Monthly Archives: September 2010

The Dorset County Museum ghost

On the 20th September 2010. The BBC news website reported that a group of paranormal investigators from Weymouth called “The P.I.T.”(Paranormal Investigation Team), claimed to have captured the image of a “Ghost” inside the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester. The “Ghost” in question, was named by the group as being one “Hanging Judge Jeffreys”.

They also claimed to have additional photographs of a local fossil collector named “Mary Anning”. Both images were said to have been captured inside the museum’s main hall. Why the two alleged “spirits” would be at this particular Museum, is still quite baffling.

50-year-old Trudy Jordan, who’s given position is “Locations Manager/Assistant Case manager/Paranormal Investigator” for “The P.I.T.”, Was quoted as saying:

“What we’ve found now is amazing – we’re really chuffed, It wasn’t until we looked at the footage afterwards that you could actually make out the figure of a man. You can make your own mind up but it’s so detailed. We also have a photo of a woman with a cape going round her shoulders, and no head.”

Ms Jordan was also claimed the barrier alarms that “The P.I.T.” set up in the Victorian Hall part of the museum, went off repeatedly. She was quoted as saying:

“We’ve used them now since 2003 and never known anything affect them to make them go off unless someone actually goes through them.”

Beryl Smith who’s given position is “First aid/Investigator” said she experienced strange swings in measurements from her EMF meter. She was quoted as saying:

“I thought it was fascinating because somebody had come to me to want to talk through the meter.”

However, Dorset County Museum “Fundraising and Events” officer Nel Duke stated she remains “unconvinced”.She was quoted as saying:

“I haven’t had any paranormal experiences here”

Here is the image that “The P.I.T.” supplied to press.

Images taken using a Sony DSC W100. ISO of 400. Images dated: 29/10/2009 at 02:37:02AM. Exposure time = 1/40Sec Additional cameras used = Sony DSC-N2,Sony DSC-W190 and a Samsung S85. Settings for individual cameras are approximately equal.

The first thing that we noticed, is that the image was heavily cropped. A cropped image provides little context for what it is we are looking at. Realistically it could be anything at all, from an out of focus light, to a drop of water on a sheet of glass

We contacted “The P.I.T.” to ask for the full uncropped version of the image. It would be unfair to “The P.I.T.” to analyse the image if we were not able to see the original source material. We finally spoke to “Steve” who’s given title is Media Manager/Technician/Investigator. Steve sent the full unaltered versions, as per our request.

“The P.I.T.” did originally provide two reduced quality, and copyrighted images. However, they were unsuitable for purpose. They also thoughtfully provided a document to accompany the images, to assist press inquiry. Also included, is a listing of restrictions upon their use publicly. One important section is labled “A brief background to the photos”, which I shall reprint here, in full:

“The photos included where all taken by members of the P.I.T using digital cameras. The P.I.T does not claim to have conclusive proof of ‘ghosts’ within these photos merely that we have attempted to explain them using known science and have been unsuccessful in doing so. Not only where the photos analysed by experienced members of the P.I.T experienced in distinguishing  reflection from dust insects and moisture etc. as well as various forms of light refraction and reflection. But when these could not be explained as such they where shown to a number of ‘experts’ within the photography industry who again could not explain the light patterns etc as a malfunction of multiple cameras.

For this reason we have forwarded the photos to the wider public for them to be analysed and dissected as would be seen fit.”

“The P.I.T.” claim to have been unsuccessful in reaching a satisfactory conclusion using “known science”. Exactly which scientific process was applied, still remains unclear. They also claim to have had the images examined by “experienced team members”, and a “number of experts” in the field of photography. Neither of which could apparently explain the source of the “anomaly”. A 2009 interview with the Dorset Echo, lists this “expert source” as a professional “photographic shop”.

“Steve” also responded to a similar article on ghosttheory.com. He stated:

“further background to this photo is that it was one of a few photos we captured on multiple cameras from varying angles( the camera people where spread along the end of the upper balcony. the ground floor level was been focused on due to motion sensors activating without any visible cause.the reason we mention judge Jeffreys is two fold not only is his chair on display in that gallery but also Dorchester and Dorset as a whole are linked to him. since the date the photos where taken we have since found references that he may have drunk at the inn that once stood on the site of museum.”

