Friday, 1 March 2013

A ghost returns unexpectedly!

ShadowMy regular door ghost appeared again recently. Once again I wasn't expecting it, which is almost certainly why it appeared. I saw the trousers and shoes of someone standing behind me, all in black! I was in exactly the usual position. For those who've no idea what I'm taliking about, try reading here first.

Involuntarily, I looked back, saw my hand and the ghost duly vanished. Then something new happened. As I returned my gaze to its previous direction, the ghost reappeared! I've never had a misperception reappear like that before. In my experience, misperceptions either never happen again ever (the most common) or only reappear on a later visit to the same location in similar conditions.

I've not come across any ghost reports where the figure disappears and then reappears seconds or minutes later. But if there are any such reports, misperception can, it seems, no longer be ruled out as a possible explanation!

However, my case is not typical as I'm used to the ghost and don't usually pay it too much attention (yes, I've become blasé about seeing ghosts - who'd have thought). In most spontaneous cases of misperception the witness will either think the figure real, and then be shocked by its disappearance, OR think it a ghost from the outset (perhaps because of its location or appearance). In both cases, the disappearance is likely to make the witness much more alert making it highly unlikely the misperception will reappear. But if, particularly in the first case, the witness fails to notice the figure disappearing, perhaps because they are not paying it too much attention (which often happens with misperception), a reappearance may simply prolong the sighting. Misperceptions are typically short-lived which means they are often ruled out for prolonged observations. However, if a misperception can be re-triggered in the way that happened here, it could mean that they cannot be ruled out so easily.

Background to the door ghost: I see a ghost sometimes at a particular outside door. It appears as a dark figure standing a metre or two behind me on a light path (like the one in the photo above), reflected in the frosted door glass. The figure is always black and I only see the lower part, usually just legs and feet. That isn't because the rest of the figure is invisible but because most of it is obscured by me! The figure only appears when the reflected image is in my peripheral vision. Attempts to get a better look, by moving gaze for instance, result in the figure disappearing. It turns out that the 'figure' is actually my own arm and hand, a little behind me! It is, clearly then, an example of misperception. The best lighting conditions for the ghost to appear are overcast while strong sunlight is definitely no good.

There are many mentions of the 'door ghost' in this blog over the past year or so (particularly here - look for the shadow on pavement photo, like the one above). The door ghost is proving a valuable research tool, perhaps I should give it a name!

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