Friday, 19 January 2018

Ghost selfie?

Sun behind treeI mentioned recently that I seem to have an aptitude for noticing odd things. Maybe that's why I appeared to be the only person who noticed a photo booth apparently talking to itself recently. The booth was going through instructions to the user but there was a snag - no user!

I could see the seat below the drawn curtain and there was no one in it. Anyone in there would have had to be floating and there as very little room even to do that! As it happens, I used that very machine just a few months before so I was familiar with its dimensions and how it worked. The verbal instructions had reached the point where the photo was about to be taken. But, as I knew from experience, to reach that point requires money to be inserted as well as answering several questions with a touch screen. So clearly the process requires someone to be present for it to wotk.

Unfortunately, I was in a hurry at the time and it only occurred to me later that I could have stood by the unattended booth - there was no one anywhere near - to look at the photos it produced! I'm guessing they would have shown an empty booth but who knows?

So, what explanations may account for this strange occurrence? One might be a ghost taking a selfie! Among the possible natural explanations are a machine malfunction. However, had the machine been taking pictures of an empty booth for any time, lots of photos would have spilled out of the dispenser by then but there were none there. Unless it was a one off malfunction and my timing was impeccable. Another obvious explanation, and the one I favour, is that someone had started the process of having their photo taken and then, for whatever reason, left before it was complete. I doubt I'll ever know.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Fame thing - the mystery remains!

Shadow It seems that the fame month phenomenon has finally failed. December was supposed to be a 'fame month' but I saw no celebrities. Regular readers will know what this is all about. For everyone else, here's a catch up. I had noticed my tendency to see more famous people than I thought was 'normal' - an average of 0.23 per month. I do not seek out celebrities, I just see them during my normal everyday activities. What is really weird is that, recently, I appear to have been seeing them at regular intervals, every four months. Random events should not occur at regular intervals! I last saw a celebrity in August (see here and here) and before that in April (see here), right on cue. I 'should' have seen another in December, but I didn't. So with the pattern broken is that the end of the mystery?

One interesting point was that I only remembered December was 'fame month' after it was over. This suggests that if I'm expecting to see someone famous it makes me more likely to notice them. I even caught myself doing just that in August (see here). Of course, even if I'm on the look out for a famous person they still need to be present in the first place. If I'm only noticing celebrities when I'm expecting them, it implies I must be in the presence of famous people a lot more than I previously thought but only notice them occasionally! That would be strange in itself. Also, the explanation of being more alert does not explain how the pattern started before I noticed it nor the previous months when I forgot it was a 'fame month' at the time! So, for now, the mystery remains. Everything now depends on when I see my next celebrity!

In other news, it's back! I saw the door ghost (door what?) again recently for the first time in a long while. It was just a brief glimpse of legs but, turning round, there was no one there. I've no idea why the ghost suddenly returned after so long away. On subsequent visits to the door the ghost didn't appear. I'll have to wait and see if it was just a one-off visit.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Person vanishes!

ShadowThis has never happened to me before and it took me by surprise. I suddenly realised that the person standing right next to me had vanished! I wasn't looking straight at them but they still should have been obvious in my peripheral vision. Disconcerted, I looked around to see they were still there, in exactly the same position.

I was bird watching and so concentrating on the scene ahead rather than on the people around me. I was, however, fully aware that there was someone standing next to me. So when I realised I could no longer see them it drew my attention. I tried an experiment. I moved my head slowly, looking ahead all the time, until the person suddenly completely disappeared from my peripheral vision.

Obviously there is always an angle at which an object is lost from peripheral vision. However, in this case that angle had definitely not been reached. Instead, I could still see the place where the person should have been, just not them! I believe it was a case of 'imperception'. This is a variant of misperception when you fail to see something that should be visible. An example would be a camouflaged object not visible despite being in central vision. I believe my brain had given up the struggle to see the person as they became less and less distinct. Eventually, it simply did a visual substitution where the background replaced the human figure. I've never noticed this peripheral vision imperception effect before. I should say that the lighting conditions were good (overcast daylight). As someone with myopia I get my eyes tested frequently and my peripheral vision has always been good.

A vanishing person could, of course, be interpreted as a ghost by a witness. If there was something stopping the witness from turning to see if the person was still there, it might well be interpreted as a ghost sighting. If the person simply moved away it is unlikely to cause an imperception. That's because peripheral vision is good at spotting movement. The effect requires the vanishing object to be stationary. For more imperceptions see here and here.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Ghostly sounds not just behind music!

FrequenciesI have reported a weird phenomenon recently that I call 'sounds behind music', for want of a better term. If there's an official name for this I'd love to know it. Essentially, it happens when I'm on my own listening to loud music. I think I can hear sounds, usually like someone moving around in a nearby room. If I turn the music off the sounds stop straight away. Various experiments have convinced me that the phenomenon is a brain thing. See here for more background information on this phenomenon.

Now I have heard what appears to be the same phenomenon but with no music involved. Instead, I was taking the tight plastic cover off a new purchase. The plastic cover film was difficult to remove and particularly loud. To my surprise, I heard sounds like someone moving about in an adjacent room. I stopped pulling at the plastic and everything went silent instantly. When I resumed unpacking, the 'sounds behind' returned. From its characteristics I would say this phenomenon resembles the 'sound behind music' one exactly.

