Monday, 12 January 2015

Beyond the strangeness threshold

CrowI was at a railway station recently when I heard an odd sound. It was like something tapping lightly, but insistently, on the metal roof over the platform. Furthermore, the tapping sounded as though it was moving around the roof! As it happens, it is possible to see the roof concerned from above from an adjacent bridge, so I soon discovered the cause of the mysterious noise.

What I found really odd, however, was that no one else on the platform appeared in the least bit interested in the loud and distinctly odd sound. Either they didn't notice it or, if they did, they didn't care. Of course, it's possible that they were fascinated by the strange sound but simply showed no sign on their faces. Somehow I doubt it.

I have a theory that people are less prone to noticing odd things in public spaces. I think this is because they are aware, albeit unconsciously, that there are many sounds and sights beyond their experience in such places. Thus, they reason, again unconsciously, that anything unusual experienced in a public space is probably quite normal. Of course, there is a limit to this mechanism. When things become sufficiently strange, people will start to notice them and wonder. Something tapping on a metal roof is below this threshold for most people, apparently.

Regular readers will know that I often notice strange things, when I'm out and about, that could easily be taken for paranormal. In almost every such case, no one else present appears to have noticed the odd thing that I saw or heard. Indeed, on the rare occasion when I have had a companion present who I could ask, they have confirmed that they hadn't noticed anything strange. I guess I have a much lower 'strangeness threshold' than most people.

The interesting thing about this 'strangeness threshold' is that when people DO finally notice something odd, they have little experience of xenonormal phenomena to compare it with. Indeed, this may explain why so many anomalous reports turn out, on investigation, to have natural causes. I notice xenonormal stuff all the time so, when something really weird comes along, I have many ideas about what could be causing it straight away. This general lack of awareness of the xenonormal means that witnesses generally have little or no idea what to look out for when they notice something strange. Which is a pity because such information would be extremely valuable to paranormal investigators.

And the moving tapping sound on the metal roof? It was the sound of crows walking across it, something the accompanying photo no doubt gave away.

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