Tuesday, 25 July 2017

A Response to Higgypop's "How To Take A Photo of a Ghost."

I recently came across this article on a blog site called Higgypop, which aims to instruct ghost hunters and paranormal investigators how to take photographs of "ghosts". At first, I hoped the article was satire. Unfortunately, it's not. I'm going to refer to the author as HP here as there's no author named in the piece.

The first thing to note before we delve too deep into the article, there's hardly an issue with ghost hunters failing to capture images of spirits if social media and the tabloid press are to be believed. There are elements of the post which seem sensible enough. HP offers advice on effects that limit common attributions and flaws in photography, although he doesn't elaborate on prevention methods. What my issue with the post is, no amount of ghost photography will ever constitute useful data. There are simply too many possible sources of misattribution and controlling for these elements to a satisfactory level is near impossible. HP admits as much:
"A high percentage of ghost in photographs are caught unintentionally and although this might make for a great news story, the fact the photo hasn't been taken under controlled conditions makes it hard to determine whether a spirit is present in the photograph or not."
A high percentage? One hundred percent surely? Also, as we've never even determined ghosts exist there's simply no way of verifying in which images "spirits are present" it all seems rather arbitrary doesn't it? At the moment, sorry to be negative, but our total percentage of photos verified to contain a ghost stands at zero. But maybe HP can change my mind.

The article begins
"Spirit photography is a field of photography which aims to capture images of ghosts or apparitions in the shot, usually as part of ghost hunts or in haunted locations. The principles are very old, dating back to the 19th century and as cameras have to got better and more advanced, so have the photos of spirits. Even modern smartphones can be used to capture spirits."
I have to correct the author here. Ghost photography has indeed changed over the ages, but this hasn't been a result of photos advancing. The changes in ghost photography have reflected the particular flaws in photography of a particular generation of film. Changes have also reflected new methods of fakery. It's one one the most damning things about spirit photography that as we've moved from film to digital, full bodied apparitions as a result of double exposures and damage to film rolls caused by light leaks have been replaced by orbs and the full bodied apparitions provided by phone apps and digital manipulation.

Early spirit photography was mostly hoaxed, with the original examples credited to William Mumler, inspired by the rise in the spiritual movement created by the Fox sisters in 1848. The effect of spirits appearing behind sitters was achieved by Mumler placing previously used positive glass plates with unused glass plates producing the world's double exposure apparition photographs. PT Barnum exposed Mumler as a fraud by demonstrating how easy his technique actually was. The technique was widely adopted by other fraudsters even after Mumler was ruined. Would Mumler be proud of his legacy? Now any phone user can produce his or her own fake images at the click of a button. Would Mumler bemoan the lack of artistry I wonder?


Moving beyond outright fakery, we've seen misattribution of photographic artefacts change from people moving during extremely long exposures in the earliest examples of photography resulting in
their appearance as a ghost like after image (a stunning example of which is on the left.  The 1854 image shows the nurse maid of  Prince Arthur anxiously ensuring he does not fall off the box he is posed upon) to the effect of slow shutter speed on a moving object creating a ghostly blur (below), long exposure leading to light trails when found in conjunction with flashes and flying "rods" in the case of quickly moving objects (also below).

The fact that "ghosts" once appeared on photographic images full-figured but now appear as the ubiquitous "orb" should tell HP something, as should the fact that orbs were unphotographed virtually until the advent of digital photography. The evolution of the ghost image tracks perfectly alongside the evolution of photographic methods. Prime example. the return of the "full figured apparition" as a result of panoramic errors in digital photography (below).


Higgy goes on:
"A high percentage of ghost in photographs are caught unintentionally and although this might make for a great news story, the fact the photo hasn't been taken under controlled conditions makes it hard to determine whether a spirit is present in the photograph or not."

Hard? Try impossible. There is literally no way of determining if an image that appears in a photograph is "a ghost". We can certainly determine whether an image has been added at some later stage, we can stop digital manipulate if we examine the photo's EXIF data or even the image itself. But if there's no manipulation, and that object is there in the frame of view, there's no way of telling what that image is with certainty. There's an easy way of breaking down HP's statement here: the fact that they think it's "hard" to determine if a ghost is present in an image, that implies they also believe it's possible to make that determination: so show me one photo that has been determined to be that of a ghost. 

A big clue that you aren't going to be able to do this is the fact that ghosts haven't been shown exist!

Higgy continues:
"This is why, as paranormal investigators, you should take care to ensure your photos are taken with as little chance of capturing something that isn't really there. The simple steps below will help you take photos of spirits which can hopefully be corroborated by avoiding some of the mistakes that amateur ghost hunters make."
Helping control for mistakes is not a bad thing, it's a good idea. But it's difficult and also it won't corroborate a ghost image is genuine. If that were sufficient a measure, we'd have proven ghosts exist. 
The next section is comprised of some fairly handy tips about avoiding common photographic errors, it's useful I guess but extremely lightweight. I know very little about photography and I didn't feel like I'd learned anything from reading it I didn't already know. The section doesn't scream to me that the author particularly knows much about photography. If so, what positions them to be offering advice to ghost hunters or anyone else?

