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Skepticism


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#1 MoonChild

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 03:21 AM

I was surfing when I came across this link http://www.geocities...18/burngirl.htm

the following excerpts made me post this:

Skeptics, including Dr. Harrison, have claimed the child is nothing more than the convenient arrangement of smoke, flame, light, and shadow at the moment of exposure. But what are the odds of smoke, flame, light, and shadow randomly forming the shape of a girl in the doorway of a building allegedly haunted by a girl, at the very moment a photographer took this picture? The odds must be at least ten billion to one-- as high as the odds of having captured a real ghost on film.

well, is Skepticism all about debunking everything?
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#2 Gregory

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 10:03 AM

Well, is Skepticism all about debunking everything?


Certainly not.  At least not as I use the word.

Personally, I have no opinion on the photograph, not being qualified to form one, but can I assume that you find Dr. Harrison's explanation unconvincing?

Incidentally, if you keep changing you avatar like this, you're going to give me some sort of nervous condition.
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#3 NocturnalCantaloupe

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 10:04 AM

Hehheh nah, just trying to exercise common sense.
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#4 MoonChild

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Posted 23 October 2003 - 11:24 PM

Personally, I have no opinion on the photograph, not being qualified to form one, but can I assume that you find Dr. Harrison's explanation unconvincing?

This is what I find unconvincing!

Skeptics, including Dr. Harrison, have claimed the child is nothing more than the convenient arrangement of smoke, flame, light, and shadow at the moment of exposure


But logically speaking what is the chance of getting all these factors TOGETHER at that time! ???

Incidentally, if you keep changing you avatar like this, you're going to give me some sort of nervous condition.


;) :D :D IT is this habit of me experimenting with my avatar that made me DELETE myself twice from the Village! And as you can see, I am a newbie again, though I have almost close to 1500 posts to MoonChild's credit! lol Reincarnation you tell!
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#5 Rockhauler2k1

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 01:44 PM

well, is Skepticism all about debunking everything?



Nope , its about taking things logicaly to a fault if your not careful. Skepticisim in balance is a good thing but can very easily go astray if your not vigilant of its cycicysim.

Actually, I consider myself a bit of a skeptic. Ive seen too much in 12 years to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

I simply have witnessed things that defy logical explaniation in my travels and in my investigations , therefore I walk a line of truth that is sometimes shrouded in mystery.

I will also conceed that my level of understanding can be inadequate at times. After all, ones perception is limited to ones knowlege . I usually share my data with others in order to use their knowlege to further my own. It seems like a formula for success.

As for the photo, its either what it appears to be or not .  ;)

I use the anaology : Either Jesus Christ was who he said he was , or he was one of the greatest con-men that walked the planet.

You decide for yourself .  :-/

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#6 Gregory

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 02:47 PM

I use the anaology : Either Jesus Christ was who he said he was , or he was one of the greatest con-men that walked the planet.


Or he never existed in the first place, or he did exist but never claimed to be the son of God (after all, the only records we have of what he said were  written by other people), or he existed but suffered from some sort of delusional disorder, or...

Things are rarely as clear-cut as we'd like them to be.
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#7 Gregory

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 04:01 PM

This is what I find unconvincing!

I don't get your meaning.

But logically speaking what is the chance of getting all these factors TOGETHER at that time! ???


I don't know.  But you might want to consider this: of all the pictures ever taken of burning houses, what are the chances that random factors will conspire to create a few photographs like this?  Not that bad, I should think.
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#8 MoonChild

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Posted 24 October 2003 - 07:43 PM

I don't know.  But you might want to consider this: of all the pictures ever taken of burning houses, what are the chances that random factors will conspire to create a few photographs like this?  Not that bad, I should think.


;) pleazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

so does that mean, all the other photographs are unquestionable and only the "few" like this is questioned?
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#9 Gregory

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 05:49 AM

;) pleazzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

It was just a thought, but not, I think, totally invalid.  Wildy unlikely things happen; they're bound to, with so much going on.  Whether this is a chance phenomona is open to debate (but not by me; I've already explained why), but I don't think it's as implausable is it's made out to be.

So does that mean, all the other photographs are unquestionable and only the "few" like this is questioned?


I don't quite take your meaning.  Nobody's questioning the photograph; what's being questioned is people's interpretation of the photo.

Do you happen to know, by the way, whether Whem Hall was reported to be haunted before all of this?
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#10 JimTheBrit

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Posted 25 October 2003 - 06:08 AM

is Skepticism all about debunking everything?
Absolutely not. No way. Critical thinking is the analysis of statements made about the way things were, are or will be or about things that should or should not be done. Skepticism is a smaller part of this, dealing only with claims that concern the natural world - things that can be tested using science.

Re: the photo
But logically speaking what is the chance of getting all these factors TOGETHER at that time!

Well, we just don't know. The odds are reported as being as 'at least ten billion to one' - but how did the author of the article arrive at this figure? What is his experience in the calculation of probabilities? Has he just assumed that the odds are very unlikely and plucked them from the air? Do you think it reasonable to accept these odds as accurate, given these questions?

What are the odds on the following scenarios occurring, do you think?

-Insects, weather and mould fashioning the remains of a rotting tree stump into the likeness of the Virgin Mary in a decaying neighbourhood?

