Monday, February 4, 2008

IS IT REAL? Ghosts

This show examines several haunted locations and suggests -- through scientific experiment -- that hauntings may be more about human psychology than the supernatural.  Subjects experience spooky feelings in a series of underground chambers -- but the feelings seem to have more to do with the actual size and shapes of the rooms than with any spirits.  A psychic investigates a house he has no prior knowledge of and pretty much strikes out on finding the house's supposed ghost.  (He does come close on the manner of death -- choking is a fairly common way to die -- but he misses completely on the age and sex of the victim and other salient details.)  The show also shows a film of a supposed ghost in a junkyard, and then photos of "orbs" and "mists,"  and  "vortexes of light."  Skeptics then demonstrate how easily the ghost film could be hoaxed or recreated, how orbs are most commonly dust, and how other effects can be camera problems or operator errors (camera straps, stray hair, etc.).  The theory is put forth that many of the people taking spirit photographs don't know or understand the technological limitations of their equipment.  (And as a photographer, I can attest this to be true.)  Historical ghost photographs, once believed but now seen as obvious fakes, are reviewed briefly, as is their history. EVPs are listened to, and faces are seen in photos -- but it seems most likely that both of these things are the result of human pattern-seeking.  (Though they don't say this on the show, in the same way that groups of stars become Great Bears and hunters.)  Skeptic James Randi sums up by urging people to look at the evidence for ghosts -- and concluding they won't find much there.

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