Sunday, May 22, 2011

FACT OR FAKED: Whaley Ghost House - Muck Monster

SyFy - Original Air Date: 4/27/2011

Videos passed over for investigation this week include Hawaiian Halo, which seems to show circling objects over a Hawaiian landscape. Looks like doves to some in the group, something mechanical to others, possibly a new RC toy.  Fire Fairy seems to show a sprite-like thing dancing around a fire, "an angelic fire elemental" according to the film's creator.  It looks like a lens flare to many in the team (and to me, too).  So, the two remaining cases are...  Muck Monster shows a strange aquatic mass moving in the waters near Jupiter, Florida.  It's an intriguing video and seems to show a large creature with a serrated fin.  Some biologists have ruled out local fauna, including seals and manatees.  The Whaley House (museum) boasts many mysterious still photos, showing hovering lights and shapes, and almost daily reports of strange happenings from visitors.  One photo (which looks like matrixing to me) seems to show a face in a window.

Bill, Austin, and Chi Lan head to San Diego to check out the Whaley House and hear it's haunted history.  The team sets out to replicate some of the famous "ghost" photos.  Some are obvious reflections in the glass blocking off access to the rooms, so they choose a more ghostly courtroom shot.    They set up lights and replicate the image using reflections off of objects in the courtroom; mystery solved.  To replicate the "ghost in the window," they try various things, including reflection of the photographer and a person (Austin with funny mustache) in the room behind the window -- but those don't match it.  And it still looks like random shadows (and human pattern finding: matrixing) to me.  So, they do the usual ghost hunting at night stuff and get the usual mysterious sounds on EVP sessions -- including one they think is a gavel sound (though I remain unimpressed).  Good work on debunking the photos, though.

Ben, Jael, and Devin head off to Florida to search for the Muck Monster.  They talk to witnesses and then set out to recreate the video.   I suppose I might as well go on record that any FOF show that puts Jael in a bathing suit is a good show for me, so take that into account when reading the rest of this review.  First, she and Devin go diving to look for the monster and check out the terrain; there's plenty of debris to be mistaken for a monster.  They try filming a discarded raft, but it doesn't look as alive as the original footage.  Next, they construct their own monster and try to hoax it; closer, but still not right, the original is much more fluid and alive.  So, they decide to go to a the Miami Seaquarium and check out actual local marine life.  Talking to biologists there, they quickly come to the conclusion that the scientists quoted in the myth were wrong; this biologist quickly recognizes the "creature" as a herd of mating manatees.  The strange "flipper" is merely a tail that has been mutilated by a close encounter with a speed boat.  Case solved.

One occasionally wishes that the original rumor mongers would do a better job with their science, and thereby spare Fact or Faked from investigating cases like this.  But then, we wouldn't get to see Jael in a bathing suit quite so often.  Some sacrifices I suppose we simply must endure.  Thus ends another "Syfy season" of FOF, which, happily, will return in the fall.  Like Destination Truth, I wish they would do less ghost hunting, but I'm glad they're out there shooting down some of these very popular -- if absurd -- viral videos.  Good job, team!

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