Monday, 5 November 2012

Shadow ghost at window!

Shadow ghostI opened the curtain but there was no one there! I had just seen the shadow of a someone walking past a window. I was surprised because it looked as though the person casting the shadow was just outside the window, which is very unusual! So when I saw no one just outside, or anywhere near, I was puzzled! Then I realized the shadow must have been cast by someone walking along the street, rather further away. So why, I wondered, had I never noticed this disconcerting illusion before, given my long familiarity with the window concerned?

Then I realised there was something else which was rather unusual - low angle sunshine pointing directly at the window. The sun takes a slightly different course across the sky every day, depending on the time of year. To be shining directly at the window at a low enough angle to project shadows of passers-by on the street, it has to be near the horizon. It also needs to be shining through a narrow gap in nearby buildings. This can only happen for a few minutes (I timed it) of a few days every year!

This is an example of how a rare coincidence can produce an apparent paranormal phenomenon. Not only can this 'shadow ghost' phenomenon only happen for a few specific minutes per year, it needs someone to be walking past at the right time outside and someone to be watching the closed curtain inside simultaneously! What are the odds?

If an investigator came along to find out what was going on, it's probably not the first explanation they'd look for! And if an investigator DID suggest a rare coincidence as an explanation, many people would dismiss the idea as too far fetched! And yet, these things happen!

So, when should you consider a rare coincidence as a possible explanation for a paranormal report? Only after more obvious possibilities have been thoroughly exhausted and there are usually plenty of those. Coincidences can be hard to investigate as, unless you see the event unfold for yourself, they can be difficult to imagine! The best thing to do is to look out for unlikely coincidences in your own life to work out how you might have detected them after the event.

PS: Media coverage of the forthcoming ASSAP Seriously Unidentified conference here. To find out more and book your place, go here.

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