Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Old Man Winter and a creepy ghost pareidolia


Another impressive example of pareidolia, found by Jeremy Olden in his house at Lake Stevens, Seattle. Keep reading for the full image and a slightly creepy video showing our brain’s pattern-recognition machine – or something supernatural, you decide.

source: Komonews.com

Now, if Old Man Winter is quite curious, the following may scare our scare-prone brains:


I probably don’t have to point out that there’s something to the right. Which is not that interesting, but seconds later in the same video from where that came from, we have this:


Which to me vaguely resembles a kid sitting with his/her legs up in the chair. Now, would you believe that two different examples of pareidolia would emerge just seconds apart in a video, both interpreted as a small kid?

The screencaps are enhanced from the original video that can be downloaded here. You can also watch the video in lower quality on Youtube, unfortunately the poster disabled embedding so you will have to click it and watch there.

I found it being discussed in the Skeptical Viewer Forums, where Stephen kindly quoted Forgetomori which made me sympathize strongly with him. That and his down-to-earth commentary:

image2ii9md2 “Looks like the images are pareidolia. In the first image, they’re shooting through a spider web, and I think that’s what the girl is crisscrossing spider web strands with some dew on them. It might seem strange to get that kind of image by chance, but it does happen. A few things to pay attention to: her left side is cut off, so our brains tend to fill in symmetry when there’s none there. Also, the entire image is actually defined by just a few lines.

I think that what I’ve highlighted in red is spider web, and the blue is either a dewdrop or the spider itself.

The second one had me looking closer, because the "body" seems to fade up dramatically. If you frame-by-frame it, though, it looks like the body fades up twice, and both times when the flashlight point is at a particular angle to the chair. I think it’s a reflection of some kind from the chair. The back of the chair is contoured, and the body seems to match the contours.

There’s always the possibility of a hoax with this kind of an image, and my deconstruction could be a kind of reverse pareidolia”.

In another thread in the forum, “Dedicated-Dad” provided some animated GIFs of the three relevant sequences. Here, here and here. I think Stephen nailed it.

Of course, the video could have been hoaxed instead, nowadays, anything is possible with a computer. Personally, I think it’s an authentic, non-adulterated video. If it was hoaxed, the author deserves props for the subtlety.

Assuming it is authentic, it could also be the true record of a ghost or something, in which case you would have good reason to be scared. Of Old Man Winter too, by the way.

If you are prone to believe it was something supernatural, I recommend our post on the best pareidolia ever, which also discusses the Wem Town Hall ghost, with another ghost girl. And don’t miss our post on ghostly simulacra, with yet another ghost kid for a good night of sleep.

[Mostly all information on the video from the Skeptical Viewer Forums]

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Posted in Fortean,Ghosts,Paranormal,Skepticism | 4 comments

4 Comments so far

  1. Dedicated_Dad January 5th, 2009 4:53 pm

    Hi! I’m “DD” you referenced above…

    I’ve made it clear elsewhere that (as I see it) we basically have (3) logical possibilities:

    (1) Deliberate Hoax
    (2) Pareidolia
    (3) Paranormal.

    If you examine the two animated gifs of the second “figure” side-by-side, you’ll see that there are multiple flashlights in play in the scene, and that they’re in quite different places the two times the “figure” fades in and out.

    Further, there seems to be significant similarity in the “Facial features” and “hair-styles” of the “doorway” and “chair” figures. For one to be “reflection” and the other “spider web” is a pretty big coincidence.

    Add this to the fact (as you noted) the two “figures” appear within just a few seconds of video and … the odds of “coincidence” seem to ME to be so high as to strain credibility.

    Which, to me, seems to leave the viable options as “deliberate hoax” and “paranormal.” I’m not convinced either way – the obvious fact is that all three images (counting each “appearance” of the second as separate though almost identical images) are comprised of just a few frames.

    It would not be exceptionally difficult to “Fake” ~20 frames of video, though IMHO the second “set” – given the aforementioned play of multiple flashlights – would require a significant level of image-editing talent. I could not do it, but I know people who could without breaking a sweat…

    Given a same-model camera, a few flashlights and a couple of helpers it wouldn’t be especially hard to print out all the “clearest” frames and go try to re-create the scene. Almost anyone could figure out the camera position, and the flashlights also could be relatively easy to duplicate to match a single frame at a time. I wish I were close enough to this location to go test it out for myself, but perhaps the original owner/creator of the vid would be willing to do so…?

    For clarity, I believe nearly all of the so-called “paranormal” pics and vids I’ve ever seen are hoax or pareidolia – the ones I think are even POSSIBLY paranormal could be counted on a single hand. The subtlety you noted in this case is honestly one of the things that leads me to consider this one as a “possible” – meaning we’ve either got a true “evil genius” here, or a very lucky cameraman…

    Thanks for sharing, and letting me chip in as well – I’ll be checking out your site as time permits!


  2. skepnet (The Skeptic Network) January 6th, 2009 6:55 pm

    Old Man Winter and a creepy ghost pareidolia http://is.gd/eJYh

  3. pickover (Cliff Pickover) January 7th, 2009 1:12 pm

    I like the word “pareidolia.” http://tinyurl.com/75bmjg

  4. Jebin July 13th, 2012 7:35 pm

    Looks like Toshio, the ghost kid from Ju-On/The Grudge

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