English, Fake News

Video of a self-moving step ladder misinterpreted as paranormal activity at the Jharkhand High Court


A video depicting a step ladder moving on its own within an enclosed room is currently circulating widely on social media. Posting the video, users claimed that this event occurred at the Jharkhand High Court and is being presented as an instance of paranormal activity. Let’s examine and verify the assertion put forth in the post.

Claim: Visuals depicting a paranormal activity at the Jharkhand High Court, wherein a step ladder moves on its own.

Fact: Media reports have confirmed that this incident did not occur at the Jharkhand High Court. Though we were unable to trace the location of the incident, the phenomenon of a step ladder appearing to move independently is not uncommon, as numerous demonstrations exist. Placing the ladder on a slope and giving it a gentle push can induce a rocking motion reminiscent of passive dynamic walkers’ pendulum-like movement. This rocking action, coupled with the slope, leads to a gradual descent as potential energy converts to kinetic energy. Hence, the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.

A reverse image search conducted on the keyframes extracted from the viral video has indicated that the same video was previously linked (here & here) to the G. Tiwari Government Base Hospital in Almora, Uttarakhand. Nevertheless, the hospital’s administration has clarified that no such incident took place within their premises. They further informed the media that they intend to file a complaint with the police against individuals who are disseminating such videos and causing unwarranted panic among patients.

After the Advocates’ Association conducted a multi-faith worship ceremony at Jharkhand’s new High Court complex, rumours of the place being haunted started circulating. This happened because some lawyers said that prayers were performed to keep away evil spirits. As a result, the viral video was also linked to this event. However, both the Advocates’ Association Secretary, Navin Kumar, and Advocate Dheeraj Kumar denied all these claims. Discrediting the rumours, they explained that the prayers were just regular rituals done when moving into a new workplace. One can find media reports about this here, here, and here.

While we were unable to determine the exact location of the video, we discovered numerous videos (here, here and here)  on the internet showcasing similar instances of step ladders moving on their own. One demonstration video depicts a man giving the ladder a gentle push, after which the ladder begins to walk downhill.

The phenomenon of a step ladder seemingly moving on its own can be explained by its mechanical structure, the incline of the surface it’s on, and external influences. This motion shares similarities with the concept of passive dynamic walking, observed in systems like simple bipedal robots or toys. In passive dynamic walking, mechanical design and gravity are harnessed to achieve a walking-like gait without active control or energy input. When the ladder is placed on a slope and given a slight nudge, its rocking motion can resemble the pendulum-like movement seen in passive dynamic walkers. This rocking motion, in conjunction with the incline, initiates a gradual downward movement as potential energy transforms into kinetic energy. This behaviour follows the laws of physics and mechanical dynamics, demonstrating how simple systems can exhibit intricate motions when influenced by gravity and external factors, akin to the principles of passive dynamic walking.

To sum it up, a video showing a step ladder moving due to the principles of physics is being shared as if it were a paranormal activity at the Jharkhand High Court.


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