Famous Hoaxes and Frauds

When evaluating client reports or evidence, Investigators need to know how to spot a fake!

The world-wide appetite for paranormal stories has many TV viewers brainwashed and the field is a magnet for hoaxes. Some hoaxes are simply light-hearted fun but others have more serious consequences such as contaminating genuine research, wasting public money and destroying careers.

Here are a few famous Fakes

The Cottingley Fairies

In 1917 and 1920, young English cousins Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith produced a series of photographs depicting themselves interacting with fairies. In modern times it is hard to imagine how anyone could be fooled by these obvious fakes, but in the early 20th Century they were convincing enough to attract a huge following and dupe such notables as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

It was not until 1981 that Wright and Griffith admitted the hoax, although they continued to claim that they had indeed seen fairies and that one of the photos was genuine.

The Cardiff Giant

In 1869, workers digging a well in Cardiff, New York, uncovered what appeared to be the petrified remains of a giant 3-metre (10-foot) man. Archaeologists declared the body to be fake but the public reaction was more accepting, especially among those who considered it evidence in support of biblical history. The body became a business asset as crowds paid for a glimpse. Showman P.T. Barnum tried to acquire the body but eventually made his own replica, causing additional controversy over which was the genuine giant.

In December 1869, tobacconist George Hull confessed to the hoax. The body was sculpted from concrete and buried a year prior to the well-digging.

Uri Geller -Spoon-Bending

During the 1970s Uri Geller enjoyed huge success with his mentalism acts, based largely on his alleged ability to bend spoons with his mind. Geller staunchly defended his claim to supernatural powers until hard evidence finally caught up with him. A 1982 book by James Randi exposed Geller’s tricks, and Geller was caught numerous times on camera manipulating stage props (e.g. pre-bending spoons). He has since earned a reputation for frivolous litigation after a series of failed lawsuits—mostly against people who publish unflattering material about him.

Despite never officially “outing” himself, Geller has tacitly confessed to the hoax. In 2007 he expressed the following change of heart: “I’ll no longer say that I have supernatural powers. I am an entertainer.

The Hundredth Monkey    The “hundredth monkey effect” was initially popularized by two books: Rhythms of Vision (1975) by Lawrence Blair and Lifetide (1979) by Lyall Watson. Both authors relate the same story:

In the 1960s, scientists were studying a group of Japanese Macaque monkeys learning a new skill (washing sweet potatoes). At first the monkeys learned slowly by copying each other, but then something unexpected happened. When a certain number of monkeys had learned how to wash sweet potatoes, other populations of monkey located on different islands began to spontaneously acquire the same skill.

This phenomenon spawned a wave of theories, including Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance, that suggest a mysterious connection of consciousness between living beings. The New Age movement embraced the research and it became the cornerstone of many inspirational works including The Hundredth Monkey (1984) by Ken Keyes, Jr.

Unfortunately, the hundredth monkey effect never happened. According to the original research papers, the monkeys learned at a normal rate by imitating each other. The spontaneous learning scenario was entirely fictional, added later.

The hundredth monkey effect is the “quiet achiever” of paranormal hoaxes. It has never achieved the mainstream notoriety of other hoaxes but it scores highly for the way it has entrenched itself in the psyche of millions, has been used as supporting evidence for thousands of other paranormal claims, and continues to be widely cited as fact—even by some academics.

The Fox Sisters   Left to right: Margaret, Kate, Leah

Although not well known today, the Fox Sisters are responsible for one of the most influential hoaxes of all time. Even now, more than 150 years since the original events, the effects can still be seen in the spiritual beliefs of millions of people.

In 1848, two New York sisters named Kate and Margaret Fox claimed they could communicate with a spirit in their home by means of audible tapping or “rapping”. Joined by older sister Leah, the sisters toured the United States and built support for the Spiritualist movement. By 1853 Spiritualism claimed over two million followers worldwide, largely buoyed by the success of the Fox Sisters. The idea that humans might be able to communicate with spirits become a part of western culture which continues to this day. “Rappings” have long since gone out of fashion but the basic belief in communication by cryptic signals remains popular.

Margaret Fox explained how rappings worked in a signed confession published in New York World, October 21, 1888: Explaining how the sisters produced certain noises with the knuckles and joints of their hands and toes.

In a classic example of True Believer Syndrome, the confessions did not deter followers who remained convinced that the Fox Sisters’ powers were genuine.

Accidental Time Traveler One night in 1950, a strange figure appeared in the middle of a traffic-clogged intersection in New York City’s famous Times Square. He wore a high silk hat, a tight coat and vest, and boasted an admirable set of thick mutton-chop sideburns.

