Thursday, 17 December 2015

The Best Evidence of Paranormal activity Or Just Marble Madness?

Quick debunking exercise.

I came across this video posted on We are Paranormal Investigators facebook page and several other paranormal sites and pages, and you know I like a challenge. Tony is a representative of LaxTon Ghost Investigations Sweden, in fact he is one of the teams' founders according to their site and claims the following video is the best evidence of paranormal activity the team has ever collected.

So first of all take a look at the video below. Watch on full screen from the very beginning, watch the marble. You'll see its moving when the video starts "rolling". Rewatch it a few times to get an impression of what is actually going on.

Here are some screen shots which make the movement clear. Distance of marble from the edge of the paper in image 1 at time (t=0)  delta x (0)= 3 units.

In the second image at time (t=1) the marble has moved by three gridlines across the screen delta x (1) = 6 units. Some of this increase is accounted for by an increase in the zoom on the table. By comparing the radius of the tables in both images we can measure the increase due to this factor.

The radius of the table in image 1 is 22 units. In image 2 its more difficult to see but I approximate it to be 26 units. So the size of a unit in image 2 due to zoom is 1.18. Using this to account for the change in distance.

1.18 x 3 = 3.54. So the marble would be roughly three and a half units from the edge of the paper if the only change was due to zoom. This leaves the total change in position across the screen due to movement as 2.46 units.

So we know the marbles moving. "So what!" I hear you cry. "This movement could still be because of a ghost. After all if this was due to natural causes, surely all the marbles would be moving."

Yeah, but there's a clear rational reason why only this marble moves. Take a look at the shadow in the next picture:

The paper or plastic mat that the marbles are placed on is clearly curled on one edge. The marble placed closest to this edge is subject to a greater upward force than the other marbles, its also placed on a slope. Its going to roll.

So what does all this tell us? Is there a lesson here, or am I just showing off?

The lesson is, that its vital that paranormal investigators properly assess their data before making over the top grandiose claims, if this is the most convincing evidence you've ever come across I dread to see the evidence you rejected. This gentleman and his team should have carried out the same analysis of the video I did. It isn't difficult, and if they couldn't do that they should have took it to someone who could before it was brought to the public's attention.

This leads me to banging an old drum.

The paranormal field, whether you consider it a hobby or a serious pursuit desperately needs peer review. Debunking things like this should occur within the community. I have to wonder if the rest of the group are a bit embarrassed, by putting this out with such hyperbole their member has potentially caused the team's whole catalogue of research to be written off.

There's an analogy for the whole field there somewhere in all this.

Oh yeah, I know. Its in danger of losing its marbles.

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