Could be a willingness to resort to utter bullshit.


"You're more likely to capture a ghost on camera if you let the spirits know you (sic) intention."
Again, sorry for repeating myself here: there's no way to assess the most successful way of capturing a ghost in a photo, as we can't ever be sure there's ever been a ghost captured on film! If I wrote a long article about the most successful method of trapping a Yot in a pot you'd think I was a bit stupid or crazy, certainly wasting your time, right?

Higgy continues that it's only polite to allow your intended spirit subject time to do their hair before you snap away. Apparently, ghosts are fussy sorts who like to appear presentable. Please enjoy Higgy's free form ramble on the subject:
"Let's say you walked into your living room at home, all of your family are sat on the sofa, you take out your camera and point it at the wall and say "smile." None of your family member had time to reluctantly drag themselves off of the sofa, stand against the wall and adopt and unnatural grin. If however you'd walked into the room, asked your family to pose for a photo, given them a chance to run their fingers through their hair and then get in line, you'd get a much better result and the same applies for the spirit world."
Uhhh... Yeah?


Moving on quickly. The next piece of "advice" is to take more selfies.
"You could also try taking selfies, if a spirit has attached itself to you or is following you then you might find that a selfie is the best way to capture a spirit which is lurking over your shoulder."
Seems like Higgy walking back all the advice he/she previously offered in the last section as selfies tend to be spontaneous things, taken on mobile devices which Higgy recommends are avoided. It's hard if not impossible to control for a spontaneous shot with a background you can't see apart from what's on the view finder. This eliminates the idea of controls somewhat surely?

"If you're lucky enough to have caught an apparition or spirit on camera that's great but a single photo doesn't tell you much and skeptics will instantly point out all of the factors which could have resulted in your spooky shot. So, always take multiple photos. Keep the camera still and take at least three photos as quickly as your camera will allow you too, some cameras have burst mode which is perfect for this. By taking multiple photos you go from having a still to a timeline of images. If an anomaly appears in just one of the three photos then it's most likely a piece of dust or other artefact. If however the object is in all three photos then there's no denying that you've caught somethings (sic) weird, you might even been (sic) to determine a direction it's travelling in, the objects size or the distance from the camera."
 Again this isn't bad advice, but it doesn't really demonstrate anything useful. Presumably, if your orb has moved it's just a case of Brownian motion pushing the dust particle around. Or even more likely, a different dust particle is highlighted in subsequent shots. Without a solid example of what kind of anomaly would show up and then disappear this section is pretty meaningless.

You know what could add meaning to this part of the post, and the blog in general? Some examples of ghost images, even some of the author's own perhaps. All we are given are some stock photos.

Where are the examples of ghost images? I suspect the author excluded them for one crucial reason. An attempt to include an actual ghost image would result in commentators pointing out the naturalistic explanation for said image, thus proving the whole post futile. There aren't any demonstrably genuine ghost images so any attempt to instruct or inform about how to obtain one is ultimately a pointless exercise.



Sources

Original article

History of spirit photography.

https://blog.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/photography-a-z-ghosts-spirit-photography/


Modern photographic artefacts.

http://www.assap.ac.uk/newsite/articles/Paranormal%20photos.html


https://www.metabunk.org/debunked-hampton-court-ghost-photo-iphone-panorama-glitch.t5814/


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Dark Matters Indeed: What Dark Matter Tells Us About a Potential Physical Model of Ghosts.

Was there something I was meant to be doing?

Oh yeah, I was going to elaborate on the comments made by Brian Cox way back in February this year. I discussed the reaction the internet had to the comment but never explained why I think people in the paranormal community reacted so badly to the comments.

Firstly let's revisit exactly what Cox said:
"We are not here to debate the existence of ghosts because they don't exist. If we want some sort of pattern that carries information about our living cells to persist then we must specify precisely what medium carries that pattern and how it interacts with the matter particles out of which our bodies are made. We must, in other words, invent an extension to the Standard Model of Particle Physics that has escaped detection at the Large Hadron Collider. That's almost inconceivable at the energy scales typical of the particle interactions in our bodies. I would say if there's some kind of substance that's driving our bodies, making my arms move and legs move, then it must interact with the particles out of which our bodies are made. And seeing as we've made high precision measurements of the ways that particles interact, then my assertion is there can be no such thing as an energy source that's driving our bodies."
Most people familiar with physics weren't shocked by these comments, in fact. many pointed out that Cox didn't have to recourse to such modern developments as the work conducted at the LHC to dismiss ghosts as a possible element of a physical model of reality. The second law of thermodynamics, they argued, showed that any cluster of energy could not exist for a sustained period of time as it would lose energy to heat. I think we could go even more basic than this. Energy is a facet of matter. A property of matter, much like mass. It doesn't make much sense to consider energy away from some physical element be that matter or some kind of field or force carrying particle. To think of energy sat in some amorphous cloud or vague human shape, or orb is nonsensical.

