There has been a lot of attention paid in recent years to the phenomenon known as “orbs.” Orbs are the round, seemingly luminescent forms captured in many photographs. In many pictures, you can see multiple orbs, floating around, almost as if hoping some poor mortal will see them. Google any paranormal investigations website, and I’m sure that at least 9 out of 10 of the sites you find will have a section devoted to orbs. You will see various pictures, usually taken on a specific investigation, that shows these “orbs.” It seems like they’re everyplace. But should they be presented as evidence of ghosts? Are these orbs evidence of the paranormal or the afterlife? Hardly.
I myself have taken numerous pictures over the years, and have had these mysterious little orbs show up time and time again. And it didn’t matter if I was on a paranormal investigation or not. There they were. Nighttime, daytime, it didn’t matter. The little orbs popped up in many of my pictures.
The fact of the matter is that for 99.999% of all orb pictures, there is a very reasonable, rational explanation for them. It’s called dust. Dust is everywhere, especially in the old homes that we paranormal investigators typically love exploring. We trample through the home with our team, touching things, setting up our equipment, running wires, and so on. And that kicks up a lot of dust. We can’t see it with the naked eye, but our cameras can, especially when our handy flashes illuminate those dust particles so well.
A few years ago, when I visited the Conference House on Staten Island, I caught numerous “orbs” in the pictures I took. I never once thought of them as ghosts. Dust is everywhere, especially in 200 year-old homes. Posted below are some pictures I took at the Conference House, as well as a camping trip last summer. One was even taken while the sun wasn’t fully down yet, but there they are. Orbs. Even outdoors, there are dust particles. There are bugs. There is pollen. So ultimately, a little illuminated orb is not that impressive to me as a paranormal investigator. Remember, if there is a reasonable, rational explanation for a phenomenon, you have to throw it out as evidence of the paranormal.
We are all in this field to find proof of the paranormal. It’s a hard, often-times frustrating field to be a part of. Strong, conclusive evidence is rare in the extreme, and it can be tempting to see many mundane things as “evidence.” But we should not jump so quickly to conclude that orbs are proof positive of ghosts. There are many photographs out there of truly luminescent orbs or shapes, things that are a little bit more out of the ordinary, that perhaps we should take a closer look at. But we do ourselves a disservice as paranormal investigators if we are willing to post these run of the mill “orb” photos on our sites as proof of ghosts and the paranormal. It’s already tough enough to convince the skeptical community to scrutinize our evidence. Showing them pictures of dust is not helping our cause.
We need to be our own toughest critics when analyzing evidence. Remember, let the evidence convince you of the presence of the paranormal, and don’t let your belief in the paranormal skew your perception of the evidence.
Pictures of “Orbs”
by Jason Stroming | E-Mail