Orbs in Austin

Image via Wikipedia

It amazes me that some individuals in the paranormal investigation field believe that “orbs,” those globes of light that appear on some night photos, are anything more than dust and bugs. On one investigation I took several photos by a pond with my digital cam (10 megapixel). They were full of orbs. At another investigation at a graveyard, the team was walking down a dusty path. The photos I took of the graveyard were filled with orbs. I suppose if I had looked closely long enough at any of the orbs, I would have eventually “seen” a face. The human mind is programmed to recognize faces, and a person can easily “see” faces when they are not actually present. Try looking at almost any surface for a few minutes, focusing on the same general area. How long does it take you to “see” faces? Try looking at the photo of orbs in this post. Zoom in. You will “see” faces before very long–but they are illusions.

There are also investigators who may not see faces in orbs, but still believe them to be ghosts. But digital cameras especially are prone to “interpreting” dust and bugs as orbs. Paranormal investigators often bring their own New Age assumptions into their interpretation of the evidence. Before long they find ghosts everywhere, even when the evidence does not support any paranormal phenomena. Most ghost investigation groups are not respected by parapsychologists (although there are groups who do a solid job at investigating, such as Tuscon Paranormal–but its head is married to a parapsychologist!). And parapsychologists are not often respected by other scientists and academics. The field has enough problems gaining respectability without people seeing a ghost in every particle of dust and in every mosquito in front of the camera.

Rain will also appear as bright orbs if a flash is used at night. I suppose hail, sleet, and snow would also cause orbs to appear. Again, there is no need for a paranormal interpretation of a normal phenomenon.

Could there be a case in which an orb is legitimately interpreted to be of paranormal origin? I cannot a priori rule that out. Suppose I saw a large orb without taking a photo, and it floated toward my ear and a voice that is not identifiable as a member of the team says, “Michael, I’m Granddaddy. Remember guessing car colors at the side of the Old Highway?” I would interpret that as paranormal. Until then, I will not waste my time with dust and bugs.

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