“This summer, I visited Glastonbury, the New Age epicenter of England, to speak at a ‘Great Mysteries’ conference about orbs. Orbs are best known as those mysterious balls of light that have appeared on digital photographs for the last fifteen years, though some claim they can see them with the naked eye as well. Orbs have spawned an enthusiastic subculture of people who believe the blobby wisps are not dust particles or lens anomalies, but angels, spirits, other-dimensional beings and so on. Although I am now an accredited orbs expert, I remain agnostic on the subject. In this area, one encounters the same difficulties in establishing a methodology as one does with other phenomena that float on the outer edge of cultural possibility, such as UFOs, crop circles, occult conspiracies, miraculous appearances of the Virgin and so on.
The Orbs Conference offered an eccentric collection of testimonies, channeling, scientific research and slide shows. My favorite take on the orbs came from William Bloom, a local mystic, who claims he has telepathic chats with the spheres. The orbs told him they work like ‘a cloud or a flock,’ and visit us to ‘support group consciousness.’ According to the orbs, ‘As we touch your individual psyches you begin consciously to experience yourselves as intimately connected with all other life forms on this planet and throughout the cosmos.’ A physicist who connected two cameras to take simultaneous photographs found that orbs would only appear on one or the other camera. While he took this as evidence of their quantum subtlety, it could suggest spoof rather than proof.”