Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Classic vigils may be wasting time!

VigilMore bad news for ghost vigils! The 'classic' vigil (ie. NOT using assumption-led methods) is usually divided into sessions (sometimes called 'watches'). During these sessions, investigators sit quietly waiting to see if something happens. They are usually stationed at 'hot spots', though a few non-haunted areas may be mixed in as controls. In the days before everything about a haunted venue was published on the web, investigators would usually have no idea what to expect. This would clearly help rule out psychological suggestion.

Generally, sessions would last around an hour with 15 minute breaks between. However, in this week's New Scientist there's an article on people operating drones. They have looked into how long operators can cope with the monotony of viewing an essentially unchanging scene, which is what drones do, apparently, for a lot of the time. They discovered, using a virtual reality program, that people can only pay attention to an unchanging scene for around 10 to 15 minutes! This is, of course, what also happens on 'classic' ghost vigils! So it is likely that any subtle event happening after about a quarter of an hour into a vigil session could easily go unnoticed! So three quarters of each session is essentially being wasted! Of course, this was not known at the time it was first decided that an hour was a good time for session.

It is now not so surprising that classic vigils rarely report any activity. It would be interesting to know how many of the events that ARE reported occur in the first 15 minutes! The problem is even worse with 'dark' vigils because it takes around 20 minutes for human vision to adapt to low light! There are, of course, many other good reasons not to vigil in the dark!

So can the classic vigil be saved? Shorter sessions, always in the light obviously, of about a quarter of an hour might be one idea. Another possibility is to have investigators actually ocupied doing something during a session. This might reduce attention being paid to possible paranormal phenomena but it could also keep general awareness levels higher. It would certainly be worth experimenting along these lines to see which methods work best. Of course, the use of multiple video cameras, which never get bored, is also strongly recommended for vigils

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