Joe Kovacs wrote an article earlier today entitled, “‘Angel’ Caught on Home-Security Camera.” Sigh.
For those who don’t know, I’m a bit of a skeptic. Okay, seriously, for those who don’t know, I recently gave a workshop at James Randi’s “The Amaz!ng Meeting” (TAM) entitled, “How Your Camera Lies to You: From Ghosts to UFOs, a Skeptics’ Guide to Photography.” My co-presenter and I showed numerous types of photographic anomalies that people claim are things like a double sun, a ghost, UFO, pink energy beam, etc.
The co-presenter (I choose not to name him because I don’t want to tie him to this highly opinionated diatribe) gave a several-minute discussion of an investigation he did into a UFO flap in Denver last year. It turned out to be bugs.
I give this seemingly unrelated background because the WND article shows a video of this “angel” that was captured on West Virginia minister Charles Shelton’s home security camera. The security camera has lights around it to illuminate objects. As with most security cameras, it focuses on objects that are 10s of feet away. ‘Cause, you know, security cameras are mounted high up out of the way and so wouldn’t be of much use if they focused on stuff right up next to it.
I watched the video. It’s a white blob from which you can make out small protrusions and it appears, quite literally, to walk across the camera. It’s a bug (by “bug” I’m being generic — small crawly thing). An out of focus bug illuminated by the surrounding lights that’s on the camera lens that briefly walks across it over the course of a few seconds. And yet:
Shelton, who turns 48 Sept. 1, says as he was praying, “I was sent to go to the monitor. And when I went to the monitor I appeared to see the angel of the Lord coming through the wall.”
The strange phenomenon was recorded, displaying a brilliant ball of light that approaches Shelton’s home, appears to enter through the wall to his living room, and then exits a few seconds later. The large circular light then returns and approaches the home a second time at a slightly different angle. …
When asked what he thought it all meant, he said: “I believe that it means the Lord is gonna work on that neighborhood. We hear about the crime and we hear about the drugs in that area, and I believe the Lord is going to have that neighborhood cleaned up and the presence of the Lord is sending His angels. He’s dispatching His angels in that neighborhood. And I believe it’s time to let the people know that help is on the way. The police can’t do it all. The neighbors can’t do it all. But who do you rely on? And I rely on the Lord to do it.”
Sigh. In 11 hours, this has generated over 230 comments. The top-rated comment is by “fideux” with 36 up and 0 down votes: “It make me sad to read some of the posts from non-believers concerning this man’s sighting of Angels that he believes to be there to help his neighborhood. Why would any of you knock something that could make people around him behave and or change their behavior? If you yourself don’t believe, belittling those that do doesn’t elevate people’s opinion of you, which by the way isn’t the one you should be worrying about. Can you say judgement day?”
Let’s leave out that last sentence. I actually have no problem with the text in the first part of this. I’m reminded of a story about stone soup. For those who don’t know it … a traveller comes to a town and asks for food, but no one has any to spare. He picks up a stone and says that he’ll make soup from it, someone get a pot and some water, and he adds the stone. It needs some carrots, so someone adds carrots to the soup. It needs onion, someone has an onion, they add it. Etc., and they end up with a large, rich soup to feed the entire town who thought they didn’t have any food to spare. All based on the seed premise that you can make a soup from a stone.
In the same vein, I have no problem with that working here. You think you see an angel and that inspires a town to change for the better. Heck — it was in a Star Trek episode (“Devil’s Due,” anyone? GREAT episode 🙂 ).
The problem is when people approach stuff uncritically and make statements of “fact” that are wrong. A later poster, “smogdew,” wrote: “People are too ready to dismiss what they absolutely don’t know, as anything but ‘something’ from God. If Mr. Shelton believes it is ethereal, then that’s what it is. I choose to believe he has been blessed by God.” Um, no. If I choose to believe that I can fly, that doesn’t mean I can fly. Your belief doesn’t affect reality.
That’s not to say that people aren’t pointing out what I did. “ProudTeabagger” wrote, “It’s a spider crawling in front of the camera lens. They show up on an IR (night vision) camera as a glowing light.” Zero votes either way. This was also pointed out by “Jason M. Horn,” “ineedtruth,” “Barbie Cozby,” and several others. Some of the earlier people got in soon enough to be down-voted. For example, “Thomas Dawe” wrote: “Seriously? This made the news? It’s a spider too close to the camera for focus. Stuff like this is commonly misinterpreted as paranormal “proof”.” 6 up and 9 down votes.
So much for critical thinking.