They say that seeing is believing, but that’s not even true, is it? Since we’ve had the technology to record things, whether it be sound recordings, video or photographs, we’ve been confronted by images that we don’t believe. Well, we believe what our eyes are seeing, we just don’t believe the explanations behind these images. We’ve seen photos that frighten us, videos that challenge our beliefs about the world and some images that just plain fascinate us, even if we don’t understand what we’re seeing. Over the years, almost all of the amazing photos and videos that supposedly show something otherworldly have been debunked. From intentional hoaxes to double exposures, nearly all of these once-mysterious images have been explained. But not every amazing image has been given an explanation. No matter how hard we, the skeptics, have tried, there are still some out there that have defied explanation.
For the images on this list, some from videos, others from photographs, plenty of possible explanations have been given, but none have ever been proven. But the burden of proof is on the provider not the skeptic. You’re right. We’re not saying that any of these images are supernatural or otherworldly in any way. We’re simply showing you the most amazing images that have yet to be explained thoroughly. For each image, we will provide an account of what the believers think it shows and what the skeptics think it shows. You can choose the side you like best. Here are 15 shocking and unexplained images seen on film.
15. The Circus Cell Phone
If you watch closely in the extras for the 1928 Charlie Chaplin silent film, The Circus, there is a scene in which a woman walks behind a fake zebra. To our modern gaze, nothing seems out of the ordinary, until you realize that the woman appears to be holding and speaking on a cellphone of some sort… in 1928. So, what do you think you are seeing? Either you believe in time travel and she’s really speaking on a cellphone or there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for it. Hard to say. Time travel would be much cooler, but it is also less believable. One of the most plausible explanations is that the woman is holding a large hearing aid to her ear, one that was invented earlier in the 20s and would have been about that large. Since, at this point almost 90 years after the film was made, we will likely never know for sure, the hearing aid theory is probably the closest to the truth that we’ll ever get. Well, that or the time-travelling cellphone theory.
14. Ball Lightning
For a long period of time, people believed that ball lightning was part of some elaborate hoax. Stories of ball lightning have been told for many centuries, but it wasn’t until the last few decades that scientists actually took these stories to be true. So, what’s the explanation behind these mysterious balls of light? We’re not sure. Though we can come close to recreating these balls in labs, we are not sure how they’re created in the natural world. There are a number of hypotheses out there, from vaporized silicon to black holes, but we have yet to agree on one. So, as of today, these are just one of the many unexplained phenomena that could very well be alien farts.
13. The Falling Mic Stand
There’s a funny conspiracy theory out there that suggests that Stevie Wonder isn’t really blind and has been using the disability to appear more amazing in the eyes of the public. Far-fetched, yeah, but these claims have been popping up for a while. Then, after much speculation, some film evidence popped up to back these wilds accusations up. The first was a photograph of Stevie taking a photograph of a Michael Jackson wax figure. It’s odd because Stevie is using the camera’s eyepiece. What the heck is he looking at? Or is he just trolling? Then there came the magical mic stand catch. This was all captured on video. During a musical performance, Paul McCartney runs by Stevie’s mic stand and accidentally knocks it over. Amazingly, Stevie reaches out and catches before it hits the ground. How? Well, skeptics will tell you it was either a lucky catch or that he heard McCartney hit the mic and reached out in hopes of stopping the fall. Admittedly, it does look pretty crazy.
12. Number Stations
Though many now believe that these mysterious number stations are associated with international espionage, they haven’t all been proven to of that origin. If you’ve never heard of these before, they are shortwave radio stations which broadcast formatted numbers on a loop, some for astounding periods of time, like UVB-76, commonly known as “the Buzzer,” which has been broadcasting since at least 1973. There are many theories outside of the espionage talk that try to explain these. Some people suggest they are radio station placeholders, others say they are simply to ensure that radio stations are receiving broadcasts properly and some even say they are a form of a “dead man’s switch,” meaning, if these stations ever go dark, the listeners would know that something has happened to the broadcasters. Until someone comes out and verifies what each one is, there will always be crazy conspiracies attached to them.
11. Ninel Kulagina
The claims of the magical Ninel Kulagina (right) have been passed around and debated for many years now. This was a Russian woman who was famous for being able to move objects with her mind. During the Cold War, one of the big races between the United States and Russia was the “psi race”, investigations into the truth and applications of parapsychology. Russia then began making claims that one of their own, Kulagina, demonstrated psychokinetic abilities. There were numerous studies on Kulagina, including a number of videos showing her abilities, moving objects simply by focusing on them. The skeptics were many. They claimed that Kulagina used trickery and uncontrolled environments to accomplish these feats. Some say that she was even caught and exposed as a fraud a few different times. Still, the video evidence is inconclusive and inconclusiveness is almost the same as truth for many. The jury’s still out on this one even if it sounds crazy.
10. Fresno Night Crawlers
Why is it that all mysteries occurred before we had HD cameras? Ever heard of the Fresno Night Crawlers? They are these weird little creatures that were filmed on a security camera near Fresno. Here’s what we see in the footage: two sets of legs wearing capes. Honestly, that’s what it looks like to us. Unfortunately, the video is of such a poor quality that we will never know what we’re looking at until we get new and better footage of these “things” or the guy who originally filmed it comes clean about a hoax. There have been some people who have tried to recreate what is shown on the video with mixed results. Even though we doubt that there are long-legged aliens with no torsos walking around in Fresno, this video is still unexplained.
