Monday, 7 April 2014

The ghost that walked!

ShadowThere was someone moving just behind me but I could hear nothing. The figure was very dark, like a shadow. I saw a leg moving, just behind me! Though I was 'in the position' where I sometimes see the 'door ghost' (see here), I've never seen that ghost move. So it was all distinctly disconcerting!

As regular readers will be aware, my door ghost is a misperception of my own hand, reflected dimly in peripheral vision. I've tried deliberately moving my hand to make the ghost 'walk' in the past but it didn't work. Instead I got another very odd effect, described here.

On this occasion I moved my hand deliberately and, to my astonishment, the shadow ghost walked! It really was the usual door ghost, now apparently able to move around without breaking the misperception. How had this remarkable change happened?

I believe the key here is the fact hat I only noticed the shadowy figure when it moved. Clearly this was caused by my hand moving. However, I wasn't aware I was moving my hand.

I don't know if this is common but, when I am concentrating on doing things with one hand, I tend not to notice what the other is doing. For instance, if I'm moving my computer mouse, I can't say for certain exactly if my other hand is moving or not until I pay attention to it. It might, for instance, be moving to adopt a more comfortable position. I suspect I'm not alone in this sort of behaviour. I'd be interested in hearing other people's experiences with this sort of situation.

With this latest door ghost sighting, I had once again forgotten completely about existence of the ghost. I have a poor memory and do this a lot! Misperception appears to be tied up closely with not paying attention. If I'd been expecting the ghost, I'm sure I wouldn't have seen it. And if I'd noticed it first when my hand wasn't moving, I don't think the ghost would have moved. Given this, I wonder if my poor memory is part of the reason why I tend to notice misperceptions when most people don't!

So is this the key to seeing moving misperceptions - namely that they must be moving when you first see them? I don't know, but it sounds plausible. It is very difficult to investigate this because in order to get a sighting, I first need to be not expecting it! I can only wait for the next time these circumstances come together by accident.

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