Witnesses said the man looked startled, gawking at his surroundings as if he’d never seen a car or traffic lights before. He bolted for the curb, directly in the path of a yellow cab, which killed him instantly.

When the police searched the mystery man’s pockets, they found 19th century currency, a bill for the “feeding and stabling of one horse,” and a business card for Rudolph Fentz on Fifth Ave. Tracking down the address, they found an old woman, who confirmed that Rudolph Fentz was in fact her father-in-law, a man who had mysteriously disappeared in 1876

Such is the story of Rudolph Fentz, the accidental time traveler. For decades, paranormalists across Europe have pointed to Fentz’s miraculous appearance — a 19th-century man in 20th-century Times Square — as proof of the existence of time travel.

But the true origin of the Fentz legend was a short story published in Collier’s magazine in 1951 by science-fiction writer Jack Finney. The tale was republished in a paranormal journal two years later without attribution to Finney and presented as fact.  From there, the case of the accidental time traveler took on a life of its own.

P.T. Barnum was the perhaps the best-known Victorian-era huckster to enthrall the public with outrageous specimens of odder-than-life humans and mythical creatures.

Fiji mermaid  One of Barnum’s earliest sensations was the so-called “Feejee Mermaid,” purported to be the preserved remains of a real-life mermaid captured in the Bay of Bengal. In 1842, Barnum displayed the creature in his American Museum on Broadway in New York City, where it drew crowds!

The museum staff tracked down the true origin of the shriveled, 16-inch (40-centimeter) creature, which is not simply a monkey head stitched to a fish body, as many had speculated. It turned out to be a souvenir handicraft made by Southeast Asian fishermen and sold to tourists as a little mermaid. The body parts are a mix of paper-mâché and fish bones and fins but no monkey skulls.

Now on to Photoshop….

There’s nothing new about Photoshop, but today it’s mostly associated with ghost images. Basically, Photoshop originated 15 min after the invention of the camera…

1.Photoshop is used by artists to make beautiful pictures or illustrations into powerful statements

  1. Spirit photos have been done since the 1800s here is a Mumler photograph of the spirit of Abraham Lincoln over laid on a photo of Mary Todd Lincoln.
  2. Abraham Lincoln Photographed by Matthew Brady who softened Lincoln’s facial lines and fixed his hair to make Lincoln appear healthier and hide the fact his health was failing.

Photoshop techniques  Ghost overlays, Shadowing, Ghost brushes

Brown Lady

The mysterious and perfectly composed photograph of the “Brown Lady of Raynham Hall is arguably the most famous and well-regarded ghost photo ever taken. The image was shot in September 1936 by photographers documenting 17th-century Raynham Hall in Norfolk, England, for Country Life magazine. One account states that photographer Captain Hubert Provand had his head buried in the focusing cloth (a feature common on cameras at the time) when his assistant Indre Shira glimpsed a veiled form gliding down the house’s grand oak staircase and excitedly demanded that he take a picture. By the time Provand raised his head, the figure had vanished, leading Provand to suggest that Shira had imagined the incident. The development process, however, revealed something unsettling.

The ghost, thought to be that of Lady Dorothy Townshend, has been glimpsed several times since the early 1800s. Although Lady Townshend officially died of smallpox in 1726, more lurid legends later sprung up, including that she was locked in her bedroom by her husband for committing adultery. Witnesses describe the phantom as having an air of madness or menace about it. The specter has reportedly been seen intermittently about the hall since the photo was taken.


As with many ghost photographs, the famous Tulip Staircase Ghost photo was taken by someone who had no idea they had captured anything unusual until the image was developed. Rev. Ralph Hardy, a retired clergyman from British Columbia, was visiting the Queen’s House at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, in 1966 when he snapped a picture of an interesting spiral staircase, known as the Tulip Staircase. Hardy returned home, had his pictures developed, and was showing them off when a friend asked who was on the staircase. Surprised, Hardy said that he had no idea, and that there had been no one when he took the picture. The image has been examined by experts, including some from Kodak, who have confirmed that it has not been tampered with. The identity of the ghost, if that’s indeed what it is, remains unclear, though some have speculated that it’s a maid who supposedly died on the stairs 300 years ago.

Fredie Jackson

Some people, whether alive or dead, hate to miss a photo op. Freddie Jackson, a mechanic in the Royal Air Force during World War I, was killed by an airplane propeller around 1919. On the day of Jackson’s funeral, a group photo was taken of his squadron, which had served aboard the HMS Daedalus. Jackson, so the story goes, did not want to be left out of the photo, even after death, and his face can be glimpsed behind the fourth airman from the left in the back row. The photo was not made public until 1975, when it was revealed by retired RAF officer Victor Goddard, who had been in Jackson’s squadron. Many of the details of this much-repeated story, however, have been called into question, along with the photo’s legitimacy.


