Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Manipulated Photos, Hoaxes and Confirmation Bias

by Chris Chaos

On the internet there are many photos/videos of unexplained ghosts, U.F.O.s, beasts and odd occurrences that were captured from people around the world. This collection consists of legitimate, obviously faked or unknown subjects captured and immortalized on video or within a photograph. Currently, with the low cost of computers, software, video cameras and photographic cameras available to the masses, there has been an explosion of intentionally faked videos and photos appearing on the internet. It is very simple for an intermediate computer user to successfully produce a somewhat convincing ghost photo to the untrained eye. For an example, some people such as Rick Dyer, claim to have killed and possessed Bigfoot's body outside San Antonio in September of 2012.

Still of "Bigfoot" from the Patterson-Gimlin film

Over the years there have been many hucksters claiming to have photographic, video or physical evidence of Bigfoot, the Jersey Devil, ghosts, UFOs and various other spooks and specters. Ranging from video, photos, footprints, sound recordings and tufts of hair, these claims have not been in short supply. In the past, someone even painted a kangaroo green and tried to pass it off as The Jersey Devil and we all know of the famous Bigfoot video of the Patterson-Gimlin film.  (www.youtube.com/watch?v=OBTUQI60yqQ

Then there have been dogs, coyotes or other members of the canine family that may have been shaved, mutilated or suffered from mange, that people pass off as the Chucacabra. Some public presentations of cryptids, ghosts and the unknowns may be out of greed, the seeking of fame, an intentional mislead, mistake or sheer ignorance. A perfect example of sheer ignorance would be when we (Axis Video/Pine Barren Films) were filming the documentary, "The Search for the Jersey Devil", we stopped at a farm stand that claimed to have the skull of the Jersey Devil. It was interesting to say the least, but in all reality, if someone that had a little knowledge and experience with anatomy and wild life, they would see that in fact this object was not a skull at all and would have given a proper explanation as to what the man at the farm stand actually was holding. The bone turned out to be a synsacrum from a bird, most likely a crane. (http://allthingsweird88.blogspot.com/2015/11/the-jersey-devils-skull.html)

The synsacrum that the man at the fruit stand thought was the skull of the Jersey Devil

Other examples are faked gaffes, intended to fool the viewers into thinking that a beast has been captured, an example is the gaffe in this photo that was passed off as the Jersey Devil.

In 1951 (10-26) with a strong effort to curb and keep up with the overwhelming Jersey Devil sightings and reports,  Sergeant Louis Pozielli and Chief Louis Sylvestro hang various signs along the road. The official stance that the police had towards the Jersey Devil sightings was "nonsense".

"The Jersey Devil is a Hoax" Sergeant Pozielli and Chief Sylvestro put up a sign to discourage gawkers (Courtesy of the Rutgers University Library, William Augustine)

G.W. Green of Salem, actually came forward and admitted that during the 1960's he created some of the tracks that people were finding and attributing to the Jersey Devil (McCloy, 1976).

Watson Buck, an antiquarian of Rancocas had this to say concerning Norman Jefferies, "When the hysteria built up, that was Jefferies' golden opportunity to cash in on the hoax. He went up to New York state, rented a large kangaroo from a friend, brought it to Philadelphia, and painted green stripes on it. The kangaroo licked its stripes and like to died. Then he tried another paint, which the kangaroo accepted, and he made a set of false wings, which the kangaroo promptly demolished. So he made another set out of thin bronze this time, and covered it with rabbit fur....." (McCloy, 1976, p 80)

Watson went on to say, "I am over 80, but I remember as if it was yesterday the night a mysterious creature appeared right outside my window. It was a cold, snowy night in the winter of 1909. I was sleeping in a little bungalow in Masonville. Suddenly something outside the place woke me up. The thing stopped at the window and if I could have only pulled the curtain back I could have seen it. But I was too sleepy. The next morning I went outside and there they were-tracks in the snow at my window and all around my house, tracks of a four-footed animal. I've been doing research on the Jersey Devil for over 60 years now, and those tracks are still a mystery. Behind every tradition, you know, there's something real."