Of course, that isn't the physics that the paranormal community is normally exposed to. This is a community where typical proclamations about energy run something like this:
"Energy can’t be created or destroyed; it can only change forms — that’s a law of physics. Not a theory of physics — a law. It’s called the law of conservation of energy. It means that if you take an isolated system, such as a person, the energy contained in that person can’t be destroyed. It can change forms from chemical energy — like the signals that travel down your nerve pathways — into kinetic energy, the energy required to move your arm, for example, but the energy is always there. This law makes sense to me. It means that when we die, our energy must go somewhere. The flesh and bones — the empty vessel — is left behind, but the energy survives." -Nick Groff
Scientific Evidence That Proves Ghosts Are Really Real
And sure that's true. Your chemical energy does go on. But not in the form of a "ghost" much of it is lost to heat. The rest consumed by other organisms converted to kinetic energy and electrical energy and eventually heat too. Your energy will indeed go on, just not in the way Groff wants you to believe. Manipulations such as Groff's require an extra mechanism in our physical model of reality. A living energy. A vitalism if you like. It's something we've found no evidence of, but more important than that we are missing a much more important piece of the puzzle than evidence. Something more fundamental than evidence. We can identify this missing piece in the reactions to Cox's comments and one particular aspect that his critics raised repeatedly.

What about dark matter?





And so on.

So why are ghosts any different than dark matter? Surely both are unknowns not within our current understanding? Frustratingly unknown, perhaps even unknowable?

The fundamental difference is something even skeptics miss when considering ideas of ghosts and spirits, dark matter exists as a concept within physics because it is necessitated. We observed gravitational effects in far regions of the universe that could not be explained by observable matter in those areas. The need for dark matter in our models of the universe became clear as early as 1906, when Henri Poncaire assessed the work of Lord Kelvin. The distribution of velocities and masses of far flung star systems did not match with the observation of visual matter in those systems. There was a need for "something else" not gas, dust or plasma, dark in both its interaction with light and its place in our body of knowledge (this also answers the question "could ghosts be dark matter?" Not if you also maintain ghosts could be something seen or even photographed.) By the 1960s we were analysing rotational curves of disc galaxies to discover galaxies were enveloped in dark matter halos, as the rotational curve of the M33 galaxy (below) shows. The difference between the calculated velocity (the white line) and the observed velocities (yellow line) can be accounted for by the addition of a dark matter halo.



In the hundred plus years since 1906 we've become adept that detecting dark matter. Perhaps the most striking example of this is the observation of colliding galaxies such as the Bullet cluster (below).


This image shows the gas and plasma colliding and slowing down at the meeting point of two galaxies as they merge. Yet when we observe the gravitational lensing, the way light passing its strong gravitational influence is bent, often forming a ring-like pattern, produced by this super-cluster we see a different picture emerge.


It appears as if the majority of the mass of the colliding galaxies has passed harmlessly through the site of collision distributing itself at either side of the cloud. We have observed this multiple times. This is the inner edges of the dark matter halos slipping through each other and everything else to form one outer halo. It is unencumbered by the violent electromagnetic battle that dominates the gas and plasma interactions.

That should illustrate what we are missing when we ask for evidence of ghosts. With dark matter, we identified a hole in our model of reality. There was an element that current elements of that model could not explain. We then set out to find evidence that this factor exists. Then we quantified it and began to identify its properties. We still don't know what dark matter is, but we know what it isn't. It isn't baryonic matter, it doesn't interact with baryonic matter, it doesn't absorb or emit light, it doesn't interact with itself. But it has a gravitational influence that can be measured. Step one here, in the case of ghosts, is missing. There is no hole in our model of the universe that requires a ghost shaped piece to fill, some behaviour or observation that defies any other explanation. Before we speculate on the properties of a ghost, before we collect evidence we must first ensure there's something to speculate on. Otherwise, the evidence we collect is random, amorphous and pretty meaningless.

I believe it's this missing necessity that both skeptics and believers fail to recognise that accounts for some of the disconnects between the two groups. Believers present evidence to the skeptics and fail to see exactly why it is dismissed. Often it's because it's clear that evidence isn't warranted without cause.

When we approach the idea of ghosts through a lens of physics, the concept becomes redundant beyond even pure hypothesis. We can hardly express anger or dismay at the attitude of Brian Cox to ghosts when we consider this. He isn't being a skeptic, or a cynic, or cruel.

He is simply being a physicist. Physics doesn't speculate beyond things which are in some way necessitated, it tends to ignore the superflous in favour of utility. Unfortunately this includes ghosts.

