People have been mislead and are taking images that they have been told are paranormal when they have normal explanations. This type of "education" is only hurting the field by making any collection of evidence that may exist secondary to collecting "evidence" that we know for a fact is not real.

The problem with Hoaxes that that it takes this situation one step further by not only making the field of paranormal research a less credible subject, but because the people that are usually looking for an answer are only losing their money to these hoaxers who know the reality behind the images.  These types of images are also faked to increase business for supposedly haunted locations or increase the credibility of "ghost hunters" that record this type of image.

The history of hoaxes go back to the beginnings of photography. One of the first recorded Hoaxers was a Boston photographer by the name of William Mummler. He claimed that he was photographing himself and discovered a way to capture spirits on photographic plates (The film of the time). He convinced many people that he could capture the images of the dead including the spirit of Abraham Lincoln. The images were also the precursor to the Hoaxed Ectoplasm images that became popular in the late 1800's.

                      a Ghost   Mary Todd
                      Lincoln and the ghost
These are some of the famous Mummler images that were considered to be the "proof" of the spirit realm in the late 1800's

Badly printed ghost    Ghost or
Even though we think that these images are unbelievable now, they were taken very seriously when they were printed.

As time and technology has advanced so has the ability of the hoaxer to create more believable images.

Haunted Dinosaur... nope a blurred light
One of the more popular images currently is the energy trail.
This is nothing more than the photographer using a long shutter speed in a dark area and allowing someone with a bright light the
opportunity to "paint" in a column of light.

Ghost spells out BOO... not really
The energy trail can be taken to an extreme if the photographer understands the technique fully.

Another popular form of hoaxing images is by using double exposures, this type of image is very easy to create. The ability to create the type of image has been improved by the introduction of digital imaging, however the addition of digital editing is not needed.

Phantom Baxter   Phantom hand
Confederate Soldier in Denver?... nope
                          it's a hoax
All three of these images use an in-camera double exposure technique. This means that even though the images were taken with a digital camera, the data can be examined and verified that no editing has been done. So the fact that an image is an original has nothing to do with its credibility.

Baxters companion ghost  Jeffs spirit
                          companion (blur)
Once it was just a photographic error, but now do to Hoaxers the "Companion Spirit" has become a way to psychologically hurt people and make money.
Click on the Companion Spirit button on the menu to learn more.

Creepy Asian Ghost  Same ghost?
A very popular hoax was the Asian girl spirit. This ghost was initially seen in the image on the left, however she started showing up in
many different photographs from all over the world. Eventually the hoaxer confessed and the images explained.
This however did not stop people from believing that the images were real.

One of the most famous hoaxes was the Wrecking yard ghost. It was labeled as the first real "proof" on video of ghostly activity. Several different paranormal research groups investigated the site and the video and stated that the video was of a ghost and that the site was definitely haunted.

This is another example of people looking for paranormal explanations for something that does not have one. This video was actually a hoax that was created by using a technique known as Peppers Ghost. The Peppers Ghost effect was created to make transparent figures on stage for live plays. This technique was used and it recreated the video exactly. (even the string that is holding the figure that was found in the original)
The junkyard ghost
The Junk Yard video

Peppers Ghost
The Peppers Ghost effect.

Mark and his toys
Using the Peppers Ghost effect to re-create the video in the studio.

Just like the Snake Oil salesmen of the past, when people see an opportunity to make money or gain popularity they will seize the moment. This has been the situation in the paranormal from the beginning and unfortunately it will remain that way.