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.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Creation Search. Creating a Safer Echo-Chamber.

Fundamentalist Christians currently face a huge problem, the freedom and availability of information on the internet. This probably isn't something you've ever considered a problem, but you likely aren't a follower of a false and harmful ideology that is based on a tissue of lies and the willful misrepresentation of science. In other words, you very probably aren't a creationist. This problem has been approached in various ways since the popularisation of the internet, with many pastors and creationist organisations condemneding the internet and advising followers to steer clear of it altogether.

At a Christian retail show in 2009, Christian apologist Josh MacDowell (left) told attendees

"The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have... whether you like it or not... the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism...A the Internet has leveled the playing field [giving equal access to skeptics].”


Oh NO! Our children are being exposed to contrary worldviews they may start to *gasp* think for themselves.... we can't have that!

Notice that MacDowell doesn't say an abundance of "false information" just "information". Clearly, it's in the Creationist parents best interest that their children have access to as little information as possible. They, correctly, assume the greatest antidote to indoctrination is education. Whereas once "secular" learning institutes were the main enemies of these ideologues, now the children can be exposed to alternative viewpoints and actually scientific findings in their own bedroom. Fundamental Christians approach to their children going to college had been a simple one, they simply created their own, where the environment could be more strictly controlled. Institutions such as Bryan College make promises such as "Christ Above All" to assure panicking parents that their children will return home as indoctrinated as when they left, if not more.



A similar approach was taking to educational resources on the internet. If creationists could not prevent their children from viewing scientific and skeptical sites, they would ensure that there was an abundance of counter-information sites available. Many of these sites claim to be practising "creation science" which would be better labelled "counter-science", mainly because as of yet, no creationist I've interacted with has been able to point to a single piece of original research published under the umbrella of creation science. The main drive of creation science is to offer counter points to established science, by starting out with a Biblical stance and then collecting evidence to fit this stance. So not science then.

The problem is, as the internet grows and more "secular" science sites spring up, these creation sites become drowned out. This is contrary to the grip that alternative health and sites and conspiracy theorists sites hold over their respective fields. For example, if you search "Cancer treatment" using Google's search engine you'll pretty quickly come across posts from organisations such as the British homoeopathic association promoting holistic treatments for breast cancer. Even more impressively, Google "9-11 truth" and the results are filled with sites spouting nonsense about "nano-thermite" and the like. Whereas, a search for "what is evolution" yields pages free from creationist nonsense. It's the success of alt-med and conspiracy sites that may well spell doom for the visibility and availability of creationist sites in search engines which currently use an algorithm which ranks sites in terms of popularity.

In March 2015, it was announced that Google intends to begin implementing a move to rank sites on factual content using an established base of knowledge rather than popularity. 
This was based on a paper entitled "Knowledge-Based Trust: Estimating the Trustworthiness of Web Sources" produced by various members of the Google team. The paper states:
"We propose using Knowledge-Based Trust (KBT) to estimate source trustworthiness as follows. We extract a plurality of facts from many pages using information extraction techniques. We then jointly estimate the correctness of these facts and the accuracy of the sources using inference in a probabilistic model. Inference is an iterative process, since we believe a source is accurate if its facts are correct, and we believe the facts are correct if they are extracted from an accurate source. We leverage the redundancy of information on the web to break the symmetry. Furthermore, we show how to initialize our estimate of the accuracy of sources based on authoritative information, in order to ensure that this iterative process converges to a good solution."

Clearly, this would be terrible news for anyone making a living promoting anti-science, especially if one's entire ideology is based on promoting a warped vision of science. It's clear that, if this move was implemented, creationist websites would face a serious visibility crisis, especially if other search engines follow Google's lead. There is a fairly logical solution to this of course. Creationists could just introduce their own search engine to compete with Google.

And sure enough, they've created one. 

Search Creation is the search engine created by the Creation Network, an offshoot of Kent Hovind's Creation Science Ministries, currently ran by his idiot son Eric, whose Creation Today show and Creation Minute show are either the stupidest things ever committed to the internet or parodies of stunning genius. His Creation Minute: Six Types of Evolution, where Eric purposefully confuses the use of the word "evolution" with the concept of evolution by natural selection in order to persuade his followers to write off various scientific concepts which disagree with his view of reality, really has to be seen to be believed. As an interesting aside, Kent asked Eric to run CSE for him whilst he severed a ten-year prison sentence for fraud. He has since been released and is somewhat aggrieved that Eric won't give it back! He claims that Eric is making a living off his name, but ironically didn't complain when Eric reproduced his free lecture series and sold it as a set of premium DVDs. Maybe because he profited from it too?

