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Paranormal
When 38-year-old Debbie Wolf is stressed out or thinking deeply about something that troubles her, electrical devices around her often stop working. "Experts" call this "Street Light Interference Syndrome" (SLI). Those who suffer from this problem are SLIders. At least, that's the term paranormal-author Hilary Evans coined. The Daily Mail reports:

"It has never been full on whammy all day, but it happens frequently, such as when I'm excited."
Miss Wolf says she once blew a series of street lamps while riding by on a motorbike.
And she uses a wind-up alarm clock because her reaction on waking up in the morning "scrambles" digital ones.

The Daily Mail tested her powers by sitting her alongside a flashlight, mobile phone, and a radio, and asking her to make them stop working. Predictably, her presence had no effect on the devices.

Debbie Wolf explained that "she has to be in the right mood for her powers to work." I figured she would say that. It's the amazing power of cognitive dissonance at work.
Categories: Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Tue Feb 05, 2008
Comments (16)
17-year-old Matthew Summers used his mobile phone to take a picture of his sister and some friends as they were preparing to go out. Closer inspection of the photo revealed a ghostly face floating near the floor.





Thisislondon.co.uk writes:

His photo joins a long line of apparently paranormal snaps. The most memorable in recent times was a cloaked figure photographed standing in a doorway at Hampton Court Palace in 2003.
However, Ciaran O'Keeffe, a parapsychologist on Living TV's Most Haunted show, has a more down-to-earth explanation for the "child" in Matthew's photograph.
Dr O'Keeffe said: "As human beings we're very good at finding a pattern in randomness and related to that we're good at finding faces in randomness. The term for this is pareidolia.
"First it was ink blots, then things like clouds in the sky and now mobile phone pictures.
"There is no ghost in this picture, just the coincidental effect of pixelation and darkness and light which combine together."

Sure, it's pareidolia. But it also looks like something was either superimposed on the original picture or smudged the pixels. I'd guess it's an artifact created by the software used to compress the size of the image. (via spluch)
Categories: Paranormal, Pareidolia
Posted by Alex on Fri Jan 25, 2008
Comments (27)
At the beginning of this month, James Randi announced that he will be ending his offer of $1 million to anyone who can provide "evidence of any paranormal, supernatural, or occult power or event." From the announcement on his website:
The James Randi Educational Foundation Million-Dollar Challenge will be discontinued 24 months from this coming March 6th, and those prize funds will then be available to generally add to our flexibility. This move will free us to do many more projects, which will be announced at that time. This means that all those wishing to be claimants are required to get their applications in before the deadline, properly filled out and notarized as described in the published rules.

This announcement has predictably brought out the crazies -- people shouting and fuming that Randi is some kind of charlatan. Members of this crowd have been sending out mass emails ranting about Randi, and for some reason they've cc'ed me on these emails. Randi eventually responded with a detailed reply that he promises he'll post in full on his website. Here's a snippet of it:
6. Re: You refer to the speculation that [our] bonds are worthless.  As I’ve written many times, and as specified in the Basic English rules for the challenge applicants, a simple inquiry to the JREF via fax, phone call, e-mail, postal letter, or perhaps telepathy (?) will promptly bring anyone a copy of the current JREF Prize Account status – which I append, since you seem to lack any of these means of communication!  The million dollars is there, reserved for this purpose alone.  Our regular bank accounts are separate from this account, Dustin. See? Here is a copy of the statement, above, as GSdocument.jpg.  
 7. Re: You ask: Economy hitting those IOUs hard these days Randi?  Umm, no, Dustin. Try to understand: the JREF owes no money, we have no mortgage, we own the JREF property, free and clear.  We have an excellent credit rating – as I do, personally, and I, too, have no mortgage nor loans of any sort. Sorry to disappoint you.
 8. Re:  You refer to my spat with Geller.  No, that’s not a “spat,” Dustin.  It’s a full battle that has lasted 35 years now, and has resulted in Mr. Geller having to admit that he’s a trickster, and that he has lied for all those years to anyone who would listen.  You forgot about all that, did you…?

