Tuesday, 29 December 2015

The Caspers 2015: The Year's Worst Paranormal Photography.

So it's the end of the year, and what a year it's been for the advancement of paranormal photography. We certainly aren't making, all the same, mistakes we've been making for decades. No sir. *Ahem*

It's only proper that we celebrate this advancement with a trophy every bit as resplendent. It certainly isn't exactly the same as last year's trophy with a "5" crudely scratched on it with the pin of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles badge. Once again nominees are more than welcome to display this badge proudly on their websites and social media. You've earned it guys! As with last year the only criteria for entry the photo had to be shared or reported on during 2015, One change that you will note this year, the awards cover a broader subject matter than ghosts alone. This is simply because I had no idea last year that I may want to do this again, now that I am I'm going to need that wider range.

The "Would I Lie To You?" Award for being asked to take way too much on faith alone 2015.

RK Paranormal Facebook 26/12/15

Well, of course, it's not a human. I mean c'mon, it only looks exactly like a human and climbs stairs exactly like a human and was photographed in a hotel, traditionally a place where lots of humans tend to be found. If RK paranormal's word that this is DEFINITELY NOT a human isn't enough to convince you, then he offers the following corroborative evidence. Prepare for a logic masterclass.

So, Mr. Skeptic, let me ask you, what is more likely? That the spirit exists, continues after death, wanders disembodied around hotels. Or a woman chooses to wear white in winter. Erm... it's the last one isn't it. Well RK Paranormal does hit the nail on the head in the same thread.

Yes, evidence is indeed tough to catch. You've failed to do so, but you have won an award for asking us to take a ridiculous amount on faith alone.

Mother of three, Lisa Wildgoose took the photograph below in woods near her home.

The Mail reports:
"'As a little girl I grew up believing in fairies and Tinkerbell is my favourite film so I would love it be a real-life fairy,' said Miss Wildgoose, who lives close to the woods with her twin daughters. 'I don't know if Tinkerbell would really wear trousers but with the blonde hair and shiny shoes it's too much of a coincidence.'"
Errr... I kinda see it. But it's almost certainly an insect.

Also, Tinkerbell is her favorite film? Not even Peter Pan. Tinkerbell? I don't think so. Someone clearly hasn't seen Mac and Me. That's all I'm sayin'.

Speaking of the Mail.

The TTT  (Turgid Tabloid Toss) Award, Various tabloid Papers, 2015

Really spoilt for choice here. There's the Harry's Bar ghost, various tabloids, December 2015.  A quick look at the decor of the pub by Sally Grant revealed the nature of this apparition.

As was the case with the 8ft Waldorf ghost (The Mirror, January 2015)

Again this was explained by using features in the pub's decor, debunked here by Hayley Stevens in her Weakly Ghost Bulletin. But in terms of sheer attention and blind credulity few tabloid offerings top the "Samurai ghost", various tabloids, April 2015.

This one alleges to show the boots of the ghost of a samurai warrior stood behind a young girl in Zushi, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan. The image was brilliantly debunked by Fortean Times Reader, Don Cake, in the letter's page of the magazine's November issue. The image below is reproduced from Sharon Hill's Doubtful News. 

Don shows that the figure stood behind the young girl is likely a member of the local police force, identified by the sand boots issued to the officers in that area and the light blue shirt which can be seen beneath the left elbow of the young girl. The reason the full figure is not visible is due the slight incline behind the young girl.I doubt this will ever be a category that I struggle to fill, I could have chosen another ten stories that were equally facile and relatively easy to debunk.

The next award celebrates a relatively new phenom that has resulted in a few "ghost" images this year.

Best Newcomer Award 2016: The iPhone's Panoramic Feature. Two notable examples below.

The Fort Worth Museum Ghost, social media, October 2015.

And More Prominently the Hampton Court Ghost, Various tabloids, February 2015.

The feature was brilliantly explained here by Mick West of Metabunk. 

The interesting factor of these particular pictures being, one of the skeptic's main arguments against ghost photography is that the images of a certain period represent the various artifacts of that period's photographic equipment. Could this feature's effects be the "orbs" and "slow shutter speed" apparitions of the future? Will  Time will tell.

The"Orchid of Low-Hanging Fruit" Award for the site, page or group with more easily explainable "Paranormal" Photography than any other in 2015. paranormal,ghosts,spirits,orbs and astrology, Facebook. 

The sheer amount of dross posted on this page, with 29,000+ likes,  is a wonder to behold. To select the worst of the year would be a monumental task. Here's a selection from the 24 hours preceding me writing this.

It's an app!

Easily found and debunked. Here's a composite image of the ghost from the post, as it appears on the app and another example of its use. Despite me posting this, the debate over whether this was the woman in question or John Lennon (!) was still raging hours later.

