Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Somewhere unlikely and looking odd

Flying crowI noted the dark figure in the back of the parked car. It was unusual because solitary figures in parked cars tend to be in the front seats. The figure, which looked unusually slim, appeared to be facing backwards, as if reaching out towards the rear window. A ghost? A misperception?

I have noted in the past how objects that happen to occupy places where you expect to see human figures are much more likely to be misperceived than when they are in other locations. A particularly powerful misperception that regularly fools me is when someone has draped a coat over a seat in an unoccupied vehicle. It often appears as a human figure, only to revert to its true nature on closer examination.

So, my initial impressions, of a human figure (or possibly ghost), gave way to the idea that it was a dark coat slung over the back seat. That would fit with the unlikely position and unusual slenderness of the 'figure'. So, just another misperception! But as I got closer something totally unexpected happened. The 'coat' turned out to be a real human figure! And they really were kneeling on the back seat fiddling with the rear window! I felt just as surprised as if it had been a ghost!

What points does this experience raise? Firstly, that you can never assume that an object IS or ISN''T a figure without a closer examination. Secondly, many arguments that a figure 'must be' a ghost because of the unlikelihood of the situation do not hold water. On the second point, I have frequently heard arguments that a figure could not have been a real person because they were either behaving in a way no one would or looked too odd. Both of these circumstances were present in this case, and yet it really WAS a slim person, doing something unusual. I think such arguments should be limited to the impossible, rather than the unlikely. If a figure disappears then clearly it cannot be a real person.

As for behaviour, humans are capable of doing almost anything, however odd, at times. So, I don't think I'd ever say a figure couldn't be a real person simply because of highly unusual behaviour. And the photo? Well, it may not be immediately obvious but it is a crow flying, quite normally. It looks slightly odd because of the position of the wings at the time the shutter went off. Even totally normal behaviour can look odd when viewed in particular circumstances.

No comments:

Post a Comment