Angels vs. Aliens – Video Review

Several years ago, there was a video posted online that claimed to portray a man on a three-wheeled cycle (rickshaw) who was “saved” from being hit by a truck through the intervention of a figure in dark clothes with a hood. The video appeared to be taken by a video surveillance camera that was positioned over an intersection in an urban location.

My initial reaction to the video was shock, with a very visceral feeling of horror at what seemed to be a certain collision, resulting in great injury or death for the rickshaw rider. This was followed by a feeling of relief at the astonishing resolution when the man appears to be whisked away to safety several yards away by a phantom-like figure. At first, the reactions of the truck driver and the man on the cycle seem relatively believable in the moments after the averted catastrophe, with both seemingly puzzled and amazed.

Many viewers have commented on or assessed the validity of the video, since it seems to document the occurrence of the physically impossible. Those who would like to believe in the existence of realities beyond our normal range of observation might see the video as proof of these beliefs. Those who believe in supernatural entities might view the video and find evidence of guardian angels or other spiritual entities. Those who believe in advanced technologies for time and space travel might see evidence of these in the video. Someone who thinks that advanced alien beings are among us might see the rescuer as one of these beings.

This is one version of the widely distributed video clip:

This video claims to have explained the video as a hoax, with several technical reasons for this conclusion.

This post explains the original background of the first video as a promotional stunt for a Chinese video game.

This article includes links to the original video game website (in Chinese) that has other similar promotional video clips.

While the first video was staged, as explained in the analysis above, I think it still warrants some recognition for other reasons.

Firstly, the initial emotional impact upon viewing the clip was very powerful, so as a statement piece, it scores, even though it is nothing more than a marketing device.

Secondly, as a purely creative endeavor, it still deserves some recognition, despite the noted technical failings.

At first glance (from a low resolution clip) there were traces of what appeared to be artifacts of a transport bubble at the departure and arrival locations, which might be expected from a time dilation or spacial displacement. Such artifacts might be associated with supernatural events, in which physical evidence would fade away, as shown by the shadowy rings in the video.  However a higher resolution zoom shows the details of the “rings” as the logo for the video game. So, kudos for creative use of these elements in the video.

The path of the dark figure with glowing hands is also shown as streaks of light in what appears to be about two video frames when slowed down. When played in real time it seems like the rescuer appears out of nowhere as a blur. Of course, this trick is the video equivalent of the blur lines around a superhero in a comic book, but it still cleverly conveys the intended impression. Points awarded for the effect!

Conclusions

The posted video that went viral is a fake, but the online reactions to this video are the real story in this case, not the authenticity of the event.

While the video can be found (by a quick google search) to be fake, the intense reactions to the clip in YouTube are very illuminating.  Those who want to see a miraculous event will see exactly that. Those who believe in time/space transport will debate the mechanisms or technology used in the video. Those who do not believe in either will discount the video as a fake, even before a technical analysis is completed. Those who want to discover the truth about the video will analyze the footage in great detail, looking for cues in the video itself, or the behavior of the participants.

This is a good illustration of confirmation bias that can be found in almost any group of “true believers”, whether the belief is in UFO’s, conspiracy theories, religion, spirituality, atheism, nationalism, racism, or anything else.

For a truth-seeker, even one’s beliefs must be held as tentative conclusions, pending further confirmation or contradiction. When we insist upon holding firmly to a position, despite all contrary evidence, that position becomes only a belief, not fact or truth. Becoming settled in a comfortable belief then becomes a huge impediment to seeking and finding actual truth, which might be even more dangerous than accepting an untruth, with healthy skepticism, while seeking truth.

I intend, hope and pray that I might never become so comfortable with my beliefs that I stop seeking truth. And I wish the same for all of you.

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About Hoosedwhut

Engineer - by education, training, and career experience. Philosopher - by inclination and choice. Amateur psychologist - by instinct and necessity. Amateur theologian - by birth into two distinct worlds...
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