So clearly Eric, who shamelessly cites Creation search as his "favorite creation resource" on his Facebook page, wants you and your children to be as stupid and poorly educated as he is, so he's created a search engine which he claims draws from a resource of just 20 websites, obviously a massive reduction of the amount of sites available through any other search engine. 

I have to seriously doubt the veracity of this claim, I ran several searches in Search Creation and the vast majority of the returned results were from the same five sites every time! *Ahem* The last search was... *ahem*.... for a friend... who erm... lent my computer?

What about the quality of the information on offer when you Google a complex subject? Unsurprisingly, it's not good. If you live in a Christian creationist household and want to teach yourself "Vector algebra" for example, you've got no chance. Search the term, and you'll find the only article in the top ten results linked that contains any mathematics is from the site Biblical Science Forum and is an argument that the existence of consistent mathematical laws is proof of God's majesty. All the other relevant sites consist of similar arguments. Of the paltry 10 results returned, in comparison to Google's 595,000 results for the same search, there's no actual indication of how one would perform even simple vector algebra, this exposes perfectly the key intent of Search Creation. It's designed to present support for ideological ideas, not to provide information. It's search engine created with the express intent of perpetuating ignorance. This is the only way creationism is going to survive, by creating a robust echo-chamber were followers are not confronted with troublesome facts and information.

One has to wonder, if Christian creationism is true, and can be shown to be such why are it's advocates so opposed to its followers being exposed to "secular" websites?

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.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Week In Weird: Emphasis on "Weak"

The Paranormal "news" site Week In Weird caught my attention a few weeks ago and, as is often the case, spawned a segue into another topic that I'm currently working on. Although that post is in response to a comment made by Week in Weird's Dana Mathews, it isn't about Week In Weird per se. This post is.

On the 12th July, Dana posted a column entitled "Ghost Photo Roundup: Investigating the Internet’s Weirdest Paranormal Pictures" which even a person using the most liberal definition of the word "investigation" would be forced to admit, is nothing of the sort. There is quite literally no investigation here at all, something that I can quite easily demonstrate by highlighting a familiar face. Hello Little Ghost Girl, described here as "Ghost in the hallway." Below is a comparison, the image featured in the Week in Weird article is on the left, another example on the right.

You can forgive Dana for failing to recognise this image, it's only the most famous ghost app image in existence. Here's the story that Dana gives for the image.
"This exceptionally strange photo was snapped by a group of carpenters in Norway who were hired to perform renovations on a historical site. Unfortunately, after just a few weeks, the men began experiencing some unexplainable activity. The strange knocks, disembodied voices, and other mysterious phenomena got so bad that the men refused to finish their work on the basement. After a particularly active day, one of the men took a series of photos down a particularly problematic hallway, and when they discovered what resembled a “white shadow resembling a man” in the images, they left and vowed never to come back."
Of course, Dana gives no source for this story, the only other reference to it I could find was on pinterest. Dana, or her source perhaps, has elaborated on the story offered there somewhat. Googling "Norway Carpenters basement knocks ghost" gives one precise result: the Week in Weird article in question. So not only is this photo not investigated, it seems completely fabricated (Edit: In the comments section Torkel has provided the original source, there is also another photo.)

In discussing the next photo Dana shows a stunning lack of investigation and general knowledge of the paranormal scene.

Here's what Dana writes about the image:
"This odd photo was taken on January 11, 1978, and has been at the center of many debates about the validity of the image. According to the photographer, Richard Wiseman, the woman shown partially hidden was not only not there when the photograph was taken, but at the time Wiseman was sure he’s never seen her at all. Of the many photos taken that day, this was the only picture that the mysterious woman appeared in."
Now had Dana done the slightest bit of digging, she'd have realised that the Richard Wiseman in question is, in fact, arch-skeptic, psychologist and magician Richard Wiseman the author of Paranormality. He didn't take the photograph at all, and it wasn't taken in 1978 but 1987. Wiseman's association with it comes from his website where he describes it as follows after it was sent to him in 2009:
"...this week I received another interesting ghost photo….“This is a photo of myself, my mother, and my newborn daughter taken January 11, 1987. The face beside the lady holding the baby is no one we know. We have several pictures from this day and this is the only one with the face. Can you tell me what it could be? A ghost? I get the feeling that it is not a benevolent, whatever it is.”
The person says that she has the print of the picture and perhaps the negative."
Now it's pretty clear from the photo what is going on here. Several commenters on Wiseman's blog suggest it's a double exposure, but I think that's an actual person sat behind the main figure. The person in the Coca-cola jumper seems to be looking at the person sat behind the main figure. Also, her face is similarly washed out and pale. In addition to this, I'm pretty sure the"ghost's" shadow can be seen on the vase in the background. The only evidence we have that there was none sat behind the lady in the photo is from the person who submitted it. Now I'm not suggesting that the submitter may be lying, though that is a possibility, but it's more than possible that she simply misremembers a party from 22 years ago. I don't see any reason to even begin to suggest "ghost" here. Far more likely a trick of perspective and memory.

