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It's the child's grandmother. The child has leukemia is fixing to cross over during her second transplant. The spirits on the other side know that Erin is fixing to leave this world.

Hi, Michael.
I've just enhanced the brightness of the pic and the figure vanished. I think that's only a burst of flames coming out from a firework on the rear of the girl.
You can take a look at the modified picture here:
http://ampupages.webng.com/image2.jpg

My 2cents worth ...

Some kind of internal reflection on the camera lens of another guest at the part?

Art,

It's a New Age no-no to predict someone's death, even if you have good reason to believe you're right. IMHO.

I sure don't see the Virgin Mary. To me, the entity does not look human. More like an ET or non-human spirit guide.

"I've just enhanced the brightness of the pic and the figure vanished."

It doesn't look to me as if the "ghost" figure has vanished in your modified photo. I still see it. The little girl's image has vanished - she appears to have been overexposed, so upping the brightness would erase her from the shot.

To clarify: the little girl is the smaller, brighter figure in the original shot.

My be "vanished" isn't the right word, sorry, better to say that brightening the image the shape of the "V.Mary" looks more like a flame.

After looking at it more closely, I think the photo probably illustrates the mind's tendency to see human shapes in random patterns, as seen in the Rorschach (ink blot) test. As Claudio notes, the "figure" really doesn't look that much like a human being. It has no visible arms or legs, and only the vague suggestion of a face, which (like the "face" of the Man in the Moon) simply consists of a few dark spots that the mind interprets as eyes and mouth.

I've always found alleged spirit photographs to be interesting. I think most of them have normal explanations. A few do seem to be paranormal in nature.

My thoughts on this:
1. The image in the red dress is clearly a human female. I can't see it any other way.
2. I see nothing to suggest the identity of the female in the red dress to be the virgin Mary. The assignment of that identity is purely the consequence of belief system.
3. The image's long dark hair and red dress are distinctive. Unless the parents are completely blinded by hope and belief (always a possibility), they should have been able to discern that the image was a reflection of a guest at the party or someone else photographed earlier or later if that was the indeed case.
4. The "spirit's" dress is of an interesting design and quality. It seems out of place for the setting. Actually, it seems out of place, period.

"I can't help thinking of those near-death experiences in which the Being of Light is identified by the NDEr as Jesus, even though the Being could be anyone, or anything, at all."

Right. People perceive and, especially, assign meaning through a complex set of cultural and psychological filters. This is why I have only been interested in NDEs because they demonstrate that consciousness without physical functions is possible.

Personally, I don't think that we can use NDEs to understand what life, death, god, etc. are all about. All of that is way too subject to the personal biases of the NDE experiencer.

Wow, what a slew of nasty ignorant comments on the photo and story here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/25/virgin-mary-apparition-erin-potter-ohio_n_3336606.html

What is wrong with these people?

".....brightening the image the shape of the "V.Mary" looks more like a flame."

Claudio, that would be a big flame for a sparkler to produce, even with some smearing of the image due to movement. Also, we know what is coming off the tip of the sparklers is flame and that flame is a totally different color and brightness from the color of what appears to be the red dress.

Personally, I'm not invested in whether or not the pic contains a supernatural image. I think Michael's point about perception being culturally biased is the meat and potatoes here.

Still, I do see an older female behind the child :-)

I still see an image of a woman in your enhancements. This is even after covering up different sections of the "Mary" image with post it notes.

I think the image does have what could be construed to be arms and legs; not clearly defined, but definitely something there that I can see as such.

Let me put it this way. If someone had presented the pic as simply a child and a baby sitter at a backyard party, would anyone question that that is what they were looking at?

"It's a New Age no-no to predict someone's death, even if you have good reason to believe you're right. IMHO." - Matt Rouge
------------

I worked in biomedical research for 20 years. I'm really good at it. It was my job to predict when animals were fixing to die and then euthanize them and do a necropsy and make slides out of their tissues. The last ten years I worked in lung cancer research.

||I worked in biomedical research for 20 years. I'm really good at it. It was my job to predict when animals were fixing to die and then euthanize them and do a necropsy and make slides out of their tissues. The last ten years I worked in lung cancer research.||

Like I said...

How could you tell if our prediction was correct if you euthanised them? Wasn't it a self-fulfilling prophecy? (Tongue in cheek).

The comments on the photo in the "Huffington Post" article are indeed disturbing.

While the general tenor of these arguments is probably correct - i.e. that the photo shows some sort of artifact caused by glare from the firework, and that the girl's parents are probably grasping at straws during a very difficult time ...

