Wednesday, 19 December 2012

High expectations!

Shadow ghostSomeone says: "I walked through a green door into a large hallway." Straight away I have a picture in my mind of a particular green door. It is plain, bright green with a plywood exterior, not exactly substantial. The hallway, by contrast is ornate with wood panelling and a chandelier hanging from a high ceiling. The floor is stone with a black and white diamond pattern. Somewhere in the distance I can hear a song by Shakin' Stevens! Is this an example of remote viewing?

Not really. I made up the initial sentence at random just now. There's a good chance that the sentence about the green door and hallway formed a picture in your head too. It may not have been as elaborate as mine and was probably completely different. Whenever someone describes a scene we tend, quite involuntarily, to imagine a version of it. And if you get to visit the scene being described it almost always quite different.

The same thing happens when I hear reports of anomalous phenomena. Someone describes a ghost they've seen and, without the least effort, I can see it in my imagination. If someone reports a solid figure that vanishes, I imagine an apparition fading slowly away to nothingness. In reality, the witness looked away for a couple of seconds and when they turned back the figure was gone! They only ASSUMED it vanished because there was not sufficient time for anyone to have run out of sight! However, if it was a misperception then it is perfectly normal for a 'figure' to vanish when you stop looking at it briefly.

A report of 'object movement' has me visualizing something floating through the air like a scene from a horror movie. The reality is more likely to be that someone noticed an object was not in its normal place! This could be a simple case of faulty memory rather than the paranormal!

Then there are cases where I've actually seen the weird phenomena that others have described. What I visualized was something obviously paranormal. What I actually saw was more prosaic and not difficult to explain by natural causes! I can't give a specific example, unfortunately, because it might identify the site concerned!

Over the years I've been consistently disappointed by accounts that apparently promised obvious paranormal effects but delivered only the xenonormal. Maybe my imagination is too vivid, so it's my own fault! But I get the distinct feeling, when talking to witnesses, that they are a lot more impressed by what appear to me to be prosaic phenomena than I am.

Suppose I am watching a light phenomenon with another person in a haunted building. They see it as paranormal while its prosaic cause is obvious to me. This is no thought experiment, by the way, it has happened! My question is this - do they see exactly what I do or something different? They might be misperceiving and so it will definitely look different, making their interpretation understandable. But what if they are seeing precisely what I do? Do they see it as paranormal because that is how they involuntarily visualized 'the paranormal' would look? Or maybe they didn't know what to expect and saw it as paranormal because (a) they didn't recognise the effect and (b) it was in a haunted location? I don't know the answers to these questions but I'd like to!

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