China’s floating city is a likely CGI hoax (UPDATE)

On October 13, I posted a link (in Chinese) to our Facebook page (which you might ‘like’) regarding a questionable image of a city in the clouds in Foshan, China. Even though this “mirage” was shown on Chinese television, it’s certainly not impossible that they are giving bad information to the public. Is this an optical illusion, or a CGI hoax?

The story has now hit English-speaking media in a big way.

The (U.K.) Independent had the story titled Ominous cloud looming over China creates apparition of floating city.

Footage of the phenomenon appears to show towerblock-like formations over the city of Foshan in the Guandong province of China, apparently bringing many people to a standstill in the street. It reportedly lasted only a few minutes before disappearing.

china_buildingsOh really? Hmm. Their story came from The Inquisitr, a citizen journalism site, who certainly could have pinched it from the Chinese links but more likely from the fringe “mysterious” sites who called this a “temporary vortex”, a “parallel universe” or part of a special “Project Blue Beam”. So, we are off to a highly dubious start with no solid sources to confirm these facts. Instead we see the story copied and left unconfirmed.

The video on the channel for “Paranormal Crucible” has received over 3 million hits in the past few days making it a top view for the week. Folks, the rational explanation can NEVER compete with that sort of mystery mongering when people really want to believe in the bizarre. But, as with the “news” reports (I use that term loosely because it’s not news as much as a cool story passed along the web) say that it was witnessed by a large crowd of people. The story, already dubious, falls to pieces here.

On the Group of Fort FB page, Matt Crowley observes: “I suspect hoax, as my understanding of Fata Morgana is that it appears much closer to the horizon. More importantly, it’s 2015, and if it was witnessed by hundreds it should have been photographed and video recorded by hundreds”

But it wasn’t recorded by hundreds, which is kind of curious. We seem to only have the one video.

Robert Sheaffer of the BadUFOs website said such a claim of a fantastic mirage in China is nothing new. There was this example from 2011 which turned out to NOT be a mirage, claimed one blogger, but a bad translation of a real news story about flooding. The buildings really were there.

Fata morgana superior mirage events are pretty cool, but not quite so dramatic as the buildings depicted in China.


A fata morgana mirage is caused by the bending of light rays through layers of air at different temperatures. They are typically near the horizon.

Even the Accuweather site wants to call the Foshan image a mirage. The Telegraph also adopts this atmospheric phenomena while giving lip service to insane conspiratorial ideas including Project Blue Beam, the idea that this is a trick hologram to simulate the second coming of Christ, which, I admit, it so profoundly ludicrous, I’m in awe of people’s creative imaginations!


But, skeptics who have seen fake after fake are more down to earth, including Mick West from Metabunk who has debunked other sensational photos. He also finds it fishy: “I don’t think it’s a mirage. [The buildings] appear close to the horizon. I agree with Matt that it’s probably a hoax.”

I know it’s NO FUN to inject rationality and reason into discussion of parallel universes and extraterrestrial vortexes, but we really do have to get on with our life in the real world. So, DN concludes that the best answer is that this is probably a hoax. Our reasoning: the lack of additional recordings, no justification of suitable weather conditions, and the fact that it does not resemble a mirage. Also, producing a hoax really isn’t that difficult. And, you can see the kind of attention it gets with NO critical commentary at all.

A news audience REALLY should be aware that stories can be an OFTEN ARE pilfered from unreliable or even COMPLETELY FAKE sources. If it sounds really amazing, verify before sharing, if you would. That would be the responsible thing to do. With computer graphics being so available to so many, it’s not news that a media site was duped. In fact, it’s increasingly common in a environment where the sensational aspect of a story far outweighs it’s value as truth.

UPDATE (22-Oct-2015) Ben Radford also concurs. There still has not been evidence revealed that would support a natural explanation – no additional views, witnesses or confirmation of weather conditions. The media just continues to report the same including from weather experts BEFORE they have seen the photo! An alternative explanation now proposed by Mick West is that it is a reflection off glass, similar to the UFO over Loch Ness photo that he debunked. It’s possible. But in either case, there was an intent to deceive one or many places along the line by claiming this was a mysterious anomaly.

Thank you to Matt, Mick and Robert at Group of Fort.

Addition (29-Nov-2015): Captain Disillusion concurs. SKEPTIC WIN! The DN editor is proud to be a Patreon supporter of CD.

  8 comments for “China’s floating city is a likely CGI hoax (UPDATE)

  1. October 19, 2015 at 7:55 PM

    Definitely not a mirage – the clouds would be affected too.

  2. Tom
    October 20, 2015 at 1:34 AM

    It looks like somebody’s CGI idea of Castle Gormenghast.

  3. Anomalous
    October 20, 2015 at 3:03 AM

    How odd that none of the “eyewitnesses” had camera phones… in China! This hoax is more proof that video hits and page views matter far more today than factual evidence and science. Paranormal crucible, indeed.

  4. October 20, 2015 at 3:57 AM

    However, there’s another supposed mirage from Jiangxi:

    The original video recycled by Paranormal Crucible:

  5. Bill T.
    October 21, 2015 at 3:25 AM

    The weather conditions don’t look conducive to mirage effect. Most mirages occur with relatively clear skies and, especially, calm air. If there is atmospheric mixing, the lensing conditions are destroyed.

  6. Caetano
    October 21, 2015 at 3:39 PM

    Definitely a reflection on a glass panel, it’s even duplicated due to the reflection ocurring on both sides of the glass.

  7. Lagaya1
    October 22, 2015 at 3:59 PM

    Hard to tell, but looks like it could be this castle:

  8. idoubtit
    October 25, 2015 at 11:25 AM

    It’s funny, in the comments on Discovery News, some commenters will hold on to the mysterious and dramatic interpretation by throwing rationality away entirely. It still amazes me how they rebel against a reasonable explanation in order to embrace an evidenceless ghost.

Comments are closed.