Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for the 'People' Category

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.

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Popularity: 5% [?]


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.

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Popularity: 5% [?]


Michael Jackson’s Second Coming

Over two and a half million viewers – and that’s just for the dramatic music version above. That is the “Michael Jackson’s Ghost” video spreading through the intertubes, which originally aired on Larry King (click for the original segment).

As everyone that watches it a couple of times must have considered, the “ghost” is simply a shadow. There are many people walking around the ranch (who can be seen in other parts of the tour video), and it’s obvious one of them cast that shadow. Simple as that, if there’s any doubt, this enhanced version below can make it even clearer:

Pay attention to how the shadow follows the countour of the fireplace. It’s also clear in this other video, captured from TV. Just a shadow. A real ghost would probably look like this.

The unimpressive shadow is just part of the whole exploitation phenomenon of the pop icon’s death. In a slow news day, instead of Jesus one can see Michael Jackson’s face on a roasting pan in Lajeado, Rio Grande do Sul… Brazil! Yes, Brazil!


And that’s not all. As with Elvis (and Morrison and even Hitler), to some news of the death have been greatly exaggerated. Jacko is still very alive, after successfully executing his elaborate plan to escape the debts and burdens of fame and killing his own double (or evil twin, something like that). And there are photos of a man with an umbrella taken after his death to prove it!


A shadow, burned fat pareidolia and a man with an umbrella. If you want the real thing, you have to look for a credible news source. Weekly World News, of course, which spotted Michael Jackson dining with Elvis.


Seriously, you can bet that after today’s burial and ceremony, many other videos, reports and sightings of Michael Jackson’s ghost – or of him alive – will pop up. That is the predictable nature of human gullibility.

Popularity: 3% [?]


Do Roombas Dream of Electric Sheep?


Release a Roomba in a room, shut down the lights and set the camera for a half hour long exposure. The end result is the beautiful image captured by SignalTheorist.com recording the path of the little cleaning robot through all the floor.

The artificial intelligence behind the navigation of the vacuum cleaner is somewhat secret, but HowStuffWorks describes in general terms how it works, from the initial measuring of the room size to the spiral and the seemly random vacuuming.


Besides its simple beauty, the image is also spectacular because it relates to the early age of robotics and artificial intelligence. In particular to the “electronic turtles” created by William Grey Walter in 1948, more than six decades ago.

Those were his “Machina Speculatrix”, named Elmer (ELectroMEchanical Robot) and Elsie (Electromechanical Light-Sensitive robot with Internal and External stability), the former seen below with Walter:


Walter’s artificial turtles are among the first autonomous electronic robots in history. As such, they are also among the simplest. What looks like a small head was in fact a photoelectric sensor, but different from real turtle’s heads, it was constantly spinning. Something like ‘The Exorcist’, but with no puking. Keep reading to know more about these adorable turtles and how they were “possessed” by free will, consciousness and intelligence. As Walter described them, of course.

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The Screamin’ Demon of Mexico: Monkey Business


“Sometime around May 11, 2007, a wealthy Mexican rancher named Marao Lopez found this creature, less than one foot tall, in a steel trap. The property was in Metepec, … Mexico. … The creature was alive, shrieking and scared. … the ranchers decided to kill and preserve it the morning of the third day … They dunked it in water … for many hours, and it finally drowned. It’s ability to survive so long underwater has made many feel it was amphibious.
Within days, word about the strange creature had gotten to Jaime [Maussán]. … Jaime considered Marao Lopez an honorable man. Since Lopez was wealthy, and money was never mentioned as a variable in this situation, Jaime sees no motivation for a hoax. Jaime requested access to the body, now mummified, for tests at various universities. Around this period of time, Marao Lopez died mysteriously.”
The Screamin’ Demon Of Mexico By Joshua P. Warren

A very cheesy mystery thriller, full of plot holes and told by Jaime Maussán, illustrious member of Ufology’s Hall of Shame. So it’s really no surprise twist that the “Screamin’ Demon of Metepec” is just another hoax. Keep reading for the video and some ordinary investigations.

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Popularity: 9% [?]