Monday, 22 May 2017

Ghostly object movement


Sun behind treeOne of the ways I address my poor memory is to leave important things in the same place. Always! As a system it works pretty well. So when an object I use as lot was not in its usual place recently, for the first time ever as far as I can remember, I couldn't even begin to imagine where it might be. I tried searching in obvious, less obvious and downright unlikely places, to no avail.
Then, suddenly, it came to me. Like many people I have habitual routines. These are also useful for coping with a poor memory. I remembered that one thing I habitually do every day had been unexpectedly interrupted that morning. Sure enough, when I went to look there was the object I'd lost, exactly where it would be if I'd failed to complete my normal routine.
This would all be pretty trivial were it not that object movement and disappearance are quite commonly reported aspects of hauntings. I wonder how may such reported disappearances or object movements are actually simply people leaving things in places they wouldn't normally do and then forgetting what they've done. Of course, this sort of thing happens to everyone from time to time and most people will think nothing of it. But if several such events happen over a short period of time someone might start to suspect a ghostly presence! And this is more likely if someone already thinks the place they are in is haunted. It is yet another case of coincidence causing apparent anomalous phenomena.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Ghost in a high visibility vest?

Sun behind treeI was on as train when I noticed someone in a high visibility vest beside the track. It was a familiar sight to anyone who regularly travels by train. I idly watched the person as the train drew closer to them. Suddenly, to my surprise, I realised the 'person' wasn't a person at all! As the viewing angle changed, the 'person' turned into a trackside sign with a bright yellow portion. It was clearly a case of misperception. Had I looked away, instead of watching the 'person' continuously, and then back again seconds later I might easily have concluded that the figure had vanished and that it was a ghost.

Regular readers will have noted that I have misperceived rail signs as human figures several times. It is a recurring cause of misperception, like trees and bushes, discussed in the last post. I had not expected signs to be a frequent source of misperceived figures before I started to notice them. I guess it makes sense, though.

Many rail signs consist of a post with the actual sign on top at a similar height to a human head. The bit that doesn't fit is the post. Surely, it is far too thin to resemble a human torso. However, I've noticed many of the signs are seen from some distance away (as in this case) or are partly obscured by something nearby, like a bush. Also, such sightings are frequently made from a moving transport vehicle, making viewing transient. Taken together, these factors can make viewing conditions difficult which always encourages misperception. So it makes some sense after all.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Green man

TreeI don't know much about the green man. I've seen carvings on buildings, of course, but I'm not aware of any sightings of actual green men in the wild. So I was intrigued to find this object (right) in a recent photo I took. The dark tall, narrow bush in the middle of the photograph resembles the proportions of a human figure. But what struck me was a fairly obvious (to me anyway) face at the top of the 'figure'. It is, apparently looking towards the right. This is a misperception so it is entirely possible that other people won't see it, even though it's obvious to me. Whether you can see it will also depend on what device you are using to view the photo.

BushI can even still see the 'face' in a cropped version of the photo (left) which makes the image appear bigger. In this version, the 'face' is just above the centre of the frame. I can quite clearly see a nose, eyes and a bright area above suggesting a forehead. A light 'chin' is also outlined by a dark line below.

Given that the face is clearly made up of leaves it gives the impression of a classic green man carving. Though I see a 'face' in my misperception, it is clearly not a human face. The substituted image (from visual memory) is probably that of a green man carving rather than any real face.

Many of the misperceptions I've seen in recent years have been of trees or bushes as human figures. One reason for this is, I imagine, is that bushes or small trees can have similar sizes and proportions to a human figure. This does not explain how apparent faces are often seen too. This is, I imagine, is down to the complex patterns formed by leaves. It will also depend crucially on the illumination. Putting these factors, illumination and presence of leaves, together means that 'faces' and 'figures' probably only appear at certain specific times. This is one of the problems with investigating misperception, unless you can reproduce the exact conditions of the original observation, the misperception may not appear again.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Ghost in a crowd

Sun behind treeI have said, on several occasions, in this blog that I would probably not notice a ghost in a crowd. I have often wondered how such a ghost might be spotted. A recent incident means that now I think I know! Ghosts are usually reported as looking indistinguishable from normal people. It is only when they do something unusual, like disappear, that their true ghostly nature is revealed. This is why one might not notice a ghost in a crowd.

I was standing in the audience at a concert, recently. It was dark and the crowd was tightly packed allowing little room to move. However, there were always a few people moving through the crowd. I found it annoying because I got jostled. I noticed one man heading my way and prepared for the expected disturbance but it didn't come. He went right by me and I felt nothing! Then I realised I hadn't seen him jostle anyone in front of me either. Suddenly remembering ghosts, I turned round to see what effect he was having on the crowd behind me. But there was no sign of him. It was as though he'd had no physical contact with the dense crowed and then vanished! So, a ghost in a crowd, then!

