Let’s “Talk” Skepticism

Where to start…
The word “Skeptic” can create a whole lot of different emotions, and lets face it – anger from different people. However, the word in and of itself is not such a bad thing.
I kinda feel like it’s gotten a bad rap, been broad stroked into the group of “you must be a total jerk if you are a skeptic”.
Not discounting the fact that there are jerks and some are skeptics, not all skeptics are jerks.
A skeptic is anyone who simply wants the answer to a question. Yes, I know it can’t be that simple. I’m sure you have all had questions before and most would never label themselves a “skeptic”. Right? Sure, what a skeptic may ask, and how they ask, may come across differently. Someone who asks what evidence can be provided or if a scientific study has been done might be a Skeptic.
The bottom line, most skeptics want to find the truth. It is how they approach a claim that may differ from what you are accustomed.
There is a great article written in the ‘Doubtful News’ titled ‘Media Guide to Skepticism‘ which breaks down what it means to be Skeptic and exactly what it does not include. Well, they start out with a definition:

What is skepticism?

Skepticism is an approach to evaluating claims that emphasizes evidence and applies tools of science. Skepticism is most often applied to extraordinary claims – those that refute the current consensus view. The Skeptical process considers evidence obtained by systematic observations and reason. The conclusion that is reached at the end of this Skeptical process is provisional because additional or better evidence may come along that points towards a more suitable explanation.

Did you get that? Hmmmm, because to me I read it like I do most text books, it went into my brain and then somehow disappeared. It’s beautifully written and to be fair they follow up with examples. Seriously read the article when you get the chance.

It really comes down to knowing why you might doubt a claim. Are you asking because you want to expand your knowledge, based on facts and reason? To me this is a very important aspect of being a skeptic. It doesn’t mean that I, as a skeptic, can’t believe in paranormal activities. When I want to look at a paranormal claim, I first try to find a reason that is “non-paranormal’. If I have a door that opens and closes on its own,I will ask, is there an open window, door or any area where a draft or air pressure maybe causing the effect. A non-skeptic will go in to such a claim trying to find the ghost. This is where things usually start to get sticky.

Trying to be open minded is never an easy task, I’m talking about either point of view. In theory having a “Skeptic” on site should be a good thing, it’s a way to approach a situation from another angle. Hopefully paranormal investigators and skeptics can use both their skill sets to find the answers that so many individuals in the paranormal community have. Until then- keep searching!

Balancing The Believer and The Skeptic

One of the hardest thing I’ve had to balance being a paranormal enthusiast is being both a believer and a skeptic. I grew up believing in the paranormal from a very young age. I often had things happen to me that now as an adult I am able to rationalize, while others I am still perplexed.

When I was small I had many things happen that scared me. For one, night was terrifying for me. I often had nightmares, some of which would later come true. Now many who know me now, think “…well this is weird because last we checked Anna, you were a skeptic“, and this is completely true. Somethings for me are not so cut and dry. When I was small I had an extremely lucid dream that my oldest brothers best friend was killed in a car accident. I woke up in a cold sweat screaming for my mother. Inconsolable, she came to my room in to assure me it was just a dream. Some weeks later my family is awoken in the middle of the night to my brother coming home hysterical and screaming that his best friend Edward was killed in an accident. This began a lifetime of strange dreams that would somehow come true later. Sometimes they would come true immediately, sometimes later. Paranormal? I don’t know, but it’s simply something I have not found any reconciliation for even now in my skeptical state.

