Explaining the Ghost Boy in the Back Seat Photo with Occam's Razor

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
It does not seem like Mr Pocha has anything else to add, so there's nothing to be gained from discussing him any more.
 

Ray Von Geezer

Senior Member.
I have queried Greg Pocha about the evidence posted here and have this answer:

http://www.allexperts.com/user.cgi?m=6&catID=3278&expID=123727&qID=4911309

In short, he claims that the photos were validated by the press, not him, and rejects evidence shown here as mere opinions. Also says that "[in my] that first letter to the questioner I point out all of the discrepancies that lead me to believe the image to have been faked". And that "It was not until I started private correspondence with her did i look into the photos in greater depth".

He didn't bother to be polite when answering. I'm sorry, this is not a question of politeness, just discussing evidence, complex evidence indeed, humanly by trial and error.
We must bear in mind that, as a paranormal expert, Mr. Pocha may well have a different definition of "faked" in mind, beyond that of image manipulation we're really talking about here. I say this as he twice states his analysis produced no evidence of photoshopping, the second and most specific in his second review. Obviously, that can't be interpreted as his endorsement of the photo as genuine either (as he seems to get quite animated at the idea).

I think to expect to do a "hard debunk" is to miss Mick's intention when creating this thread. What I'm taking from it is that we can use the evidence available to find the most likely explanation. "Most likely" being the best that can be done with what's known, and very unlikely to be conclusive.

I'm put in mind of the "hanging man" photo thread - there was very strong evidence pointing to it being a fake (deliberate or accidental) but even strong evidence doesn't necessarily mean the conclusion is correct. Ultimately it was proved to be a fake by first hand input from one of the people actually in the picture. That was probably the only way it could be conclusively "boxed off" (short of sourcing the original untouched image). I think this case is likely the same.

Personally, I don't feel a "hard debunk" is needed or appropriate anyway. This isn't a "Sandy Hook Hoax!" claim, or some other malicious bunk that actually causes harm. Whatever the true origin of the photo, it's essentially harmless.

Unless it's really a g-g-g-ghooost! ;)

Ray Von
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
I think to expect to do a "hard debunk" is to miss Mick's intention when creating this thread. What I'm taking from it is that we can use the evidence available to find the most likely explanation. "Most likely" being the best that can be done with what's known, and very unlikely to be conclusive.

Something I'm trying to do in general is to steer people away from the need to find "the explanation", and instead accept that certainty is often difficult to come by, and that this lack of certainty does not mean we pick the least probable explanation.

"Scientists baffled" often just means "scientists have several plausible explanations, but are not sure which one is the real one"
 
[...]

Ultimately it was proved to be a fake by first hand input from one of the people actually in the picture.

[...] it's essentially harmless.

Unless it's really a g-g-g-ghooost! ;)

Ray Von

Can you explain what you mean by "proved fake by first hand input from one of the people actually in the picture"? [Now I get it, I lost the connection with the "hanging man"]

Yes, this is harmless, unless it's really a ghost (brrr). I liked this one.
 
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I think this is the point of the situation at this time:

1. These are probably a true pictures, maybe modified somehow but probably not "photoshopped".
2. They weren't taken in July, as claimed and supported by camera settings, but maybe later. The most probable date is August 6, 2016 or some days before or after.
3. The exact location and approximate time of the day were disclosed.
4. There was no fatal accident one year before in the area.
5. There was another person inside the car, as that image is unlikely to be an artifact.
6. The second picture captured a spot the same texture as the child's shirt, perhaps him returning to his seat after showing up by surprise in the girl's picture making some symbol with the fingers. This child might not be using his seat-belt again.
7. Mother and daughter gained publicity, daughter started using a seat-belt at last, and maybe there was some money return from the newspaper.
8. It's unclear if it's acceptable to date the pictures wrongly based on wrong camera settings. If the camera wasn't used for these 2 selfies only, which is unlikely (pics are numbered 178 and 179), there is a sequence of pictures before and after that might help finding a more accurate date.
9. It's unclear how the mother learned about a factitious accident in the area.
10. For ultimately debunk the pictures, the mother had to admit the wrong infos, maybe unlikely, but not impossible (mother, daughter, or child or his parents or someone knowing him or them).
 
