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Old 05-07-2008
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Alt Text: Sad Explanations for Supernatural Phenomena
I was pleased to see the recent news about alien images appearing on a wall in Canada.
If you haven't seen the story, the upshot is that some reflected light shows up every non-overcast day on someone's house in Calgary, and the resulting image looks something like a cross between Gollum and the Reddit mascot. Thus, aliens.
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This is nonsense, unfortunately. I would love for even one of the completely wall-slappingly insane phenomena that bubble up these days to be true.
If even one funnel-shaped cloud or particularly reflective seagull ended up being an actual alien craft, if even one person's Pomeranian really did house the mind of an ancient Egyptian emperor, if even one winged hominid got run over by a meth-infused trucker and examined by reputable scientists, then I could be happy in a world that's even weirder than it initially appears to be. Tragically, though, none of them pan out in the long run.
And yet, people keep devising theories. Some, not content to come up with explanations for unexplained phenomena, instead go to great lengths to come up with bizarre takes on explained phenomena.
Exhibit One: Rods

On some videos and photos, you can see odd smudges made up of a straight line with a sort of twirly fuzz around it. What are these things? Well, one theory is that they are creatures living in the atmosphere, invisible to the naked eye but for some reason able to be caught on videotape.
This theory is wrong. While I love the idea that your basic handheld Panasonic camera has mystical-vision powers, the fact is that you can capture "rod" video of your own by pointing a camera set to a slow shutter speed at a bunch of insects. The paranormal response? Yeah, those rods are insects, but there are other rods that are visually identical to the insects, but which are actually rods!
Exhibit Two: Orbs

If rods are too interesting for you, check out orbs. Where rods take the form of moving blurs, orbs manifest themselves as roughly circular blobs. Spine-chillingly circular!
Here's how it works. You take a photo of something with your cheapie digital camera, and the picture has a translucent gray dot on it. Clearly there's no explicable way for weird little visual artifacts to end up on digital photos, so they must be the spirits of the departed. This one's just sad. It's like you want to see Bigfoot, but you hate camping, so you just classify the dust bunnies under the couch as cryptids and call it a day.
Exhibit Three: Crowd Demons

I'm being a bit unfair here, because crowd demons aren't really a well-known phenomenon among the desperately wacky crowd, but the idea is so deliciously stupid I'm highlighting it here in hopes it will catch on.
On the GhostStudy.com website, you'll find a photo that purportedly shows two demons sitting next to each other at a musical recital. The site suggests that if you look long enough you'll see a shadow ghost.
It also says it shows "a dinosaur attacking a man (however, this is most likely an illusion)."
Yeah, most likely. There is less than a 50 percent chance that the photo actually shows a demon dinosaur eating a guy's head. Another guy found a bunch of crowd demons at a Republican rally. I'm not actually seeing most of those, but maybe I just don't have the patience to play a proper game of Where's Weirdo?
As obvious as the rational explanations for all these phenomena are, I'm a bit sad. I'd enjoy living in a world filled with normally invisible creatures that only show their true, blurry forms on discount audiovisual equipment. Kind of like YouTube, only with more flying and fewer anime clips.
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