Speaking of tricks of perspective:

Here's what Dana says about this one:
"Taken by a woman known only as “Heather in Pennsylvania”, this photobomb would have sent me running in the other direction. Forget the kid, I’m gone.
“I took this photo of my son with my Samsung Verizon camera phone,” Heather wrote. “He was sitting with his back to the couch. I’m still trying to figure out what the apparition is behind him.”
Skeptics have theorized that the image is just a reflection, however, the photographer was on the other side of the phone taking the actual picture and claims that no reflective surfaces were facing the lens.
The earliest use of this image seems to come from a blog published in 2012, and Dana pretty much quotes the story verbatim.

Again all we have here to suggest anything unusual about the photo is the insistence by the person who submitted it that there was no one else present. I'm don't really buy the idea of Dana's reflection. It doesn't appear to me that the child has his back on the back of the couch. He seems much further forward and higher. In my opinion, he's sat on someone's knee, I'm pretty sure that I can actually see the shoulder of the person in question.

Could she be leaning out to one side in an attempt to see her phone screen as she snaps a selfie of her and the child? An alternative explanation may be the child moving his head as the image is taken resulting in a "slow-shutter speed" effect, although I prefer my former explanation.

Here's the final two images featured. I'm pretty sure the first is an extremely poor photoshop. Even Dana acknowledges this. There's much else to say as the image resembles a figure in only the loosest possible sense. It looks more like the symbol that appears on toilet doors that either an actual person or a ghost.

The final image(left) may well be another photoshop, the black shadow surrounding the figure is of a much greater richness than any of the other shadows in the image. Another explanation is possibly a prowling animal. That would certainly explain the glowing red eyes.

What irks me about this post isn't the misattribution of paranormal explanations to the pictures exhibited, or even the pretty wholesale rejection of possible rational explanations. Rather it's the sheer laziness Dana displays. She clearly didn't even bother to Google search the images or Richard Wiseman's name, I get the distinct image she pulled them all from pinterest in an afternoon. Where further information wasn't available Dana has simply invented a backstory. There isn't any real content here, there certainly isn't anything even resembling "investigation." To put the article into context, here's how Week In Weird describe their content:
" With its lighthearted, middle of the road approach to the unexplained and the best-written weird news content on the web, Week in Weird has become a regular source of material for huge media outlets like VICE, Mental Floss, Coast to Coast AM, Gawker, The Fortean Times, and Mysterious Universe to name just a few."
Firstly "best written?" The post I read was barely written at all. When I read the above passage all I can think is "fluff". This is fluff, they know it's fluff. The claim it can be used as a source is laughable. The site is another example of people with an interest in the paranormal, believers and skeptics alike, being sold short again, and its a thumb in the eye to anyone who values the concept of investigation.

We deserve better.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Haunted Dolls Paranormal: Diplomas for Dummies.

*Quick Edit* Jayne Harris owner operator HD paranormal has responded to this post and I have, in turn responded back. You can read that response in full here, if you so wish:

Ah... Paranormal qualifications. As I covered many times before, the paranormal is full of self-appointed experts in this and that, each with a bullshit title denoting "expertise". It's only natural that there are also plenty of people taking advantage of this desire to claim expertise, by offering "diplomas" to wave in the faces of fellow believers.

HD paranormal, previously known as Haunted Dolls Paranormal, is a UK based group offering just this. An accredited diploma in "Applied Paranormal Research" no less.

Unsurprisingly, for a group promoting titles and qualifications to a market which clearly values the same, HD paranormal are quick to point out their accreditation. In fact, they claim to be offering the only accredited paranormal diploma in the UK. This is a little like a pervert proudly boasting to be the only peeping tom operating in a particular area. It doesn't make his pastime any less unsavory. 

