As a paranormal investigator or researcher, it is your responsibility to discern between deception and truth. The word "hoax" refers to those stories, videos or pictures where there is intentional deception or fraud. For example, it's up to you, as the unbiased observer, to separate the story that a homeowner may tell you about a haunting from your own efforts to determine what's really causing the phenomenon. However, there are times when the storyteller is a con artist, an attention-seeker or a sociopath. As a paranormal investigator, you need to remain vigilant against these types of people.
Identifying a Hoax Before it Grows Legs
The field of the paranormal is filled with tricksters. On YouTube, over half of the "ghost videos" are fabricated or spoofed videos meant to poke fun at people who believe in ghosts. Unfortunately these "hoaxes" are mixed in with a gold mine of video that homeowners have shot featuring authentic paranormal phenomena. There is no faster method to become disenchanted with a field of research than coming across one or two of these ridiculous hoaxes.
Elements of a story, video or phenomenon that will help you to immediately flag it as a potential hoax include:
- Is the "evidence" in a format to be distributed to a large group of people, such as an email distribution or a website?
- Does it fail to provide legitimate and verifiable confirmation sources?
- Is the language used either very emotional or highly technical?
- Is the source anonymous, or is it impossible to verify the source's expertise?
- Creating realistic paranormal photo manipulations right on your iPhone and iPod Touch using Ghost Capture
With Ghost Capture, you can manipulate any photo from your iPhone photo album. After choosing an image, (or taking a new photo directly through Ghost Capture) select a ghost to superimpose onto the photo. Choose from creepy Victorian children, faceless torsos, Civil War soldiers, ghostly orbs, and more. After placing the ghost, adjust the size, rotation, and transparency to achieve the optimum effect. Don't like the way your ghost is turning out? Hit the reset button to put it back in the center of the screen for you to start over or even select a different ghost! Save and email your creation to your friends, and let them judge for themselves!
Identifying a Hoaxer
While identifying a fabricated story may be easy, identifying a hoaxer isn't. Hoaxers are essentially con artists who are attempting to sell a particular audience on a paranormal story. The following are common characteristics of such con artists.
Chameleon: The con artist adapts quickly, using the same lingo and basic core beliefs as the crowd and incorporates those into the hoax.
Charismatic: A clever con artist can come across as extremely professional, successful and charismatic.
Techno-babble: They often use poorly understood science to peddle certain "technology" or research. They use meaningless phrases like "ectoplasmic anomaly", or "micro-cosmic harmonic stabilization", which sound no different than highly technical phrases from a scientific journal to a layman.
Nasty Skeptic: If you ask a hoaxer for evidence, the con artist will act slighted and attempt to make people feel that questioning the source of information will cause the information to stop.
Too Good To Be True: If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Aliens do not offer secret free-energy technology. Ghosts do not shoot dishes across the room while flickering the lights and shooting ectoplasm from the walls. And, when Bigfoot is captured, he likely will not be stored in an ice cooler available to the highest bidder. Using common sense can go a long way when you research paranormal claims.