Our advice to “The P.I.T.” is to simply use better qualified experts. If they had, then perhaps they would understand what it was they actually took photographs of.

The images taken that night at the Dorset County Museum, are simply reflections of the camera flash, on a glass fronted display case/mirrored surface. You can clearly see this display case illuminated by the flash, to the north position of the “anomaly”. Here is a similar display case, also in that area at the Museum.

The “anomaly” referred to as “Judge Jeffreys”, is actually the flash reflected onto the floor of the Museum. The reason it looks vaguely person shaped, is because the reflective surface (glass) is uneven. This creates a “lensing” effect”, like similar to a Plano-Concave lens. This pattern of light is a reflection from a concave surface.

Of course, the rest of the image was also cropped away from that area. Seemingly to focus attention soley on that one small area. This is very misleading to the viewer, and it does not look like a human figure when viewed unedited (as it is obviously spread across the floor).

If the the angle of reflection is equal to the angle of incidence, and the light returned is a diffused reflection, then the focal point is determined by the curvature of the reflective surface.

There are some helpful diagrams to explain the process here:

http://www.ux1.eiu.edu/~cfadd/1160/Ch24ML/CrvMr.html

The second image that “The P.I.T.” claimed to have captured that night, one “Mary Anning”, is exactly the same phenomena. The reason why it appears to be “missing it’s head”, is simply because the image was taken at a slightly different angle and position. Thus the reflection became a slightly different relative focal point.

We think it would be unfair to “The P.I.T.” to leave this report here, without addressing the other “unusual phenomena” that allegedly happened that night. Perhaps they will take our advice, or perhaps they might ignore it? Only time will tell, but we know which decision will benefit them more.

The most likely reason Trudy Jordan believes the photographs contain the image of a man is classic  Pareidolia, but we think perhaps artistic licence is mainly responsible for the headless woman claim. It would take some serious “mental juggling” to create that specific shape from that reflection.

The claim that the P.I.R. (passive infrared) sensors that “The P.I.T.” deployed (barrier alarms), kept “going off” is not in itself unusual. There are many reasons why a P.I.R. might trigger. Everything from extreme temperature changes due to central heating, to flying insects and intermittent power supply (dying batteries) could be responsible. It may even be a hardware issue, depending on the condition of the P.I.R. units.

Beryl Smith’s experience can be explained by the “Subject Expectancy effect”. She believed that E.M.F. detectors somehow register “spirit energy”. The subsequent needle movement reinforced her belief that there was a spirit present and attempting to communicate.

There is more information about that particular psychology available here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subject-expectancy_effect

“The P.I.T.” did supply several other “images of interest” taken that night. Unfortunately, they are no more unusual than the others supplied to the press.

For those of you who may be interested. “The P.I.T.” claims to have 50 years experience in the paranormal, (we assume this means the total combination of experience from it’s 14 members). We consider this to be an odd way to calculate overall experience. I know I could not trust 100 surgeons who each had one year of training, to perform an operation on me.

In an interview given to the Dorset Echo, “The P.I.T.” compared themselves to The Atlantic Paranormal Society (T.A.P.S.). Unfortunately, T.A.P.S. is to ghost hunting, what Pope Benedict is to child safety. T.A.P.S. are nothing more than entertainers, they are not scientific researchers. We think that is indicative of the level of expertise they (“The P.I.T.”) currently seem to possess as a team.

NB: A Plethora of ill suited equipment, spurious connections, outdated theory, peer review via media etc, etc. Where they differ from T.A.P.S. is that they also use alleged mediums as an evidence gathering resource.

Our impartial advice to “The P.I.T.” is simply to study past experiments, and do not repeat the failures. Design new experiments, and test those. Lose the equipment, it has little to no scientific use on an investigation of this nature. Learn basic physics, as that branch of science that can help explain a lot of “perinormal” phenomena. Learn basic psychology, this can help determine the human element of alleged hauntings. Have your “mediums” perform other duties. Last but not least, investigate using the scientific theory.
Scientific theory construction:

1. Observation/description of phenomena or group of phenomena.

2. Formulation of a hypothesis to explain the phenomena.

3. Use the hypothesis to predict the existence of other phenomena, or predict quantitatively the results of new observations.