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0x90

Closed Account
Because the kids from the local Tae Kwon Do Studio wear Christmas hats.

More importantly, the event page for Korean olympic tae kwon do exibition (sic) was set by Melissa Kurtz on Agust 2nd. Her daughter was photographed at this event, held on August 6th.

A short comment "hodori Oympic Tae Kwon Do Team" in the "ghost" photos metadata could have been added to the photos as they were taken. The camera manual (http://cdn-10.nikon-cdn.com/pdf/manuals/noprint/D40_noprint.pdf) tells how to do it:


All this suggests that Melissa's camera could have been "programmed" to add this comment to all photos near the time of the martial arts event. If this is true, the "ghost" photos were taken not at the time of the beauty pageant, but at a much later date.
On this point, I have a D40, and so can state that this Image Comment is put into a User Comment field in the exif data; this field is present, but empty, in both images. Furthermore, besides the fact that it is a pain to set this comment in the camera (I have done it only once, in 2008), instead of appearing in User Comment, the hodori Olympic Tae Kwon Do Team tag actually appears no less than three times in each image, in XP Keywords, Last Keyword XMP, and Subject exif fields, which suggests they were added by Windows. Given the stated timeline, I think it reasonable to assume they were added inadvertently, in the normal course of moving/tagging images.
 

Trailspotter

Senior Member.
On this point, I have a D40, and so can state that this Image Comment is put into a User Comment field in the exif data; this field is present, but empty, in both images. Furthermore, besides the fact that it is a pain to set this comment in the camera (I have done it only once, in 2008), instead of appearing in User Comment, the hodori Olympic Tae Kwon Do Team tag actually appears no less than three times in each image, in XP Keywords, Last Keyword XMP, and Subject exif fields, which suggests they were added by Windows. Given the stated timeline, I think it reasonable to assume they were added inadvertently, in the normal course of moving/tagging images.
Thanks for the info. I agree that the comment probably was added by a computer software, as the Comment field displayed on the back of the camera is empty in the OP photos. I guess that the same comment was added to a batch of the new photos during their import from the camera. I am not familiar with photo tagging in Windows. Can it add automatically a common tag to a bunch of new photos? Or do one need to install a software that comes with the camera for this?
 

0x90

Closed Account
Without firing up a dormant machine, I can only verify for Windows 10, but there, "Tags" is a standard column (i.e. many more are available, but Tags is shown by default) in Explorer's Details view, and phrases entered there are indeed put into the three above-mentioned exif fields. However, this is not strictly conclusive, since any software that wishes to work seamlessly with Windows would also make sure to use these same fields.
 
Did Greg Pocha analyze the pictures in the camera? It seems so as some OP photos are purportedly subject to his analysis software (whatever it is). If so, why should he then post in his reply pictures tagged by a computer with such odd keywords, automatically or whatever?
 
Well, I don't have an answer. 0x90's comment is relevant. The point so far was that the comment was inserted in the camera, something painful as it's like inserting a message on a 1970's video game. This way, pictures taken after inserting that message would carry it, according to instructions, and thus the pictures in question would be dated later than August 6, 2016.

If the comments were inserted automatically when transferring pictures to a computer, then "Date Acquired" at XMP is correct, I think, as this was provided by the computer, which is highly unlikely to be inaccurate these days. The "Date Acquired" is August 6, 2016 at 16:59, which means that the picture is dated earlier than Aug. 6 (as claimed by the mother) and not later than Aug. 6 as thought here before.

The pictures time was inaccurate based on SunCalc. The question remains whether the date was accurate or not, as this would easily allow forgetting or not associating someone else in the car on a different occasion. As registration for the Beauties Pageant started at 4 or 5PM, and they were at least 30 min. far from the event at 5-6PM as provided by SunCalc, maybe the date wasn't accurate anyway...

These are some loose thoughts I hope someone will comment to help sharpen them.
 
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Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
If the comments were inserted automatically when transferring pictures to a computer, then "Date Acquired" at XMP is correct, I think, as this was provided by the computer, which is highly unlikely to be inaccurate these days. The "Date Acquired" is August 6, 2016 at 16:59, which means that the picture is dated earlier than Aug. 6 (as claimed by the mother) and not later than Aug. 6 as thought here before.
Is "Date Acquired" not the same as "Date Created"? Has anyone actually got the full EXIF data? I can't see it in this thread.
 
