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:
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:
“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.
Posted on September 28, 2010, in article, feature, ghost, irrational, media, misattribution, paranormal, pop culture paranormal and tagged 08, county, dorset, ghost, jeffreys, judge, p.i.t, paranormal, team. Bookmark the permalink. 60 Comments.