Personally I think that Jennifer Dziura's proposal deserved the prize money. But no one else even came close.
Categories: Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Tue Jan 22, 2008
Comments (3)
Christopher Ogden posed by a tree in the town of Ninety Six, South Carolina, and his dad took a picture of him (below). When the two of them saw the full-size image, they noticed something strange. A mysterious figure seemed to be standing beside Christopher, even though he was standing alone when the shot was taken. The photo made its way to a local paper, The Index-Journal, to whom Christopher gave this statement:
“As a civil engineer, I’m well educated, and I’ve looked at it, and my dad has looked at it, and in my own opinion, it does seem to me like there’s something strange there..
“I’m Caucasian, and wearing a striped shirt and a pair of jeans and sunglasses, and immediately next to me it appears there is an African-American person -- I can’t tell if it’s a man or a woman standing next to me -- wearing some kind of white garb. I can tell you for a fact that there was no one standing next to me when that picture was taken.”

There are three theories about what this might be: 1) a double exposure; 2) sunlight on a tree; or 3) a ghost.

I'm going with theory two.

Categories: Paranormal, Pareidolia, Photos/Videos
Posted by Alex on Wed Oct 31, 2007
Comments (19)
image Imagine this scenario. It's your wedding day. You've been planning for it for months. It's cost you thousands of dollars, but finally the big day has arrived and the entire wedding party is gathered in San Diego's beautiful Balboa Park -- the guests, the caterers, the photographer... and the zombies?

Balboa Park is an extremely popular spot for weddings. In fact, it's where Beverley and I got married five years ago, but it's also completely open to the public. Usually this is no problem. But it became an issue last month when Balboa Park served as the location for San Diego's first-ever zombie walk.

Hundreds of people dressed up as blood-spattered zombies lurched and staggered through the park. It was supposed to be a wacky, flash-mob type event. But the people having weddings there didn't think it was funny. Witness this angry letter-to-the-editor that Glenda Wiederkehr wrote in to the San Diego Union-Tribune:
The zombie enthusiasts who invaded Balboa Park last month need to have their “unheads” examined. The soulless walkers dragged themselves through our friend's wedding reception. Not a “meandering” pass by, but a deliberate, harassing parade over and over through the gathered guests. The bridesmaids and others were left to police them, direct them and loudly encourage them to disperse. A San Diego police detective needs to know they were not “just people having fun.” The zombie makeup artist who stated, “It seems to me that everyone in the world right now is so stressed” and that “we grow up so fast” has made her point. And, believe me, it is not well taken.
However, Jennifer Griffith, the organizer of the zombie walk, has denied that any zombies dragged themselves through the wedding. She writes:
Glenda Wiederkehr is sadly mistaken. There was police presence at that walk and they were stationed very near the wedding reception in question. We passed by the reception: ONCE on the absolute opposite side of El Prado (on our way to the west end) and ONCE on our way back to the east end. I PERSONALLY directed zombies AWAY from the reception; towards the center and opposite side of El Prado... I can guarantee that the official walk NEVER passed through the wedding reception. If a few wayward zombies passed through on the way back to their vehicles, then I personally apologize for their actions, but do not slander our entire group for a few potential bad apples (though I REALLY doubt even that happened).
Personally, I would have loved it if zombies had shown up at my wedding, but then, not everyone shares my appreciation for the odd. I can understand that many people would not include zombies in their idea of a dream wedding.
Categories: Paranormal, Sex/Romance
Posted by Alex on Sat Aug 11, 2007
Comments (16)
I guess with over one billion people, it's inevitable that China would produce its share of kooks, quacks and crazies. This 71-year-old man who claims to let 220 volts flow through his body as a form of exercise and says he can cook fish in his bare hands in two minutes fits into at least two of those categories. Oh, he can cure arthritis, too. I just upped him to all three categories.

