Saturday, August 30, 2008

JJNN Saturday: Pseudoscience - 05

Welcome again to JJNN for Friday August 30th, 2008. Today we will be taking about ghosts in Japan.

During the middle of August there is a period of time in Japan called obon. Many people take time off from work and go visit the graves of their family and friends during this time of the year. You could think of it as the Japanese version of memorial day. The only thing a little different is the fact that Japanese people visit graves on obon because it is during obon that the spirits of their friends and family come back to earth and take up shop in their household alters. In this way it is sort of like the Japanese version of Halloween.

This is why there are so many shows about ghost stories on during the middle of the summer. I always enjoy coming home at night and seeing famous people on TV get freaked out because of creepy ghost stories. A lot of these TV shows also have pictures or video that is suppose to be about ghosts. I found some really good pictures and videos while researching this post and I want to share them with you. Keep in mind I will bash these with the science hammer afterwords so don't be too scared!

This is a picture of what people call ghost orbs. Apparently when ghosts are lazy and don't want to take their human shape they fly around as little orbs in a sort of ghost version of energy save mode. It may surprise some to know, but these are not ghosts. Ghosts orbs are actually dust. Yes. Common every day dust. When the flash from the camera bounces off from the dust you get little orbs like that in your pictures. When people take pictures like this they always say things like "Nothing was in the room, but that showed up in the picture." Well, yes. Your eyes don't work fast enough to process the light, and even if they do you wouldn't think anything of it anyway. But, now that it is on film (data) it is a big thing. The only thing is, it's's just dust.

Look! A creepy ghost in the window! Well, actually, no. If you look to the left of the picture you will see a blob of light that signals the use of our old friend, the flash. This is another trick of light and reflection. In this case the light is reflecting off of one of the people in the picture, hitting the window and reflecting back to the camera lens. It is very dark outside so the glass will act like a mirror. More than likely it is the person on the left who is the actual ghost.

Lastly I want to share this video.

This one freaked me out for the longest time. I mean, it's just scary to see something like that. But, eventually I got to see this video below which explained it all. Got to love Captain Disillusion (well, except what he says about Japanese TV shows which are all in all entertaining). Watch an enjoy.

It is a good reminder that there are other reasons there are ghost pictures and videos out there. Either they are a natural play of light in the form of reflections, refractions, etc or someone just made them up. Remember to look at things with a skeptical mind.

Any way, it is now time for the word of the day. Today's word is 幽霊(ゆうれい). It is pronounced yuurei and means ghost. There are probably close to 100 words for ghost in the Japanese language, but yuurei is the one that is used the most. It is so amazing to see how Japanese people look at things like ghost and goblins (not the video game).

That's it for today. See you next time at JJNN.


  1. I remember a time when you used to believe in ghosts, little brother. Science explains a lot, but it doesn't explain everything.

  2. That was a long time ago. I also believed in things like psychokinesis and the boogieman. I have grown up and moved on other other, more pertinent, beliefs. Beliefs in science and the right about of skepticism. Maybe at this point science does not explain everything, but science is constantly evolving and explaining more and more things. Given enough time science will explain all the things that were before explained off the easy was as ghost and goblins.

  3. The Easter bunny is real though - because you know that JC was a bunny...


    Anyway, pretty cool videos and photos. I do think that there is something to a very few of these such stories... I know that National Geographic did admit to obtaining material that they couldn't even explain! D'oh! and they know thier photography!