Monday, 20 August 2012

'Lack of information' should be a word!

White noiseWhy is there no word for 'lack of information'? If it turns out that there is one after all, can someone please let me know! Anyway, let's call it LOI for now. Why do we need a word for LOI? Because it's so common in anomaly research!

Take misperception, a cause of many paranormal reports. Here are some typical situations when visual misperception might be noticed:

  • object seen in a quick glances
  • object seen in poor viewing conditions
  • corner of the eye phenomena
  • distant object
  • unfamiliar object
  • partial views of an object (eg shape obscured)
  • fast moving objects - may appear to vanish if they do not move as expected by the observer
  • objects blending together - part of a foreground object appears to vanish because it 'blends in' visually with a background object (accidental camouflage)

There is a clear theme running through these common causes of misperception - a lack of visual information about the object being seen! In all such cases, a better view (for longer, closer up, from different angles, with better lighting, having previous experience of the object, etc) would remove the misperception. When we misperceive, our brains play a cruel trick on us - they tell us what we are seeing is real even though, in reality, it is our unconscious brain's best guess. Take my example from 17 Aug below. I actually HEARD the voice of the actor I believed I was listening to. I could even see his face in my mind. I had no doubts whatsoever because my brain was telling me it was true. Once I'd heard more of the voice, the misperception vanished abruptly and the voice appeared to change. My brain now told me it was someone else - and that fact was now true!

Such a strong belief in the witness's own interpretation of what they've experienced is common in paranormal cases. Even where it becomes obvious that the witness has misperceived an object as something else (a tree as a human figure, for instance), they often resist the suggestion, even to the point of adding 'new' details to their statements that all support their personal interpretation. If someone sees a misperception vanish, by getting a better view, it's unlikely they'd report it as paranormal, which is why we don't come across such cases! Going through many witness statements it is clear that, in many cases, the phenomenon reported was not seen well.

But it isn't only misperception where LOI lurks. Paranormal photos, of which I've personally examined thousands, are rarely well exposed. They are usually one or more of factors that detract from their clarity, such as being out of focus, over or under-exposed, suffering from long exposure, containing excessive image noise, low resolution and so on. You almost never see a really well-exposed, high resolution photo of something apparently paranormal. Instead, they nearly all suffer from LOI. A clearer, better lit, higher resolution version of a photo of an apparently paranormal object could well reveal its true mundane nature (I've still yet to come across a photo that looks unambiguously paranormal). Have a look at the UFO gallery for an example of this. In most cases, LOI produces, or contributes to, the apparent paranormal nature of the photo.

Then there are things like EVP, whose recordings are rarely unambiguously distinguishable from ambient noise present at the time. And there are many other aspects of anomalous research where LOI lurks. Indeed, as soon as you start to investigate paranormal cases, you come across it everywhere. You will find many witnesses who are completely convinced they saw something paranormal even though other people nearby saw nothing unusual. One obvious possible explanation for this is that the other witnesses had a better view of the apparently paranormal phenomenon!

Some people, having noted the prevalence of LOI in our field, have theorized that the paranormal itself may actually require, or even be a product of, noise and random events. If that is so, it is going to be very difficult to disentangle it from real noise and random events!

1 comment:

  1. well, according to the urban dictionary HURMISH, A made up word to describe confusion over a lack of information. Generally used to display a distrust for a situation.
    any good to you?