So could there be a xenonormal ex[planation for this observation? There are certainly factors that point that way. Firstly, I only remembered not seeing him physically interact with the people in front of me - I wasn't actually watching them closely at the time. So it could be memory affected by expectation. Secondly, when I turned round there was a gap behind me, no doubt because I am tall! But I only turned round after a second or so, as I realised something odd had happened. The man could have traversed that gap easily in that time and once beyond would be difficult to see in the dark. Thirdly, it's possible that the man had gone past me so carefully that he hadn't touched me despite the tiny gap. Even so, it still felt very odd overall and I wasn't sure at all!

Luckily, a few minutes later, the same man returned going in the other direction. And this time he did indeed touch me as he passed by. So he definitely was physically present! I concluded he was not a ghost after all.

PS: Some readers may have noticed that I seem to often have strange experiences at concerts. I've no idea right now about why that might be!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Ghostly sound

Sun behind treeAs I closed the door I heard the sound of a plastic bag being scrunched. Nothing odd about that except that I was sure I'd moved the plastic bag I'd placed there earlier. So I opened the door again and looked. I was right - no plastic bag! So, a ghost bag then!

I was truly puzzled by this anomalous event for a while until a little later when I discovered the explanation. I found another plastic bag, not far from, but out of sight of, the door. What was interesting about this bag was that it contained a small heavy object and it was not where I had left it shortly before the anomalous incident. It was clear that the bag had fallen from the somewhat precarious position I'd left it in, on top of a pile of stuff. I put things in this position frequently and they often fall off. Why do I continue to do this? Habit and a bizarre optimism that I can place an object carefully enough so that 'this time' it will not fall. Mostly, though, it is because the pile of stuff is in a convenient position to put things temporarily.

I have no doubt that the scrunching noise was the 'precarious bag' falling with its heavy load causing most of the noise. That it happened just as I was closing a nearby door is a coincidence - the cause of many anomalous reports. Another aspect of the coincidence is that I'd put another plastic bag behind the door earlier so that one COULD have been there, but wasn't.

I've experienced this sort of coincidence, where performing some movement corresponds with an unrelated sound, many times. For instance, I have touched an object gently only to hear a loud bang (caused by something else). At the time I was shocked but it always turned out to be a 'sound coincidence'. I'm sure readers have had similar experiences.

I experience these 'sound coincidences' so often that I need to come up with a snappy name for them. Do I notice such things more than other people? I've no idea. Nor do I know how frequent such coincidences are. It is easy to see., however, how such things could appear paranormal, particularly if they happen at a haunted location and the witness does not realise the true explanation.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

An odd ghost

Sun behind treeI noticed an intriguing diminutive human figure in the street but not for long. After just a second or two it vanished! So, a ghost then! I thought it was odd, even for a ghost, and afterwards I realised why.

The figure was walking along a sunlit pavement. When I saw it, most of the figure was concealed behind a foreground tree, which was in shadow. I soon realised that the figure was a result of misperception caused by the foreground tree. But here's the weird bit. The figure was clearly sunlit while the tree was firmly in shadow. So how could that happen?

I realised that the 'figure' was actually formed by the bits of the sunlit pavement that I could see through the tree. These areas, enclosed by the branches and leaves of the tree, were united in my brain to form a fleeting human figure. It was a bit like the photo (above right) but with the bright areas suggesting a figure. The movement of the 'figure' was caused by the fact that the tree was moving gently in the wind. My brain interpreted this movement as walking because the 'figure' was apparently on the pavement.

I have come across misperception caused by shadows in the past. The enclosed areas of brightly lit pavement were similar to shadows except they are bright instead of dark. It seems human perception makes little distinction. It is the shapes formed by the shadows / bright areas and their relative positions which is vital. And in this case the light bits seen together suggested a human figure. The 'figure' vanished because the shapes moved around and stopped resembling a person. Obviously, the figure in such a situation would always appear to be partly concealed by a foreground object.

From this experience I would say that this kind of misperception can be particularly convincing. It was only when it vanished that I realised it wasn't a real person. Having said that, I did think it was an odd-looking figure at the time.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Embarrassing ghost!

Sun behind treeI can't believe I've never had an experience like this before! I was walking along a country road when I noticed a dark figure in a nearby field. Nothing odd about that until the human figure changed into something else when I looked at it more closely. So, a ghost then! However, to my acute embarrassment it turned out to be a cow!

Yes it was a misperception and counts as a ghost (where a ghost is a human figure, witnessed by someone, which cannot be physically present)! But even so - a cow! So what can I say in my defence? Well, I've misperceived several trees and bushes as human figures so a cow isn't so weird. In addition, this cow was facing me, head down, eating grass. So it gave the overall impression of a human figure in size and shape. Its legs were even positioned just as they would be for a human figure. Three of them overlapped visually with the lowered cow's head giving the impression of one narrow and one wide leg! At a glance the whole thing looked remarkably like a human figure bending over towards the witness.

So, in fact, I'd say the cow looked more like a human figure than some of the bushes and trees I've misperceived in the past. So much so that I'm surprised I've never misperceived an animal as a human figure before. Certain large animals can, therefore, clearly be a credible source of ghost misperception. So, on reflection, I'm don't think I should be embarrassed at misperceiving a cow as a human figure after all. Except, I don't know, it's still a cow. I couldn't even bring myself to put up a photo of a cow here.