Chinese man cures arthritis with electricity
Categories: Folklore/Tall Tales, Health/Medicine, Paranormal
Posted by Cranky Media Guy on Tue Jul 10, 2007
Comments (7)
Last week a security camera at a New Mexico courthouse caught an image of a mysterious blob of light seeming to float around the parking lot. This has already been posted and discussed in the forum. And for those who haven't yet seen the video, here it is:



The new news about the blob is that Ben Radford of Skeptical Inquirer magazine visited the courthouse today (Wednesday) in an attempt to shed some light on the mystery. NewMexican.com reports:
Radford spent more than an hour Wednesday near the back door to the Steve Herrera Judicial Complex on Catron Street taking measurements and performing experiments. He occasionally dipped into his “ghost-busting kit” — a plastic organizer with various compartments containing extra batteries, rope, Velcro and a fingerprint dusting kit. At one point, he used a 3- to 4-foot long section of black, plastic pipe to blow a piece of cotton from a cottonwood tree into the air in front of the camera that caught the ghostly image. Radford also tried to coax a moth to fly in front of the camera, which is mounted about 12 feet off the ground, though the moth was not very cooperative, he said.
The last time I saw Ben was when I visited him at the offices of Skeptical Inquirer in Buffalo, New York. I'm quite jealous that he actually has a ghost-busting kit and is getting to do an on-site investigation of something hoaxy. Why can't these things ever happen in San Diego?

Anyway, Ben concluded that the strange floating light was probably "a piece of tree fluff or a spider or insect crawling across the camera lens." The insect explanation seems like the likeliest one to me.
Categories: Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 21, 2007
Comments (10)
image Donald Stephens, Mayor of Rosemont in Illinois for fifty-one years, died on April 18. But now he's come back. On a tree. The Chicago Tribune reports that:
Eerily, a likeness of the late mayor's face has appeared on a tree outside the village-owned health club, according to some people who have seen it. In a town still grieving for the larger-than-life mayor, who died April 18, the mysterious image is sure to add to the Stephens mystique.
I find it amazing that people think it's the late mayor and not Jesus. Though, according to the article, some observers did initially think it resembled Jesus. Apparently, to really see the resemblance, you need to stand inside the health club and look out at the tree through the glass doors. And probably having a couple shots of whisky doesn't hurt either. (Thanks, Joe)
Categories: Death, Paranormal, Pareidolia
Posted by Alex on Thu Jun 07, 2007
Comments (13)
image
Botched Fax Prompts “Terrorism” Scare (MadCarlotta)
Police shut down a strip mall in Boston on Wednesday after a branch of Bank of America received a faulty fax. The fax, which had been sent out by the bank's corporate office, had left off some of the text, leaving some dubious clip art. The plaza was evacuated for around three hours.

Roswell Theme Park (Madmouse)
Roswell city officials plan a UFO-themed amusement park that could open as early as 2010. Local shopkeepers base a large proportion of their trade around the UFO craze, and believe that the theme park would give tourists more to do whilst visiting.

Dutch Reality Show: Win This Person’s Kidney! (Slender Loris)
Earlier this week, Dutch TV station BNN announced their latest reality show. The premise was that a woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour would choose which of three contestants to donate a kidney to before she died. The Big Donor Show immediately sparked international furore, with mixed attitudes towards the show's concept. Today, it was revealed that the show was a hoax. Whilst it still aired, the woman playing the potential donor was perfectly healthy and, although the three contestants were in need of replacement kidneys, they were fully aware of the show's real premise. The show was aired and advertised as it was to draw attention to the shortage of donor organs in the Netherlands. Judging from the international coverage, they succeeded.

Japanese Ghost Girl (Boo)
Youtube hosts yet another unconvincing 'ghost' video. Look for the point where the special effects kick in.

Car made of cake (Nettie)
Photos of a Skoda advertisement wherein they make a whole car from cake.

An intriguing and mysterious website (Beasjt's number is 669)
Can you decipher the code?
imageJon-Erik Beckjord has taken photographs that show images of Ron Goldman and Nicole Brown Simpson, as well as OJ Simpson, he claims. The photos were taken at the scene of the murders, and Beckjord believes that the images are an accusation from beyond the grave. He says that the photographs show OJ's face alongside those he was acquitted of murdering, and his theory is that the spirits of Goldman and Simpson are making a statement.

