The controversy of "orbs"

If you’re involved in paranormal you’re probably quite familiar with the subject of “orbs”.  An orb, by paranormal investigator standards, is a round spec of light which some consider to be visual evidence of spirit activity within a photograph or video footage.  While there’s a possibility this is true, there’s an overwhelming amount of logic to the contrary – and this is what puts “orbs” in the hot seat.  For Maine Ghost Hunters, the defining characteristic of what makes visual evidence worthy of serious review and presentation is whether or not a suggested piece of evidence can be reproduced, and if so, how easily.  If not easily, how much effort goes into reproducing a visual anomaly and is that effort too much when considering whether or not it was applied when the “evidence” was captured.  As in, “sure, you could recreate this but it would take 12 steps, $3,000 and there’s only an iota of a chance it would even be noticed during data analysis & review”.  Chances are, if that’s the scenario you’re looking at, the visual anomaly wasn’t created by artificial means (code for “hoax”), as the end doesn’t justify the means.

So let’s get straight to the almighty “orb”, shall we?  Straight to the point, does the Maine Ghost Hunters organization take “orbs” all that seriously when considering evidence?  I can answer that by saying our team doesn’t categorically deny that orbs hold, or do not hold, value – because no one knows for sure.  However, I will say that we work from a skeptic point of view, and denying the presence of orbs as evidence isn’t opinion based, it’s logic based.   Yes, an orb in a photo could be something spiritual, but there’s an overwhelming amount of data and logical reasons to consider it’s not, and moreover, unless the photo was taken in a “clean room” that space very likely has, at the very least, a natural amount of dust floating around in the air.  If not dust that was in that space before the photographer and/or subject arrived, most likely after, since people carry dust on clothes, in their hair, and they kick up dust particles that are on the floor.

In case you’re wondering what a “clean room” is, I have copied a definition from Webopedia.

“A work area in which the air quality, temperature and humidity are highly regulated in order to protect sensitive equipment from contamination. Clean rooms are important features in the production of silicon chips, hard disk drives and other technologies such as satellites. The air in a clean room is repeatedly filtered to remove dust particles and other impurities that can damage the production of highly sensitive technologies.”

It’s not that orbs can’t possibly be paranormal, it’s that there is an extremely low probability they are.  Are there cases Maine Ghost Hunters considers an “orb” to hold a bit of value?  Sure there is.  When an orb is presented as potential evidence the 1 defining factor that will bring it more attention than normal is when it emits its own light.  If an orb is present, in darkness, emitting its own light – meaning it is its own light source and it is not reflecting light from another source, such as flash from a camera – then it is worthy of being taken seriously as potential evidence.   If you’re standing in a room in the pitch dark and you see little balls of light floating around, please consider that you may be in the presence of paranormal activity.  However, if you’re standing in the dark and you snap a photo with the flash and you get a bunch of orbs in your photo, or even just one really impressive orb, while you may consider it to be evidence worthy, Maine Ghost Hunters probably will not.

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