Now on the flip side of things, I have had horrifying experiences I have been able to make sense of. Another situation that made night-time pure hell for me, was a life long series of sleep disruption that started at the age of 8. The first time I can remember an episode I was lying in my bed sleeping when suddenly I was awoken up to a buzzing sensation. Unsure of what was happening, I opened my eyes wide and scanned my room. I was unable to move, but I was fully aware of what was happening. My room at night was always dimly lit by a solar light that came on across the driveway on my dads wood shop. I was able to see my room and nothing looked strange despite this sensation I was feeling. It wasn’t until my eyes reach the bottom of my bed did anything appear wrong. Here stood this illuminated non-descript figure watching me. In absolute terror I attempt to cry out for my mother, but I am only able to manage a gasp. Nothing comes out. As I stare horrified at this figure, he leans in arms extended and suddenly I am unable to breathe. It’s as if he is “willing” my throat closed without even touching me.

I can’t imagine I slept well for the rest of that night, but by morning I find myself in and out, to depleted of energy to move. I still feel the traces of buzzing from the stranger’s visit. I immediately talk to my mother who tells me it was only a dream, but I couldn’t let it go. I continued to try to talk about it. It wasn’t a dream, I SAW HIM! I felt him. I remember at one point some words being thrown about concerning therapy. I stopped talking about my experiences, no one was going to believe me anyways.

These episodes occurred throughout my lifetime after that first visit. At 38, and 30 years later, I still experience them. Sometimes I would have multiple episodes in a night, sometimes I’d go months without any problems. I lived never knowing when it was going to happen.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid 20’s did I get my first indication of what might be happening to me. I was watching Montel Williams and the episode was about night terrors. I listened these people talk about what they went through and some nearly mirrored what I had experienced throughout my life. They began to talk about Sleep Paralysis and FINALLY, the man at the end of my bed made sense.

No doubt that my experiences were real to me. No one could convince me otherwise. But, after researching further, I have no doubts at all that my experiences deserved rational explanation. While I don’t know what triggered these episodes so young in me, or so frequently, I at least knew I was not going crazy.

While it didn’t cause me to seek out paranormal research immediately, it did spark a thought in me. How many people were going through horrifying experiences like myself, but had no way to rationalize their experiences? Today we have information readily available. We can search any symptom or phenomena and get information at the click of a button. For me, it wasn’t until 1999 that I was actually able to look up information on the Internet and research. Until then, all my time had been spent looking things up in my school library or by the chance I may have ran across a scientific journal. Growing up a small town girl with limited resources, this wasn’t very frequently.

2004 was a great year for me. Ghost Hunters aired its very first episode, and I was hooked! I thought this was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life. I couldn’t believe that people were actually pursuing what I had been researching nearly my entire life: the quest for the unknown. But always, in the back of my mind was that terrified girl who was having a rational yet horrifying experience. She was always reminding me that maybe all things really did deserve rational explanation. That same girl was often reminded that her precognitive dreams still haunted her.

There were so many things I experienced throughout my life that I have not been able to find a logical cause for. There’s been just as many, if not more that I have been able to rationalize. For me, finding that balance has always been the thing that keeps me curious. If I adamantly listened to my rational side, I would have left this behind me long ago. If I had only listened to the scared part of myself, I would probably not be here either. I’d probably be too scared to delve into such things. These two balances have managed to help me remain unbiased to most situations. I’m always trying to remain skeptical of any occurrence, but also being open to the possibilities to something more.

Skepticism is an often misunderstood quality in paranormal researchers. Many believe the word “skeptic” has a negative undertone, and that’s the furthest thing from the truth. Skepticism on the contrary is the ability or willingness to see things from both sides, and refusing to draw a conclusion until all available information is given. When information is not available, we seek it. We test theories over and over until we are able to come up with the best probable conclusion.

In a group I operate, “Paranormal Dustbusters & Truth Seekers” I open my group with my view on devout believing vs. skepticism. I created this group after trying for years to fit in or participate on message boards that hosted a slough of different types of possible “paranormal evidence”. Time and time again I was berated for having a skeptical mindset on most material that came across my screen. I decided it was time to have a group that promoted critical thinking.