Nevertheless, what disgusting comments! As "no one" says, "what is wrong with these people?". These comments seem to inhabit the outer reaches of human nastiness, vindictiveness and insensitivity. You can almost feel the hatred and negativity radiating from the page.

I'm not sure whether these obviously militant atheists are simply hateful people who must deny God in order to retain their licence to hate, or whether they are excessively left-brained "sciency" types who have huge IQs but are quite unable to relate to other people.

Depressing stuff. If this is what the face of atheism and "skepticism" looks like, then I'm throwing in my lot with the Tooth Fairy and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.



http://www.sposamisubito.it/public/aziende/1657/FONTANE%20E%20SILUETTE%20ALLO%20ZERBINOok.JPG
I think that's a "fountain" of fireworks, those who don't fly away but stood still on the floor.

Yeah, looking at the pic again this morning, I think you are right Claudio.

It all goes back to the Albert Einstein quote about how one views our Universe.

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
― Albert Einstein

It all goes back to that "duality and separation" I keep talking about. They seem to be inherent properties of the physical universe and it will always be that way.

Some of us will view the Universe as though everything is a miracle and others as though nothing is a miracle.

Bottom line, what really matters:
"Whatever happened, you know something powerful and special was there with us. I definitely have my moments when I'm falling apart and I'm terrified and I literally grab my phone and I stare at that picture."

It's kind of interesting to read the HuffPo comments, and to see how quickly some people grasp at any "scientific" explanation, even when the explanation is clearly incorrect.

For instance, some commenters insisted that the ghostly image was an accidental double exposure of the child jumping immediately after the camera's flash illuminated her. But this is obviously wrong, since a) she could not possibly have such a high vertical leap and b) she is holding two sparklers, which would have showed up in the double exposed image.

Other commenters claimed that the the ghostly image must be the girl, because the "ghost" is dressed exactly the same way that she is - but even a moment's study of the photo would show that this is not true.

Then you have the ones who immediately assume that the parents Photoshopped the image to get publicity or "a book deal," even though people whose young child is battling leukemia probably have other things to worry about.

I'm not saying the photo is anything more than a technical glitch - who knows? But this jump-to-conclusions skepticism is no more logical or reasonable than immediately assuming that it's an image of the Virgin Mary.

"But this jump-to-conclusions skepticism is no more logical or reasonable than immediately assuming that it's an image of the Virgin Mary."

Au contraire, it certainly is much more logical and reasonable to be wholly skeptical of invisible creatures somehow appearing in the visible spectrum by way of flash photography. There was a big hoo-ha about orbs being angels a while back until someone realised that the flash of digital cameras creates orbs out of dust that comes close to the lens under certain lighting conditions. These "orb-angel" people have now gone strangely quiet, rather like the "December 2012 is the start of a new age" people.

Once again we see how superstitious and gullible people are -and how important it is always to apply the cold light of reason.

I'm not saying it's wrong to look for a natural explanation, Elevated. I'm saying it's wrong to latch on to obviously incorrect natural explanations and think that the anomaly has been explained.

"But this jump-to-conclusions skepticism is no more logical or reasonable than immediately assuming that it's an image of the Virgin Mary."

I have definitely seen this in action before, and by coincidence it also involves a sighting of the Virgin Mary. A mass sighting of the Virgin Mary at Zeitoun, Egypt (arguably the only sighting so far in history with lots of photos) has been tried to be explained by Michael Persinger by "tectonic strain theory", which basically says during earthquakes lights are produced that people have misinterpreted for things like UFOs or Mary.

I have talked to one of my geology professors at my university and he said he has heard of the theory and it is considered pseudoscience in the field, and I can assure you most other geologists who have heard of the theory will say the same. I think the reason why the theory is popular with some skeptics with regards to the Zeitoun incident is because it doesn't involve the supernatural, but it almost seems that they wanted a natural explanation so badly they failed to check if that explanation (ironically) worked with what we know about science. To boot it, Persinger's Wikipedia page has a reference where it states attempts to replicate his "tectonic strain theory" have so far failed.

One last thing, Photoshop within the past decade has basically put every photo we see at scrutiny. I know photo manipulation has been around for a long, long, time but the advent of Photoshop and other editors has put photo manipulation into the hands of almost everyone as opposed to previously which required trained professionals. So I can definitely see cries of "Photoshop!" with the case of this recent photo not out of the normal as this seems to be the case with so many controversial pictures these days.

