Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Burden of Proof

More and more skeptical themed websites and blogs are popping up now-a-days. While I appreciate this trend, it's also producing more dilemmas for the skeptical community. I have been seeing more and more "debunking" of photos and videos lately and it has me thinking, just because someone has created a more plausible explanation doesn't automatically deem the subject debunked. The explanation might just be as much bunk as the original claim. For instance, I have seen several videos debunking the video of the Savanna cemetery ghost. While it could have been spanish moss or a deliberate hoax, both concepts are pure speculation. There's nothing wrong with coming up with alternate suggestions, but substantial proof is still necessary. It's a double edged sword.
Same with this photo that's been making the rounds on the paranormal forums.

While it could has been created with photoshop, it also could have been created by shooting through a pane of glass, or just a lousy picture taken in a poorly lit environment. If we skeptics demand solid proof, I think we owe it to the rest of the crowd to give the same. As for this photo, There are many ways it could be duplicated, but I cannot make any claims about it. I don't have enough information.

We skeptics are supposed to be the rational ones. Let's try and set an example.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Swamp monster duplicity

Although I'm getting a little sick of it, more evidence has come to light.
This picture has been making the rounds and most sources point to this thread on
Sources provided a screen cap of the post, too.
Also provided were the alleged original files:

What's nice about having the original files is that you can examine the EXIF data. Unfortunately, these were not the original files and have both been edited. However, the pixel size of these pictures do not correspond with each other, which suggests manipulation.

So, we're relatively sure that the monster image has been manipulated. The next step is searching for traces of it.

One odd thing I noted is that every leaf and twig seem to be in the exact position in the two photos, as can be seen in this superimposition:

What's odd about that is that, according to the time stamps, these pictures were taken nine days apart. You would expect to see some change. Though, this image proves that the deer photo was not the original photo. The only detectable trace of manipulation I could find is the dark "halo" around the monsters head. Originally I thought that it could have been a shadow, but the IR light cast from the camera originates in the center and this dark area stretches to the left (center). This seems to indicate that the smudge tool was used to blend the foreign object (the monster) into the background image.

None of this evidence supports or denies the claims made that this is a part of a viral marketing campaign of any sort, However it does support the fact that this is a digitally manipulated image.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Now taking requests

Shadow of a Doubt has expanded and is now taking submissions. This new service offers professional analysis and interpretation of alleged evidence of the paranormal.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Swamp Monster addendum

Update: postulates that the swamp monster photo is part of a viral marketing campaign for the upcoming Resistance 3. Insomniac games' tweeted
Whoops… looks like one got out. If you see a Grim on the loose… please return to Insomniac Games, Burbank, CA:
The "Grim" is a new strain of the Chimera enemy that first appeared in Resistance 2.

I make no claims to the accuracy of this report.

Newer update:
More internet speculation. According to, this image is Super 8 viral marketing that began on a hunting supply site's Facebook page and wended its way to mainstream media:
It first appeared on Wildgame Innovation's Facebook page. It is a picture reportedly snapped by a deer hunter on a reserve in Berwick, near Morgan City, Louisianna [sic]. It was originally being passed off as real, but now inside sources close to the production say its actually a viral image from Super 8 (the Steven Spielberg-produced and J.J. Abrams-directed alien flick ). There is even video from a young Weirton, West Virginia extra called "Crying Girl", who talks about having a run in with this creature in the movie.

I'm going to maintain the position that this is just a simple hoax for now.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Swamp Monster caught on trail cam

Let's nip this in the bud.
This story is popping up on all of the blogs I read and thankfully, most people agree that it's fake. However, the fact that it made the news is sad.
Ok, yeah, it looks pretty fake, but the submitter claims "this is not a hoax!". Really? Was it a hoax the previous time you submitted it to a trail cam forum?

Hmm, something fishy going on here... Did you see it?