“I’ve always found it odd that blind believers feel that skeptics are close minded or set in their ways. Most skeptics believe in some sort of problem solving up to using the scientific method. Scientific method is essentially being flexible and open minded to all possibilities:

 Form a hypothesis

Test
Retest
Form new hypothesis, according to new data
Start over

 On the contrary with blind faith, the belief always stays the same, it seems, despite new information. This is proven to me time and time again in the way we have to explain the same things over and over again, to the point of making photos and charts because the explanations become tiresome to type out. We can very carefully, and in the most simplistic fashion, lay down facts and most blind believers will remain unwavered. To me this is the most quintessential example of close mindedness. I never understood this logic….”

Many people are immediately put off by skepticism, I believe, only because they don’t understand it. Remaining unbiased in my opinion is the only way this community will move forward. This is the only way we will find answers to the ultimate truth. Skepticism does not mean you can’t believe, it only means one should put emotion aside and look at each study carefully on an individual basis. Adopting skepticism is not dishonoring your faith, nor your beliefs. If you seek honest truth, question your experience and pick them apart. The most honorable thing we can do, is solidify our beliefs through honesty. If at the end of it, you find that you cannot find a rational explanation, it’s then we will have truly found something worth noting.

A New Religion?

Recently, I watched “Houdini”, a mini-series based on the magician’s life. In one scene, a supporter of of the Spiritualist Movement and the fledgling field of Parapsychology declares to a skeptical Houdini, “It is science”. Houdini counters, “It is religion masquerading as science.” Similar notions and pseudoscience that were seen over a century ago are still being applied under the guise of “paranormal research” today. The only real difference is that gadgets have changed, equipped with more flashing lights and the venues have moved from private parlor rooms to national television. There are still believers taken in by unscrupulous con artists such as cold readers and pseudoscientists and are blinded by their own biases. They cling to the words of their favorite para-celebrities as gospel, and cannot be dissuaded by reason.

A few weeks ago, during a conversation on Facebook about how the paranormal community should strive find new “heros” to worship, religion was brought into the discussion. The point was made that there are strong parallels between religious fanatics and paranormal fanatics, and I agree. The concepts of an afterlife and a soul are rooted in various religions throughout human history. According to a 2009 Harris Poll of religious beliefs, 71% of respondents believe in soul survival after death. This is relevant to paranormal researchers, as we explore claims and try to understand why some people believe an experience might be paranormal and why others resist or even reject rational explanations for their experiences or “evidence”. As Michael Shermer explains in his book The Believing Brain:

“Beliefs come first, explanations for beliefs follow. I call this process belief-dependent realism, where our perceptions about reality are dependent on the beliefs that we hold about it.”

Later, he discusses cognitive bias:

“Once we form beliefs and make commitments to them, we maintain and reinforce them through a number of powerful cognitive heuristics that guarantee that they are correct.”

Despite the title at the top, I’m not really asserting that zealous paranormal enthusiasts are forming an actual religion, but there are strong parallels to consider. Ninian Smart, a pioneer in secular religious studies, suggested in his book The Religious Experience of Mankind that there are six dimensions to a religion: 1) The Ritual Dimension, where believers congregate in sanctified spots to pray, worship, or give offerings. 2) The Mythical Dimension, where believers are taught and share stories of the origin of their deities and creation. 3) The Doctrinal Dimension where doctrines are created to explain and give a system of belief to the stories. 4) The Ethical Dimension where a code of ethics is incorporated, and often used to determine a believer’s fate after death. 5) The Social Dimension, in which a religion is more than systems of belief, but are organizations with communal and social significance.  6) The Experiential Dimension in which believers hope to have contact with the spiritual through ritual, and ultimately, experience that world.