 So who exactly are the CPD, who HD paranormal claim accredits their course? 

The UK-based CPD is not listed on GOV.UK list of recognised educational bodies. Nor is any company of that name listed on the same site's list of bodies which are validated to offer educational qualifications. The CPD is a private organization that will "accredit" your qualification to lend it an official air of legitimacy. Their own website lists one of the most significant benefits of a CPD accreditation as "brand recognition". What is clear is the course is not recognized as having any academic merit. The accreditation offered would be similar to that offered by an in-house training course, this isn't necessarily a negative thing but it's important to be clear about the kind of accreditation on offer here.

The always awesome Kenny Biddle applied for an induction pack from CPD which highlighted a few of the other benefits of accreditation through the company.

Amongst what Kenny describes as pages of double-talk with very little information, comes some worrying suggested benefits in the above section:
  • It's cheap.
  • It's quick.
  • There are few forms to be completed. 
These aren't really benefits we should be looking for a company claiming to provide training and education, surely completeness and attention to detail are more important here. Also, what are we to make of this "There is a lack of independent objective, information about the choice of accreditation... researching different accreditation options can be time consuming..." Smacks of, "just trust us, we're really easy..." More and more it's clear that CPD offers the image of merit, possibly not merit itself.

Here's CPD's seal of quality assurance that appears on their site, and how it appears on the site of a company that's paid for the accreditation. 

From the level 5 Nutritionist course offered by The Health Science Academy for example:

Left is the seal of accreditation that appears on HD paranormal's diploma site.

Now, HD paranormal is clearly very proud of their CPD accreditation. Why not use the official seal of "quality" on their site? A Google image search reveals that the symbol is likely a generic "accreditation" symbol not linked with any CPD either in the UK or anywhere else. The most popular use of the image is on a Philipines property website (below). 

I also searched for both the terms "HD paranormal" and "Diploma in Applied Paranormal Research." on the site CPD (the fact that there are many companies called "CPD" offering accreditation in UK tells you something about the legitimacy of this accreditation to begin with) the above terms appeared on none of them. To give HD paranormal the benefit I e-mailed their contactee, also the tutor on said diploma, Jayne Harris, for further comment. Her response was as follows:
"Yes the seal at the top of the page is simply a standardised stock image used as a way for visitors to the page to immediately recognise the fact that the course carries accreditation. The image we have for CPD currently is not PNG/Transparent and in honesty looks messy given that it has a white background and so we are awaiting a PNG version in order to update the page. (This doesn't explain why they also feature this accreditation symbol on their FB page-SB)

As for the current search of associates, there is a timeframe of 10-14 days for this. I believe this is standard with most awarding bodies. As this is the first time we have sought accreditation we have had to go through the process from the beginning, including gaining centre status initially - as much as we would like it to be, it is not an instant process. It is for this reason that we are simply registering peoples interest at this stage and not taking enrolments or fee payments. We are waiting for everything to be in place before giving learners the green light!"

I called CPD to confirm that it was the case that it takes 10-14 for a successful applicant to appear on their site. The representative I spoke to confirmed this but offered a far more interesting nugget of information. The full assessment of training material provided also takes 10-14 working days. Can this really be as "rigorous and detailed" as HD paranormal suggest?

Take a look at the material that this diploma claims to cover:

1. The history of Paranormal Investigation
  • Historical and Cultural beliefs
  • The rise of Spiritualism
  • The dawn of the scientific approach
 2.Understanding Metaphysics
  • Universal Consciousness
  • Morphic Fields (Dr Rupert Sheldrake)
  • The 'Shared Memory' experiment
 3. Parapsychology 
  • Leading public figures
  • Theories in Parapsychology
  • Scientific testing 
  • The importance of the Skeptic
4. Types of Paranormal phenomena
  • Apparitions
  • Hauntings
  • Demons
  • ESP and Telepathy
  • UFOs
  • Cryptozoology
  • Reincarnation
  • Auras & Chakras
  • Myths and Legends

5. Planning an investigation
  • Equipment and gadgets
  • Effective client interview techniques 
  • Background research
  • Briefing your team or co-investigators
  • Health & Safety
  • Finances
6. A Forensic approach to experiments
  • Working within scientific controls
  • The devil is in the detail
  • Identifying void data

7. Anomalous Evidence Analysis
  • Identifying and reviewing EVP's
  • Critical footage review techniques
  • Temperature fluctuations
  • The forgotten evidence
8. Divination Techniques 
  • Ouija/Spirit boards
  • Pendulums
  • Scrying
  • Dowsing rods
  • Clairvoyance
  • Mediumship
  • Numerology
  • Tasseography
  • Tarot

Are we seriously to believe that CDP reviewed all that material in 10-14 days!