9. The Black Knight Satellite
The origin of the stories of the Black Knight Satellite is unknown, but people believe that there is an extraterrestrial satellite orbiting our Earth. One of the earliest “proofs” of this satellite’s existence is from the 1899 radio experiments of Nicola Tesla. Though skeptics say that Tesla simply recorded signal interference from Pulsars (which were not discovered by that point), conspiracy theorists point to Tesla’s claim that “The nature of my experiments precluded the possibility of the changes being produced by atmospheric disturbances… Although I could not decipher their meaning, it was impossible for me to think of them as having been entirely accidental… a purpose was behind these signals…. They are the results of an attempt by some human beings, not of this world; to speak to us by signals…” Then, in 1998, NASA released photos of an unidentified object in space. Some people say that it was the famed Black Knight satellite. Others say it’s a thermal blanket that was reported lost by astronauts. It’s a tough call.
8. The Solway Firth Spaceman
The debate has raged on about the Solway Firth Spaceman since the photo first started gaining traction in the 60s. The shot was taken by a fireman and photographer, Jim Templeton. It shows his daughter and a figure standing behind her. The figure is said to look like a spaceman, though even that is debatable. The weirdest part of the claim is that the figure was not there when the photo was taken. In recent years, analysis on the photos argues that it is almost certainly a double exposure that shows Templeton’s wife in the background. Believers in the spaceman theory, however, argue that another photo that shows what the wife was wearing that day proves it can’t be her. The outfits that they have on are similar but have different cuts at the sleeves and the collar. They also suggest that the person in the background is much bigger than Templeton’s wife. Of all the images on this list, the Solway Firth Spaceman is probably the most explainable.
7. Naga Fireball
The Naga Fireball or the Mekong Lights are a weird phenomenon that have yet to be explained. Accounts vary, but many report seeing balls of luminous fire flying up from the water into the air, disappearing from sight when they reach great heights. Some explanations include phosphorene gas being ignited or tracer rounds being fired into the air. The Naga fireballs are often associated with St. Elmo’s Fire in which plasma is created by a coronal discharge on a pointed object, like a ship’s mast. However, the Fireballs that appear over the Mekong River appear without any such sharp objects.
6. SS Watertown Ghosts
The story of the SS Watertown ghosts starts with James Courtney and Michael Meehan, two crew members of the S.S. Watertown, who were killed onboard in a gas accident and, later, buried at sea by the rest of the crew. After the burial, the crew began reporting weird ghostly sightings and the captain, Keith Tracy, even formally reported these encounters to the Cities Service Company. They requested that he try to photograph what the crew was seeing and the result was the photo above taken in 1994/1925. Obviously, the quality is so poor that these could be anything, but believers say that what you’re seeing is clearly two ghostly faces in the water, the faces of James Courtney and Michael Meehan. OOOOOoooooOOOOOh.
5. Spectre of Newby Church
They call it the Spectre of Newby Church or the Newby Monk and it comes from a single photograph taken by Reverend K. F. Lord in 1963. In the photo, it looks like there is a hooded and masked figure standing off to the right. Right away, you would think that it is the result of a double exposure, but there are some, including the BBC, who are not so sure that is the case. They tested the photo and determined it’s not necessarily a double exposure. No one really knows what it is and it’s probably going to stay that way, unless we get some new technology that can prove that the ghostly apparition is really just a double exposure. Even still, what’s with the mask? Some believers suggest that this looks exactly like a 16th century monk wearing a mask, but who can say for sure?
4. The Hessdalen Lights
There’s been a significant amount of research into the strange nocturnal lights that appear over the Hessdalen valley in Norway, but there is yet to be an explanation that everyone can agree on. It might be the combustion of hydrogen, oxygen, and sodium in the atmosphere. It might be the ionization of air and dust. It could be caused by the piezoelectricity that collects there because of the quartz crystals in the rocks or they might just be alien farts like ball lightning. Despite ongoing research since the early 80s, scientists have not nailed down any explanation, which makes the Hessdalen lights, one of the most unbelievable and unexplainable phenomena on earth.
3. The Hook Island Sea Monster
The 1965 Hook Island Sea Monster is a giant tadpole-like creature photographed by Breton photographer Robert Le Serrec. The truth behind this huge monster has been argued at length for many years and most skeptics now just assume it to be the result of photographic manipulation. While this is true, there have never been any real hard facts to show it is a fake. Some say that it’s a plastic tarp under the water, but it’s far too difficult to say with any certainty what it is. Even if it seems crazy, this is going to be one of those photos that is always mysterious because it cannot be proven one way or the other. Sometimes a really good lie is just as real as the truth.
2. The Babushka Lady
When President John F. Kennedy was shot at killed at Dallas’ Dealey Plaza in 1963, the investigators asked that anyone who had photographic evidence of any kind to come forward. The most famous of the films that came forward was the Zapruder film. However, in all of the best video and photographic evidence of that day, there was a woman, commonly called “the Babushka Lady” because of her Russian-style headscarf, that appears throughout. She looks to be taking photos or videos of the day as well. She is often pictured very close to scene of the crime, meaning that whatever video evidence she took could be very important. Yet, no one knows who this woman is. She never came forward and she was never identified. Years later, a woman came forward and said it was her, but she was a dirty lying fraud.
1. Patterson–Gimlin Film
In 1967, the world was given one of the most famous videos ever recorded. The Patterson–Gimlin Film, as it’s known today, appears to show Bigfoot (or Patty as its friends call it) walking through the forest. The video has been put under intense scrutiny and, while its validity has been questioned at every turn, it has never been proven to be a fake or a hoax. Sure, some scientists claim that it has a human gait, but then there are others who say it doesn’t have human definitions and its gait cannot be replicated by a human. Some say it comes down to the video frame-rate, that, if it was recorded at a slower speed than what is claimed, it could very well be a human in a clever costume. Whether the footage is real or not, everyone agrees that, if it is a hoax, it is probably the best hoax ever made.