The Feejee/Fiji Mermaid was another popular side show attraction that was determined to be a hoax.

The next is a photo of what the news report stated was the Jersey Devil in a person's backyard.
In the summer of 2013 there were news reports (and a photo!!) that supported that the Jersey Devil did exist. The photo made its rounds all over the internet, along with much speculation on what was depicted. It is curious to note that the animal in the photo does not have wings as many popular renditions of the Jersey Devil portray him as possessing. Also this animal does not have cloven hooves as many eyewitnesses reported. That aside, to the casual photo gazer, the creature in this photo can appear pretty misleading.

The photo of what was thought to be the Jersey Devil (Photo Courtesy of Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation)

A few months later, another photo taken at the same location and of the same creature surfaced, but from an alternative angle, surfaced.

Alternative angle of the hairless squirrel (Photo Courtesy of Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation)

The above photo clearly showed what the creature was...a hairless squirrel. Now this was either a hairless squirrel or one that suffered from mange or rabies (due to it lacking hair). But you could clearly see that it was a squirrel and not the Jersey Devil.

In addition, there were many things wrong with this story in relation to the Jersey Devil, it came to light that the photo was taken in Oklahoma and not in New Jersey as originally reported. Second, the creature in the photo bared NO resemblance to the Jersey Devil, as having no wings, no cloven hooves and was too tiny in structure stature. As a side note, the photo in question was also making the rounds as proof of the Chupacabra.

For reference:

As mentioned above, technology has made it increasingly easy to fake evidence. There are even apps for your Android or I-Phone that you can edit ghosts into your existing photos. Anyone with a computer and a little bit of photo editing skill can easily make a somewhat convincing ghost photo. Prime example is as follows:

The first photo is the original, an early photo of a little girl standing next to a chair:

The second photo has been edited, the background was cropped out, the colors altered, the image blurred and ran through various filters:

The third photo was also manipulated by being cropped, grey scaled/black and white effect added, a soft filter applied and her eyes removed:

Now if these altered images were added into a modern photo backdrop and properly blended in, they could be convincing to the untrained mind or a believer looking for confirmation and evidence that ghosts do exist.

One of the famed ghost kangaroos

CONFIRMATION BIAS is when a person has the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one's existing beliefs or theories.
For the viewer of videos/photos that are presented on the internet, the individual goes to a site with the assumption that they will find evidence that their creature of choice DOES exist. For an example, when a believer in aliens and UFOs sees something unexplainable they automatically assume that it IS an alien or a UFO. They look for clues that confirm their own biases and discount any evidence that contradicts their assumptions, in effect, cherry picking their information. The same examples exist for a "ghost hunter", they hear stories that a location is haunted, go to investigate and collect "evidence" that is unexplainable to them and conclude that the location is haunted, all the while ignoring any collected negative or absent evidence. 

Pareidolia. Jesus seen in toast

Another example is "Jesus in the toast". A religious person will see a random pattern in burnt toast that resembles Jesus, other people might see Charles Manson and even more might see a slight resemblance to a human face and call it pareidolia.

Canine with mange, passed off as the Chucacabra

For more information:
Cursed: An Explanation of the Unknown

(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey.  He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, has a black cat named Jynx, four rats: Phantom the Dumbo Rat, Abbey the Albino, Hopping Heather and Climbing Carol, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


by Chris Chaos

"You always pass failure on your way to success." Mickey Rooney

Over the span of many years my various careers and interaction with a very diverse cross section of society, my experiences have led me to become acquainted with many different types of people. The ones that we shall speak of here are successful and unsuccessful individuals. This list is of course not all encompassing nor a end all exhaustive list, but it does include the major traits that the people possess that cumulatively lead a person to either become successful or unsuccessful.

