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
- 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.
- 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
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.
TULIP STAIRCASE GHOST
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.
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.
THE PHANTOM MONK OF NEWBY
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.