I see similarities in these dimensions and the paranormal community. For example, The Ritual Dimension could be seen in paranormal conventions, where like minded enthusiasts gather and reinforce their beliefs and pay homage to their “leaders”, the para celebrities they watch on TV. In the Doctrinal Dimension, where people share unsubstantiated ideas which reinforce their larger belief, such as 1% of orbs are paranormal, ghosts disrupt electromagnetic fields, children and animals are more perceptive to ghosts, etc. The Social Dimension can be seen in paranormal social media groups, paranormal teams forming “families”, fans bonding over their favorite paranormal TV shows and para celebrities. Finally, and this is probably the strongest parallel, The Experiential Dimension, where believers desire to and attempt to contact the other side, and capture proof of it. Many paranormal enthusiasts become upset or even hostile when their beliefs, their “evidence”, or their “heros” are challenged. Some, to the point of fanaticism.

During the several years I’ve been an administrator for paranormal sites and been writing my blog, I’ve encountered people who, even though they asked for opinions, got angry with me when I offered rational explanations for their claims or evidence. Some of these kind loving folks responded that they hoped I get pushed by an unseen force or tormented by negative entity so “then you’ll believe”. (Happy to report it hasn’t happened.) These kinds of responses are not unique to me. I have several friends who have been stalked, harassed and threatened just for giving educated opinions challenging a paranormal claim or supposed evidence. This behavior reinforces how for some, these beliefs are deeply entrenched and serve a bigger purpose for the believer, to provoke such anger and even hatred toward anyone who might contradict them.

One disturbing example of this is when Military Veterans Paranormal did extensive research on a famous haunted location and discovered that the history and ghost stories told on tours, TV, and books over the years, were false. This prompted a harsh backlash from some zealots in the paranormal community who went so far as to state they wished their members had been killed during their military service. Let’s step back and look at this: people wished harm on other people over debunking a ghost story. I could see anger for those who perpetuated the false stories, but not for those who uncovered the truth. If anyone had a reason to be angry, it would be the owners who might face a loss in revenue. But according to the group, the owners were supportive of their findings. While discussing this situation with Kenny Biddle and Lou Castillo on their show “Geeks and Ghosts”, Lou, a military veteran, likened those critics to terrorists he fought in combat. At first glance that might seem extreme, but really it isn’t. The only difference is that terrorists act on their beliefs, but the same unreasonable anger and unjustified hatred is there.

Another disconcerting example is when serious discrepancies surfaced concerning one para-celebrity’s education and military credentials he has been presenting in his bio on various sites over the years. Naturally, this upset people who honestly earned their degrees and is disrespectful to military veterans who have put themselves at risk to serve our country. Instead of striving to set the record straight and producing evidence to disprove the accusations, this person went on the offensive and made “hit lists” of his “stalkers”, even posting a woman’s home address on his Facebook page. As disturbing as this behavior is, what’s more unsettling is how some of his fans defended him and joined in on the attacks of his perceived “enemies”. From an early age, most of us were taught lying is wrong, so why would people who most likely never met this man, or at the most snapped a picture with him at some convention somewhere, defend his behavior and attack the people who simply exposed the discrepancies? This is speculation, but it is possible that the ideas he promotes in his book and TV show may reinforce a larger belief system for them, and anything that weakens one link threatens the chain as a whole.

My purpose here isn’t to judge or criticize religious or paranormal beliefs, since I harbor a few of my own. We all carry our own biases, and it is easy to let emotions override reason when it comes to anything we feel passionate about. But it doesn’t get us any closer to answers we claim we are seeking if we label ourselves investigators. That is why I encourage critical thinking in paranormal research, to help us keep our biases in check and distinguish fact from fantasy.

Sources:

Michael Shermer, The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies – How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths
New York: Times Books 2011, 5, 258

Ninian Smart, The Religious Experience of Mankind
New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons 1969

Ghost App Ghosts: Fun or Fraud?

The old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” couldn’t be more appropriate way to start this article. The subject alone is enough to make anyone serious about paranormal research pull their hair out. Ghost apps. How are they fooling the masses? Especially “educated paranormal researchers”?? Makes you wonder,  right? 