Usually a successful person will make mistakes and take it as a learning experience. Everyone makes mistakes but there is a sharp contrast in how a person recovers from these mistakes and the frequency that they repeat the same mistakes over and over. Unsuccessful people will make a mistake and then promptly find an excuse or another person to blame it on. For the unsuccessful person when something goes wrong it is in their very nature to find a scapegoat to avoid making themselves appear responsible.

Successful people have a sense of gratitude when they achieve, acquire or earn something. Unsuccessful people have a sense of entitlement where they feel that someone owes them something whether or not they worked for it or earned it. The successful people, having lost a contest, will vow to work hard, study more and make necessary adjustments to emerge victorious the next time around. The unsuccessful person, upon losing, will place blame, cry the opponent had an unfair advantage and once again find a scapegoat to claim the lose was not their fault.

The successful person will talk about ideas, they will explore options to better themselves and the world around them. The unsuccessful person will talk about people, behind their backs and just generally bad mouth others. Gossip is how they interact and how they achieve their attention starved cravings.

A successful individual wants others to succeed, they wish for the same fortune to become attributed to others. An unsuccessful person wants others to fail, misery loves company. These are the ones that make snarky and stabbing remarks on your social media page after you post about your achievements, they are the ones that bad mouth you around the water cooler and make up cruel rumors in an attempt to make them feel good about themselves.

A successful person is aware of how little they actually do know. An unsuccessful person thinks and claims that they know it all.

A successful person reads everyday about the topics they are interested in, will educate them or further their lot in life. The unsuccessful person watches TV or plays video games everyday. These acts are time wasters and in no way contribute to anything positive in your life. Empty activities producing temporary and fleeting joy.

A successful person set goals and develop life plans. An unsuccessful person is not really sure of what they want to be or may, but sets their goals unreasonably high with no intentions of bettering themselves and then sets themselves up for the hard crash when these goals are not attainable. Then of course they find a good scapegoat and cry "WHOAS ME WHAOS ME"

Below is a narrowed down list of some of the top traits that various people possess:


have a sense of gratitude
give other people credit for their victories
read everyday
talk about ideas
share information and data
exude joy
embrace change
keep a "to do/project" list
forgive others
accept responsibility for their failures
keep a journal
want others to succeed
keep a "to be" list
set goals and develop life plans
continuously learn
operate from a transformational perspective


Have a sense of entitlement
take all the credit of their victories
watch tv everyday
fear change
fly by the seat of their pants
talk about people
horde information and data
exude anger
hold a grudge
blame others for their failures
think they know it all
operate from a transational perspective
secretly hope others fail
don't know what they want to be
never set goals

"Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success." Robert Kiyosaki

(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com) 

What does Christmas Mean to You?

by Chris Chaos
What does christmas mean to you

Christmas means different things to different people. There is a multitude of meanings and interpretations that Christmas brings to the various people of the world. The holiday weighs heavy in the hearts of many and is special in its own way.

TO CHILDREN it is a time of being good, making a list, visiting Santa at the mall, a time to get presents, to go and visit with Grandma and eat her cookies. A time to bundle up, put on the gloves and take the sled to the hill down the street. The tales of Frosty the Snowman, Santa, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and other fictional characters associated with the joyful season. When a child turns on the TV he will see A Christmas Story with the famous line of "You will shoot your eye out." The child can also see the very old classic favorite A Charlie Brown Christmas and laugh about the scrawny tree featured in the story. Or maybe the classic film of A Miracle on 34th Street.

TO CHRISTIANS Christmas means celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas is a very religious experience and time to reflect on their God and indulge in their traditions. It just very well may be the most important holiday to a practicing Christian. There are many themes going on and a common mantra may be "to keep Christ in CHRISTmas." Some may attend Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve due to the belief that Jesus was born at night. Many of the dates and imagery associated with Christmas have been heavily borrowed from Pagan traditions such as Santa Clause is based on Father Christmas, The Christmas Tree is based on the Pagan act of bringing trees inside and decorating them.