-A broken window seal, a leaking chemical deposit and the passage of time shaping the image of the Virgin Mary onto a window in the grounds of a hospital?

-The influence of inherited characteristics, nutrition and temperature on the growth of a fruit and its subsequent harvesting and distribution colluding to deliver a message from Allah to a Muslim family?

Would you say billions to one, in each case? You might be surprised - Mary1 - Mary2 - AllahMessage.

How many of the people visiting these occurrences would have been persuaded of the reality of the event by the 'billion to one' odds against it happening?

I'm not saying that the photo isn't a genuine photograph of an apparition. Without corroborating evidence though, can we confidently say it is? I don't think so. This one goes in my 'U for Unexplained' file.

#11 secretsign

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Posted 28 October 2003 - 03:35 PM

It looks very clearly like a girl to me not smoke, flames,lights or shawows. It also would make sense to me that if a fire was started once before by a little girl and that she is said to haunt the building. The picture could be believable.
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#12 MoonChild

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Posted 28 October 2003 - 07:04 PM

Proof like beauty is in the eye of the beholder.


That is right SecretSign! 8)

that is exactly what I said in another thread that "you see what you wanna see, you hear what you wanna hear"! Human mind has complex funtioning and we tend to seek what is best suited for our emotional needs.

and hey! I know Skepticism is not de-bunking anything and everything, but going thru that article and seeing that that photo had been analyzed by qualified people, and again seeing Dr.Harrison's comment, well, it BAD_WORD me off!
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#13 plindboe

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Posted 31 October 2003 - 08:41 PM

Whenever an expert is quoted, people often buy it as the ultimate truth. Experts often disagree with each other, and has completely conflicting ideas on just about every issue. Therefore, just because an expert says that he believes the photograph have not been tampered with, doesn't necessarily make it genuine. Also just because he is an expert, doesn't mean that he could not be fooled. It's quite possible that this is a hoax. If there were rumors of the Town Hall being haunted by a little girl, that could be where he got the idea of inserting a girl, to make the ultimate hoax. I also wonder why it is in black and white, when it was taken in 1995.

I don't buy into the girl-made-by-smoke theory, but still I would like people to consider this: How many photographs are taken throughout the world in a year? 100 billion perhabs? That would mean that even though the chances were 10 billion to 1, there would easily be produced around 10 pictures with the same remote probability every year. It's like the lottery. It's extremely unlikely to win, but still people around the world win all the time.

Then again, it's not entirely impossible that it could be a ghost. But I see no reason to jump to such a conclusion.

Peter ;)
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#14 stevenedel

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Posted 01 November 2003 - 05:34 AM

it's not entirely impossible that it could be a ghost. But I see no reason to jump to such a conclusion.


I agree. Even though the `Wem ghost` seems to be one of the most convincing ghost photographies ever, introducing supernatural explanations (which, by the way, do not explain much, but rather generate loads of new questions!) is only an option if natural explanations, even those with very low probabilities of occurring, can be convincingly ruled out. That certainly isn´t the case here. For one thing, people always seem to underestimate the propensity of the human mind to find meaningful patterns, and the detection of face patterns is the most basic of these. Humans will see faces everywhere: in the moon, on the surface of Mars, in a smiley  ;) - almost any arrangement of a few shadows and dots seems sufficient to suggest a face. However, when you zoom in on the Wem girl face, it falls apart. The 'nose' is too big, its shadows are wrong, and it is out of alignment with the 'mouth'. Blink twice and suddenly its no longer the face of a girl looking to the right, but that of a bearded old man looking to the left. That some elements of the figure are in front of the railing and others behind it has been pointed out too. Moreover, in relation to the door and considering the perspective of the railing, which in fact was 3 metres outside the wall, it would be a pretty huge girl - though as a ghost I suppose she is allowed to float in the air...

Other parts of the story don´t add up either. Folklore has linked the ghost with Jane Churm, who supposedly set fire to the old town hall in 1677. In fact the girl accidentally set fire to a thatched roof somewhere in the village, after which almost the entire village burned down. There is nothing to link her specifically to the town hall.

Furthermore, fire brigade video footage, taken from about the same location as O´Rahilly´s photo, clearly showed a burning roof beam in the exact position where the 'face' is seen.

Adding all this up, the random occurrence of a facelike pattern in this case seems far more likely to me than the apparition of a ghost. The fact that mr. O´Rahilly was quick to copyright his picture and make some money from it doesn´t improve things as far as I´m concerned: commercial interest will only boost the ghostly interpretation and make it harder to scrutinize the picture without bias.
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#15 krcguns

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Posted 02 November 2003 - 06:54 AM

I do have a couple of thoughts to add to this thread.  I don't know if the pic is real or been edited or what, I wasn't there when the pic was taken.  I do have to comment on the comment about skeptics debunking everything....it seems that the skeptics here say no way, that isn't what it means at all.  I don't think that it means that either but there are a lot of skeptics out there that are so closed minded that no level of proof will ever convince them.  They will call the paranormal anything but what it is.  I think that you have to be skeptical to a certain degree and not believe in every pic as you see it because there are pics that aren't paranormal at all, but I also think that when you see one with no explanation you also have to be able to say that it could be paranormal for sure. ;D
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