4. Performance of experimental tests of the predictions by several independent experimenters and properly performed experiments.

BARSoc would like to thank “The P.I.T.” for their cooperation in this matter, and we hope they will improve their operation over time.

References:

http://www.thepit08.co.uk/rec-investigations.html

http://www.dorsetcountymuseum.org/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/dorset/hi/people_and_places/newsid_9010000/9010706.stm

http://gnorml.com/paranormal/ghost-of-judge-captured-in-museum/

http://www.ghosttheory.com/2010/09/20/team-captures-image-of-ghost-judge

http://www.dorsetecho.co.uk/news/4345484.It___s_ghost_to_coast_as_paranormal_investigators_celebrate_successful_first_year/

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CCTV Ghost explored

EDITED: The link to the video has been fixed as Cumbrian News claimed copyright on the video and it was removed from other sites. Odd.

Several newspapers have reported that a ghostly apparition has been caught on the CCTV system in The Wolfe Pub in Penrith. You can see a still from the 35 second long clip with the ‘ghost’ in it to the left of this article.

Naturally, when newspapers jump on a ghost story it grabs my attention due to my long standing interest in the paranormal. However, I don’t know if it’s because I’ve seen so many videos from so many people over the years in which something is called a ghost when it clearly isn’t, but, it became quite clear that the apparition in the video from The Wolfe pub wasn’t as weird as it first seemed.

The first thing I noticed was that the object was out of focus – some would say this was because it was a ghost and was a misty form. I felt, however, that it was fuzzy because the thing we are seeing was close to the screen – too close for the camera to focus on…

I have a hunch that what we are looking at isn’t a ghost polishing a table, as the landlord has claimed he thinks it is, but in fact a fly or moth sitting on, and crawling across the CCTV camera lens.

In fact, at one point  you can quite clearly see it flutter one of it’s wings before flying off of the camera – an action that has been described as the ghost floating through the ceiling.

Here you can see the fly outlined. Click the photo for the full size version.

Watch the video here and see for yourself how something that looks weird can actually have a very mundane explanation that makes you wonder how you missed it the first time around.

Other phenomena was also reported from the pub too, however without further details and without being able to see the other CCTV videos it would be impossible to speculate about what caused the other things to occur.

I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t the fly in the video though.

Feature: Ufos; then & now

In 1990 the British UFO scene was dominated by two warring groups (BUFORA and YUFOS), still in a state of conflict over the Cracoe Fell incident. BUFORA defined the more rational side of British ufology, while YUFOS were ETH and conspiracy theory orientated. Interest in UFOs was notable, but hardly electric. Both factions also had glossy magazines – a significant factor then and a demonstrable indication of progress.

In BUFORA Jenny Randles was Director of investigations. Several years earlier BUFORA had taken the brave decision to support a moratorium on the use of hypnosis in UFO abduction claims. this was a major step in proving the subject had adopted a degree of maturity; and that British ufologists were not going to repeat the ‘Stateside error of allowing recovered memories to dominate the course of UFO investigation in this country. And given most Ufologists were in BUFORA it was enforcible.

But things started to go wrong soon afterwards. People were threatened with legal action, or removed from positions of authority due to long-standing disagreements. YUFOS’ magazine (UFO) went to the newsstands and became a UK conduit for some very extreme trends within American ufology.

Even worse, Chris Carter’s “X Files” embodied those same ideas (in the medium of fiction which ironically very few people writing for the show actually believed). But some new researchers took the show as their mantra and ethos despite the fact Carter’s nightmare was just a work of fiction.

Thus was the British rationalist consensus forged in the1980’s broken.

Things then went from bad to worse. In the late 1990’s within certain members of it’s (then) council decided to believe in conspiracy theories over the words of their own press secretary (David Clarke), in relation to the so-called and now notorious “Sheffield Incident”. People left the association as a consequence.

This was aided by a chilling and total loss of interest in the subject following 9-11. Where people once speculated about UFOs and aliens they instead debated why the long-promised “golden future” never materialised… why all this war and death? The answers were soon forthcoming; the New World Order, the Bilderberg Group.. the Reptoids (the latter were seemingly “alien” but didn’t need UFOs all that much).