TO PEOPLE that are not overly religious it means tradition and time spent with family. A time to hang the wreath, put up and decorate the tree, lift the little one up to place the star on top of the tree. Some families may bake pies, cook a ham or plan family dinners together. Sit around the fire and watch assorted Christmas movies. Some may feel the urge to do something good for a person less fortunate than themselves. Whether it be donating toys to a cause, volunteering at a food bank, feeding a homeless person or some other good deed, if you have it, pay it forward.

TO RETAIL STORES it means sales. From Black Friday until Christmas this will make or break a business and this is the time to kick it into high gear and run all of their sales. Sometimes you can see Halloween and Christmas items for sale in stores side by side. To the store each person that walks through the door around Christmas time is viewed as a dollar sign to be exploited at each and every aisle.

TO SOME ATHEISTS or other individuals that do not partake in the Yuletide cheer it means annoying music, long lines at stores, traffic, angry mobs, terrible parking and cold weather.

But to each their own. Take the parts that you like and be with the ones that you love. Merry Christmas.

Feel free to share what Christmas means to you in the comment section below.

For more writings of Chris Chaos visit:


(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


by Chris Chaos

Compassion: sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.

    Chrissy and I were taking a Social Psychology Class (instructed by Professor Scott Plous) at Wesleyan University and one of our weekly assignments was to participate in a Day of Compassion and then draft up a report detailing what happened. Basically we were to be compassionate for a full 24 hours and to also pick a compassionate act to elaborate on. Below you will see the results.

    On the Tuesday before it was due (on that Sunday) we were trying to brainstorm up a few ideas on how we would spend our Day of Compassion. Our work schedule only permited us to commit to the task on either Friday or Saturday and we were running quite a few ideas through our heads and were fighting against time and logical restrictions.

The projects were to be drafted up separately, but we were working on the same event meaning that our projects would be very similar. As my 1st concept for the project, I immediately thought of our local animal shelters and Wildlife Refuge to assist them in one of the events they host, but a quick check of the 3 places that I support, show that no events were going on this weekend. Chrissy then came up with the idea of volunteering at a local hospital to meet with the patients to talk, play games and give them cards. She contacted several local hospitals and pitched the idea but due to last minute notice and some red tape we had to pass and come up with another idea.

    The idea of cleaning up a local park was formulated and we were familiar with several in the area but we decided to go with the one that is right in town and that we go to several times a month. The park is very historical but needed some tender loving care. Both of these ideas filled the need of altruism (the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others) and the acts would increase the welfare of society, individuals and the environment. The ones that would benefit from our cleaning up of the park would be the kids that use the playground, the parents that take their kids here and the animals that live within the park. We put our heads together to come up with a plan and decided on what needed to be done. Making a list of all the supplies that we needed, checked the weather to make sure it wasn't going to rain, we took to the internet and tried to enlist others into our Day of Compassion.


We targeted various social media websites to post to the public explaining about what we were doing. Adding up all the local groups and sites that we contacted potentially 300,000 people could have seen these posts. Many people seem to become inspired when they see others doing good, so we hoped that our act of compassion would become infectious. With butterflies in our bellies we enacted our plan and looked forward to Thursday to complete our task.

    Thursday morning we packed the car with supplies and headed off to pick up our Aunt who was to assist us, then we drove to the park that is only about a half a mile from our house. When we parked, I first went around the park and took a few pictures of some of the various landmarks and also some of the spots that had some trash. Then we got to work and started picking up the trash and sweeping up the cigarette butts. The park wasn't all that crowded since it was a Thursday but as we saw people sitting on the benches or in their car we decided to speak to them and informed them of what we were doing. (Debriefing, reference Social Psychology, David Meyers) All that we spoke to had a sunny disposition and liked the fact that we took time out of our day to tackle this task. We hoped to lead by example and that others would soon follow. (Conformity: reference Social Psychology, David Meyers)

