Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Archive for the 'Skepticism' 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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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]

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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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Psychic powers: video proof?


This is honestly one of the most curious videos purportedly showing paranormal abilities I have ever seen. It’s not an extraordinary feat like the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, after all it’s just a piece of paper spinning. Hardly useful. But the many ways by which the author tries to make it clear there’s no trickery involved turns this boring spinning piece of paper into something genuinely intriguing.

Before explaining this video, however, I would like to ask for you to write down, Windows Notepad would do, how would you briefly answer to a friend the following questions: 1-“Does this video proves the paranormal?”, and 2-“How was it created?”. It’s important that you write down your answers, as they may surprise you later.

Keep reading for the whole story.

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Google and the Conspiracy of the Triforce Doodles

triforceFor almost a year the big G.’. is surreptitiously inserting a symbol in some of its Doodles. The small symbol looks like the Triforce from the Zelda series of videogames, “a triangular relic featured as a nearly-omnipotent sacred item representing the essences of the Golden Goddesses”, also made popular in the Internet (“newfags can’t”).

Earth Day 2009 Doodle

The “Conspiracy!” seems to have been first noted last week over at the ATS forum, and it has just hit mainstream through Google Blogoscoped. There are many theories already.

Blogoscoped writes that it could be simply an easter egg or the signature of the artist. Who may be a big Zelda fan. Speaking of conspiracies, though, we can’t stop speculating since the Triforce is such an irresistible invitation to paranoia.

triforce_dollarThe most obvious association of the Triforce is with the “All Seeing Eye”, nowadays an almost universal symbol for god, and particularly, to the Freemasonry, even though it was already current before the foundation of the secret society. The Eye of Providence is highlighted in the verse of the Seal of the United States, and for more than half a century circulates in all dollar notes.

Since we mentioned Freemasons, there’s another use more similar to the Triforce and that can be more properly associated with the group. It’s the three dots, initially used in the late 18th century by French freemasons instead of the usual periods to mark an abbreviation. “G.’. O.’. de France” for instance would be a fashionable abbreviation of Grand Orient of France easily noticed as related to the brotherhood.

And as we also mentioned the dollar, one can find a surprising Triforce there:


Impressed? You may be starting to take this seriously, but those are just coincidences. Three triangles forming a larger one is not a symbol so complex so as to not come up independently several times over.

In feudal japan, many family crests incorporated it, and its probable that the Zelda game itself, from Nintendo, is a reference to this use rather than the western tradition of the All Seeing Eye or Freemasons. Nintendo will probably deny reference to any of those.

Three triangles forming a larger one are also a suggestion of a fractal object in themselves. It’s a Sierpinski triangle:


From Freemasons, the dollar, Nintendo and fractals, we may well return to the Doodles. Far from suggesting an evil “Conspiracy!”, the most recent Google this past July 9th honoured Nikola Tesla. And, this is relevant, the artist seems to have mixed the Triforce with the letter “T”. Abbreviation for Tesla, of course, and also the unit for magnetic flux honouring the same genius.


Back to where we started, without much surprise all suggests it’s indeed just an Ester Egg and/or some sort of signature used by the artist, willing to play with the sacred Triforce and turn it into a “Teslaforce”.

So, to some ordinary investigation. The artist, by the way, is Susie Sahim. She didn’t insert the Triforce in all of her Google Doodles, and is directing inquiries to Google. But if you look at her Twitter profile image you will find another reference to Zelda. And as friend Renê Fraga pointed to me, she also inserts Triforce in other works (the panda was used in an April Fools Google site).

I will update this post when we get some official word from Google, but I wouldn’t count on a Great Conspiracy of Freemasons and Fractals. I do hope however that this little Conspiracy trip was fun.

Kudos to Sahim for her great art and allowing me to rave so much from such little Zelda triangles. Or sacred Triforce.

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