Beckjord is a keen observer of the strange. "He acts as perhaps a psychic “lightening rod” for anomalies, since he has filmed Nessie, filmed UFOs at Area 51, photographed strange beings in crop circles and also has recently photographed a ten foot tall Bigfoot in the Sierras."

UPDATE: Chuck has noted that Beckjord is selling these images on ebay for a minimum bid of $100, 000. I can't see anyone paying that much for fuzzy images that can be barely be interpreted as faces at all, let alone any specific faces.
Categories: Celebrities, Death, Paranormal, Pareidolia, Photos/Videos
Posted by Flora on Sun Nov 26, 2006
Comments (26)

Gnome Liberation Front Strikes Again
On Nov. 1 79 garden gnomes were liberated by the Garden Gnome Liberation Front in France. The gnomes were later found along the bank of a stream "in some underbrush with a banner that read, 'gnome mistreated, gnome liberated.'"

Fake Priests in Japan
The BBC has an article about the growing popularity of using fake priests at Japanese weddings: "The fake Western priests are employed at Western-style weddings to give a performance and add to the atmosphere. These are not legal ceremonies - the couples also have to make a trip to the local registrar." Apparently it's becoming quite a big business. I also wrote about this in Hippo Eats Dwarf, so it's not exactly new news.

New Kidney Turning Man into his Wife
Ian Gammons received a kidney transplant from his wife. Now he claims that the kidney is slowly causing him to adopt her personality traits: "Now the 51-year-old Briton is never happier than when baking scones or "wandering round the shops and looking for bargains", he says. He has even begun to share his wife's love of dogs, an animal he despised before receiving the kidney a year ago."

Uri Geller Claims Remote Viewing Helped US Find Hussein
Of course, we all know how credible Uri Geller is, so when he says something like this it immediately commands our respect. Remember his appearance on the Tonight Show?

New Political Dirty Trick: Robocalls
The GOP is being accused of making robocalls: tape-recorded phone messages that appear to be made by their Democratic rivals. The strategy is to make voters so disgusted by getting all these automated calls, often receiving them late at night, that they'll decide to switch their vote to the candidate not making those calls, i.e. the GOP.
Categories: Gnomes, Military, Paranormal, Politics, Religion
Posted by Alex on Tue Nov 07, 2006
Comments (13)

Fake Bill
Man arrested for trying to pass a fake "Bill" bill: "The bill was unmistakably fake due to the fact that the ink was running on the bill, the president's face was missing and for the president's name, it had the name Clinton on it," said Deputy Nathan Stephens. About time a Clinton bill has surfaced. We've already seen too many of those phony Bush Bills.

Case of the Inhaled Vampire Tooth
Because of Halloween this news story has been going around. Back in 1995 Josh Anderson accidentally inhaled a fake vampire tooth. But doctors couldn't find anything. Sixteen years later "A bronchoscopy produced a mass of granulated tissue surrounding a perfectly intact vampire tooth, about as long as a thumbnail."

Pop Culture is Home of Hoaxes
The Sacramento Bee ran an article about hoaxes, in honor of Halloween, and called me up for a quick phone interview. The article requires registration, but here's the part where I'm featured: "Our attention span is small because there's such a mass of information available." Alex Boese, author of "Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes," agrees. "(Mass media) makes this a ripe time for getting fooled," Boese says, on the phone recently from San Diego. The good news? Mass media "also makes it easier for us to debunk (hoaxes)," he says.

image Spooky Lens Aberration
From a Worth1000 thread: A friend of mine took this photo whilst walking through a wooded area in Scotland recently. No, there was no mist or smoke around. Anyone out there got any logical explanation for the misty visage in the bottom left? (Thanks, Kathy)

Freshman 15 is real
According to the legend of the Freshman 15, college students typically gain 15 pounds during their first year. Brown University researchers have now determined that this is almost true: "According to research presented last week, the "freshman 15" might be more real than previously thought -- although the actual weight gained by freshman is more likely to be between five and 10 pounds." By the time I graduated from college I had gained almost 30 pounds. I went from 170 to 200. But I lost the weight pretty quickly.
Categories: Body Manipulation, Business/Finance, Paranormal
Posted by Alex on Wed Nov 01, 2006
Comments (17)
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