Friday, 30 August 2013

Not seeing something in plain view

FoxFoxes are not that hard to see round here especially if, like me, you know when and where to look. However, seeing more than one at a time IS unusual. So when I briefly saw a fox the other morning, in a place I have seen them many times before, I wasn't exactly surprised. Feeling unusually optimistic, I checked the area again to see if there were any more. There weren't. Except there WAS one! It appeared seconds later, following an identical route to the first. What is more, I then realised that it must have been in plain view (albeit slightly blending in with a tree behind) when I 'checked' before. How on earth had I missed it? In plain daylight!

It is a phenomenon called 'looked but failed to see' (LFBS), well known to accident investigators. The effect appears to be largely about expectation. Because I WASN'T expecting to see a second fox, despite my optimism, I didn't see it until it became profoundly obvious. LBFS typically strikes in situations that are not stimulating to the senses. The witness might be doing something repetitive in a largely predictable environment, like driving a car on a motorway perhaps. Fatigue is also a contributory factor. Misperception can even play a part, in that the witness may misinterpret what they are seeing so failing to see it for what it really is.

This is interesting from the point of view of paranormal cases because they sometimes revolve around witnesses FAILING to notice something in plain view. Here's an example. You're standing on a street waiting for someone. Bored, you are idly watching the traffic go by. Suddenly there is a man in historical costume right in front of you. Since you KNOW you would have noticed him approaching along the street, having been looking at it, you conclude the man must have just appeared from nowhere. In other words, he is a ghost! Except, in reality, your boredom meant you only saw what you expected to see and failed to notice the man approaching in plain view.

Once again, it is important to know exactly what the witness was doing, and their state of mind, when they saw what they saw.

Finally, that photo from two days ago. I expect there are people who are anxious to know just what the anomaly is. The anomaly consists of a light circle with a 'blunt' edge facing the top left corner. Between the circle and the corner is a darker area. Such circles are typical of orbs, created by a flash reflecting an out of focus object very close to the camera. The blunt edge is a clue (see truncated orbs). Orbs are the highlights of objects rather than the entire thing, though in the case of bits of dust that amounts to the same thing. However, here the shadow extending leftwards from the orb suggesting that it is a highlight on a larger object. The brightness of the orb also suggests high reflectivity, possibly a metal. It is, in fact, a metal paper clip. Trivia fact: this paper clip was used in the 'trigger object' experiment mentioned here.

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