Saturday, 30 July 2016

Soul Exception: Is Footage Of a Soul Leaving a Body in a Hospital In China Proof Of Life After Death Or another Sloppy Fake?

The tabloid press is once again hailing a piece of video footage shared on social media as evidence of paranormal phenomena. Such esteemed establishments as The Daily Mail, The Mirror and The Sun write today of footage allegedly shot in a Chinese hospital back in 2014. The Mirror asks it's readers "Could this footage prove once and for all that there is an afterlife - and that we all have souls?" Whilst the Sun offers a quote from an authority as high as a YouTube commenter who breathlessly exclaims the video is “a real shock for the materialists.” What not a single version of this story contains is the slightest piece of background information about the footage or where it actually came from. Sure, we're told when it was uploaded to Youtube and we're exposed to the ramblings of Youtube commentators, but where are the individuals that originally created, or leaked, this footage? Conspicuous by their absence. Likely, because hoaxers don't tend to be very forthcoming. True nor do people who leak CCTV footage, but they could be quoted anonymously.

What is also conspicuous by its absence is the original unedited footage. Every version of the story I checked featured this truncated and altered version of the video (below), which purports to show a spirit exiting the prone body of a female patient. This is also the version which is being widely shared on Youtube.

You'll notice the time code is covered, bizarrely by flowers, and the screen is cropped quite severely. In my experience, that is only ever done to hide evidence of fakery. You'll see in the unedited footage below, the edits clearly aren't aesthetically pleasing or add extra clarity. I went in search of a non-cropped version and found it pretty easily. I did find clear evidence of the video being changed to a composite shot as in this similar footage also supposedly shot in hospital. Take a look at the unedited video and see if you can also see the red flags.

Change the speed setting to slow (0.25) and watch between 0.09 and 0.12 seconds. What you should notice is an instantaneous lightening of the screen at around 0.10s. If you watch the footage closely a few time you are unlikely to miss the instant change in brightness, but it's difficult to demonstrate with a still image. I can attempt this by asking you to focus on a particular element in the picture, in this case, a dark line of the left-hand wall towards the bottom of the image. It's clearly defined in the darker image at 0.09 but can barely be seen at 0.11.

There also seems to be a distinct drop in the clarity of the two images at these times, though this may just be a factor of the increase in brightness. What's the significance of this change? The figure on the bed at 10s is a still image, what we see at 0.10 is the change between a live video and the composite shot of a still image of the room and a video of something (a sheet?) moving upwards and away from the bed, so the moving spirit is part of a video image playing over the top of the still image. As it is shot in slightly different lighting conditions the change between the non-composite video and the composite image is clear.Surprisingly, this section of the video is actually visible in the footage circulated by the tabloids but at roughly 0.06s, unsurprisingly, this change in picture marks the beginning of the "paranormal activity". Funny how that is ALWAYS the case with these pieces of footage. *Edit* As Gareth Farmer points out in the comments, we should also be very wary that the "spirit" heads directly towards the door. I suspect that this is because the overlaid video is a sheet pulled off the figure and pulled or carried through that doorway.

I also expected to find evidence of alteration in the time code which was obscured in the source much like in the Malasyisain possession video I covered a little while ago. This isn't really present, but I believe that's because the hoaxers have overlaid their own time code on the finished video, which is the mistake the Malasyisain hoaxers made, they left the original time code and the still image was clear from the non-moving clock.

Here are the big clues this is what has been done.

Firstly look at how unprofessional the time code looks. The date line is very well spaced, whilst the time code is squashed so much that the numbers actually overlap.

Also, this date line isn't Chinese. Culturally the Chinese rank dates in order of largest to smallest, so this dateline should read 2014/07/20 and that's even if western numerals were used at all. Often Chinese letting will appear between the numerals. Here are some other examples of genuine date lines in Chinese CCTV, the top right image is actually taken from a hospital.

Even if this footage did originate in China, it's pretty clear to me that it's been altered by some in the West unaware of Chinese date conventions. I'd say the person who uploaded the edit noticed this too, and that was their reason for placing flowers over the dateline. With regards to the splicing at the left edge of the video this where the Western lettering CM2 appears. Although western lettering could be used here, if it were it would more likely read CAM02 or Camera02 rather than CM2 as generally camera numbers in public and commercial property is never numbered in single digits and CM isn't a commonly used abbreviation for the word camera.

So can materialism survive this onslaught? I think so. The truth is, even if this video wasn't a pretty clear fake, video evidence will never be considered evidence robust enough to overturn principles of science or philosophy. The potential for fakery and the lack of replicability is too great. Any other stance is simply wishful thinking.