Wednesday, November 23, 2011

FACT OR FAKED: Old West Haunting; Freeway Flyer

SyFy - Original Air Date: 11/16/11

Debunked videos this week include: Zombie Cam claims to show a zombie figure caught by a hunter's camera trap, but it's just Photoshop trickery.  Snow Triangle shows a huge "snow circle" design in the Alps.  It's a fractal, as many "circles" are, but fakery seems very likely.  (Regular readers will know I think -- with some justification -- that crop circles are made by human artists.)  In the commercial-break debunk, Wedding UFO shows strange lights hovering over the water, but it's merely a reflection of a chandelier on the picture window between photographer and water.  Leaving us the subjects of this week's show.

Bird Cage Theater Ghost is another famous haunted site, and the video seems to show a ghostly image of a figure which appears as a flashlight beam passes over a wall.  At the theater, they hear scary stories and talk to the original videographer, who shows them where and how he shot the video.  First, they test whether items on a nearby table could cast reflections/shadows to form the "ghost."  They get some interesting shapes, but not the right ones.  Then they try hoaxing the image with black light paint, but the image is too vague.  But Devin has noticed something, and shining a flashlight through the wheel of a big museum coffee grinder produces a perfect match.  But, because the audience won't like the "no ghost here" conclusion, I assume, they then stage the usual ghost hunt.  Naturally, they hear spooky sounds, and one of the camera lights falls off and is mysteriously outside a door (where it was previously inside).  Rats maybe?  No, that plus an EVP are  this week's sop to believers.  Video: faked; paranormal activity: yes.  Really?

Freeway Flyer seems to show a bright light hovering over a freeway (at night) that then zips away with amazing speed.  They talk to the videographer and then set up their own highway in the desert to test some theories.  They start by shining a laser into the moving vehicle used to film the video.  But the laser beam seems too small, and the beam reveals itself when it moves: no match.  Next, they test reflections off of power lines; similar, but too elongated.  Finally, they test a helicopter with a mounted searchlight.  That and a little After Effects trickery to speed the light up at the end create a perfect match.  The team's Layered Voice Analysis (which I'm not sure I totally believe in) suggests that's how the videographer did it -- doctoring the original video to make it sexier.

So, two good debunks this week, but I'm still bothered by the apparent need to reinforce audience beliefs in the supernatural.  Why not let this show be a real supernatural Mythbusters and just go for it?

No comments: