Monday, March 22, 2010

The Incredible Shrinking Ghost

Something disturbing has happened! The modern ghost is shrinking, and in exact inverse proportion to the amount of technology invested in its capture.

Here is another example of how a little study of history (not to mention basic photography and critical thinking) broadens the mind and gives ground to dissent from a cherished popular delusion.

Compare the two photos below.

The first, from the middle part of the last century, shows us the traditional figure of myth and legend, hands clearly displayed as if it were a great effort to get its wisp of a body up the stairs. The second is what this once proud creature has been reduced to, a floating dot of light, often reported with a trade mark smiley face appearance. Forgetting the question of what a disembodied spirit has to be smiling about, is the even more obvious conclusion that the "orb" is merely a matter of poor photography.

However, the question I keep asking but appears to materialize for no one else is, why is it shrinking? If we examine the early years of spirit photography, we find a world just getting used to the revolutionary new technology. Keep in mind, at that time getting your picture taken was a major event for which you usually wore your Sunday best. Today, photographs are so common we take them by the dozen, often in regrettable poses, because they are cheap. But along with this familiarity has come a more discerning eye. We tend to spot fakes more easily than our forebears because we have been exposed to so much fakery that most of us hold realism to a higher standard. And secondly, modern forensic technology allows for a dissection of purported spirit photographs unimaginable to earlier generations.

I don't mean to suggest that the current orb craze is part of a conscious effort to deceive, but rather, like a Rorschach test, such images allows the believer room for belief with little effort. He or she sees what they want to see without the need to defend a more obvious fraud.