Here's some of the other dross found on the page that day, none of which would more than a sentence to explain, which I do below. Why didn't I do it on the page? Wasted effort frankly, and it isn't often I say that. I debunked a mermaid photo last year for Christ Sake.

"An 'App'titude for fakery" Award for most unapologetic and flagrant use of a phone app: Haunted Perth, Facebook.

Let's be frank. If I was spoilt for choice with that TTT award, I'm literally inundated with options in this category. Facebook pages Paranormal Dustbusters, There's a (ghost) app for that, Ghost App Ghosts and Ghost Photo App Database Debunking Library all feature hundreds of examples of everyday people trying to pass off ghost app images as genuine paranormal photographs debunked. The key here being "everyday people," that's why I've gone for a paranormal investigation group who decided to fake a ghost image using an app.

Thanks to Craig Taylor, who provided the following images, and, with others, brought the team to task on their facebook page.

Here's the image the team shared on their Facebook page.

Craig found the app image and even overlaid it onto the original.

So how did the team react to this allegation? Firstly with the classic "expert consultation" and another example of "would I lie to you" trust requests.

Following this Haunted Perth deleted the photo, blocked their critics and changed their name to "The Haunted". So why is this example worse than any other? This is a group claiming to perform investigations, they charge to take members of the public on these investigations. I've met a lot of fine, intelligent, decent, methodical and above all else, HONEST paranormal investigators over the past few years, this makes a mockery of them all. 

And on that topic.

The "Put a shirt on mate" Award for dumbest looking paranormal group of 2015. The Melbourne Paranormal Foundation posted to Go Fund Me, October 2015.

TMPF posted the following image to a Go-Fund-Me page appealing for money towards "new equipment" 

Not sure if this image represents the team on an "investigation" but I'd be reluctant to provide with more money for "equipment" which to then appears to mean "automatic weaponry." Judging by their Go-Fund-Me page, I'm not alone in this reservation it seems. 

To help TMPF out, I've made some helpful suggestions as what they should spend that $5000 on if they ever reach it. Which they won't.
Unfortunately for this team, common sense cannot be bought.

The "Overachiever of the year" Award for the source in 2015 that provided more misattributed paranormal photos than any other, Mars, the solar system, 4.5 x 10^9 years.

Is there life on Mars? Probably not, but there has been a whole lot of pareidolia surrounding the images sent back by the Curiosity rover.

Is there mouse on mars? Daily Mail, November 2015.

Well, d'uh. Where's his motorbike though?

And it continues, rats, pyramids, crashed spaceships... Pareidolia people, look it up. The real shame about all of the above is, of course, there's a legitimate scientific breakthrough at the heart of this bullshit. We are examining another planet in more detail than ever before. Ironic that the images sent back are subject to our brain's innate primitive psychological prejudice which leads us to seek patterns in random visual input. Curiosity, thank you for reminding us how far we've come, and how far we've yet to go.

And finally an extremely late entry. The Inaugural David Rountree Award for obfuscating bullshit behind a haze of fancy words. Paracyptozoology,  Facebook, December 2015.

I'm going to let the admin of the page describe this image before I show it to you. Close your eyes, let him take you on a journey.... WAIT! Don't close your eyes! This isn't an audio blog... aw shit.... they can't read that. I just lost the lads at TMPF.  Here it is anyway for those that remain...

Surely this is worth the Rountree Award for the horribly garbled science presented in the statement "when their blood pressure goes up and their heart rate goes up, their particles spin is faster because their DNA is a much higher strand than ours... and thus they go completely invisible." alone. Even if it had some meaning, who the hell actually HAS Bigfoot DNA to examine? Here's the image, try not to be too disappointed.

I'll explain this with an economy of words clearly not available to Paracryptozoology.

 It's your breath mate.

Either that or cigarette smoke. What it isn't is a cloaked fucking Bigfoot. This guy must truly be at the end of his tether to try to pass this off as evidence of Bigfoot. Put this in you "personal dictionary" mate, "Bullshit" you may find it useful.

That'll be it for 2015 then. Thanks to everyone who made contributions to this post, especially the debunkers cited: Don Cake, Craig Taylor, Sally Grant, Hayley Stevens and Mick West. Also thanks to Anna Hill, who was not only instrumental in debunking the "Fort Worth Museum ghost" but provided the last minute "smoky Bigfoot" image, and a huge amount of app fakery for me to use which I simply couldn't fit in.  You'll find some awesome app identification from Anna on her blog "Memento Mori (My Macabre Fixation)" here.  The aforementioned Hayley Stevens wrote a great post on her blog "Hayley is a Ghost Geek" about the worst ghosts of 2015 here. 

As it's the end of the year it seems right to thank everyone who has supported both the blog and it's connected Facebook Page The Rational Paranormal, over the past twelve months. Every share and like on one of my posts means a massive amount to me and I'm extremely grateful for this support.

See you in 2016.