Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Picture Of A Ghost Taken At A University In Baguio City?

It's a slow day for relevant news today so I'm going to do something I rarely do in this blog. And that is write about ghosts and the paranormal. Before anything else, I'm going to say this right out of the gate: I don't believe in ghosts. Sure, thousands of people throughout the past centuries have claimed seeing one. The irony here is that we are yet to see a SINGLE hard evidence showing that ghosts and any of their ilk do exist. All we have are shady photos, dubious videos, and questionable sighting accounts.

This brings us to a particular photo that went viral this past week. The photo was first posted on the Louisian Files Facebook page. Taken at a classroom in Saint Louis University, the photo shows what looked like the face of a young girl peering out from outside a window. I can confirm that the photo was indeed taken inside SLU. The ancient arm chairs and the blue tables with their paint peeling off are hard to miss. They do bring back a lot of memories but that's getting ahead of the story.

Anyway, the photo caused quite a stir online because many think that the "image" is a ghost. But is it really? As I said earlier, I don't believe in ghosts so I'm going to provide possible explanations that don't rely on the paranormal.

The first thing that came to my mind when I first saw the photo is pareidolia. This is a psychological phenomenon that describes the tendency of humans to see images and patterns where none actually exists. A perfect example is the "man in the moon" observation. Or of images of Jesus Christ or God appearing in walls, fruits, tree trunks, and rubble. They're all products of man's propensity to exaggerate his imagination.

Here's David Hume talking about pareidolia: "There is a universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer to every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good- will to every thing, that hurts or pleases us."

Let's assume that the photo wasn't doctored in any way. Even if this is the case, the ghost image in the photo could've been caused by anything. A reflection, a mirror, a play of light and shadows, an anomaly in the camera or phone used, or even a real girl. Using Occam's Razor in determining which theory would best explain the image, the "ghost explanation" would be at the bottom of the list.
Image credit: The Louisian Files
Here's the text that accompanies the photo as posted by The Lousian Files: "Whose head is this? On November 20, in a106, I was taking pictures during our practice for an event. I took two shots: same time (maybe two or three seconds apart), same angle, same phone, same everything, except for the size, because I switched it from regular to square size, which only takes a second. In the first photo, I caught something that looks like a young girl but with no body(?). In the next second when I took the second photo, she disappeared. You may not believe me, but I did not edit/tamper with this photo in anyway, all I did was compile the pictures into one."