Ghost App Car Child But it’s true, it’s happening.  As a research team ourselves, we find it particularly annoying. I can count on both hands the number of times we’ve been presented with a photo of a ghost in clear shot, detailed, and staring right into the camera. It’s always:

1. Attached to a story about the moment it was taken, and then followed by a story of people wanting to move out of their homes immediately, and then we are asked if we can investigate their home. *SIGH*

2. “My ____ (sister, cousin, friend, uncle) sent me this photo and they are terrified.”  Of course then follows the story of torment, wanting to move out of their house, yada yada,  and then of course we are asked if we can investigate their home. *EYE ROLL*

As the person who normally serves as the liaison between our team and the client, I find this to be extremely disrespectful. It’s a huge waste of time for us. What an insult to the services we’ve provided to hundreds. Not only is this an insult to us, but it’s an even bigger insult to people who have had true experiences. I have seen some truly tormented people living with things that would make the average person shudder, and here I am stuck arguing the validity of a civil war soldier standing in Uncle Pete’s kitchen here in Northern California.

This is about the point an individual gets upset that I am not buying into their claim, and an argument ensues. People can be very hostile, when you catch them in a lie. When you have to be the one to tell them that they have produced a fraudulent photo, the bashing begins.  “You guys have no clue what you’re doing, you call yourselves paranormal investigators? Turning away people who truly need help!!” We’re paranormal investigators, not psychologists, know what I mean? I’m sure many paranormal investigators can relate.

The Difference Between Fun and Fraud

So of course when these apps originally started I am more than certain they were created to be for entertainment and maybe to pull a prank on someone. They were not created to be used as a tool to gain sympathy and attention from people. But, unfortunately that is precisely what has happened here. In the day in age of paranormal reality television, everyone wants to hop on board and tell their story – even when they don’t have one. Sure ghost hunting has been highly glamorized (but really there’s not much glamorous about hanging around in dusty barns and buildings with a flashlight strapped to your head talking to something that may or may not be there), so of course everyone wants a piece of the action. With ghost shows being hot on TV, more now than ever, people believe ghosts are literally everywhere. They’ve become like a very posh pet- all the cool kids have one, or do they? 

Ghost App Curtains FaceWhile it’s fun to play a joke on your buddy, take his photo and show him a demonic looking baby ghost behind him, it’s not so funny to produce a photo and tell everyone that you’re being attacked, or plagued by a presence. People will go so far to play into this “act” that family and friends grow worried for that person. For example, I have been asked my opinion for a photo submitted by a frantic mother who’s teenage child had been claiming to be tormented by an entity of a woman. This mother put her house on the market and began the moving process in order to escape this nonexistent spirit. 

Another more recent submission came from a woman trying to convince my team that the spirit in the photo shes showing us, is that of her mother that had committed suicide years before. I was luckily able to produce another photo of the exact same ghost in which I stuck to my laptop, right next to the image she sent me on my computer screen. She adamantly denied fraud. I was then verbally assaulted and told I had no business doing what I do, because I was a moron. 

Once again. We are not psychologists, we study spirits, not mental disorders. 

Spooky Image Daily Mail

Where to Draw the Line?

Ghost App Child Fire PlaceWhile we cannot stop Ghost App Developers from creating these pesky little applications, we can educate the general public on telling the difference between an app and the real deal (which are still up for debate). 

Let’s think about this logically for a minute; someone is able to produced an extremely detailed photo of a ghost. Sometimes not even once, but over and over. If ghosts have the ability to stop and pose for a photo on demand, then what are we doing here? Why is it always with cellphones?  The capturing of valid evidence is not that easy. Matter of fact no one has EVER produced a photo that is 100% without a doubt, void of speculation. Even some of the most famous ghost photos ever captured for decades, are still up for debate. No one truly knows what they have captured. Yet little Timmy has captured at least 3 full body apparitions in the last year. Red flags? 