Sources

https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2016/09/19/dark-matter-proved-real-by-colliding-galaxy-clusters/#1328c9a43141


https://astrobites.org/2016/11/04/the-bullet-cluster-a-smoking-gun-for-dark-matter/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galaxy_rotation_curve

https://exemplore.com/paranormal/What-are-Ghosts-Really-5-Paranormal-Theories

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dark_matter

http://skepticsboot.blogspot.co.uk/2017/02/brian-cox-on-ghosts-reuploaded.html

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Only "Paranormal" Image That I Can't Explain.

I recently came across a thread in the Fortean Times Appreciation group on Facebook asking members to post a Fortean or paranormal image that they find scary or haunting. The request relates to a question I was often asked when this blog concerned itself predominantly with debunking ghost images posted on social media and in the tabloid press: "This there an image you've come across that you can't explain?" For myself, there's one image that fits both of those categories. Neither can I explain it nor can I dismiss it from my mind. It frightens me every time I look at it. There isn't anything remotely paranormal about it of course. The reason it gives me pause is entirely Earthly.

The image is one taken during the exorcism of Anneliese Michel. All the images taken during that ritual involving Anneliese are particularly disturbing. Her physical deterioration is enough to give one pause.

 But this image stands out for a reason besides that.


The lady with her arm wrapped around Anneliese's neck there is her mother Anna. This image starkly shows how badly this young woman was let down by the very people with a duty to protect her above anyone or anything else.

Of course, I don't consider the image remotely paranormal. Demons do not exist, they don't possess young college students. Anneliese suffered from several mental health conditions in addition to temporal lobe epilepsy  (TLE). She received treatment for severe depression, and due to her extremely strict religious upbringing, she became fixated on the idea that she was possessed. Her parents, family and local Priest indulged this delusion. Conditions that were treatable. There's no reason this woman could not have led a normal healthy and productive life. TLE sufferer Pete Bell commented on my Facebook page where I recently discussed this image. His insight into what Anneliese went through is invaluable. It also clearly shows why a person with a strong religious upbringing may interpret their condition as a demonic possession:
"During the seizures you can quite frequently feel the presence of a dark entity, I've described it as demonic myself before. The fear and utter dread is off the scale, you just feel like this is it, you're going to die and go to hell. And hell is like nothing you could ever imagine, what's weird us it's like you're remembering it from past experience. Religious experiences are often described too, some are lucky that they get the blissful types of seizures. Mine were always scary as shit and the following psychosis wasn't much fun either. This is a case that really resonates with me, I've experienced the personal hell she would have been through and I can't imagine what that combined with superstitious bullshit must have been like. A really sad story."

Pete recommends the talks of neuroscientist V.S Ramachandran to understand TLE better.

The image above is a stark reminder of how ignorance, superstition and blind belief can destroy lives and lead to the perpetration of unspeakable cruelty even by our loved ones. And unfortunately this is isn't a thing of the past. Incidents of children and young men killed during exorcisms continue to this day. They don't occur in far flung regions of the world, they aren't part of some strange alien culture. They happen amongst us now. That's why I want to share this image with you. It's why I hope it continues to haunt me, so I'll always be motivated to speak out about these beliefs and practices and this understanding of physical, neurological and mental disorders.

This video may upset you. 


                                   video

Youtube version if you don't have a flash player.


The most haunting thing about this image, these are Anneliese's own mother and father restraining the frail, dying body of their daughter. They can see her wasting away in front of their eyes, yet they don't take her to a hospital. They continue the barbaric ritual that eventually kills her. Their superstition outweighs their love for their child and their instinct to protect her.

It empowers them to assist in her murder, as is the cases I document in that short video.

I can't think of anything that scares me more. Or that escapes my attempts to understand it.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Mothers Who Refuse to Put Sunscreen On Their Children. A Video Response.

If you regularly check the column on the right-hand side you'll notice there's now a Skeptic's Boot YouTube channel. I intend to use it for reviews of video footage and TV shows and visual evidence. Everything I post will still be linked here.

The first video proper was a response to a recent article published in the Daily Mail regarding the growing trend in not applying sunscreen from a misplaced fear of "chemicals" and synthesised materials.

You can watch here:

If you enjoyed the video please share it to your social media, give it a thumbs up and subscribe to the channel.

Thanks as ever.











Sunday, 16 July 2017

A Proponent Of Hyperianism Demonstrates Perfectly Why Hyperianism Doesn't Work.

Here's a quick update to the Morgue post I featured on the blog a few days ago. Since then I have posted an objection to Hyperianism on Morgue's Facebook page. I wouldn't normally post social media interactions to the blog, but this exchange perfectly exemplifies why Hyperianism doesn't work.

A quick recap of relevant information. Morgue tells us in his video "Science, the new irrational religion" that Hyperianism trumps science as an epistemology because it does not rely on sense data, empiricism (testing by experiment) and induction. In this interaction, you'll see how a Hyperianist reacts to a challenge to their pure logic based approach to reality.

Firstly I put to Morgue my objection to Hyperianism based upon the flaw in pure logic that it leaves us with no way to assess the premises of a logical conundrum using the example used in my previous post regarding Morgue.



At this point a follower of Hyperianism, Iilania Novic takes up the cudgel for Morgue.



