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Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files 1.4: "Predator/Red Sky at Night"

I'm a bit surprised at the level of positive response being given to this show. Not because the concept of the show is flawed or that the team lacks a certain chemistry; those elements have thus far been the draw. But the execution leaves much to be desired, and I'm shocked to see so many people who ought to know better praising the quality of the investigations taking place.

This episode is the perfect example of two troubling trends I see developing on this show. The first is sloppy design of experiment. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not perfect when it comes to this; very often, especially in the field, paranormal investigators overlook opportunities to eliminate doubt or strengthen data collection methods. Even the best of us miss flaws in the plan.

But I thought it was fairly obvious that the first attempt to debunk the creature in the first case by using a local breed of horse was right on the money. The problem was that they tried to compare a pony trotting around at low speed to the creature, which was running very fast. Had the pony been galloping at top speed, I think the comparison would have been a lot closer to the actual footage.

Ironically, the team brought up the speed issue when it came to the lion. So why dismiss the pony as a potential suspect based on the same principle, when it is logically a much more reasonable guess? It's similar to my problem with the experiments conducted to debunk the "night crawlers" and "Raystown Ray". In all these cases, the experiments go down the most logical path, but stop short when the results are clearly getting closer to the mark...only to conclude that the events are unexplained!

The second case was a bit better in terms of design of experiment, but the final conclusion involves a common logical fallacy of skeptical analysis. I thought it was quite interesting how well the weather balloon/flare combination worked. And perhaps that does explain what was captured in the video. But the team came to the quick conclusion that this was evidence that the incident was a hoax, and that is just plain wrong.

At most, the team found evidence that the previously unexplained video could be explained. But there was no evidence whatsoever that there was an intentional attempt to create a fake UFO video or fool anyone into thinking that they saw a UFO. They didn't trace it back to the source, for one thing, and they didn't get any witness testimony to suggest that someone was playing a prank. In essence, they took a potential explanation for unexplained footage and leapt to assumptions regarding motive.

This is no different than offering a potential explanation for, say, an object that moves on its own by saying it was done with fishing wire. It's wonderful that a reported or filmed event could have been the result of someone using fishing wire, but that's not the same as actually proving that it was done using fishing wire. Supposition does not automatically equal reality.

Frankly, this is disappointing because I would expect a former FBI agent to know how to build a case properly. In both instances, there were some serious lapses in the overall logic. Considering that this has been true more often than not, I am rapidly losing any hope that this show will live up to its potential.

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