This is the second part of my (somewhat lengthy) discussion of the Science of Ghosts event at Edinburgh Science Festival this week. Hopefully not bored everyone to death yet!
One thing I forgot to mention in my brief comments on Richard Wiseman’s talk was just how entertaining a speaker he is – extremely funny and charismatic. His speech set the tone for the whole day; every talk used sound, video, photographs or other things to great effect. Not a single talk was dull. Also, all were pitched at a lay audience, at just about the right level I think – though this was a little frustrating at times.
After Wiseman’s talk we had a short intermission, which was fascinating. As part of the advertising for the event the organizers had run a contest to find ghost photos, and not wanting to use it without permission, the winner is here and on that link you can read all about the investigation conducted in to the photo. I was fortunate enough to hear the person who took the photo, Christopher Aitchison, speak, and I was convinced he was telling the truth. He seemed calm, mildly amused and mildly sceptical, and genuinely questioning and sincere. If I understood him correctly the figure if a real person, or even a ghost must have been some kind of spectral contortionist, as the position the face is in is very close to the ground – but I could well be wrong? Christopher ran through the history of the castle, and I wondered how many of the audience came from south of the border and might struggle with the unfamiliar kings! Anyway, certainly on the level – but still not convinced this is a ghost. Still as was mentioned, a second photo apparently showing a ghost in Tantallon Castle has since come to light . Curious! Interestingly we were told the site has no particular reputation for being haunted – till now. I’ll have a look on web later see what I can find!
Other ghost photos discussed can be seen on a slide show from The Scotsman, but loads more on the Science of Ghosts blog here. I believe Wiseman said they had over two million hits on the site, and featured in the media worldwide. This section was a very short interlude, maybe ten minutes, but despite obvious nerves Christopher Aitchison came over as well as all the other speakers, an excellent presentation and a fascinating part of the day, one of the best bits in fact!
I was also at the event on saturday and it was a great day. I run Edinburgh Skeptics and for our April issue of our newsletter we were going to review the Science of Ghosts event. Unfortunately a rather nasty computer virus came along and we’ve lost the entire issue.
We were wondering if we could reprint your review, (along with your name and blog address of course.)
If you could email me asap with an answer that’d be great.
info AT chimaeraproductions DOT com
Hi Alex, yeah we met actually- I was the scruffy looking guy looking for a JREF member to hand a book to! Sure, edit it as you you wish and use what you want – I’ll edit it myself if you prefer, either is fine. I’ll drop you an email to confirm. I’ll be finishing the whole review tonight hopefully.
CJ – completely forgot to do the old “red carnation” routine on JREF before the event, but thought I’d be able to spot you regardless having seen your pic. Needless to say, had no luck spotting you! Sorry!
As for the photographer, nice to hear from him, and interesting that he did indeed claim at one point that he’d have had to have been a contortionist to replicate the photo.
Unfortunately that makes no sense, since we have Wiseman’s mug amply reproducing the shot;
He didn’t challenge the chap on this point, and I went away a bit confused, frankly. Up until the guy said that, I was satisfied they’d shown that the photo was likely of a random tourist. I still think that’s most likely.