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Unexplained Paranormal Activities 1 — Those Videos

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

Since this article is long, it is also available as a PDF to view or download here.

There have been numerous reports of supernatural activities throughout most of recorded history, but most have been laughed off. Many can be dismissed as the result of hysteria, imagination, mental illness, hoaxes, double exposures in old photographs, and more.

Nobody believes in ghosts or other spirits today because we are rational people, right? Not hardly! Interest in the paranormal has been on the rise, and even some professing atheists express belief [1]. With modern recording techniques, videos are plentiful.

There are many videos of alleged supernatural events. Some are easily rejected, others not so much. We examine those and some problems involved.
Unsplash / Zachary Kandolph [2] (modified)
People have said that TikTok itself is demonic because there are so many spooky videos recorded with it. I disagree. Smartphones and apps are ubiquitous, and apparently that one is easy to use. What we are seeing is not a demonic app, but a reflection of the increase in supernatural activity on Earth.

I have spent a great deal of time watching "scary" videos on YouTube and other places. Those on YouTube were curated collections of "ghosts" on camera; they were not exhaustive analyses. Also, I saw many on television from purported "reality" shows, and several video channels on YouTube claim to present genuine paranormal material. However, several of the spooky stuff channels usually just present videos because they are creepy, and for entertainment purposes.

Framing the Videos

Narrators for some of these make truly bizarre suggestions. The word framing is a manner of presenting something favorably or persuasively, and can be illustrated in baseball by a catcher framing a pitch [3]. Most titles are along the lines of, "Videos to Make You Lose Sleep". Narrators often provide background information (enhanced with stock footage as well as photos). Viewers are often told why a video was being made in the first place That can be helpful or a way of leading the viewer.

Narrators (as well as the people who made or obtained the videos) tell people what to see or hear, e.g., the recorded spirit voice says, "I am here", or that there is a face at the window. Also, videos are set up with emotive descriptions of "haunted", "chilling", "ghostly", "alien", and so on.

These YouTube videos make frequent use of ambient music and sound effects, often with a sound burst when something is spotted. Unfortunately, some channels keep the sound levels high when they tell people to listen, and it is rather difficult to make out something.

Although there are many of these channels and I have not sampled all that many, Nuke's Top Five is my favorite. Jay is an excellent narrator, and he doesn't seem to just throw out material that is already circulating among other channels; he puts a great deal of research and other work into them. His video dropped [4] while I was in the process of writing this article, and you can see what I was talking about with background, ambience, and the sound burst. I should also mention that Slapped Ham has provided me with material and been a springboard for several thoughts. Kallen provides quite a bit of background information as well. His video dropped [5] just before I began composing this missive.

Pareidolia

Something that frequently occurs when watching videos and looking at pictures is pareidolia. That's where people think they see shapes, faces, patterns of something that may not exist. Have you looked at the passing clouds and made out shapes? That's one example.

Another is something that I will call forced pareidolia. Some people are more suggestible (led to think or experience something) than others. I see Charles Darwin's profile in the tree across from our apartment, and the photo insert may lead someone to also see it.

Video makers tell people what they should expect to see. I'll allow that sometimes that helps, but there have been many times that, despite enhancements to clarify video segments and the narration, I still did not see the object. In fact, sometimes people in comments areas also refer to pareidolia and say, for example, "That's not a demon's face, that's a pile of laundry stuck in a dark corner".

Reasons for Suspicion

Years ago, I used to watch the original Ghost Hunters television series. Whether that show was credible is not the point, but I remember Jason Hawes pointing out (sometimes to the frustration of other team members) that evidence they gathered for the supernatural was not compelling. That is, it looked good, but skeptics could find flaws. Similarly, I remember a UFO investigator writing that they must first eliminate possible natural explanations before they declare something to be a UFO. The National Paranormal Society has an article about lens flare [6], which is a significant problem for photographers and hinders credibility in their efforts.

With those ideas in mind, I watched the videos with skepticism. I learned a great deal from thoughtful people and skeptics who made comments, such as the ladder "walking" on its own because of the incline and gravity [7]. I didn't know that.