    One gentleman related a story of how at a location that he took his boat, the other people there were just throwing trash on the ground, despite the fact that there were trash cans present. (Learned Helplessness: reference Social Psychology, David Meyers) Many of the offenders appeared to be kids and most likely learned their bad behaviors from their parents. So he and his family member took it upon themselves to pick up the trash and dispose of it properly. We informed the man that sometime in the near future we would be doing a similar clean up; we gave him our business cards and told him to keep an eye out if he wished to participate. We thanked everyone that listened to what we had to say and informed them that photos can be seen here in the photo section: www.facebook.com/discountcleaners88

    I feel the cost and benefits of behaving compassionately are as follows: in the situation that I was in, the cost of cleaning up after yourself and not throwing trash on the ground is not that high. Maybe just a short walk to the trashcan or going slightly out of your way to pick up and dispose of a plastic bag that is blowing around the parking lot. That bag could potentially cause harm to an animal if it gets caught in it. The benefits are having a clean looking landscape and environment which is something to be proud of.

    Although no one else outside of our group (The In Group: reference Social Psychology, David Meyers) showed up, we still accomplished what we set out to do despite the fact that no one else pitched in, did contribute to the False Consensus Effect (reference Social Psychology, David Meyers) of the situation in thinking that if people heard or saw others doing an act, considered a worthwhile cause, they would help contribute.

    When all was said and done we walked around the areas that we helped clean and admired the work that we had done. Photos were taken to document this Day of Compassion and we look forward to the next time that we can do this.

    In retrospect, I did like the "Compassionate Me" over the "regular me" simply because I was doing something to help others in which I had nothing to personally gain. I do hope to keep bringing this version of me out more often. I feel maybe the concept of the in and out group prevents me from revealing this side of myself in everyday life, but I do hope to correct this in the future. I feel that in a month's time my behavior would improve even more for the better because of participating in this exercise. It felt really good and accomplishing to set out on a selfless task, complete it and then look back and reflect. Reading the comments that people left on the various social media photos demonstrated what we were doing was wonderful and that people truly appreciated what we have done for the community. I cannot wait to get back out there and do it again.

Below is the second half of the Day of Compassion but it was omitted from the original paper since the essay could not be over 1000 words:

    The 2nd part of our Day of Compassion was that we participated in The Ice Bucket Challenge for the ALS. (If you are unfamiliar please Google Search: ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for more information) Originally we were not going to do it since it appeared to be just another mindless fad that the people of the internet were participating in. (Attribution Theory: Wondering how and why people did this act on camera: reference Social Psychology, David Meyers) So we did a little research, read up on the reason as to why people were taking this ice bucket challenge and then saw a hole. I personally watched a few dozen videos, but many of them were not explaining anything about ALS or the organization itself, so we decided to partake in doing a video, with the stipulation that we include some facts about the disease and point people into the correct direction so they may educate themselves. (Central Route to Persuasion: reference Social
Psychology, David Meyers)
 Chris ice


Before filming the video we spent a few minutes on the various websites and came up with some facts to incorporate into the video. We planned the video out so it was a little more polished than the other ones out there doing it just for fun and then to call out who they wished to challenge. When it came time to pick up the camera we first filmed each of us speaking about the disease and then one by one had the cold ice water dumped upon our heads. I knew that it was going to be cold, but had no idea HOW cold! Once we posted the video to the internet it received 500 hits within a few hours.

The video resides here:

(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


by Chris Chaos

(Groupthink, occurs when a group makes faulty decisions because group pressures lead to a deterioration of “mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgment”. Groups affected by groupthink ignore alternatives and tend to take irrational actions that dehumanize other groups. A group is especially vulnerable to groupthink when its members are similar in background, when the group is insulated from outside opinions, and when there are no clear rules for decision making.)

