An Understanding of the Human Condition Human Instinct Ghost Hunting 101
When you research the Internet for photographic evidence of paranormal phenomena, it's amazing how many websites you'll encounter from all over the world reporting to have undeniable evidence for everything from ghosts to spirits, angels to demons, aliens to time travelers, on film and video. This evidence, upon closer examination, often reveals a lame attempt to hide tampering, or has in fact been fabricated, and more often than not, orbs are presented as irrefutable evidence. This is precisely why ITSPP members, at times, seem rather skeptical. Let’s clarify that statement: before you accept our own photographs as evidence (much less anyone else's), we put them under the microscope of logic and scrutiny. Whether we’re trying to identify an anomaly we see is an apparition for what it is, an anomaly. We do this objectively. If we can find no logical explanation, then we’ll ask our respected paranormal colleagues whose judgement and insight we trust and whose opinion we value, to examine our data. Then and only then, if neither of us can explain the anomaly do we deem it either ‘paranormally significant’ or ‘paranormally compelling.’ As far as calling it a ghost or a spirit, demon or angel, alien or time traveler, who can say for sure what it is? If it defies a logical or scientific explanation, it is simply paranormal. One may argue that in order to know for sure, you’d have to become an expert in digital photography. Not so! You just need to be informed. That is the purpose for this article. We not trying to answer the question of whether orbs are anomalies or apparitions, we're trying to find an explanation: What exactly did we capture in the photograph? There is not a camera made today that is not susceptible to some quirks, be it digital, or film. However, cameras and methods do exist by which the number of anomalies you get in a photograph by contamination can be greatly reduced. Contaminants include those ever present objects we find in countless thousands of photographs, taken day or at night, with or without a flash, called orbs. This oddity appears to have become more prominent with the advent of digital cameras, opening up a whole new can of worms, although there are more blessings than problems. As a serious paranormal investigator, you investigate purported paranormal activity by clients who are experiencing severe, disturbing, or frightening activity in their home or workplace, and then attempt to assist them in resolving the phenomenon. We have found that by researching information we attempt first to discover what may be causing their issues. 95% of the time, the issues can be scientifically explained as natural occurrence such as; loose water pipes hammering inside the wall, floor boards expanding and contracting to heat or moisture, drafts around windows, doors, or light sockets, light reflecting off polished surfaces, poor electrical shielding causing a high electro magnet field, and the list goes on. However, there seems to be an abundance of ‘ghost hunters’ on the internet professing expertise in the analysis of their digital evidence-often presenting ‘irrefutable photographic evidence as the presence of a ‘spirit’ or ‘ghost.’  Not because it looks like a ‘full bodied’ apparition, but because of the brilliance, the colors, or the pattern of the orb(s) they caught in the photo they placed on the internet for everyone to see, when their photographic evidence is nothing more than a simple case of dust or pollen contamination. It's Only Human Mankind tries to make order from chaos; in order to explain what we don't know or understand as paranormal, spiritual, or even magical. That can prove to be a major problem in the field of paranormal investigation and research. Ignorance should not be encouraged, nor should it be propagated. It needs to be approached as an opportunity for learning. However, an individual must be willing to admit ignorance on a subject before becoming receptive to accepting knowledge. The purpose of this article is to hopefully enlighten those that believe adamantly that orbs are definitely spirits of paranormal significance, and maybe even change the minds of those that believe there is no such thing as paranormal phenomena at all, let alone in spirit photography. For these individuals, no explanation is sufficient, regardless of what has been captured on film-no matter how compelling it may be. A Word to Remember– Pareidolia (Matrixing) Often dubbed as matrixing, ‘Pareidolia (per-I-dole-ia),’ as described in Wikipedia, ‘is a psychological phenomenon involving a vague and random stimulus, whether from an image or a sound wave, mistakenly perceived as something recognizable.’ David Hume recognized this as early as 1757 when he addressed the subject of religion in poetry. He believed that, as humans, we have a tendency to conceive everything we know to be much like ourselves by the transference of our familiarities to objects that cannot be explained. An example is the notion of faces on the moon or recognizing images in the clouds. His belief was that it is a natural human propensity corrected only by experience, knowledge and reflection.1 David Hume was addressing "pareidolia," as an innate human condition that is the product of evolution, the inherent desire to make order of chaos where none exists. Very likely, pareidolia was spawned by thousands of years of evolution that protected our unsuspecting Neanderthal ancestors from becoming the next meal of a cunning predator that was hiding in the brush. Everyone–from child to adult–tends to see patterns or shapes where none exist: a hidden demonic face, a full apparition, an outline, or a shadow. It's this inherent human instinct that causes us to believe we recognize something that really isn't there. When we see a face inside an oddly shaped, brightly colored orb, or an apparition within some foliage, we need to stop and ask ourselves, "Is it pareidolia that is actually creating a pattern I recognize within the photograph, or is it something paranormally compelling?" Everyone at one time or another may have said, "Eureka! I found one!" only to suffer great embarrassment and disappointment later when a colleague or friend points out that the Civil War ghost you captured leaning up against a tree at Gettysburg was actually a bird on a tree branch that was obscured by the poor resolution of the photograph. It's interesting that even experienced paranormal investigators fall victim to pareidolia while searching for paranormally significant or compelling evidence. It happens to the best of us, regardless of whether you're an apprentice or a veteran paranormal investigator; we've all fallen victim to pareidolia, including myself. Being overly skeptical is also problematic, because non-believers have less of a tendency to accept any photographic evidence, regardless of how compelling it may be. Regardless of where you fall on this scale, left or right, we must remember that as paranormal investigators we need to FIRST and foremost do our homework and get all the facts! The content of this website is the copyright of World Nexus Publications © 2008-2011