Ghost Apps: Fun or Fraud?

The old adage, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is” couldn’t be more appropriate way to start this article. The subject alone is enough to make anyone serious about paranormal research pull their hair out.

Ghost apps. How are they fooling the masses? Especially “educated paranormal researchers”??  Makes you wonder,  right?

But it’s true, it’s happening.  As a research team ourselves, we find it particularly annoying. I can count on both hands the number of times we’ve been presented with a photo of a ghost in clear shot, detailed, and staring right into the camera. It’s always:
1. Attached to a story about the moment it was taken, and then followed by a story of people wanting to move out of their homes immediately, and then we are asked if we can investigate their home. *SIGH*
2. “My ____ (sister, cousin, friend, uncle) sent me this photo and they are terrified.”  Of course then follows the story of torment, wanting to move out of their house, yada yada,  and then of course we are asked if we can investigate their home. *EYE ROLL*
As the person who normally serves as the liaison between our team and the client, I find this to be extremely disrespectful. It’s a huge waste of time for us. What an insult to the services we’ve provided to hundreds. Not only is this an insult to us, but it’s an even bigger insult to people who have had true experiences. I have seen some truly tormented people living with things that would make the average person shudder, and here I am stuck arguing the validity of a civil war soldier standing in Uncle Pete’s kitchen here in Northern California.
This is about the point an individual gets upset that I am not buying into their claim, and an argument ensues. People can be very hostile, when you catch them in a lie. When you have to be the one to tell them that they have produced a fraudulent photo, the bashing begins.  “You guys have no clue what you’re doing, you call yourselves paranormal investigators? Turning away people who truly need help!!” We’re paranormal investigators, not psychologists, know what I mean? I’m sure many paranormal investigators can relate.

The Difference Between Fun and Fraud.

So of course when these apps originally started I am more than certain they were created to be for entertainment and maybe to pull a prank on someone. They were not created to be used as a tool to gain sympathy and attention from people. But, unfortunately that is precisely what has happened here. In the day in age of paranormal reality television, everyone wants to hop on board and tell their story – even when they don’t have one. Sure ghost hunting has been highly glamorized (but really there’s not much glamorous about hanging around in dusty barns and buildings with a flashlight strapped to your head talking to something that may or may not be there), so of course everyone wants a piece of the action. With ghost shows being hot on TV, more now than ever, people believe ghosts are literally everywhere. They’ve become like a very posh pet- all the cool kids have one, or do they?

While it’s fun to play a joke on your buddy, take his photo and show him a demonic looking baby ghost behind him, it’s not so funny to produce a photo and tell everyone that you’re being attacked, or plagued by a presence. People will go so far to play into this “act” that family and friends grow worried for that person. For example, I have been asked my opinion for a photo submitted by a frantic mother who’s teenage child had been claiming to be tormented by an entity of a woman. This mother put her house on the market and began the moving process in order to escape this nonexistent spirit.
Another more recent submission came from a woman trying to convince my team that the spirit in the photo shes showing us, is that of her mother that had committed suicide years before. I was luckily able to produce another photo of the exact same ghost in which I stuck to my laptop, right next to the image she sent me on my computer screen. She adamantly denied fraud. I was then verbally assaulted and told I had no business doing what I do, because I was a moron.
Once again. We are not psychologists, we study spirits, not mental disorders.

Where to Draw the Line?

While we cannot stop Ghost App Developers from creating these pesky little applications, we can educate the general public on telling the difference between an app and the real deal (which are still up for debate).
Let’s think about this logically for a minute; someone is able to produced an extremely detailed photo of a ghost. Sometimes not even once, but over and over. If ghosts have the ability to stop and pose for a photo on demand, then what are we doing here? Why is it always with cellphones?  The capturing of valid evidence is not that easy. Matter of fact no one has EVER produced a photo that is 100% without a doubt, void of speculation. Even some of the most famous ghost photos ever captured for decades, are still up for debate. No one truly knows what they have captured. Yet little Timmy has captured at least 3 full body apparitions in the last year. Red flags?

A couple ways you can tell if a ghost photo is fraudulent:
1) Is this photo taken with a cell phone? If so, be leery. There are a TON of applications out there that can produce very convincing ghost photos. Not just apparition photos, but mists, vortexes and even, ORBS. Yes, I said orbs. There are actual ghost app orbs. Why anyone would want to hoax one of the most easily debatable subjects in the paranormal community is simply beyond me, but it happens.
2) Ask to see the original. There are tons of programs out there that can let you know if a photo has been modified using the EXIF data. http://www.exifdata.com/  is a great one. If there is a complete lack of EXIF data then you know someone has modified the photo. Not only can you tell if a photo is modified, you can also tell what equipment was used to take a photo. If it says Samsung S3 and they say they took it with a regular digital camera, you know that they are not being honest with you. Want to learn more about EXIF? Check out our blog about it: EXIF DATA.

3) Check out the Internet, there are more and more databases being built by teams so you can find Ghost App Ghosts easily there are a few on the Internet that circulate frequently, and are STILL fooling people. New ghosts are popping up daily, though.

4) Use common sense, trust your gut. Does it look too be good to be true? Then question it! Especially paranormal researchers! It’s our job to question. If someone is unwillingly to produce the original photo, or gets easily upset when you question it, then something is up. People who are being honest or have a legitimate claim, will not mind being asked questions or providing what proof they have. Remember not all ghost apps are just straight up full body apparitions, there are monsters, Bigfoot, UFOs, mists, orbs- you name it.

5) Save yourself a headache. NEVER diagnose a photo that is sent to you over social media. You cannot properly analyze a photo that is sent this way. Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks change the data format of photos, plus they compress images. You cannot give an educated guess about a photo with out examining its data. Plus bottom line, you weren’t there! Too many factors play into analyzing a photo. But remember, just because someone was there, doesn’t make them right when they say it’s a legitimate ghost. Who’s to say they’re being honest?
Admitting a photo is a ghost without knowing for sure, can ruin the integrity of your team, and all of your hard work.

Conclusion

Paranormal ghost apps are damaging to the paranormal community. Being slightly skeptical of what others produce as “evidence” is completely healthy for the field. Many people feel that in order to be skeptical, that you must not be a believer of the paranormal, but that is completely untrue. Being skeptical of the paranormal, and being skeptical of people and their methods of evidence collection are two different things. These apps are a major set back for us. They undermine true paranormal phenomena, and the experiences that people have. As investigators, we should be banning together and educating people. There should be a zero tolerance for people using these apps as a means of seeking attention. It is a waste of time and energy that should be spent on helping people who truly need it. It’s a waste of time that can be used on conducting studies that benefit the field. It’s also a waste of time from our personal lives that we could be spending with out families and enjoying our down time. It is truly unfair and disrespectful to the people who dedicate their time to help others.

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