This phenomenon is displayed day in and day out and showcased in the world of a "paranormal investigator". This usually occurs within amateur ranks after they repeated watch a popular "ghost hunting" show on TV and then like minded individuals meet up and attempt to replicate what they viewed in the TV show. One prime example is concerning EVP's (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) and Orbs in photographs. Many of the shows focus on these unscientific and proven otherwise many times over occurrences. The individuals of these groups are so entrenched with the thoughts of a location being haunted they will see any little noise or out of place items as undisputed proof that there is a ghost there. In short they fall victim to Confirmation Bias and virtually ignore any and all evidence to the contrary.

An example of confirmation bias would be an assumption on the part of the investigator thinking that a location is haunted. They enter the premise to investigate and unscientifically take evidence; a simple audio recording with an unexplained sound instantly becomes a ghostly voice in an EVP. Random photographs are taken with their digital camera and later they find what they think are orbs, spirits or energy captured in digital form. Although studies conducted by the various camera manufacturers, in particular Kodak, all stated that these anomalies are either reflections, defects or dust captured by or in the camera itself. In addition the majority of the locations that self proclaimed ghost hunters investigate have been long abandoned and accumulated much dust. When the investigators enter these locations they stir up the dust and when they take photos or videos it is captured and then provides exclusive "evidence that the place is haunted." The skeptic in the more scientifically based research groups would not take the orbs or not readily explained audio recordings at face value as absolute proof that a ghost is haunting the location.  They will look into the matter with a much greater degree of thought in the quest for identification of what was actually captured. Even in some of the most cleanest of environments dust will get kicked up when people enter and disturb the scene which will undoubtedly be captured on camera.


Audio and EVPs captured are also the producers of false positives by amateur researchers. I have heard countless audio clips presented by ghost hunters claiming they have definitive proof that a ghost voice was caught by their equipment. As a listener that was not on location it is difficult to prove or disprove what the sound actually is. For the most part, many of the sounds/voices captured were from one of the team members due to poor planning and communication during the audio capturing exercises. One (of the many) fatal flaws that many investigative groups fall victim to is having way too many people on site, it is difficult to keep track of the locations of random roving members walking around the property. Maintaining silence at all times is also crucial to the progress of acquiring audio evidence. Too many expeditions are ruined and sabotaged due to group members creating additional noises that are picked up in the audio recording sessions and then mistaken as ghosts or explainable noises and sounds later during evidence review.

Groupthink also makes the group stagnant if they do not interact and compare notes with groups other than their own. The directional thinking becomes a one way street with no new processing being injected into said group. It is always best to get an outside opinion or someone to play devil's advocate to challenge all evidence deemed as positive. For each occurrence that is considered a "yes", come up with counter arguments of why it can be considered a "no".

The below are common symptoms and remedies for groupthink and extend to beyond the paranormal world.

Illusion of invulnerability –Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks.
Collective rationalization – Members discount warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions.
Belief in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions.
Stereotyped views of out-groups – Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary.
Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views.
Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed.
Illusion of unanimity – The majority view and judgments are assumed to be unanimous.
Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions.

a) The leader should assign the role of critical evaluator to each member
b) The leader should avoid stating preferences and expectations at the outset
c) Each member of the group should routinely discuss the groups' deliberations with a trusted associate and report back to the group on the associate's reactions
d) One or more experts should be invited to each meeting on a staggered basis. The outside experts should be encouraged to challenge views of the members.
e) At least one articulate and knowledgeable member should be given the role of devil's advocate (to question assumptions and plans)
f) The leader should make sure that a sizeable block of time is set aside to survey warning signals from rivals; leader and group construct alternative scenarios of rivals' intentions.

(Chris Chaos is a long time resident of South Jersey who once again resides in and writes from Gloucester City, New Jersey. He is a filmmaker, a business owner, writer, urban explorer and investigator of the odd and weird, a proud parent, happily taken and a connoisseur of hot wings. Chris can be reached at AxisVideo@aol.com)