A couple ways you can tell if a ghost photo is fraudulent:

1) Is this photo taken with a cell phone? If so, be leery. There are a TON of applications out there that can produce very convincing ghost photos. Not just apparition photos, but mists, vortexes and even, ORBS. Yes, I said orbs. There are actual ghost app orbs. Why anyone would want to hoax one of the most easily debatable subjects in the paranormal community is simply beyond me, but it happens. (wanna know our theory on orbs? that’s a whole ‘nother subject )

6 Ghostly Brushes for photoshop 7 Orb Scatter
2) Ask to see the original. There are tons of programs out there that can let you know if a photo has been modified using the EXIF data. www.exifdata.com  is a great one. If there is a complete lack of EXIF data then you know someone has modified the photo. Not only can you tell if a photo is modified, you can also tell what equipment was used to take a photo. If it says Samsung S3 and they say they took it with a regular digital camera, you know that they are not being honest with you. Want to learn more about EXIF? Check out our blog about it: EXIF DATA.

exif

3) Check out the Internet, there are more and more databases being built by teams so you can find Ghost App Ghosts easily there are a few on the Internet that circulate frequently, and are STILL fooling people. New ghosts are popping up daily, though.

Ghost App Child stained glass windowsGhost App little girl happyGhost App kitchen

 

Ghost App 2 girlsGhost App multi girlGhost App Balloon

Original Girl in Ghost App

 4) Use common sense, trust your gut. Does it look too be good to be true? Then question it! Especially paranormal researchers! It’s our job to question. Ever notice how alot of “ghost photos” are of awkward corners or seemingly have no subject matter? Look at things logically. If someone is unwillingly to produce the original photo, or gets easily upset when you question it, then something is up. People who are being honest or have a legitimate claim, will not mind being asked questions or providing what proof they have. Remember not all ghost apps are just straight up full body apparitions, there are monsters, Bigfoot, UFOs, mists, orbs- you name it.

UFO Bicylist

5) Save yourself a headache. NEVER diagnose a photo that is sent to you over social media. You cannot properly analyze a photo that is sent this way. Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks change the data format of photos, plus they compress images. You cannot give an educated guess about a photo with out examining its data. Plus bottom line, you weren’t there! Too many factors play into analyzing a photo. But remember, just because someone was there, doesn’t make them right when they say it’s a legitimate ghost. Who’s to say they’re being honest?

Admitting a photo is a ghost without knowing for sure, can ruin the integrity of your team, and all of your hard work.

Lens Flare

Conclusion

Paranormal ghost apps are damaging to the paranormal community. Being slightly skeptical of what others produce as “evidence” is completely healthy for the community. Many people feel that in order to be skeptical, that you must not be a believer of the paranormal, but that is completely untrue. Being skeptical of the paranormal, and being skeptical of people and their methods of evidence collection are two different things. These apps are a major set back for us. They undermine true paranormal phenomena, and the experiences that people have. As investigators, we should be banning together and educating people. There should be a zero tolerance for people using these apps as a means of seeking attention. It is a waste of time and energy that should be spent on helping people who truly need it. It’s a waste of time that can be used on conducting studies that benefit the paranormal community. It’s also a waste of time from our personal lives that we could be spending with out families and enjoying our down time. It is truly unfair and disrespectful to the people who dedicate their time to help others.

Theory of “Spirit Orbs” and The Diagnosing of Online Photos

We are often sent photos and asked what we think of them. After feeling like a broken record, I felt like maybe I should explain why we do not “diagnose” photos that are sent to us over the internet. It’s not that we’re being “para snobs!” Honestly! Bottom line, whether its a potential spirit orb, apparitions, vortexes, mist, or shadow figure – we can’t say, simply because we weren’t there! In the day of photoshop, photo editing and camera phones, we feel it would be irresponsible to do so.

I explained this in a recent exchange of emails, when a photo of an orb was sent to us. Orbs themselves are a little bit of a different issue. Our team simply does not support the theory that these little balls are spirits.

