There have been a couple of interesting stories in the media recently. A number of them came to my attention while I was at the European Skeptics Congress so I was unable to write about them at the time, despite wanting to. I thought I’d double up this post and explore two that caught my attention.
The Memphis Bank Robber Ghost
A number of people have contacted Memphis based paranormal investigator, Mike Einspanjer, to tell him that they’ve seen the ghost of bank robber, Marvin Amerson, in the area Amerson killed himself after realising that he wasn’t going to escape the pursuing police. You can read and watch the news report on this story by clicking here.
Mike Einspanjer told WREG.com that suicides often produce ghosts.
“This wasn’t a planned event, he did it in the spur of the moment and that’s a lot to deal with and it takes time. Amerson also left behind a wife and a son, So that’s a lot of pain and a lot of grief that he has to work through.”
I think that Einspanjer is being unethical by becoming involved in this case and I think there is nothing but baseless speculation going on here. You can read more on my blog about the ethics of ghost hunting by clicking here. People who live near the site of the alleged apparitions haven’t seen anything out of the ordinary, but although this is an unimpressive case I do think that it hints a more interesting social phenomena.
The way in which people see something insignificant at a significant location and link it with why that location is significant fascinates me. It’s a bit like people who see Henry VIII’s ghost at many palaces, and ghost hunters whose findings always fit local ghost folklore.
The Kelvedon Hatch Ghost Photos
The Brentwood Gazette have reported that a Ghost Hunting events company, Spooksavers (heh), have made news with a bunch of photos they claim could show a spirit portal opening up during one of their events at the Secret Nuclear Bunker in Kelvedon Hatch. The photos in question (below) show people in the room surrounded by lots of wiggly and fuzzy lights – it is this that is claimed to be some sort of spirit portal or energy.
So what are we looking at? What we know for certain is that the rooms in the bunker are full of various reflective surfaces (see picture A below), and we also know that it is possible that the photos may have been taken through a window (see picture B below). Both of these, coupled with a slow shutter speed and slight movement of the camera could cause the effects seen. Not only that, but if you study the blur in the first photo above, you can see ghostly forms of the shoes of the people in the photo, which suggests to me that a slow shutter speed has indeed caused this effect. Both of the photos below were taken by Draco2008.
It’s also worth pointing out that various cameras and similar devices were being used by numerous people present, as seen in the photo montage below. It’s impossible to rule out that a camera with its screen on, or perhaps a meter with an on-light illuminated in the hand of someone in the photo was moved around at the time of the photo being taken.
While speaking at ESC15 I mentioned how ghost hunters often have a low threshold for evidence, and judging from the photo montage above (taken from the Brentwood Gazette website) that shows numerous pseudo-scientific techniques being used to hunt for ghosts, I can only suggest that Spooksavers are guilty of having a low threshold for what they determine to be paranormal on their events.