Is "Date Acquired" not the same as "Date Created"? Has anyone actually got the full EXIF data? I can't see it in this thread.

The pictures are here:

http://en.allexperts.com/q/Paranormal-Phenomena-3278/2016/8/boy-backseat.htm

And archived here, very useful if deleted from the original source:

http://web.archive.org/web/20161128...normal-Phenomena-3278/2016/8/boy-backseat.htm

You can check metadata at

http://fotoforensics.com

by copying and pasting image location or saving them on your computer and uploading.

"Date Acquired" is at XMP, where there are the tags, so this might be the date these were created or inserted.

By the way, from FotoForensics.com:

"The presence of an XMP block usually indicates a resave by an Adobe product."

Source: http://fotoforensics.com/tutorial-meta.php

This information seems to support 0x90's comments above.
 
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Psyringe

Banned
Banned
Yea it gets messy if they're a Lightroom user & shooting in JPEG; because Lightroom will write/alter the data on a JPG when imported by default. RAW files & video types demand sidecars.

It's apparent "not-fake"; dead giveaway is the colors; I'd tear the photo apart if the rest of the planet didn't already. Thank you for DSLR and modern photography; the hangman was dated but this is obvious.

Is it just me, or have ghosts been sharing a lot in common with Aliens & Parallel Universers. I didn't think that was ever a child; nature of the photography suggests a fake - so fake it's alien. I don't see a ghost. lol
 

Francis

New Member
image.jpeg Hello everyone,

Looking very carefully, I distinguish two shopper bags. The lower one contains two long small objects, probably french bread. The shopper in the background is a bigger, reflecting one and he is out of focus.
So, what one interprets as "curly hair" are in fact two handle grips of this upper bag.
The really convincing illusion of the "mouth" of the boy is just a fold in this upper bag, caused by falling backwards, which shadow coincidentally runs together with the contour of the supposed french bread.
Please compare the included picture with drawings of the supposed bags with the original picture to realize that a face, due to the shifting lines on the left side, the earlier mentioned gap in the chin and the deep carvings of the "curled hair", is a way less obvious than one might to believe at first sight.

Coming to Occams Razor, the assumption of the two bags is the explanation for:
- the fact people are schopping by car and tend to store there bags on the back seat.
- the out of focus, consistent with the 5.6 diafragma of the camera.
- the play of light and shadow. Not only the shadow of the fold in de the bag, but also the shiny spot on the side of the latter, creating a subtle line with the side towards the viewer, everything consistent with the direction of the sunlight.
- the falling position of the upper bag, obeying the law of gravity.
- the angled rim of the upper bag, obeying the principles of perspective.
- ...

Though, one riddle remains in the dark. What strange relationship exists between Florida people and french bread?
 
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jtveg

New Member
Try it against a real background. I can see where you took an eraser tool to the tufts on the right side; without a uniform backdrop that fuzzy edge would be far more obvious.

It is still quite a good job and the average person wouldn't suspect it was retouched without being told so in the first place.
 
I agree with you, but that photoshop didn't help the case and the conclusion is that there's no evidence the pictures were modified.

I'd just add "[...] without being shown both pictures".
 

Greyhawk101

New Member
Sorry, but that all looks like normal hair movement to me. All the hair is moving varying amounts, there's no real difference between areas. I see no evidence of Photoshopping.

Your suggestion that the bottom part of the hair is virtually untouched is nonsensical, it moves a lot.

Move the slider here for comparison
[compare]
View attachment 22749
View attachment 22750
[/compare]

My first post here! Glad I found this site after arguing with flat earthers...a bit of sanity! At any rate, in Mick Wests slidey post you can see part of the right shoulder coming into shot in the first pic, followed by the full "face" in the second pic. Just flash it left and right and you can see the movement of someone in the back seat coming into shot from right to left as viewed from our perspective. Seems just to be someone in the back seat.
 

Lisboneu

New Member
I'm fascinated how all of you spend the time analyzing and scrutinizing all aspects of this case (based on the available data); it really is forensics, almost like what the FBI does. I've always been fascinated by forensics and often wish I had gone to the FBI academy.

It's encouraging seeing people taking the time to look closely into cases such as this in attempt to determine the truth.
 
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