Tuesday, April 24, 2012

FACT OR FAKED: Bay Area Hysteria; Jersey Shore

SyFy - Original Air Date: 4/23/12

The videos not chosen for investigation this week are: "Dark Hooded Figure" looks to be merely a person in a cloak.  "High School Haunt" claims to have an apparition manifesting, but there isn't enough info to be sure the photos are not just double-exposure fakes.  Additionally, "High School Spirit" proves to be the proverbial bug on the lens.

The Bodega Bay UFO causing the "Bay Area Hysteria" is a mysterious, noiseless light hovering over the water. The team tries a rescue helicopter with a spotlight, but it's too high and too noisy.  They then try a movie light balloon, which is close, but still too high.  Finally, they hit on the idea of a fishing (crab) boat with very bright lights.  That and the foggy conditions of the original prove a match, and an investigation well done.

The second team goes to a the Paramount Theater on the "Jersey Shore Haunting" to investigate a mysterious cold "apparition" seen on a FLIR camera.  They try a CO2 fire extinguisher spray, but don't get a similar shape.  Then they try a person in a "cold blanket," which is closer, but not quite.  Lanisha then suggests that it could merely be a problem with the equipment (which we know was malfunctioning, as it didn't record the image; we have only picture of that monitor image).  Bingo!  The focal length on the original camera was not suited to the length of the hallway, which creates a human-appearing artifact in the center of the frame.  In reality, it was just a cold door at the far end of the hall.  Ghost mystery solved!

But then, of course, we have to do a traditional ghost hunt.  Of course the team hears strange noises, as in all such shows, and something mysterious breaks up their laser grid.  But is that proof of anything?  Only that it seems these goofy hunts seem necessary to keep the show's "believer" audience.  After two good investigations and solutions, it's sad to hear the team declare the theater "haunted."

FACT OR FAKED: The Grim Sleeper; The Real Mr. Freeze

SyFy - Original Air Date: 4/16/12

The show kicks off its spring season and starts by not looking at: "Hawaii UFO," which shows a mysterious shape in the sky; the witnesses claimed their battery died a few minutes into an hour long sighting--which the crew finds suspicious.  More info needed.  "Himalayan Yeti" shows a human-like shape trudging through a snowy mountain pass.  But with no witness to interview, it's a no starter.  A video seeming to show a string of UFO lights, "Venitian UFO," proves to be merely lights on a ceiling painted to look like the sky.  Which leaves the first two cases of the new season.

"The Grim Sleeper" video seems to show a sleeping woman levitating out of bed.  The team builds a lever system to lift team member Lanisha by her leg. It looks good, but a bit wobbly.  Next they try a winch system, with similar results.  Finally, they build an overhead suspension system, "fly" her with wires, and remove the wires with special effects post-production work.  Perfect match, and evidence shows possible tampering with the original witness video.  And since the ceiling of the room was open (unfinished) when the original video was shot, that would have given perfect rafters to run wires from.  Plus, Layered Voice Analysis suggests the witness may be lying.  The team declares the video a hoax.

"The Real Mr. Freeze" is Wim Hof a.k.a. "The Iceman," a man who performs cold-related stunts, including immersing himself in ice and running a half-marathon barefoot in the Arctic circle.  But is this some kind of trick?  The team decides to experiment on themselves.  A fake ice immersion is easy enough, but they figure witnesses and volunteers at the event would have noticed.  After ten minutes running on an ice rink barefoot, Ben and Austin are suffering near frostbite on their feet.  They meet Hof, and Austin decides to do a side-by-side ice bath competition.  After a minute, Austin starts showing signs of stress.  After 20 minutes, Austin is in serious trouble, and his body shows up blue on their thermal cam - with an external body temperature of 40 degrees.  Wim's internal temperature remained 98 degrees throughout the test, and he actually appeared ... comfortable.  Clearly, Wim Hof is something a bit more than human, so far as resistance to cold.  "Paranormal" they say.

A promising start for this new season, with two serious investigations and two straightforward conclusions.