I tend to think this photo was just some camera malfunction that's not understood yet. The image to me seems to be of a modern women in modern clothes - it looks like she was wearing short sleeves. I've seen those Virgin Mary photos at Zeitoun, Egypt, and they are really interesting - and notice how the photos show real people are actually seeing these images. Maybe a hoax or scam, but was the kind of technology necessary to pull it off available at that time? And what would have been the point or purpose? I could see this technology (if it exists) being used for military purposes, that would be huge.

I agree overall that photos will never be good evidence for anything today because of Photoshop - even an amateur like me can pull off amazing stuff with it.

I wonder what everyone thinks about this amazon review about another book Victor Zammit made about the evidence for an afterlife. Of course, Helen Duncan is a very questionable physical medium and committed fraud but this viewer also says that all mediums were caught cheating except for Eileen Garrett but she soon accepted Super psi theory over the spirit hypothesis.

He says the only evidence for life after death is apparitions and crisis apparitions.

http://www.amazon.com/review/R1TN03OT1GZ1M1/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg1?ie=UTF8&asin=1908733225&cdForum=Fx2BXVUZHV2PATQ&cdPage=1&cdThread=Tx1WS987BIFMCXE&store=books#wasThisHelpful

Hi Leo,
Metalhead does make some good points about the skeptical literature, which believers in the afterlife often will not read (just as disbelievers will not read the likes of Chris Carter). I also like his point about the subjective nature of NDEs, which can only ever be accessible to the single person who has them. He doesn't think there can be true evidence without multiple witnesses - interesting and possibly true.

Helen Duncan has been repeatedly discussed. It's an interesting case as the accounts of this medium do include some impressive testimonials, but it is difficult to reconcile these with the obviously dodgy photos we have.

However, recently it has been suggested that these photos were faked by the militant debunkers of the day who were determined to expose Duncan , and all mediums, as frauds.

There was a certain mania around the spiritualist movement at this time, but what is not talked about so much is the extent of mania among debunkers at this time and to what extent they were willing to set up mediums to prove their point. This area needs more work.

"He doesn't think there can be true evidence without multiple witnesses."

That strikes me as kind of silly. Suppose five individuals separately visit an uncharted jungle and bring back their accounts of it. We wouldn't say, "Well, until we have two or more explorers traveling together, we have no true evidence." Instead we would see whether or not the travelers' accounts were reasonably consistent with each other.

Incidentally, there have been cases of shared NDEs (Raymond Moody wrote a book about it), as well as Induced After-Death Communications (IADCs) that have been shared.

He came up with a list of psychical researchers who came to reject the spirit hypothesis for mediumship.

Psychical researchers some of who spent many years investigating mediumship came to reject the spirit hypothesis:

Eric Dingwall, Trevor H. Hall, Harry Price, Andrew Long, Frank Podmore, C. E. M. Joad, Tony Cornell, Carlos María de Heredia, Joseph Rinn, John Mullholland, C. D. Broad, William Brown, Whately Carington, E. R. Dodds, Hans Dreisch, Nandor Fodor, H. H. Price, W. H. Salter, Andrew Mackenzie, S. G. Soal, F. C. S. Schiller, J. B. Rhine, Robert Thouless, G. N. M. Tyrell, Donald West, Malcolm Bird, Theodore Besterman,William McDougall, Thomas Jay Hudson, Theodor Flournoy, Eugene Osty etc etc.

He also mentions

here is much skeptical literature out there regarding Piper and Gladys Osborne Leonard, and it existed way before the Csicop. I know people want to believe, but Leonard offered no evidence for the spirit hypothesis at all. I have personally spent countless hours reading into her mediumship. Both Whately Carrington (SPR member) and William Brown (psychologist and SPR member) carried out tests on her and had proven her "spirit controls" were nothing more than fictitious personalities. Of course... modern day spiritualists are not going to report on this

By the way in 1919 Dr. Charles Arthur Mercier wrote an entire book which had discredited the mediumship of Gladys Osborne Leonard and the claims of Oliver Lodge. It is too much to go into right now, but you can find it free online if you are interested:

http://archive.org/stream/spiritualismsiro00mercuoft#page/n3/mode/2up

Psychical researchers some of who spent many years investigating mediumship came to reject the spirit hypothesis:

Eric Dingwall, Trevor H. Hall, Harry Price, Andrew Long, Frank Podmore, C. E. M. Joad, Tony Cornell, Carlos María de Heredia, Joseph Rinn, John Mullholland, C. D. Broad, William Brown, Whately Carington, E. R. Dodds, Hans Dreisch, Nandor Fodor, H. H. Price, W. H. Salter, Andrew Mackenzie, S. G. Soal, F. C. S. Schiller, J. B. Rhine, Robert Thouless, G. N. M. Tyrell, Donald West, Malcolm Bird, Theodore Besterman,William McDougall, Thomas Jay Hudson, Theodor Flournoy, Eugene Osty etc etc.

