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Paranormal Orbs: More Normal Than You Think

Have you ever visited a location alleged to be “haunted,” camera in hand, and upon reviewing photographs taken in the area, found what appeared to be glowing balls of light hovering in the environment?

For years, those who have studied paranormal phenomenon have argued that these strange objects are evidence of actual ghostly presences, transferred onto film (or digital images) via the same electromagnetic process that allows popular devices used for EM-field detection to register in old houses–but could their ultimate cause be the presence of supernatural energies?

Debate regarding the plausibility of the strange little “orbs” has continued for years, but now one group says they have been able to determine once and for all that the objects in question aren’t ghosts, bizarre energies, or anything out of this world.

The ParaScience organization has released a detailed report at its website which makes the assertion that what we see when apparent little balls of light show up in photographs are actually dust and tiny airborne objects:

“This comprehensive survey strongly supports the hypothesis that orbs are simply the result of dust and other airborne material drifting close to the camera and reflecting the flash illumination back toward the image sensor and provides long overdue definitive evidence that their origin lies firmly within the mundane and explainable, not the paranormal or supernatural.”

I too was initially skeptical about orb-related phenomenon, and after studying the subject for close to a decade (including time spent with the L.E.M.U.R. team between 2004 and 2010), I remain certain these strange little photographic anomalies are only that: anomalies specific to film, rather than invisible denizens of another realm that become apparent only when struck by the flash of a camera. Insects, dust and fragments of tiny airborne debris are the likely (and some would say obvious) culprits… but there are still differing perspectives on this.

For instance, on one occasion years ago, I had the chance to question a college professor named Dr. Lee Swendsen Ph.D. about the phenomenon. Swendsen was also a member of a skeptical organization called CSICOP, which since that time has changed its acronym to CSI which, more simply, stands for “The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.” Regardless, their focus and mission have not changed, and I thought that picking Swendsen’s brain about the bizarre objects appearing in the photos I had taken might be fruitful (keep in mind, I had been using a film camera, since at the time digital photography was not yet the respected norm it has become today). Reviewing the photos, Swendsen’s on-the-spot analysis surprised me: “I wouldn’t say that these ‘orbs’ represent anything ghostly,” he told me. “But I don’t think it can very easily be ruled out that they might indicate the presence of some kind of energy.” Whatever was appearing in the photos, he believed it was energetic, and that the camera was perceiving it as such.

Others have acknowledged the fact that dust particles are indeed the primary cause, but that electromagnetic anomalies in some areas cause tiny concentrations of bits of dust and other airborne matter, which are more likely to become prevalent when illuminated by flashes from a camera. Even if the source of the so-called “orbs” is rather mundane, could there be any scientific elements associated with their presence that remains mysterious? Could electromagnetism and geomagnetic activity affect concentrations of airborne dust in ways other than those we’d expect, or must we accept that the mysterious “orbs” just aren’t very mysterious after all?

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  • moreo
  • paul barton

    jeeze!.. get a cushion, whack it a bit then take a flash photo – orbs galore!

  • Argosy Jones

    Next they'll tell us that vortices are camera straps. DISINFO SITE;)

    I think its hilarious that the CSICOP dude resorted to “some kind of energy” as if random balls of free floating energy were a more coherent explanation than “ghosts”, or “I dunno”

  • Zaner

    I can't believe that it took this long for someone to figure this out. Have you ever taken a photo in the rain, wow thousands of 'orbs'. You should see the orbs during a light snowfall, but you may have to come to Canada for that.

  • aflakjuju

    This is HILARIOUS! I took a picture once when it was a little foggy outside and there were specks of white circles on the image and knew it was the fog (or particles) in the air. I can't belive someone actually thought that this was supernatural… lol.

  • Planetdove

    You are right – there is more to Light Orbs than dust and moisture.  They are not ghosts, although they are spooky when seen in a graveyard! 

  • Ragartragart

    Mars has some fantastic glowing Orbs on Mars that are online from ragartragart.

  • Ragartragart
  • Lars

    Finally someone tells the truth about orbs !

  • Mike D

    I took a photo in a church recently. It contains an orb with an
    undeniable fairly clear image of a the face of a child or young woman
    within the orb. Several other orbs are in other photos That i took the
    same day. They contain more distorted images of faces. There were no
    photos or paintings in the church or on my camera that could have
    reflected off a dust partial or overlayed my photo. These are images of
    something paranormal. I took the photo, I know for a fact what i took a
    photo of.

  • Lesley Bumstead

    My sister and I have seen orbs with the naked eye.I saw one in our home a couple of years ago,it looked like a clear jellyfish and in the center of it some fluttering movement. This was around 2am,our blinds were closed in the bathroom at the time.I wasn’t scared by it, only intrigued, and within a blink, it vanished, I have no clue what they are.

  • Its like the UFO ‘explanations’. There a small core of 5% cannot be explained in this manner. What annoys me is the blatant attempt just to dismiss the entire phenomena offhand with a flippant ‘explanation’.

  • ufo indiana

    We have been monitoring larger orbs that mimic stars and notice a connection between the orbs we have now caught on: film camera (no flash) canon 6d brand new out of the box. and our cctv camcorders all over the house. These are not dust particles I assure you. and they sure as heck not just something that happens to film camera.

  • lonelotus

    I thought it was long established that most “orbs” were explainable but some are not, having different characteristics and behaving differently to dust and insects and camera straps. I don’t know much about it but I do know how much I dislike people dismissing things with ridicule and derision. Maybe it means that deep down they’re not sure either.

    Don’t know about orbs but I’ve seen what was most likely ball lightning, which scared the hell out of me at the time, having never heard of the phenomena.

  • Melissa

    Im a nurse and work in a hospital and in this one particular corner of the ward I have seen on a few occasions what I believe to be orbs with my own eye while on night duty. They appear like very small bright white balls of light and move very quickly (almost like a falling star ). Last night I saw two, one in particular appeared multicoloured (but it was very small) it just looked a wee different to others I’ve seen and it was darting around really fast. Usually they come and go very fast with a blink but the one I saw last night was darting around for a good few seconds. Just thought I’d share my experience here as I was just searching info about orbs and other descriptions seem to be similar although not normally seen by the naked eye. Im not sure what they are but They defiantly don’t look like dust particles or insects that’s for sure 🙂

  • Marc

    I have two photos of orbs in pics I am in. One I could accept as the reflection of a flash as it was at night and there is a metal pole that is ‘over’ the other was taken at 2pm with a different camera, that I cant accept as flash reflection simply because you can clearly see a branch fork branch outline behind the ‘reflection’


    Take a look

  • Richard Graham Poster

    I had an orb outside my front door for two hours last week. It did not respond to flashlight shined at it and I could wave a broom through it with no effect. There were no bugs that night.
    You be the judge!