Tuesday, 7 March 2017

The Mirror Missing The Mirror.. And The Investigative Team That Didn't Investigate!

I say this a lot, but prepare yourself for a new low in paranormal tabloid reporting AND the methods of paranormal "investigation" teams... 

The story "Mysterious 'spectre with face, hand and CLAWS' floats at unsuspecting woman's shoulder in chilling photo taken at homeappeared in March 3rd Mirror and marks their very real effort to snatch the title "fake news" outlet of choice, as well as the title "most ungainly headline imaginable 2017." The "news"paper tells us of a "terrifying apparition" which appeared in a photograph next to mother Lou Johnston, 44, from Hull.

The Mirror quotes Lou as follows:
"Some see the picture and automatically think it's a mirror behind me and that is a reflection - but there is no mirror behind me. I don't even own a mirror of that size... I've had so many people get in touch and say that it is something paranormal and it can't be explained at all. Lots of people see the shape of a figure stood next to me with a hand and claws. I have always been a sceptic so I just let people offer their thoughts on it.""
That's what this strikes me as glare created by the flash of a camera or other light source reflecting off something highly reflective. A mirror being chief suspect. But Lou tells us she doesn't own a mirror that size. Hmmm... so if that's the case why has the Mirror felt it necessary to crop the image in such an extreme way. They don't normally exclude heads and feet.

The answer is abundantly clear, they've cropped the image to hide what appears to be a mirror behind Lou. Need convincing you skeptical bunch?

Well, the Star ran the same story, and being generally a bit thicker and/or lazier than the Mirror they ran the picture uncropped... right above Lou's denial of owning a full-length mirror.

Take a closer (right), you'll clearly see it appears to be light reflecting from the Mirror Lou doesn't own. I actually think it's a shaft of sunlight rather than the flash, as you can see the sunlight on the carpet by Lou's feet. I know Lou claimed the image was taken at 10pm but let's face it, she's already lied to cover what she know is the blatant cause of this apparition.

The Star and the Mirror both handily (pun intended) help debunk another element of Lou's tall tale. The "claw" of the manifestation is blatantly Lou's hand. But again if you're a fan of hard evidence Lou helpful replicates her original hand on hip pose. The Star even provide a side by side comparison (below)!

So, what's the upshot of this? What does it mean for bloggers such as myself who cover this kind of tripe. Clearly, these papers don't give a fudge about what they're printing. Why the hell should we?

(continued after image)

For me, stories like this and the Star Chilean poltergeist story have done nothing but made me more resolute to continue my debunkings. This kind of blatant fabrication by the press must be called out. Make no mistake critical thinking is under attack right now. I may not be on the front line, but I'm at home selling war-bonds at least.

As long as there are people out there who take these stories seriously there has to be someone prepared to show them how false they are. As skeptics or even skeptical believers, we can't resolve to leave people behind because they're more susceptible to this rubbish than us.

Whilst I have sympathy for believers who are taken in by this rubbish, my softer side quickly evaporates when I see "investigative teams" failing to do a modicum of research. Case in point: It was shared on Facebook by paranormal group Marston Vale Paranormal investigations. 

Now frankly MVPI should be ashamed of falling for this crap, and doubly ashamed that they copy and pasted the Mirror's story to their own site. In fact, they've done this copy and paste with several recent ghost stories in the press. MVPI proudly brag about being investigators since 2009, but couldn't do the five minutes research that it took me from my couch to expose this story?

Let's compare the work they did on the recent "fishing trip selfie ghost" to the work the awesome Kenny Biddle did. Once again MVPI simply copy and pasted the story from a tabloid source, this time the Mail. Now go to Kenny's page and see what he did, he stripped the photo performed various analysis and other stuff I'm way too thick to understand (left) and got a plausible answer. There should be no reason MVPI aren't working as hard as Kenny, or me, or any number of investigators and bloggers.

As if only to compound my frustration at the team, this is the "mission statement" on their website:
"We strive to find reasonable explanations behind paranormal experiences and this is done by going to locations and using our equipment. We gather evidence of any phenomena and examine it hopefully finding a plausible reason behind our findings."

Well, you didn't do much "striving" here did you guys? And you want people, potentially scared and vulnerable people at that, to invite you lot into their homes and conduct investigations?

Further investigation on their site reveals the team's alleged dedication to rational explanations, the scientific method and identifying dismissing natural phenomena.
"We at Marston Vale Paranormal investigate to the best of our ability and the capabilities of our equipment, and using professional computer software suites we attempt to find a reasonable explanation behind anything captured either via photograph, video, audio or electro-magnetic. We take during daylight hours control images for comparisons so we have something to work with in trying to find plausible reasons for capturing light or audio at locations... Some images show capture of rain (although you are asking for trouble taking flash photos in the rain, everything turns into orbs!), insects, dust, or other organic matter, not everything on film is a 'ghost', however we prefer to use the term 'paranormal'. Paranormal is a general term that designates experiences that lie outside "the range of normal experience or scientific explanation" or that indicates phenomena that are understood to be outside of science's current ability to explain or measure. "
I guess that doesn't extend to the content of your website.