Several things I observed and picked up from reading and viewing:
  • Some footage is so grainy and blurry, people say it was recorded with a potato (or potato camera). Modern equipment has adequate hardware for recording, so potato footage is suspicious because people can obscure their shenanigans.
  • A video where the camera begins pointing in a direction from the onset where a paranormal event is expected. We almost expect to hear, "Aaand...action!" because it seems like a setup.
  • Home security cameras can be helpful, but footage of a person walking on the sidewalk outside at night who becomes blurry, disappears, reappears — those cameras can have resolution problems for that sort of thing. Besides, they're not necessarily designed for distances beyond the door or porch.
  • Lack of originality. I've seen some that use the evil character Samara from The Ring. Similarly, why do they peek around corners? It's suspicious and vexatious at the same time.
  • Many errors in logic, especially cause and effect. More on this later, but here's a quick one: A cat was walking by boxes and trash next to a building. A box burst into flame after the cat passed, and the narrator suggested the cat had the power to start the fire. Miss Kitty may have been nosing around in the first place because of a sound or smell.
This list was twice as long, but I decided to trim it down because you get the idea.

Gullibility and Poor Thinking

Let's face it, people who have these video channels have a vested financial interest (this interview with Kallen [8] is very informative). They get publicity and probably some satisfaction in providing entertainment for millions of subscribers. Those are also good reasons to not fake the content. Nuke is very circumspect ("Is it real? You decide.") Some of them state unwarranted conclusions — and so do the commenters.

A problem with the errors identified below is that they are often accompanied by other errors in thinking. Things blend and blur.

Cause and Effect

This is a fallacy that is extremely common. (Less common is the Latin name, post hoc, ergo propter hoc: after this, therefore because of this.) It is simply the idea that something happened previously, so that is the cause of what followed. These are usually oversimplifications and omit information, e.g., the cat was meowing last night, and we found mice this morning; if the cat had not meowed, we would not have mice.

Someone was being very stupid, using a Ouija board to communicate with spirits. Because he did not move the planchette to "Goodbye" before ending, the spirit followed him home and is causing problems.

A camera caught a blurry shadow figure, and someone died in the area a few days early. This must be his spirit.

A glowing ball of light was seen to pass through the hallway, then there were loud sounds in the house. The light brought the distubance.

People were sent to an asylum who were crippled, insane, or had tuberculosis. Many were abused, and many died there. Eventually, it was closed down and abandoned. Those scary experiences of urban explorers and paranormal investigators are because of the spirits of those who died there. Also, Galveston, Texas had great tragedy and legends are used [9] to support alleged paranormal activities. These are examples of cause and effect coupled with emotional reactions.

False Dilemma (Either/Or)

A more expensive name is the bifurcation fallacy [10], and fits well with cause and effect. Narrators of videos often ask if the segment just viewed is proof of the after life, or a hoax. The fallacy comes into play because there are only two options presented without considering a third. Maybe even more.

Those rapping sounds are either spirits or the building settling. I have quipped that if there were spirits rapping on the walls of the apartment, they would have given up long ago because of noises from the weirdo below who knocks on walls and tables, or the vampire wannabe who keeps weird hours and makes all sorts of racket at night.

Conjecture and Insufficient Evidence

This problem builds on cause and effect as well as the bifurcation fallacy. Readers of my Piltdown Superman weblog [11] have seen where supporters of universal common ancestor evolution have presented speculations and woefully inadequate research as evidence of their views. Watch for such thinking in those video collections.

Lights in the night sky were thought by some to be UFOs and a mothership [12]. How do they know that those were space aliens? Do they have empirical evidence? As is so often the case, people confirm their biases by assuming facts that are not evident.

A child's electronic toy activates by itself, making sounds and flashing lights. Must be paranormal, right? Nope. These things can be complex and affected by heat, humidity, vibrations — and short circuits.

Believers in the paranormal often cite orbs as indications of spirits. They are small, often seen on grayscale security recordings. Some people are frightened by them. Researchers are skeptical, and with good reason: most of the time, they are simply dust or even bugs on the lens. There is not a shred of evidence beyond legend and conjecture that orbs indicate the presence of spirits.

