Saturday, May 26, 2012

Learning on a Bell Curve

This is a picture of a reflection in a bell.  It was taken in a Firefighter's hall on a photography expedition.   When the photographer (left) later reviewed the photo, he was surprised to see what appears to be a figure sitting next to him.   There was only one other person in the building at the time, and she (who bears no resemblance to the figure) was nowhere near the photographer when this picture was taken.  What do you see?  I saw a guy wearing sunglasses, sitting next to the right of the photographer.   I admit, this gave me a good case of the heebies.

I know the photographer, and he is one of the few people in world who I will believe when he says, "There wasn't anybody next to me."

Why?  Because the photographer is Jonathan Wood, founder of River Cities Paranormal Society and co-owner of the MyPara Paranormal Social Network.  He actively practices and promotes logic-based investigating.   I know he will search for every possible rational explanation for any anomaly in a picture.

This photo was no different.  Jonathan shared the photo with other serious paranormal investigators and asked for their opinions.  But before long, he debunked it himself.  The "figure" is actually his thumb and the "sunglasses" is part of the camera.    Textbook pareidolia.  Case closed.

But it is an excellent example of a couple points I have made before.  First, it demonstrates the importance of not declaring something as "evidence" of the paranormal just because initially, it may appear to have no explanation.  It also shows that by using common sense, technical experience, and asking for informed opinions, an anomaly that might be mistaken as a paranormal can be soundly explained.

The second point it supports is that just because an explanation isn't readily available, it does not necessarily mean a person is lying about the circumstances of a picture.   If Jonathan didn't debunk it, and stuck to his claim there was no one else around him at the time, I know of some people in the field who would likely accuse him of either faking this, being untruthful, or being oblivious to his surroundings.  He would be criticized for not presenting control shots or comparison shots, even though this was not taken on an investigation.

Would it have been cool if he had really captured a ghost?  Sure.  But it's also interesting to see how easily we can be fooled if we don't take the time and effort to look for the truth.