Brown River Queen cover art

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Things That Go Bump, 2013: Issue #1

Welcome to another edition of Things That Go Bump!

Every year in October I celebrate all things spooky and macabre with a series of supernaturally-themed blog entries, in which I poke Things Man Was Not Meant to Know with sticks and generally make light of the dark.

Tonight, I'll post a few interesting images from a video ITC session I conducted last night. I'll also ruminate on the nature of the universe, and slip in a few quick adds for my books, because it's one thing to ponder the underlying quantum construction of reality and it's quite another to pay bills.

Let's start by sashaying right where angels fear to tread, and see if we can catch a glimpse of the Great Beyond using common household items and a bit of computer magic!


ITC. The letters stand for 'Instrumental Trans Communication,' which generally involves putting a video camera in front of a TV and recording the images formed when the camera's output is connected to the TV's input, resulting in a video feedback loop.

The Scole Group claims they captured the image above using the standard camera-and-TV method. The man's face is clearly visible, and my first thought upon seeing the image was how much it resembled a cut-out of a photo affixed to the TV screen for a frame or two. Because I'm a suspicious lad by nature, you know.

But the people involved with the Scole Group were reputable, respectable people who seem to be above the clandestine use of scissors and rubber cement. So, thought I, why not try and recreate some of their results?

My ITC setup.
I did this before, back in July, and got a few odd examples of video noise. Nothing like the face above.

A frame-by-frame analysis (which is still incomplete) of last night's video left me with a few images I'll share below.

First of all, my very own face amid the static!

Look center, then left, then down a bit. See the patch of green amid the white and the blue?

Let me blow that up for you.

Weird, huh? I see a rather stern man's face, neck, and shoulders. As well as his eyes, nose, and unsmiling mouth.

I shall call him Mr. Pareidolia, after the tendency of our brains to find faces in random patterns.

But it does look like a man. Not as much like the Scole Group's image, sure, but it's closer than anything I expected to catch.

Next up is a figure we'll call the Dark Angel, because that sounds spooky, and it kept popping up in the video:

Look at the image just above. If you've seen the movie The Ring, then you'll understand why I half-expected the figure to climb out of the TV. Too, can you pick out a vague face shape to the right of the dark figure?

There were lots of other images too. The one below went to blues and greens, like a watercolor done by a particularly inept painter:

So far I haven't found any other faces. But the process of going frame-by-frame is excruciatingly slow, and I do have books to write.

Books such as:

I did warn you I'd be hawking books.

I got nothing on the audio as far as anomalous voices go. I was planning to visit a couple of cemeteries today to try out my new germanium microphone in the wild, but the weather had other ideas. 


A school of thought concerning the nature of the universe claims that we may all be simply bits of a gargantuan simulation, created by beings for purposes unknown and by means so far advanced beyond us we lack the capacity to understand them.

This isn't kook fringe science. There are even efforts underway to search for evidence that our universe is in fact a vast Sim.  

Which started me thinking. These physicists are looking for the cosmological equivalent of 'glitches' in the Matrix. 

I've seen much the same phenomena, on a much smaller scale, when it occurs as what PC gamers call glitches.

Most of the time, glitches are the hilarious but unforeseen effect of some obscure part of the game's code. It's not a program failure, as such -- no, it's doing precisely what it was designed to do, but with results the game's creators never anticipated.

Stay with me for a moment. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that our universe and more importantly me are merely the product of a cosmos-wide simulation.

Then let's assume that nothing, no matter how advanced, is this large without a few teensy-weensy flaws here and there.

Glitches, if you will.

My assertion is that Fortean phenomena are our universe's version of video game glitches.

Let that sink in. 

Never heard of Fortean phenomena? There have been, for example, numerous well-documented instances of frogs raining down from clear blue skies. Of spark plugs found encased in million-year-old quartz. Of objects appearing in places and times they should not, could not be found.

Most Fortean phenomena are simply ignored, because science has given us a clear, consistent model for how the world works and no one wants to jettison all that and start over because it rained live frogs in Paraguay.  It's easier to simply assert such things never happen, because doing otherwise gives you that queasy, unsettling sensation that maybe we don't have things figured out quite so neatly after all.

So maybe it does rain frogs, at times. Maybe people do simply vanish into thin air, at times. Maybe voices do ring out from empty air, now and then. 

Maybe those glitches in the universe.

You heard it here first.


As the IRS and many of you know, I live just outside Oxford, Mississippi, home of the University of Mississippi, a number of fine eating establishments, and of course a history of hauntings.

In honor of October, and as a lazy way to snag some ghost stories for this very blog, I have created a Facebook page called HAUNTED OXFORD. I hope people will use the page to share their own spooky tales of the supernatural, and maybe give me some spots to visit.  

So, locals, please head on over to Haunted Oxford and share with us your ghost stories!

Okay, that's it for tonight. Take care, all, and remember -- those scratches and knocks in the night might be just branches in the wind. Or they might be....

....something else....


  1. That really DID look like a little green man! OMG. That was actually rather scary. The question is, does it depend WHERE and what TV you look at? Say, if you went into a supposedly haunted house and did it on their TV would the spirits be more apt to show up on their televisions? Pretty spooky post tonight!

  2. Elyse, I honestly think most of the images recorded with this method are the result of video noise and the human tendency to imagine patterns in chaos. But who knows? If I saw a detailed image in a supposedly haunted location, my conclusions might be different.