properly interviewed enough witnesses. They report seeing things moving in a methodical fashion much like a person would move, not hopping around like daffy duck on crack. Occam’s razor, the simplest answer is the one that is most likely to be correct.
- Is there a part of the “ghost” that appears to be solid? In other words, is there a part of the object that is not transparent? Most of your ghostly mists are caused by an insect or object being close to the lens and out of focus. As a result the object is blurred, which creates the appearance that the object is transparent. However, if you look closely enough, you will see a solid mass in the center of the blurred image. There is one exception to this rule. If the video was recorded by a security system that is recording using a low frame rate the object may appear completely transparent due to the recorder creating an artifact.
- Is ghost ever obstructed by another object in the background? Since most of the ghost videos that are out there are nothing more than objects moving near the lens of the camera, you need to have some sort of evidence that it is actually in 3D space, not something near the lens. If the “ghost” clearly moves behind a table, chair, pillar or something else in the picture you have that evidence. If it does not, it is indeed something near the lens.
- Does the ghost cast a reflection in windows or on the floor? Another way to determine if the object is near the lens or “out there” is to see if it casts any sort of image in any reflective surfaces. Although this is not as reliable as obstruction, it can give a hint that it is not actually hanging out in front of the camera’s lens.
- Does the ghost cast a shadow? Another thing to pay attention to is if the object casts a shadow. This can go either way depending on the lighting conditions but a shadow is another thing to look for.
These five steps are only a general guide line and the viewer must also be wary of videos that were intentionally faked (and there are allot of them out there!) .
Why is this important? Check out the link below and see a ghost hunting team get publicly slammed on the Skeptic Shock website.
Just in case you are wondering, this isn’t an isolated incident. Over the past 6 years I have seen at least 6 different “paranormal investigation teams” bite the bullet over their poor critical thinking skills.
Cody Polston is an author, historian and ghost investigator. He is the author of multiple books on history and paranormal topics. He was the host and producer of the popular podcast Ecto Radio and a writer for Ghosthunter X magazine. He is one of the founders of the Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association and has been investigating paranormal claims since 1985.
In the 1990's several other ghost hunting groups gave him the moniker the "Hitman" due to his involvement in "debunking" several well known haunted locations in Texas. Although the nickname was intended to be a negative insult, Cody adopted the nickname and began using in on his podcasts and other media venues.