He then says

D. D. Home was not a genuine medium. I know at first glance it looks that way but if you read all the literature you will see it is very easy that he was a clever trickster. His tricks were no different than other fraud mediums of the time period such as William Eglinton or Francis Ward Monck, the difference being that Home selected his séance sitters and never gave public séances so was not publicly exposed like the others.

You can get a brief glimpse of some of his trickery here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Dunglas_Home#Critical_reaction

Or here http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=258077 for a demolishing of the Crookes/Home experiments that took place in Crookes house.

Or buy/rent out from a library the following books:

The Enigma of Daniel Home: Medium or Fraud? By ex SPR member Trevor H. Hall

The Sorcerer of Kings by Dr. Gordon Stein

Leo, you address two issues: cheating mediums and the evidence for extended life after death. The reviewer makes one big mistake when he rejects all these mediums as frauds, often based upon very limited observations (and observers). If you take into consideration the unstableness of psi cognition (I include seances in this category), we shouldn't expect anybody to produce high hit rates in scientific experiments, in the long term. For a medium with psi abilities, something I think once brought most of them into their mediumistic careers, the temptation probably is great to start cheating, perhaps only subconsciously, since it is so easy to do, with people around you looking for relief. And why not? If they lessen peoples grief their work are of therapeutic value. Even of great value. If we just say that these therapists are fakes, what do we actually do? I personally find it a bit problematic, but exposing them to the public in a not totally excluding way is more fair, I think. Better to open the door to our knowledge carefully than to slam in up in the midst of somebody's face. I've myself have far too many times been too eager to convince. I hope I've become a better man in at least this aspect.

So, I mean that we can't dismiss a cheating medium as a total fake (though he might be). If we are to write an exam and we before that are informed that the answers are already exposed on a blog, well, how many of us wouldn't go there to see. After all, we are human. Who really deserves a harsh attitude are the cheating scientists.

The best modern approach to medium research I think is Gary Schwartz'. But the hit rates aren't totally convincing, though. We know about the problem to scientifically replicate high ESP hit rates. The same should be valid also for spiritual sittings. The results for non-cheating mediums can usually be explained by ESP and the controls, when there are such, as being subsets of the mediums mind. Materialization seances with their cabinet stuff are very fraud friendly and should be regarded as a special category.

I just remember Desmond Brinkley, who after being grilled by a flash when talking in phone, had a NDE and gained some extraordinary powers. One was the ability to experience scenes from a recent high emotion situation (usually negative) from the life of a person he met. Perhaps a medium work about the same way, but not entirely. They experience mind patterns 'emanating' from persons. These patterns could show their deceased relatives but also a plain creation by fantasy. However, it doesn't exclude the possibility that they also experience 'free forms' representing spirits (not necessarily easy to communicate with). So, at least to me, the challenge seems almost overwhelming, how to design and succefully perform scientifically rigorous medium based tests that shall prove the existence of a life beyond death.

If we are looking for proofs I think we should chose other doors than the seances one. The following have, in combination, convinced me:

a) Physically interacting ghosts that also can be seen as a spirit or be related to a deceased person that you knew. They can e.g. make unique sounds - not this repeated kind of stuff, melt electronics and play with you by turning a light switch off when you turn it off a multitude of times until you really become angry and ask him to stop.

b) One-time departure visits, where you see, and in my case also physically felt, the deceased.

c) NDE's and OBE's. The vast number of them and some extraordinary ones, such as Eben Alexander's, strongly indicate that mind can extend beyond the body, even when it's dying.

d) Adhering spirits. Spirits that can be seen and/or emotionally and/or physically be experienced until somebody initiates a step to guide them to the 'higher realms'. The result: the spirit is not experienced any more (not all spirits are willing to leave their earthly habitat, though).

e) Death bed visions where the dying person experiences one or more deceased with a welcoming attitude. Seems to be quite common.

f) Occasional 'spirit visits' where sensible persons can experience the presence of a deceased person (not to be mixed up with the stronger departure visits). This is a common but weak phenomenon and thus easy to dismiss.

I guess that's how it is. We probably need some personal experience and an open attitude to get our own proof for an afterlife. I doubt science alone will ever prove it. It took me many years and a journey between several peaks of belief and valleys of doubt (guided by scientific reading) until my own reality proved it to me.

Shall be Dannion, not Desmond, Brinkley.

Hi Leo.