After the end of the X-Files no one seemed to love UFOs any more and the subject went into decline.

But British Ufology was then in too much turmoil to seemingly notice. YUFOS became UFO magazine (UK) and forgot it was ever once a group… and seemingly also forgot the groups that supported it. But soon, by 2005 UFO magazine and it’s editor were dead. Along with much of British Ufology, all so it seemed to some commentators.

And thus was the fragmentation of our subject complete.
So, in 2010 what do we have? Lots of local groups…and lots of failed efforts to unite them. Lots of independent researchers unwilling to commit themselves to either a regional group or a national society.

Result; continued fragmentation. The conspiracy theories took hold of everyone’s perspective and reinforced a totally American perspective on the subject.

People became less interested in UFOs and more interested in the “aliens” that supposedly resided within them. Soon the UFOs began to vanish – replaced by the regressionists’ couch. If anyone did see a “UFO” they were now triangular shaped… bye bye flying saucer, you are an outmoded and boring concept! Sightings still happen, but most are fairly boring and easily explained affairs (esp. thanks to the Internet).

A notable trend is how groups now often admixture paranormal topics; a trend that started in the late 1990’s. Societies once purely Ufological in intent now study a wide range of paranormal claims. This trend has been reinforced by the massive media coverage of ghosts … albeit in a manner detrimental to serious psychical research.

While having a society based on other phenomena that just UFOs is helpful in some respects, it can also be baleful. Who cares about UFOs when the more sexy topic of ghosts beckon – along with the media interest they are associated with. There have also been a few horror stories – people neglecting UFO reports – and alienating the witnesses who report them- to chase after so-called “alien big cats”

To my mind Big Cat research has been the most pointless and silliest topic to waste the time of researchers since crop circles. How are these cats “paranormal”, and why should paranormal researchers be bothered with them to start with? While they may or may not exist there is no evidence they are paranormal. I guess people in the UK are starved of cryptoids such as Bigfoot….

Admittedly, some progress has been made – but only when researchers have adopted a critical mindset. The most significant breakthrough has been the Freedom of Information Act releases, largely enacted through the effort of that so-called “government asset” Dr. David Clarke.

Thanks to this development, British Ufology can now be studied as an academic subject Ironically, these releases – from the MoD of all possible sources- provide the only public source of UK UFO data…. the UFO groups either continuing to horde their private collections or unable to retrieve it for easy use, given much exist as “grey literature”. So, it was true there were Grays in Ufology.. and they were just as baleful as those reputedly encountered on UFOs!

The Internet provides numerous information resources and technology continues to generate further IFO types. Most significant of these have been the Chinese lantern, now the main cause of UFO events in our now heavily light-polluted skies.

I think it’s important for British Ufologists to remember the achievements of those researchers active in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. They forged a critically-minded UFO consensus that was a model for ufology throughout the world. But for some people this was too boring and undermined their fantasies.

But Carter came and showed that people didn’t really care about the truth (even if it was “out there”) – they really wanted conspiracies and aliens. Few cared about the boring truth about IFOs and inconclusive inexplicable case studies. Or serious research that could never find those elusive saucers. But the conspiracy theories showed the saucers were hidden by the government … focus on Roswell and all too soon the truth will out.

But the truth was always out there. UFOs exist… as something. But mankind wants their space-age era fantasies to be clad in flesh and to fly the skies (when they could be bothered to dream of “spaceships” to start with).

With the publication of Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington et al., I personally feel it’s now time to dump Roswell, Rendlesham, baseless conspiracy theories (even those focused around bases!) and recovered abduction memories. Not only is the focus on the “big” (mostly American) cases futile but it also proved to be a false hope.

Let us go back to studying UFO reports!

Let us return to the old, but sound approaches that was producing results, even if those results bored some people. The “Conspiracy Based” UFOlogy of the past 15 years has been a testament to wasted effort and empty dreams.

Let us hope the next 15 years are more productive. And less fragmented.

Scientia est lux lucis

Welcome to the website for The British Anomalistic Research Society. The website is in its early stages of development so please be patient as we get it set up and running.

Thank you