Paranormal Debunking

ImageOrbs or dust?

Clouds reflected in the window or ghostly apparitions?

I have a rule that I always follow: when in doubt, throw it out.

I believe that we owe it to the field to only submit the most valid evidence possible. This means keeping the Class C EVPs that may or may not be another investigator burping, and the photos of smudged mirrors to ourselves.  We don’t grasp for straws, we just keep trying until we find something worth sharing. I truly wish all investigators followed this rule as well.

Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of questionable photos and audio recordings being shared on Facebook. One look and it’s clear to me that, while it looks like a good catch on the surface, there are far too many variables to consider it true evidence. When in doubt, throw it out.

I have dozens of photos that look ghostly.  Case in point is the photograph above. I once investigated with a team who had a similar photo. They proudly displayed it on their website as proof of fairies. I nearly laughed when I saw it, because it is clearly a mosquito caught in the flash.

Orb photos? I have hundreds of them, but you’ll never see them presented as evidence. While it truly makes sense that the most practical shape for a ghost to take is a round circle, most of what you see is dust and moisture reflected against the flash. The bigger the orb, the closer it was to the camera when the photo was taken. The only exception I will make is if I actually saw the orb, or light anomaly, with my own eyes. Below is an example of this.


I captured this photo at the Haunted Victorian Mansion, my favorite haunted house. In 2012 I brought my sister and her kids for a quick tour when they were in town visiting. My niece, Lily, sat on the stairs for a photo. Right before I snapped the photo, I saw a ball of light move across the front of her. Considering this location is highly active, I would consider this interesting, but I still wouldn’t consider it evidence. There are too many variables that could come into play. Could it have been a flash of light coming through the window? Could it have been a glare from someone’s flashlight? I don’t think so, but it’s still possible.

The photo below isn’t one of mine. I found it on Google images. Is it an apparition, reaching through the frame to touch this young man’s heart? No. It’s a camera strap. You can determine this by the weaved pattern of the object. Stray hairs have a similar appearance in photos.


Do you see a face in the window in the photo below? Our eyes are programmed to look for faces. It’s called pareidolia, or more commonly known as “matrixing.” This is the same phenomenon that causes us to see faces in clouds, or the man on the moon. It’s also very popular with amateur ghost hunters. Many times, the face will be circled so it can be easily seen.


The same theory should go for EVPs as well. We are always careful during EVP sessions. If someone’s stomach growls, one of us will say “stomach” out loud, so we’ll understand later and not confuse the sound with a demon roar. Whispers are also marked, as are traffic noises, and chair squeaks.

While we were at Rose Island Lighthouse investigating, we recorded the sounds of seagulls in nearly every session. If you listen closely, it sounds like a person crying or a baby saying “mama”. And yes, that was a deliberate dig to a popular ghost hunting show who presented that very sound as evidence.

If a door is known to slam on its own, test it. When we investigated the Concord Colonial Inn, it was reported that the door in Room 24 often closed on its own. The same ghost hunting show also presented it as evidence. We quickly found out that the doors are actually hinged to close on their own for security reasons.

Using your EMF detectors, scan the location for high electromagnetic spikes. Common household appliances, such as microwaves, alarm clocks, and ceiling fans have been known to throw a ton of electromagnetic energy into the immediate vicinity. If someone spends ample time there, they will probably feel the effects, which include paranoia, the feeling of being watched, and hallucinations.

As a field, we owe it to the world and to each other to be as accurate as possible. When we post things that are questionable, we cast a shady light on everyone else who investigates the paranormal.  We aren’t in this to get the most “likes” on Facebook or to have our stories told on a television show. We are here to find answers, to help people, and to help the ghosts as well.

My second rule of thumb? Do no harm.

Joni Mayhan

Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on and For more information about the author, please see her website:

The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare



Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.


 Lightning Strikes

Ember Rain

Angel Storm