When Novic talks about assigning values of T or F, 1 or 0 to the premises I offer it's vital to note these are truth values. As Morgue does, Novic is using mathematics to avoid answering a legitimate question. How do we assign a "truth value" without ascertaining something is true? We could regress to further logical conundrums, but all we are doing is introducing further premises which remain unverified until examining them empirically. This applies to Venn diagrams and truth tables, whilst these are useful data displaying conventions, they are ultimately useless until an empirical method is used to fill them!


My last statement there is a trap for Novic and she walks straight into it.


In order to prove that sensory data isn't necessary to assess the premise "Carl has blond hair" Novic, a supporter of an epistemology that rejects empiricism mind you, recourses to the EMPIRICAL findings of physics! Wavelengths of light can be represented numerically Novic insists. True. But how does she account for the quantification of those wavelengths? These things were verified experimentally, using induction. Thus they should be rejected by Hyperianism, a system which, again, rejects empiricism, and thus experiment, as a method of ascertaining knowledge.

Also, these aren't pure numbers. They are numbers attached to an arbitrary system of measurement. Without units of length, the numbers themselves are meaningless


Backed into a corner, Novic resorts to a tactic we see all too often these days, appeal to offence. By noting she seems intelligent I have "insulted" her somehow.


The takeaway from all this is just how useless Hyperianism actually is. It's proponents can't even verify a simple premise without completely throwing it out of the window!

No wonder Morgue is so grumpy.



                                                    #grumpymorgue

Thursday, 13 July 2017

David Rountree: What You Need To Know.

Like a creature returning from a hibernating state, emerging from its lair blinking in the sunlight, then pulling a plug of faeces and hair from its anus for the world to examine, David Rountree has begun to emerge from his self-imposed exile from the paranormal community. Rountree was scheduled to appear as a guest on a paranormal team's radio show a few weeks ago. The appearance didn't go ahead due to a concerted effort from within the paranormal community to inform the hosts about just who and what Rountree is. I won't mention the name of the hosts, simply because they had no idea what they were getting into with Rountree, the opinion of the people I spoke to had in turn spoken to the team mentioned their shock at the magnitude of the reaction to the man.

"I've been caught lying this many times!" Not even close Dave

The aim of this post is to prevent other teams experiencing the same shock and to explain why there is such negative feeling towards this man. What I hope is clear here though is that I don't actually believe Rountree should be "no platformed." I think David shouldn't be denied a platform. But, I do believe that the hosts of shows that intend to feature Rountree have a responsibility to make their audiences aware of who he actually is and crucially who he is not. Rountree can't be allowed to talk with authority on subjects like physics and archaeology, he simply isn't qualified enough to do so, and to allow him to do this is to allow him to badly mislead your audience.  Also, hosts should be aware, based on some of his past actions, he's a pretty shitty human being

Rountree's reappearance in the paranormal field didn't exactly come as a shock to those who follow his activities. He recently began posting on his personal social media about a haunted mirror left at his abode by a girlfriend and "activity" in his attic. Not exactly a smoking gun of a return to the field right? Well, he followed these posts with a long form posting exposing a new paradigm of physics. Like much of what has gone before with Rountree, the explanation of his new theory involves a great deal of terminology used incorrectly, but coherent enough to appear legitimate to the layman.

A sample of his latest musings is below. You'll probably be unsurprised given what you are about to reed that these latest insights are plagiarised also. The original source is the wikpedia page on Materialism.


Following this Roundtree appeared at a Paranormal convention dressed as a child's drawing of an archaeologist.




This brings us to the first thing that potential Rountree hosts should know:

0. Stolen Valour.

This is the elephant in the room and the first thing anyone aiming to discuss Rountree must address. You may be very surprised that I'm not going to dwell on this given how important that is. There's a very simple reason for this: Respect.

I am not, nor will I ever be, a member of the armed forces. I have no family members or close friends in the armed forces. As such I can't fully comprehend the sacrifice that service men and women commit themselves to, especially as they are deployed to combat zones. This doesn't mean I don't consider stolen valour a disgusting and reprehensible act. Far from it. But I believe the criticism of Rountree's actions when he committed this act and falsified his service record should be delivered to you by someone who does understand.

That's why I'm directing you to the blog of No Blue Falcons, who has, alongside others worked tirelessly in exposing him in this area. In these blog postings you will see a wealth of evidence, most notably David's DD214, his Certificate of Release or Discharge from Active Duty, showing Rountree...

A. Did not serve in Vietnam as he claimed in various sources, most notably the biographies in his published works of fiction.

