U.K. Ghost Group Concerned About Fake Ghost Photos

November 15, 2011

The evidence for ghosts seems to be getting worse, not better, in large part due to pranksters and ghost-generating apps. Several smartphone apps allow their users to easily tweak photos to make them look strange or mysterious, adding quasi-transparent ghostly images in the background. These days it takes a few pushes of a button to add shadowy or faint figures of spooky little girls, Confederate soldiers, outlaws, monks, or any other historical figure you can think of.

One group in the United Kingdom that has raised concerns over the rise in fake ghost photos is the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP). I interviewed Carrie Searley of ASSAP, who told me, "Fortunately, for my department, fake ghost photography is in the minority, however, it does occur. One of the palpable effects of fabrication with these types of photos, can be wasted time spent by the person making the analysis. However, here at ASSAP we like to turn it into a positive. We are not here to merely ‘debunk' a subject or phenomena; one of our aims is to offer a scientific explanation as to the methodology used in creating a fake ghost photograph. Our initial concern pertaining to these photographs would be that they have been intentionally produced to misinform others; this could include people who may be of a susceptible nature."

I asked Searley about the different types of fake photos. "There is a clear distinction between a photo that has been purposely faked and a photo that contains something xenonormal (an anomaly that appears to be mystical but has a natural cause.) I can quite confidently say that 95% of photographs that I receive contain explainable causes, and 3% of photos are thought to have been faked by the photographer. Whilst the remaining 2% cannot be scientifically explained." Agree or not, ASSAP has requested the public's help in cataloguing known fakes created by sneaky smartphone apps.