Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FACT OR FAKED: Bar Fright; Mexico City Cave Witch

SyFy - Original Air Date: 11/30/11

The "shown but not investigated" videos this episode include: Greensberg Flyers shows UFOs through a grove of trees. Lanisha thinks they look like balloons, and that was my feeling, too.  Trent UFO Photographs show an iconic UFO shape over  a house and telephone lines (much like the Rex Heflin case).  Devin points out some photo inconsistency, and Austin suggests the UFO could be suspended from the power lines.  (Which is pretty much how I made a similar photo as a kid; plus, I've always thought this UFO looked suspiciously like an old-time metal lampshade -- look for the cord at the top.)  Stonehenge Apparition seems to show a shadowy figure on one of the stones at the famous monument. But more shadows are a likely culprit, and it seems slim evidence for a long trip.  In the commercial debunk, Enfield Demon Seed seems to show a mysterious figure in a nighttime crib.  But the figure turns out to merely be the baby's twin, who was already in the crib, and a motion blur from the IR camera.  Which leaves the 2 cases for investigation:

Ashtray Poltergeist seems to show an ashtray in a bar (on security cam) shattering for no reason, and also an orb (bug).  The bar has plenty of "spooky" history, but stories aren't proof, so the team does some experiments.  First they test dropping objects, in case something came loose from the ceiling.  But objects big enough to shatter the ashtray are picked up by the camera.  Next, they try shattering the ashtray with thermal shock (sudden temperature change).  But normal heat won't shatter a frozen ashtray, though a blowtorch does.  Next, they rig the ashtray with a special effects squib. They get a puff of smoke, but otherwise the vid is dead on.  Later examination shows what might be a similar rig in the initial video.  Case solved, but they still do a ghost hunt.  (Annoyingly, every show must have a nighttime ghost hunt.)  Of course, they get strange results, but one -- a glass falling off a secure bar rack -- impresses even me (a bit), though the EVP, not so much.  Again, we get the annoying "fake but maybe some real supernatural goings on anyway" verdict.

Mexican Bruja seems to show a floating witch-like figure (outside a cave) that then seems to fly away.  They talk to the witness, who swears (of course) that it's all true, and go to the cave to make some tests.  First, they use a big owl to see if the shape could be a bird.  But it shows clear wing flapping: no match.  Next, Austin dresses in black and does some parkour (free-running) moves, in case it was just an athlete caught by mistake.  Closer, but doesn't quite have that float/fly quality.  So, they set up some pulleys and a dummy, and ... Bingo!  Perfect match for the original fake.  (Liar!  Liar!  Witness on fire!)  Happily, they do not do a night bruja hunt, just to be sure.

Again, this show does some very good scientific investigation, and exposes two hoaxes (plus extras).  I just wish they'd skip the ghost hunts, which have very little (if any) basis in science (experimentation, repeatability, etc.)  Clearly, though, those ghost hunt segments play to people who want to believe, and SyFy must believe: 1) those folks make up a big percentage of FoF's audience, and 2) those people would desert the show if the investigations stuck to pure science, like Mythbusters.  Too bad.