The Paranormal Guide

It's a weird, weird world

Fakes, Frauds and Hoaxes


The existance of fakes, frauds and hoaxes are the one aspect of the paranormal that we can be confident of. From the moment one person figured out they could make a dollar or some infamy for themselves the world has seen hundreds of fakes. 

Covering all aspects of the paranormal, fakes serve one purpose; to get the creator of the fake something they want. Money, infamy, respect, power are just some of the reasons someone would perpetrate a hoax.

Explorers would come home bearing the remains of strange creatures in order to aquire more funding for further expeditions. Mediums will fake contact with the dead in order to aquire a larger (and very impressed) clientelle. Would be religious leaders will hoax miracles in order to start their own religions. 

Sometimes fakes are really obvious. If you go back through the ages and look at some of the frauds that have taken place you might find yourself wondering how they managed to fool people. Generally speaking the further you go back the more obvious the frauds look. Maybe over the years as a people we have become more desensitised to these frauds so we are able to spot them more easily. After all in modern times fakes do not usually stand up for any serious length of time. It takes a well constructed, multifaceted event these days in order to have a chance of fooling the public.

But still fakes get through only to be revealed at a later date. Why are we still capable of being fooled?

Surely we would like to think of ourselves as smarter then our ancestors. Technology has undoubtedly improved since the days of shoving a piece of cheesecloth up your nose to hoax the leaking of ectoplasm. But maybe we also in some deep down level like to be fooled. It allows us to believe there is more out there than our 9-5 jobs and watching repeats of The Simpsons. Or maybe we are just still plain old gullible.

"There's a sucker born every minute"  is a quote often attributed to P.T. Barnum, American Showman but that too is not true. It's not entirely known who coined the phrase but it is more than appropriate here. Regardless of it's origins it does sum it all up nicely.

A history of photographic fakes, frauds and hoaxes

Late 2010 I was fortunate enough to be involved in a paranormal meeting group for four or five months. Each month a presentation would be delivered to the group and when it came to be my turn I chose to do a talk on photographc frauds. 

In my late teens to early twenties I did a lot of formal photographic study and techniques and as such I knew a lot about how the older fake photos out there were created. I have also replicated some of the techniques in darkrooms. 

As such I chose to do a presentation on paranormal fakes and frauds. 

When doing the research into my presentation I found it fascinating how techniques have evolved over the years ranging from simple models to fully digitally embedded objects.

What I found most fascinating of all are the fakes that were not intended to fool the public but were rather created for competitions. The entrants were challenged to create a fake photo, generally with a theme so the hoax was known to be present. Yet these images got loose in emails and fooled millions of people.

At the time of giving the presentation I gave the information verbally and presented printings of the photos. Since that format will not work over the internet here it is in video form (with some extra info thrown in). I hope you will find it as interesting as I did researching it.