B. Did not earn the Bronze or Silver star, or any of the medals he both claimed and displayed in social media postings such as this one:




C. Was never certified as an officer, as also claimed.

I'm also going to reproduce No Blue Falcon's justification for pursuing and exposing Roundtree, I have my own reasons which I will lay out in my conclusion, but I concur with the sentiment expressed here:
"In regards to invasion of privacy, invasion of privacy occurs when you publicly disclose private facts not related to public concern. Because Mr. Rountree made so many public claims about his biography and his military service over the years, as well as it is published in his book currently being sold, the claims can be investigated for truth. Furthermore, he instructed the public to “google him” and he is a public figure, as he was on television and continues to do radio shows, has had articles written about him in numerous magazines, and does podcasts. The facts that are shared above about him ARE REFUTING WHAT HE PUT OUT PUBLICLY AND THEREFORE ARE DIRECTLY RELATED TO PUBLIC CONCERN."

You'll find the links to the No Blue Falcons posts in the sources section after my conclusion.
Moving on to my initial involvement with Rountree and his most commonly repeated falsehood. The one that earned him a spot on ghost hunting TV show "Ghost Stalkers".


1. Rountree isn't qualified to talk about physics.

This is the most pertinent point to the post and that future groups that aim to host Rountree must consider. This isn't because Rountree's claims of physics qualifications are an insult to people who dedicate their lives of the discipline, but it's because it is in this area where Rountree initially found fame, it's also the area that he repeatedly returns to when he feels scrutiny is off him. Case in point. Rountree's recent radio appearance was going to revolve around physics and cosmology. See below.



My involvement with Rountree came as a result of his physics claims, and one claim in particular. Rountree claimed that he was not only a PhD in quantum physics but had published a dissertation in the peer-reviewed press. In an attempt to shift focus from the exposure regarding his military service and other aspects of life, Rountree boldly claimed that the problem with his critics was they focused on him personally rather than his "work". I was determined that Rountree wouldn't have this avenue to retreat down anymore by tackling his work head on.

Rountree's main claims in physics revolve around wormholes and the detection of the same. That's what he'll probably want to discuss on your show. I can't stress strongly enough: If Rountree had discovered definitive proof of wormholes, we would be a Nobel Prize holder. Wormholes are purely theoretical at this stage. The world's foremost cosmologists are unsure if they exist, yet Rountree claims not only have discovered them but a method for their detection. The big problem is Rountree doesn't understand physics well enough to make these claims. He tells us that his "wormhole detector" operates by detecting gamma ray emissions. But, he also tells us that wormholes do not have an event horizon or the massive gravity of their cousin black holes. This means that wormholes can't have an accretion disc, a massive spinning disc of blazing hot matter that builds when material feeds into a black hole. The problem with this is that's where the gamma emissions of a black hole emerge from. Wormholes can't have gamma emissions by Rountree's own logic!

You can read my full exposure of David's self published "paper" here. The first thing of note is despite Rountree's claims, his paper was not published in a peer-reviewed journal but on Research Gate which is a "pay to play" journal that will accept any submissions that come with a cheque attached. One of the most shocking things I found regarding Rountree's "work" was not just that it was utterly nonsensical, I expected that. What shocked me, was how little of the paper was actually written by him.

Here's my comparison from a brief section of that post:

Rountree:



Wiki:


Rountree:





Wiki:



Rountree

Wiki:




Even the equations used in the paper are lifted wholesale from Wikipedia, this is clear from the font they are presented in:

Rountree:



Wiki:


Rountree:




Wiki:


So not only is Rountree's work not credible it isn't even his.

We shouldn't be surprised at how poor Rountree's grasp of physics is, so poor he's on record stating that mathematics isn't actually that important in physics. The fact is he doesn't have any qualifications in the subject. Here's what Rountree used to claim on social media regarding his physics background:


















After Roundtree's deception regarding his quantum mechanics qualification was exposed he changed "Princeton" in his education bio to a qualification in Physics from "the school of life" (below).


Consider, this is a man who is going to speak to your audiences about physics. A man who confesses the pinnacle of his education is what he's learnt from life in general? Would you let a surgeon who claims he's education in anatomy comes from the school of life? Of course not, and life teaches you a lot more about anatomy than it does about quantum mechanics.

You'll also notice Rountree lists another qualification from the "school of life" Rountree now claims to have a qualification in "archaeology". Unlike his claims with physics Rountree doesn't seem to have made checkable academic claims in this area.

This is a pattern that Roundtree repeats frequently. When he is caught in a lie, he replaces that lie with something equally grandiose but more nebulous and less specific.

2. Rountree isn't an archaeologist either.

After his exposure as a physics fraud, Rountree began appearing on paranormal shows as a "paranormal archaeologist". I consulted many people who have been following Rountree's activities for a long time and not a single one of them remembers a single occasion before Rountree claims were debunked when he mentions being an archaeologist. His claims in this area are less grandiose than the corresponding claims in physics, but they are as easy to debunk. One of the most telling signs, despite claims of attending various archaeological digs, is that Rountree has yet to publish a single image either from a dig or even from any of the various countries he claims to have visited. Not one. And as you can probably see, Dave is a selfie addict. Heck, he even publishes photos from his hospital bed, wearing a lovely... erm... alligator foot?




Let's look at some of Rountree's specific claims regarding archaeology or to be more precise, finds.