This strange apparition appeared in a photo taken by Rev. Kenneth Lord in 1963 at Skelton-cum-Newby Church of Christ the Consoler. No previous evidence of paranormal activity had been reported at the church. Especially unsettling characteristics include the figure’s drooping face, which has been interpreted variously as a mask or deformity, and its significant height, thought to be about 9 feet in comparison to the surrounding furniture. Experts have said the photo is not the result of a double exposure, though its veracity is still subject to debate.


Recording and Listening to EVP

For those of you interested in recording EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena) I have some suggestions for you. Electronic Voice phenomena is defined as a voice not heard but recorded.

  1. Never investigate your own home. This is a No-no. You might not be objective.
  2. Use a high-quality recorder. Don’t buy something cheap. The higher quality recorders, such as Sony and Olympus stereo recorders are the best.
  3. Use studio headphones to listen. Music headphones add to musical enjoyment but what you want to hear are the voices as they were recorded. Studio headphones add nothing. The sound is true.
  4. If you want to clip and save the EVP, use a program that is easy. Try Wave Pad. Easy to clip and if you need to modify that clip to hear it, you can. I suggest that you save the original and the modified clip separately.
  5. Don’t just listen on Wave Pad, look at the wave form. I have spotted EVP just from that. I call it the Paranormal quotation marks. A spike or click before the voice and one after. This may be a clue if you are not sure if this the voice of the living.
  6. When you clip, make sure you include the context of the investigators question or conversation. It gives you an Idea of what is said and why.
  7. Don’t listen once. It may take several passes over the same audio before you pick up an EVP.
  8. Once you get a clip, get others to listen. Get a majority opinion about what is said. We were involved in a study where we gave our best EVP from a particular location. We all evaluated and gave our take on the EVP. There were many variations given.
  9. After you clip, let some time pass and listen again. Sometimes you get an idea in your head and you can’t let go, give yourself a chance to change your mind.
  10. Make a log of your clips. Possible interpretations, the time and duration of the clip. This way you can go back and listen to the original recording. You can then expand the audio to understand more of what has been said.
    All of this will make finding and recording possible EVP a better process. Here is a tip: Don’t always listen specifically to what is said, it can distract you. You listen to the living and miss the EVP! I play solitaire on one computer while listening on another. When an EVP pops up, I stop the audio and backtrack. It is tried and true. What doesn’t fit just jumps out at you.
    Remember, this is just one person’s process. Find your own! Be careful to know investigators voices. It is better that there are several recordings to compare. You might actually find that what you thought was an EVP was another investigator or a voice from “outside” the premises. Just guessing is not an option. Get it right! I have thrown away more possible evidence than most and I still have 1500 EVP over 15 years. Be diligent and exclusive. Do it right!                                       D.E. Anderson

Excellence in Paranormal Investigations

Are you looking for someone to help you with something unusual?  Getting help isn’t as easy as googling ghosts anymore. Everything is Paranormal these days !  And I mean EVERYTHING!   Type in the word paranormal, search ghosts /ghost hunting and an armada of sites are available. There are paranormal clubs, hobbyists, researchers, demonologists, para “celebs’, Paranormal TV,  paranormal blogs, websites, radio, Paranormal evidence, photos, paranormal videos, vegetables etc. “Paranormal ” is  no longer a fad for wannabee ghost hunters, it’s a buzz word for making money.

It is possible to find  reliable information and a trustworthy team and  there are some wonderful dedicated people out there. Unfortunately,  finding a trustworthy team to come into your home and investigate can prove to be difficult.   There are multitude of paranormal search sites. It’s easy to find a ghost hunter anywhere in the world in a few seconds !   Posting your plight  on social media sites such as FB,(although not recommended), will  garner requests from hundreds of various groups.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer number of teams that advertise for cases. Be wary for there are many pitfalls to avoid.

Choosing the right team depends what you want.

If you want to be on television, go to the listings of television shows and submit a request. TV teams usually send a local team to do an initial assessment, and if your story is interesting the more famous team will schedule .

If you want the truth, selecting the right team is essential.  There are  many groups who will  publicize your haunting and  your personal information,your address and photos without asking permission.  The  pitfalls are many for the  unwary.

We urge everyone to go to our website http://www.portcityparanormal.com and read our blog  “Investigating the Investigator” !

Happy Hauntings !

THE BAD NEWS: Thousands Remain Nameless!

When will we know the names of the Dead?