The mediums Eileen Garrett, Leonora Piper and John Sloan were probably authentic mediums, among others, not only to show anomalies skills, but by being plausibly contact spirits of the deceased.

For Garrett, Metalhead ruled out the afterlife hypothesis very hastily, for though Garrett had doubts about the origin of your communications, this does not mean that dhe was not in contact with spirits of the deceased. In fact in some sessions simplest interpretation is that Garrett was possessed by spirits of the deceased. Also note that Garrett said see auras around animals and how the aura was clear from the body at death, which fits better with the afterlife hypothesis that the super-psi hypothesis.

For Piper, the more likely it is that your spirit guides were creations of her unconscious, but it is also true that in some cases she was probably contacting spirits of the deceased:

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com.es/2009/05/further-record-of-observations-of.html

For Sloan, Metalhead not mention him, but Sloan was probably a genuine direct voice medium because during their sessions was heard different voices of deceased who were recognized for their loved ones and contributed information that Sloan could not know by ordinary means.

About NDEs, is clearly false that to be a purely subjective phenomenon, because there NDEs showing intersubjectively verifiable information that could not be obtained by conventional means. Besides that suelan NDEs show a hyper-lucidity while brain activity is severely impaired suggests that consciousness is existentially independent of the brain.

About children who seem to remember past lives, this would lead us too far, but the simplest hypothesis after excluding conventional hypothesis is the reincarnation hypothesis.

So it is unreasonable to consider that only the apparitions are evidence for the afterlife. Besides that there have been cases of apparitions seen by several witnesses at a time, apparitions of the livings and deceased, reciprocal apparitions, and so on.

I tend to think this photo was just some camera malfunction that's not understood yet. The image to me seems to be of a modern women in modern clothes - it looks like she was wearing short sleeves. I've seen those Virgin Mary photos at Zeitoun, Egypt, and they are really interesting - and notice how the photos show real people are actually seeing these images. Maybe a hoax or scam, but was the kind of technology necessary to pull it off available at that time? And what would have been the point or purpose? I could see this technology (if it exists) being used for military purposes, that would be huge.

This explanation makes a lot more sense than the "earthquake lights" one for a physical explanation. It would make sense if the sky lit up like sheet lightning, but I have a hard time believing that a natural phenomenon would produce very distinct man-made shapes such as a the outline of a human being, birds, etc.

The Zeitoun event also produced reports of miraculous cures, which is typical of Marion Apparations. The only real explanation I can see is someone or an organization went through a lot of trouble to hoax the reports, but I think we also have to take into account the political atmosphere in Egypt at the time. I believe the government was very Marxist at the time, so it would be very unlikely they would promote anything religious. Given that in mind, I would also think it would be likely the government would intervene if the reports (or the event as a whole) was the result of the Coptic Catholic church, especially considering the events lasted for close to three years.

I just don't think a conspiracy makes much sense, it is a possibility by the trouble to go through to create a hoax on this scale (given the dozens of reports) just seems to not make sense to me, IMO.

I first became aware of this picture Michael via Who Forted? but it rams home to me a number of points just one of which I'll touch upon here.

We all assume when we look at particular pictures of UFOs ghosts Virgin Marys Nessies Bigfoot etc we're all seeing the same thing but are we?

For instance I'm an artist and ever since I was a kid I've been struck by how two or more individuals can look at the same kid and each of them see the spitting image of Uncle Betty or Auntie Knuckles.

When I've managed to get such individuals to explain to me why me or one or other of my siblings or some cousin or latterly me own kids supposedly resemble this or that relative it's always turned out each of them was referring to a particular part of a particular eyebrow combined with a certain often tiny part of the nose combined with a certain point on the chin.

In other words they were unconsciously doing something akin to that finger print scan they do in CSI where they pick out just a few points on the fingerprint then look for a match but as a result of picking out different details seeing different relatives.

Hostile parties of course immediately lap this idea up never allowing for the fact it applies equally to their sceptical perceptions of UFO or ghost pics.

It also rams home the supposed explanation of pareidola is an incredibly complex subject which far from explaining things actually generates an enormous number of questions about not only how we perceive but why nature itself goes to such enormous lengths to wire itself into those perceptions through flies that look like wasps or moths bearing deaths heads or insects with vivid colours supposedly try'n'o communicate to or bluff predators with the idea such dazzling ostentation's actually a warning of fatal toxicity.

My point being I'd be fascinated to take a look at brain scans of both all-believers and out-and-out-sceptics as they're exposed to pics of ghosts UFOs etc as well as laser retinal scans which'd also be very revealing whether the believers/sceptics where even really looking at such pics or which parts they concentrated on and which parts they studiously ignored.

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