Tuesday, 19 July 2016

A Tangled Web Indeed: Examining Recent "Ghost Child" and "Nottingham Charity Shop Ghost" Footage.

Take a look at this ghost footage (below) that's gone viral, and in a short time will, no doubt, be picked up by the national tabloid press and monetised as click bait as part of the gutter press' ongoing mission to make a quick buck from the public's interest in the paranormal.
The video purports to show a "child ghost" roam a suburban British street and we are told it was recorded on 14/07/16. Ian Hawke, 42, of Abbey Wood tells local newspaper, Newshopper:
“I was so shocked when I saw it – I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.“It looks like a child playing or even just confused and running away.... I have spirits in my house and my friends have filmed them here in the past, but I’m not afraid of them. It’s the living that hurt you, not the spirits."

Sorry, but it looks nothing like a child to me, little ghost girl or not. It's pretty clear to me that Mr Hawke saw this when he reviewed his security footage. Being a believer in the paranormal, he interpreted the footage as a spirit in the road.

Actually, the explanation, as I have little doubt you've already guessed is far more mundane. Firstly, I don't think the aberration is in the road, I believe what we are seeing is simply a cob-web or some other fine fibrous material waving in front of the lens of Mr Hawke's security camera. The motion is likely caused by the static surrounding the camera or even in a slight motion in the air, the fiber would only be required to move a couple of millimeters to translate as the equivalent of transversal of about a car length when overlaid on the road.

Cob-webs in front of cameras are a pretty common complaint, it's also pretty commonly misattributed as something supernatural, as a similar story from May this year shows.  This footage was taken from a charity shop in Nottingham.

A worker in the shop told the Mail (who else):
"I've always been quite sceptical with these sorts of things, but I've been trying to explain this and I can't come up with an answer... It can't be traffic lights because it was on the fourth floor and the street's pedestrianised outside."
What we have here is, without being too harsh to the young man in question, a common feature of these type of experiences. A rational explanation is considered and subsequently rejected, often for good reason. A further rational explanation is then not even considered, and if they are they're rejected out of hand as one rational explanation has already been easily overturned. Typically an object in front of the lens is one of the last things many people consider, likely because we are so vulnerable to tricks of perspective and often when looking at footage like this we rarely factor in the recording equipment itself. We pick a frame of reference familiar

In closing the story we began with, Mr Watkins states: 

“We’re trying to find a medium to come over and look at our property.”
May I suggest a feather duster, I've heard they work on orbs too.

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