My first thought is that this is, indeed, the same phenomenon as 'sounds behind music' If so, it suggests that music is not essential as a foreground sound. I think sound complexity may be important, however. Music is a usually a fairly complex sound, as is the one generated by manipulating plastic film. I suspect that a simple hum or tone would not produce this phenomenon, however loud. It is not easy to experiment with this phenomenon because if I'm expecting it then nothing happens, suggesting it is a form of aural misperception. I'll just have to wait and see when it occurs again and in what circumstances. This phenomenon, given that it sounds like someone moving about, could easily be interpreted as a sign of a haunting by some witnesses.

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Ghost witnesses and vigils

Sun behind treeI wonder if a prime source of information about ghosts is being neglected these days. The emphasis in recent years has been on ghost vigils. It is understandable. People want to have their own ghostly experiences, not just listen to witness accounts. However, the difference is that witnesses have actually experienced something ghostly. In contrast, I spent many, many of hours on ghost vigils over the years and witnessed hardly anything, as have oithers.

It seems to me that witness accounts are a much richer source of information about ghosts than the experiences of those on vigils. What is more, ghost vigils these days often employ assumption-led methods. These methods start with assumptions, such as ghosts being spirits. As I explained recently (here), I've found little evidence to support the idea that ghosts are spirits in the decades of research I've done on the subject. Indeed, the lack of any definitive evidence in favour of ghosts as spirits gathered by all those vigils in recent years has actually reduced the chances of it being true (see here).

As I see it, almost everything we know about ghosts comes from witness accounts. Indeed, I can think of little, if any, knowledge about ghosts that that has come from vigils. Anyway, just an end of year thought!

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Noticing strange stuff

SunsetI sometimes think I might be genetically programmed to notice odd things. I will often look at a scene and notice straight away something that looks wrong or out of place. I remember odd events while completely forgetting more important stuff. I suppose it might explain why I'm interested in anomalous phenomena. It might also explain why I have a tendency to notice misperceptions.

Anyway, I doubt anyone else around at the time saw anything strange - but I did. It was around sunset and there a bright light on the horizon which was not the sun! I was on the edge of a small town walking along a dark road which had no houses. The bright light was in a group of trees some distance away. The light was not moving or changing. It reminded me of scenes I'd seen in UFO movies of a strange bright light shining through trees in a wood.

I couldn't make out what the light was at all. Luckily I had some binoculars on me so I could take a closer look. The 'light' turned out to be a large house with apparently all its lights on and no curtains drawn. None of the other houses in the vicinity had any lights on. From my position, without binoculars, the lights all fused into just one really bright one. And, with the trees in the way, i couldn't even see that there was a house. So, mystery over.

Few people routinely carry binoculars or similar optical equipment. So someone else seeing what I saw would never have worked out what it really was, short of actually going towards the mystery light. Perhaps, after all, it's just as well that no one else appeared interested in the light! Otherwise there may have been many reports of a strange light that actually had a mundane explanation.
Thinking about it, I doubt many witnesses who report strange phenomena routinely notice odd things like I do. If they did, they might report strange things all the time instead of maybe just once or twice in a lifetime.
PS: The picture (above right) was a different sunset! Also, I'm hearing sounds 'behind music' while I write this, yet again (see here for background). I suppose it is another example of noticing odd things.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Reading and phantom speech - a connection?

 FrequenciesReading in an empty quiet room recently MA (my acquaintance who gets microsleep with REM - MWR) suddenly heard a choir singing! MA didn't recognise the song. However, the experience prompted MA to realize something! ALL the 'voice MWRs' MA has ever heard, whether speech or singing, occurred when MA was reading! The connection is presumably that MA's brain was processing words when the 'voice MWRs' occurred. All the music MWRs that MA has heard involved singing, so there was a word element there too.

When a person hears human speech their brain responds to certain frequencies in the sound. Specific neurons respond only to particular frequencies. The combination of these frequencies is then interpreted as words by the brain. This same process also happens without sound when a person is reading words. This is how we hear an 'inner voice' in our heads as we read.

The other main type of MWR that MA has are immersive visual experiences. In such experiences MA either sees the real surroundings but with additional unreal additions (like the train ghost) or is simply 'transported' to a completely different location. Neither of these type of experiences are preceded by MA reading. It appears that reading is required to specifically trigger the word/singing type MWRs.

There is a parallel here with formant noise. This phenomenon occurs when someone's brain responds to particular frequency combinations in noise by hearing words that are not actually there. This can cause cases of apparent EVP. Hearing certain frequency combinations in sound turns the brain into 'speech mode' so that subsequent formant noise is heard as words (listen to examples here). It seems likely that MA's brain is turned on to 'speech mode' by reading and interprets dream content in a subsequent MWR as words, either spoken or sung.

For someone who gets MWRs but doesn't realize their true explanation, they might well interpret MWRs as paranormal. experiences. They, too, may hear voices from nowhere if they are reading just prior to an MWR incident. It would be worth knowing what witnesses are doing just prior to hearing anomalous voices.