Roundtree tells us he has found a "spiritual blade" at an excavation of a temple site. He neglects to mention that this blade can also be found in a slightly less auspicious location, E-Bay.


An amazing find indeed! And a snap at $24 with free postage! This isn't a one-off either. This "9th-10th Century Viking Ring" Rountree claims to have found?


Can also be found on an auction site, or at least a similar one, Live Auctioneers (below).
























No Blue Falcon points out with regards to Rountree's archaeological claims:
"Rountree also claimed to have polished and fixed the box the dagger came in, this can also be bought online. And it is Chinese not Tibetan (below). Tibetan temple artefacts would be held in a holy Tibetan box which would not be readily available. 
Furthermore, anything found on an expedition would not be taken by the "digger" as Rountree claims to be. It would belong to the institution that has the grant and permit for the dig, and would eventually be turned over to authorities for the purpose of historical preservation. If he is restoring these items, as he claims, he has destroyed their authenticity. That's Archaeology 101."
So we can be sure Rountree isn't a physicist or an archaeologist but is there anything he's told us we can be sure of.... Surely there's a limit to the things he is prepared to lie about?

3. Rountree's claims regarding his ethnicity. 

Rountree's habit of shifting from one claim to another extends beyond his academic claims to his ethnic heritage. Initially, Rountree claimed to be of Native American descent, with his mother being Eastern Cherokee and his father part of the Nasemond tribe. No Blue Falcons Points out here that the Nansemond were not the "larger nation" as Rountree claims below. They were part of the Powhatan chiefdom and confined to the VA area. NBF says someone of tribal ancestry would know this.

 I believe much of the reason for this was to appropriate an air of "shamanism" and give Rountree's activities in the paranormal community weight. He claims to be considered an "elder" of certain tribes and a "medicine man".


Roundtree has founded several groups based upon this ethnic identity, in particular, his page "Wolf Shaman" is a striking example of Roundtree's desire to ascribe specialist abilities to himself. Case in point.



When several individuals researched Rountree's actual ethnic origins they found he had essentially falsified his connection to Native Americans. The following E-mail exchange occurred between the blogger No Blue Falcons, who will return to our story in a major way shortly, and the genealogist of the tribe from which Rountree claimed his father belonged to:


When Rountree was exposed with regards to these claims regarding his ethnicity, he once again shifted his story. He became the descendant of "Viking Kings".


The last word regarding Rountree's heritage should go to the person who knows him the best. The only person truly in a position to expose Native American tales of wolf shamanism as completely fallacious. Rountree himself. This post came from a genealogy website Rountree used in 2002.

We can see that Rountree tells a lot of lies. Why does he do it? Essentially I believe that David desires an air of authority. Like many mediums, psychics, demonologists and the like, he seeks to give himself abilities and powers that set him above others in his field. He claims to have access to knowledge beyond that of his peers. His desire to be considered a source of wisdom is telling. Roundtree wants admiration and respect but doesn't want to work to earn it. He seeks it the easy way, by lying to obtain it. 

But your audience's respect and admiration may not be the only thing Rountree seeks to obtain. He's not above using his elevated position to hawk some tat.

4. Roundtree's Merchandise. 

Let's be clear here, Rountree isn't the worst culprit for this in the paranormal field, but that doesn't absolve him from criticism. Rountree not only used his falsified physics education to obtain a position on the short-lived Destination America show "Ghost Stalkers" but he's also used it to sell some utter rubbish to his fellow ghost hunters. In a November 2016 blog Rountree wrote: " I am selling off little by little, the tools and equipment from Spirit Lab. I just have to find the right home for each piece."


Equipment like "the orb sucker" which found its way to a group known as Revenant Research in 2011.


That red bag at the back? It's a handheld vacuum cleaner. Rountree designed an orb removal device that is a vacuum cleaner. Mull that over for a second.


If that's not your speed (bearing in mind that many vacuums have two or more speeds), how about a wormhole detector? A device designed to detect something that is purely theoretical that the greatest minds in science cannot move past hypothesis. Rountree detects them regularly using equipment built from materials from Home Depot.


In case you're wondering, PVC will not contain gamma rays which this claims to detect.

Don't worry if you're not into technology built from vacuum cleaners and PVC rings, Rountree has some more spiritual in nature paraphernalia to sell your audience which he sold via his "wolf creations" page on Facebook, now gone, Rountree now produces and sells Viking pieces in line with his switch in ethnicity.


This one brings death to your enemies, for when shit in a burning bag on a doorstep just won't do! Also note here the two posts pictured below connect David to the aforementioned "Wolf Creations".


David's attitude to his critics brings me to my next point.

5. Rountree doesn't handle criticism well. Understatement.

Let's say you go ahead and feature Rountree on your show, and some of your audience doesn't like him, doesn't rate his ideas or realise he doesn't really know what he's talking about. How is he going to react to that?