This is a good one, and another place where I learned something from commenters. A clock in a hospital [13] suddenly started running quickly, then stopped one hour after a patient had died. While the timing was obviously unnerving, note the emblem on the clock: it is radio-controlled. Those things synchronize to the correct time. Because it moved one hour ahead raises the question as to the precise date this happened. Specifically, was it "springing forward" for Daylight Savings Time? It could also have been another adjustment. Or a prank. There is no compelling reason to assume supernatural activity.

Nighttime, bad lighting, and a blurry creature in the woods. "Some people say it could be a shadow being that lives in another dimension [14]." I lack belief that these people have enough information about shadow beings and other dimensions to even begin to present rational speculations.

Keepers of the Flannan Isles Lighthouse disappeared, and ghostly legends grew up around they mystery [15]. While reality is more prosaic, people are filling in the blanks in their knowledge with conjecture. You could say the discussions get spirited. Heh.

After a fatal bus crash (a driver was killed, no passengers were aboard), a figure running along is presented as the Grim Reaper [16]. Grimmy is a personification of death, and if it were an actual person, it wouldn't have time to be manifesting itself even for a split second.

As an aside, I'm not hearing much about strange sounds in the sky [17] lately, have you? Some said it was caused by HAARP [18], which has been the target of many conspiracy theories. In 2012, some people thought they had something to do with the "Mayan end of the world" concept [19], others said they were the beginning of the Tribulation period in the Bible book of revelation. Others said that since it's easy to fake sounds into videos, such as using the tripod sound in the 2005 version of War of the Worlds [20] and doing some sound manipulation.
Hundreds of people around the world over a period of years are all faking it? Highly unlikely. As for signs of the end times...that strikes me as silly. While there is no definitive scientific answer, and there may be several natural explanations, it is not helpful to jump to supernatural causes based on outlandish speculations.

The rest of this article is available. More importantly, it's about the heart of the spiritual matter behind the whole shebang, and you can read that here.

References and Notes

[1] https://web.archive.org/web/20081001164916/http://online.wsj.com/article/SB122178219865054585.html, accessed 21 October 2021

[2] https://unsplash.com/photos/F-gPzzCl8Ok, accessed 21 October 2021

[3] http://www.baseball-catcher.com/guide/framing.htm, accessed 21 October 2021

[4] https://youtu.be/1icYvo_G-QI, accessed 21 October 2021

[5] https://youtu.be/wmiBHFXiDiY, accessed 21 October 2021

[6] http://national-paranormal-society.org/lens-flare-need-not-scare/, accessed 21 October 2021

[7] https://youtu.be/wncjXEMaQB0?t=394, accessed 21 October 2021

[8] https://youtu.be/FXIq4n7QgZ4, accessed 21 October 2021

[9] https://youtu.be/sPaJGgpZt-o?t=751, accessed 21 October 2021

[10] https://answersingenesis.org/logic/bifurcation/, accessed 21 October 2021

[11] https://www.piltdownsuperman.com/, accessed 21 October 2021

[12] https://youtu.be/aDZtHuIpnEE?t=67, accessed 21 October 2021

[13] https://youtu.be/wncjXEMaQB0?t=528, accessed 21 October 2021

[14] https://youtu.be/-kPnpUzR4Jc?t=192, accessed 21 October 2021

[15] https://youtu.be/1KaAKIsjWbo?t=405, accessed 21 October 2021

[16] https://youtu.be/wlpWSc0djBA?t=533, accessed 21 October 2021

[17] https://youtu.be/qkexwk2mRdc, accessed 21 October 2021

[18] https://haarp.gi.alaska.edu/, accessed 21 October 2021

[19] https://www.ufointernationalproject.com/ufo-photos-and-videos/trumpet-sounds-have-returned-are-governments-hiding-something/#:~:text=Back%20in%202012%20many%20people%20believed%20that%20these%20strange%20sounds%20had%20something%20to%20do%20with%20the%20Mayan%20%E2%80%98end%20of%20the%20world%E2%80%99%20Calendar, accessed 21 October 2021

[20] https://youtu.be/jzY099ihULs, accessed 21 October 2021

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