Let's put the legitimacy of CDP to one side and see what the Diploma actually offers.

HD paranormal claim that on completion of the course successful candidates will be entitled to the Post-nominal letters "Dip.Para".

Actually, no they won't. The term Dip in postnominals is as HD paranormal indicate, used for the holder of a diploma, but "Para" is already used to describe those qualified in the area of paramedics! Also, post-nominal titles must be registered, I can safely assume the HD paranormal team have not done this as they would've discovered "Dip.Para" was in use

So, with that negated what will you actually gain from the course:

Who doesn't like a certificate? And embossed too. But look at the above volume of study, the topics listed cover a vast area of the paranormal, plus claims to cover the scientific method, elements of data analysis and using scientific equipment. These topics can't just be skirted over, a diploma in any subject requires a depth of understanding beyond a cursory knowledge. 

One would expect a similar work-load for a diploma in higher education to approximately two-thirds of a degree. To put that into context, I'm currently two-thirds through a physics degree with the Open University. I've sat five exams, two in year one, three in year two. In addition to that, I've completed about twelve assignments a year. HD paranormal's diploma requires students to complete a paranormal investigation and submit an essay. 

There only seems to be one tutor on the course, the aforementioned Jayne Harris, her name may be more familiar to you from her appearances in the tabloid press with a "haunted puppet" last year (left). Unfortunately, despite her BSc in psychology, her grasp of the scientific method isn't great. How are students to achieve a "final conclusion" about a location based on one investigation and photographs and "data". Doesn't Jayne know there are no final conclusions in science, and robust conclusions are only reached after several lines of independent investigation are followed? If not, perhaps she's not qualified to teach the scientific method, the only thing in the course that requires an actual qualification to teach mind you. I don't doubt her abilities to teach the "demons" section of the course as her bio on the HD paranormal site proudly boasts that she's recently completed a demonology course! 

Her expertise in the non-existent is assured then. 

So far so good it doesn't seem like a great deal of work, what about that essay? A final assignment would generally be expected to touch upon much of the material covered in the course. How else would your tutor know that you've gained a good understanding of a fair proportion of the material covered? Apparently,a 1000 word essay (left) will suffice in this case. Let me put that in perspective:

You can complete your final dissertation for this diploma in eight tweets. (Edit-I completely fucked up here. Tweets are composed of 140 characters not a 140 words. I leave it so you can laugh at what a complete tit I am! Bear in mind though 1000 words is still extremely short, it's the average length of a single exam question in many subjects. -SB)

It sounds to me like HD paranormal will review your learning experience with all the care and due attention that CPD did with the learning materials. 

The revelation that Jayne has completed a "demonology" course and some of the subjects included in the offered diploma such as the entire divination section should cause even the most credulous to raise an eyebrow in light of this comment on their site:
"HD Paranormal in partnership with the Midlands Society for Paranormal Research are working to improve standards and expectations within the field of paranormal research and investigation.... TIMES ARE CHANGING"
Yes indeed, and far more groups are taking the use of scientific methods of investigation seriously. So why would they hang on to archaic concepts such as Demons, the ouija board, and mediums. Why offer a diploma comprised of such nonsense? Because you don't need a qualification to teach such rubbish, your not subject to any actual standards of training and education. Of course, all you'll get out is a "qualification" as worthless as embossing your own sheet of paper with "Paranormal Investigator" or "demonologist" and declaring yourself the same.

Here's an alternative for budding paranormal investigators, why not enroll for a diploma or degree with the OU in psychology, or statistics, or physics or chemistry. I'd hazard a guess that a basic grounding in any of those subjects will massively improve your investigation techniques. Yes, it'll be a damn sight more work and cost more, but the reward will be exponentially greater.

Essentially if you enroll on a HD paranormal diploma you are paying for a false accreditation from a group who in turn have been falsely accredited by CPD. It's like a bullshit pyramid scheme. And you're on the bottom. I don't know about "Haunted Dolls" but it seems that HD paranormal is banking on dummies.

In honor of all this,  I'd like to award HD paranormal's Diploma In Applied Paranormal research with my own accreditation. The "Skeptic's Honor and Integrity Trophy" for excellence in nothing Diplomas.