Well, he could do what he did to me when I pointed out his error in physics, refuse to answer any of the points put to him, then refuse to allow any other points to be put to him by blocking them.



At least he didn't imply that I was criticising him out of repressing sexual desire as he has done with his female critics.

Pretty mild right? Blocking critics isn't anything extraordinary these days. Well, Roundtree may also respond to criticism in a more extreme way. Including taking shots at a woman's physical disability...


And of the disabilities of one of his critic's children.

I'm not going to share the image Rountree directed to the mother of a child with severe disabilities. I've never asked my readers to take anything on faith, until now. I don't want to see it again, I don't want the lady in question to see it again and I don't want you to see it at all.

Rountree is also not averse to releasing the personal information of at least one of his critics to the public whilst threatening to do this to others. Doxxing is illegal may I add. Ironic as he has also threatened to sue the person in question as well as threatening others with cease and desist notices. One would think this would have been pointed out by his lawyers if he ever consulted one that is.


Insults are one thing, doxing is another. It's particularly chilling as Rountree has explicitly threatened to kill his critics and demonstrated that he has the capability to do just that by displaying weapons in images addressed to his detractors.


Conclusions

You are no doubt getting this right now, this is what you potentially expose your audience to if you chose to engage with Rountree. This is not an honest man and in my humble opinion, not a stable man. Do you really want your audience to be exposed to the things I've discussed in just the above section alone?

Insults, doxing, threats to kill?

If you do, go ahead and feature him on your show. But at least now you'll understand why people react so strongly towards the decision.

Many may wonder what motivated me to write this lengthy post, Rountree has never attacked me after all. Am I just a busy body, jumping into some witch hunt? Well, my issue is one of sacrifice. All the things that Rountree has lied about, taken shortcuts to cease adulation and respect and credibility, those things take sacrifice to achieve.

I'm acutely aware of the sacrifice it takes to achieve a degree in physics. I have two children, a partner and a job. During term time I work until 2 or 3 am on occasion, shower, go to bed, then get up at 7.30 am and head to work.  I take beta blockers to manage stress during exam periods.  I've sat cradling my child with a raging fever, rocking and soothing him, with a text book cracked open in my free hand.

You may think I want sympathy here. Or respect even.

Fuck sympathy. Respect? As Bon Scott once said, "for what?"

I want to know everything I can about physics. I want to share it with the paranormal and skeptical community, to help and inform and dispell ignorance, and have them trust what I am telling them. Not because I speak in jargon or with arrogance, confident in the fact that my audience won't catch me out. Not because I hide from critics, or abuse them, threaten them, say disgusting things about their children. I want to teach my children how amazing our universe is, the profound beauty in nature.

I will get that because I made the sacrifice. I paid my dues.

And my sacrifice is nothing. Nothing.

I know physics professors who battled dyslexia and a fickle and uncaring school system, dragged themselves from working class families in Warrington to Oxford. You all know Stephen Hawking, who was given two years to live after a devastating diagnosis of Lou Gehrig's disease at the age of 21. He is now 75. His survival alone borders on miraculous, the fact that he is the greatest living mind is beyond that. The man transcends a miracle. And I speak of these people because I study physics. The field of archaeology is also built on the sacrifice of its students.

Despite all this, these sacrifices pale in comparison, to that made by those in the armed forces. Those in combat may make the ultimate sacrifice, their families too.

Rountree's easy route to success spits on all of this and that means that it ultimately spits on the spirit of our desire to be better. Not just to appear better to those too ill informed to spot deception.

-Robert Lea,

Skeptic's Boot. 


Thanks and Credit.

I didn't really write this post. I gathered the of several individuals who have spent years dedicated to exposing David Rountree. Their reward for this thus far has been scorn and abuse. They've visited social media in the morning to stare down the barrel of a gun. They've had to deal with the knowledge that this man knows where they live, knows about their disabilities, their children's health and watched as this man and his followers attacked these vulnerabilities. I hope they look at what is posted here as a reward of sorts. They aren't alone. Their message about this man is out there.

Many of these people are wary of being named, others blatantly refused. Given what we've seen, who can blame them.

Special thanks to the team at Beyond Bullshit, Parawood and No Blue Falcons, who have helped me tirelessly over the past week assemble this post. They've been there at all hours of the day to answer my questions. I'm very grateful.

Sources: 
Stolen Valour

https://nobluefalcons.wordpress.com/2016/03/30/david-rountree-and-the-long-awaited-dd214/


https://nobluefalcons.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/the-barney-style-proof-david-rountree-lied/

https://nobluefalcons.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/david-rountrees-lies-come-full-circle/

https://nobluefalcons.wordpress.com/2015/04/11/the-records-prove-stolen-valor-by-tv-personality-and-author-david-rountree/

Rountree's Physics Claims.

http://skepticsboot.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/the-wacky-world-of-david-rountree-phd.html

http://skepticsboot.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/holes-in-theory-review-of-david.html

http://skepticsboot.blogspot.co.uk/2015/12/stuffing-turkey-another-round-with.html