Wednesday, 17 April 2013

What adds up to my weirdest ghost yet?

When I saw the figure I was astonished. There, in the corner of the room was 'someone' I did not know, crouched down low on the floor, as if looking for something they'd dropped! There was, of course, no one in the room, or at least there should not have been. Taken by surprise, the diminutive figure in a bizarre pose sent a ripple of unease right through me! I could easily appreciate why witnesses coming across a completely unexpected human figure can get distressed.

When the figure, by now obviously a ghost, quickly vanished, it left only only an untidy pile of clothes in its place. Usually, the ghostly figures I've misperceived have been in locations and positions in which I might normally expect to see someone, such as sitting on a chair. So this ghost broke all those 'rules' I'd previously noted when recording my misperceptions.! So what's going on?

Firstly, the ghostly misperception connection with clothing IS well-known, though usually when it is draped in a way to suggest someone is wearing it (on the back of a chair for instance), rather than randomly piled up. The main feature that produced the 'figure' was a portion of light orange garment, about the same size and shape as a human face. No one looking carefully at it would think 'face' but, taken with certain other garments in the pile, the whole shape vaguely suggested a diminutive human figure crouching.

Secondly, unlike previous misperceptions, this 'figure' was definitely NOT somewhere I expected to see someone. So why did it appear in the first place? Was it a particularly 'strong' misperception? Curiously, no! Once the figure had vanished, I looked at the pile amazed that I had ever be mistaken it for a person. Rather, I think it may have been the addition of factors that, taken individually, may each cause misperception on their own, combining together. I think when you get two or more of these factors together it may 'amplify' the effect, allowing less likely objects to be misperceived. In this case the individual misperception factors were poor viewing conditions and a quick glance.

It's just an idea, at present, which I need to test. But if it works, it could be a way to make misperception easier to see!

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