Friday, 27 January 2017

Tabloid Fame Seeking Exposes The Cynicism Of The "Paranormal Detective"

Remember Mark Vernon, the self-proclaimed paranormal detective? I wrote about him back in August last year with regards to his ongoing quest to prove various historic buildings in the UK are haunted. What was most striking about Vernon, a self-professed paranormal investigator was how unimpressive his "evidence" was. If you don't remember that perhaps you'll remember one of Vernon's recent tabloid appearances. These include "Ghostly Monk" In the Sun (18/06/16), a "spectre" following him around a stately home in the Daily Mail (09/08/16), the "ghost of Jack the Ripper" in the Mirror(06/09/1) amongst others.

We'll come back to the "Jack the Ripper" case shortly.

It's clear that Vernon has created something of a cottage industry in producing paranormal evidence for the tabloids. It's pretty clear that Vernon is enjoying the limited fame and financial gain that providing the tabloids with these stories provides as he's back in the local press today, the Wakefield Express 27/01/17, the article describes Vernon's capturing what he describes as "something impressive, big and fast". He tells us:
“There had been some strange noises coming from the cellar. “The lady who lived there couldn’t understand what was happening. “I can detect paranormal things and as soon as I arrived I knew something was down there. “I spent some time sat in the corner waiting and watching. “You see me get up and walk towards the camera, as I was going to replace the batteries and the ghost comes out from the wall behind me. “It’s quite impressive what I got on film. Whatever it was, it was quite big and fast."

Upon watching the short video, it's immediately obvious what the cause of Vernon's apparition is. Follow the link above and you'll probably immediately see the cause for yourself. As Vernon walks to the camera to replace its batteries he's holding a lit cigarette in his left hand.

As Vernon bends down by the camera, his "ghost" moves across the bottom from the right of the screen to the left. It's clearly just smoke from his lit cigarette!

Likely the easiest thing I've ever tried to explain. It's that simple.  Vernon tells us he can "detect paranormal things" I suggest he sees paranormal things, without a hint of critical thinking, in the most mundane of occurrences, making him a terrible example of a paranormal investigator. He may well "detect paranormal things" but I wouldn't trust him to detect his nose with both hands. Frankly, the fact that Vernon frequently sits smoking in front of his recording equipment, a fact various videos on his Youtube channel attest to, whilst looking for evidence of the paranormal implies to me he doesn't give a damn about possible misinterpretation of environmental factors or contaminating areas he's investigating or footage he's recording. 

In fact, I mentioned above the "Jack the ripper ghost" Vernon showcased in the Mirror last year. I think that this phantom can also be attributed to cigarette smoke, check out the image below in the upper right-hand corner.

In Vernon's account of how the Wakefield Express footage was captured, he describes being "called in" to the property by a lady. Street view of the location reveals that these are private properties, terraced housing, not public buildings. This means that members of the public are putting faith and trust in Vernon. If these people are vulnerable or afraid, Vernon is using the assumed authority a title like paranormal investigator brings to persuade them their homes are haunted. Some may be comfortable with this, others not so much. The "Jack the Ripper" case I've alluded to already above, gives a striking example of this. The lady in question called Vernon in after years of being afraid in her own home, she tells the Mirror:
"The ghosts have been here for as long as I've lived here - the man that used to live here told me they were here before me too. One in particular is very violent and aggressive. We've had priests and exorcists and all sorts over the years, but nothing makes a difference - so I've just learned to live with it."
She also describes living alone after her partner suffered an accident that left him paralysed. If this lady is as vulnerable as she seems, Vernon isn't helping her by describing photographs of cigarette smoke as "anomalies" and promptly selling the story to the press. Nor is he helping her when he makes aggrandizing claims like this about the house:
"It's the nasty ghosts I really like to go for - Gaynor has countless ghosts, but one in particular is really violent.... I don't deal with fakery but I have been to Gaynor's before and I can say 100 per cent she is genuine (yeah, but are you mate?-SB).... I feel sorry for what she has gone through, I have never seen a house with so much activity going on....This is one nasty ghost. It could be Jack The Ripper, it could be a relative of his, or it could just be a spirit telling lies."
Investigating public spaces is one thing, but Vernon is clearly not displaying the care and professionalism one should expect from someone conducting an investigation in a private residence. The fact that right-clicking Vernon's image of the supposed physical harm this ghost allegedly did to him in his lady's home you get the photo's tag "PAY-jack the ripper ghost" tells you almost everything you need to know about Vernon's interests in the case. Almost...
I actually think Vernon, enjoys the attention these stories bring him as much as the limited financial reward. His drive to get stories published is clear from the sheer amount he has sold to the press in the last year alone and the relative ease at which the "evidence" he presents is debunked.

Frankly, Vernon is going to continue to ride this paranormal gravy train regardless of the fact that the exposure he receives in the tabloid press gives paranormal investigators a bad name, and it's a reputation that's already severely tarnished. Nor is he stopping to consider the potential harm he's causing to the individuals who become aware of him due to his media exposure and call him in to "investigate" their homes.

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