Sunday, 12 August 2007

Ghosts in the Machine

Last night I saw part of a quite delightful programme called Ghosts Caught on Tape: Fact or Fiction?, on obscure digital-only fringe channel Zone Reality. The show was essentially nothing more than a succession of amateurish looking videos, all claiming to show ghosts. These were paraded, one by one before first the viewer, and then a group of experts who all dutifully pointed out that the videos were probably the most feeble attempts to prove anything since the Ontological Argument. There was one where the ghost moved quickly down a flight of stairs, but did so in front of the banister and in perfect synchrony with the movements of the camera, which the presenter seemed to find entirely convincing. There was one made by some students, on purpose, using video-editing software. They'd essentially done nothing very complicated, and the programme makers were clearly stringing out the interview to make it seem like a long, complex process was needed to make such an obviously convincing video -- at one point one of the students told the viewer that the part that had taken longest was "making the effects look right".

Another video showed a large dark patch which moved in a slightly odd way. It then panned round to show the same patch in mirror, which the announced claimed "proves it isn't an artifact", because an 'artifact' would of course have not appeared in a mirror. One of the experts immediately pointed out (in as many words) that that wasn't true and they moved on to the next video. This went on until we grew tired of it, and then presumably some more time.

As long as nobody took it seriously, I love this kind of show. If anyone did take it seriously, they probably need locking up somewhere soft but secure.


Adam said...

Ghost in the Shell FTW, Screw you will harris!

Stephen F said...

A brilliant point well executed, Adam