I won’t post the original photo but instead, post some photos we took on a ranch in the Sutter Buttes, as well as some from Preston Castle in Ione. These are very obviously dust orbs because of the outside location we were in. Plenty of dust, wind, and plenty of feet moving around. In these conditions it is nearly impossible to keep a lense clean. An uncontaminated area is very important to determining if something is paranormal in nature.

People often make the argument, “well if they are just dust, then why don’t we see them all day long?” Simple. It’s because these microscopic pieces are not illuminated. They are so small they are nearly invisible in ambient lighting. The next time a sun ray comes through your window, like a concentrated beam, get down next to it and check it out. Fluff your blanket, shake your hair, sneeze, walk across the carpet. What do you see? Dust, pollen, and other air particulate is everywhere.

Have doubt about the “dust level” of a room? When you go to take a photo, simply look just beyond your flash from behind your camera. As the flash shines, you can see the dust zooming back and forth. When all else fails, take a bright flash light point it across the room, and look into the beam.

Taking photos in an overly dusty area, is kind of like doing an EVP session during a party. If the environment is contaminated, how can you tell whats paranormal and what’s not? Even the cleanest person has SOME dust in their homes or businesses. We carry it on our clothes!

Then it’s asked, “well I took two pictures! why is it in one photo and not the other?” Simple. These orbs you see, are much closer to your lens than you may think. Add the exaggeration of a convexed lens, and you can nearly cover the entire photo with 1 orb. Bright flash reflecting on a piece of lint very close to the lens can create a very large magnificent orb (in colors too!). In between taking photos so much as a fraction of a cm. can cause the dynamic of a photo to change. The smallest amount of our movement, microscopically speaking, can make a very huge difference. Plus, drafts and even something as simple as our own breath, can quickly move these small pieces completely our of range of shooting. 

Before I started paranormal investigating, I admit, I thought these glowing balls were spirit energy. Shortly into my paranormal investigating career, I may have STILL thought so. But after years of sitting in the dark, at location after location, I cannot deny that I no longer support the orb theory. I’ve seen dust in photography in all forms. I’m confident in my conclusion.

Here is my response to the fan of our page who asked us our opinion of his photo.

“Well as I explained in the previous message a lot goes into our analysis of photos, and as you know I don’t have a lot of the factors I would use to make a determination about your photo. We’re very careful about our own photos as well. A big part in determining if a photo is paranormal or not, goes into environmental conditions, dust, and whether it correlates with other evidence such as EMF readings, etc etc. Another important factor when it comes to other people’s photos is EXIF Data. It’s a little more complicated than it may seem. The person that is present during photography, is usually the best bet for telling if anything might be supernatural.

What was happening at the time? What caused you to shoot the photo? Was anyone feeling strange? Generally with our team, we dismiss orbs like this as particulate in the air, whether its dust, moisture, lint, pollen, etc. This usually happens because of the usage of flash when taking photos, such as yours. A very small piece of dust close to the lens when the flash goes off, can cause this huge magnificent orbs. The face you are seeing within this bright orb, is what we call “pareidolia” or matrixing. The human brain is taught to instantly recognize human looking faces and other familiar objects when looking at collection of shapes and colors. The orbs we usually look for as a team are anomalies that appear to have their own light source, as in energy. They are self illuminating. The ones we get most excited about are the ones we can see with the naked eye and/or caught on video. They fly with intention and some intelligence, rather than loftily floating, and even then we must be mindful of insects. I hope this makes sense This has a higher probability of being particulate rather than spirit. We really appreciate you sharing your photo. Thank you!”

While we know many teams do support the orb theory, our team just doesn’t. We, however, do respect others and their beliefs. We are not knocking anyone that believes in them. We just cannot find enough reasons to support the theory that they are in fact paranormal. Hope this helps others understand why we don’t diagnose photos sent to us, and thank you all for your continuing support! -ALPS

Want to learn more about dust orbs? Check out this study done by