The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900 / A Genealogy Resource

The New York State Office of Mental Health put on a fabulous “show” at the Willard State Hospital Cemetery on Saturday, May 16, 2015, by allowing ONE man, Lawrence Mocha, an inmate and hospital grave digger, who died 47 years ago, to be remembered with a beautiful ceremony that included a plaque displaying HIS NAME, DATE OF BIRTH, DATE OF DEATH, AND LOCATION OF GRAVE! OH MY GOD! IS HELL FREEZING OVER?

Plaque Honoring Lawrence Mocha Plaque Honoring Lawrence Mocha

Mr. Mocha was ONE OUT OF 5,776 buried at this cemetery. This wonderful ceremony came to fruition by the tireless work of Colleen Spellecy, founder of the Willard Cemetery Memorial Project. The only reason that the OMH let this ceremony take place was because they were humiliated by an article published in The New York Times by journalist, Dan Barry. Why wasn’t Mr. Barry fined $10,000 by the OMH as they…

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Quality Courses in Parapsychology

Excellent advice on education in the field of Parapsychology.


Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Irwin Education in ParapsychologyWhile parapsychology is an underdeveloped academic field, many of us involved in it have been concerned for years about the lack of proper training and education in the field (for my distinctions between training and education click here). Recent discussions of the problems with this enterprise and the need to improve and expand it have been presented by Harvey J. Irwin  in his monograph Education in Parapsychology  and by Nancy L. Zingrone in her video “Education in Parapsychology: Context, Problems, Needs” (see also one of my blogs).

Zingrone Education in Parapsychology

While there are lists presenting places where courses (click here  and here) and some general thoughtful advice can be found, my interest here is to offer some practical advice regarding choosing courses.

Unfortunately the Web is full of courses that seem to be of low quality and that…

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Apparitions, Hauntings & and Poltergeists !

Port City Paranormal will be a featured speaker Friday July 25th, when the Rhine Research Center presents ” Three Views on Investigative Techniques”
Steadman Auditorium, on the Duke Center for Living Campus

3475 Erwin Road, Durham Nc 27705

For details go to Events at http://www.rhine.org.

Join us in Durham, or Live online for this interesting discussion !

Port City Paranormal Ghosts- Why do Spirits Stay?

Spirit pix    We all have different plans and goals for our lives, and it is widely thought that if these plans are not achieved, we might end up being a ghost!

   There are several theories that suggest why this happens .

At the moment of death, it is believed we are offered a choice:  We can except death and move on to the next thing, or linger here on earth in spirit .  This “either/or” statement ignores the fact that for some, there may be no choice.

There are many beliefs, but what follows death remains unknown.

As individuals our choices can be limited by religious dogma, cultural, and family beliefs.  We may grow to  learn alternative views, and embrace or reject the ideas of Heaven, Hell, Reincarnation, or soul travel etc..   There are those who believe there is no afterlife at all, that consciousness ends when we take our last breath.  For others,the afterlife is a place of punishment where we pay for the sins of the living.  Often ,the fear of death and the unknown that follows is so great, they choose to remain forever earth bound.

Many souls are shocked by the moment of death. They deny their death, and are convinced they still live out their lives regardless of the passage of time or changes in the environment.  Perhaps this explains the  activity that occurs during renovations.

I believe there are those who have become lost or confused or possibly unaware of their own death, due to  prolonged physical or mental illness. In these cases, only gentle intervention should be used.

The last possibility, is  tortured souls that have  become stuck in the moment of a horrific event, doomed to relive the event, maybe  in hopes they may someday be rescued and released. Traumatic experiences seem to block all other conscious thoughts

We must be vigilant in our research, and examine every detail of a haunting . Identification of the spirit and why they remain, and their beliefs must be established before offering any solution.

We often ask , “Why do you stay?”  The answers have been different with each case.  We have recorded  EVP indicating a spirit was confused in life and possibly unaware of their own death, and a  few  alluded to spirits being held by force to a site (by whom or what we could not confirm) It seems very  possible that due to our beliefs,  we can become are own jailers.

Some cases have produced  EVP evidence where spirits preferred to stay.  They express an awareness of the passage of time, and come and go as they please, returning to observe the living. These special spirits prefer to stay in a familiar place and do not appear unhappy. They stay out a sense of duty  and to watch over the living who pass through.

.PCP/jca 2014

Port City Paranormal- Paranormal Research, Investigations and Education

Port City Paranormal © Award winning Paranormal Research and Investigations. Located in Wilmington North Carolina. Please see our official website http://www.portcityparanormal.com for more information on our team, our investigations and more.

 Established in 2004, Port City Paranormal © is dedicated to the search for evidence of the continuation of consciousness after death. Port City Paranormal is a non-provoke group. Our mission is to enhance the quality of paranormal investigation and research, to educate the public and provide a high standard of professional excellence through our unparalleled services.

 We look forward to sharing  articles, opinions and evidence.

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