Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for September, 2009

Debunking roundup


I try not to post too many debunking posts in a row as it starts to get boring, but a bunch of images and claims have been circulating these past few weeks and I didn’t comment on them at the time. So I joined all of them into one quick debunking roundup, if you are still not bored by those.

I promise I will try to make the next post about something truly mysterious and wonderful, contrary to exposing some dubious, lame hoaxes.

Read more

Popularity: 5% [?]


Michael Jackson’s Black or White Illusion


Here’s an original optical illusion based on the Best Visual Illusion of 2005.

Believe it or not, Michael Jackson is exactly the same on both sides, he didn’t change his hat, pants nor shoes. Keep reading if you don’t believe it or want some more.

Read more

Popularity: 3% [?]


Blurred by an angel


“My name is Marcio and I’m sending this photo for you to explain this phenomenon, I assure you this is no hoax. I don’t know when it was taken, I just know it was captured during a religious celebration, and it looks like an angel… what can you tell me about it?”

One of the most interesting photos I have received (click to enlarge), it no doubt looks like an angel, complete with wings and something in its hands… perhaps a harp?

Perhaps, fact is that there are some other white blurs in the photograph that don’t remind of any obvious religious imagery, and perhaps more importantly, there’s a little girl in a white dress in the same pose as the “angel”.

Or the opposite would be more appropriated.

We can explain the image as the result of long exposure of the film, which captured all the bright elements in the image – like those white and shiny – whilst the photographer shook his camera, by accident. Mix some pareidolia, and we have this image.

The illustration below may help to understand the effects in action here:


Highlighted in red are the sources of the blurs: the girl’s white dress, the white shirt of a man sitting at left and the shiny metal microphone stand up in the stage. All these elements were reflecting the ambient light, as well as camera flashes, producing the blurs that we highlighted in green.

The yellow arrows point the movement blurs produced by other sources of light and that are everywhere in the image. They also explain the “wings” of the angel, which are in fact blurs of the same white dress. Note the camera movement could be either going up or down, depending on the fact that the blurs were captured before or after the rest of the image.

Also note that the relative position between the white angel and the blur on its left side exactly matches the relative position between the little girl’s dress and the man in a white shirt. This match gives us reason to think our interpretation is correct, and this angel of light is just a blurred image of the little miss singing.

A real angel, indeed.

[With thanks to Marcio Silva for the image]

Popularity: 4% [?]


Levitation Secret Revealed (70 years ago)


“Some physical mediums claimed to have experienced levitations. One of the most famous is Colin Evans. The photograph was taken by infra-red light during a seance in 1938. – Comparison of several photos of this event shows that he remained in the air for some time!” [Antigravity Power]

Or was he? I never paid much attention to this photo, having seen it many times, as I simply assumed it was a crude hoax and the “medium” appeared to be suspended by an invisible string.

It turns out he accomplished the feat by another method. Can you guess how? Keep reading for more photos of his levitations that may help.

Read more

Popularity: 5% [?]


Good News Everyone!


“I’ve invented a device which makes you read this in your head, in my voice! Also, you are Mark Frauenfelder!”

I want to welcome all the new subscribers to our RSS feed, and also thank Mark Frauenfelder, for not only does he write about our best posts over at Boing Boing, he picked our feed too as a Google Reader power user, which is why two thirds of you are now reading this in your feed readers! So many thanks, Mark!

I must also apologize to you faithful readers for the lack of posts lately, but the good news is that there was a reason, and it’s now over: I was working on the redesign of my skeptical website in Brazil, which included launching a dedicated subdomain analyzing photos of alleged UFOs and ghosts. Much of the material published here in broken English comes from the work there, so as those sites are renewed and receive more input, you can expect the best to be published here too. If the aliens land in Brazil, you will read it first here.

As I’ve just launched the new Brazilian websites yesterday, a new post here is on the way… right now!

Popularity: 2% [?]