Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Best ghost yet!

FoxI was intrigued to see a fox staring out at me from under someone's car the other day. For some reason, I've been seeing foxes most days recently and, being interested in natural history, am always pleased to see any wildlife. I was intrigued at this sighting because I've never seen a fox under a car before, though there seems no good reason why it shouldn't occur. But what happened next definitely should never occur - the fox completely vanished to be replaced by what I was really looking at - a car exhaust!

Clearly it was a misperception. There were two things noteworthy about it. Firstly, though the exhaust shape was reminiscent of a fox face, the colours were all wrong. Secondly, it was the best misperception I've had so far. It wasn't simply the shape of a fox. Instead, it was as clear, detailed and unambiguous as the picture here (right). I could see the the eyes, nose, ears, everything. It was even the correct reddish-brown colour.

While I've known for a while that such visual substitutions can be incredibly detailed and lifelike, I've never seen one as good as this myself. The 'ghost fox' was so clear and unambiguous that I was already starting to wonder why the animal was where it was. It didn't occur to me that it was anything other than a fox. The door ghost, by comparison, is a vague shadowy presence.

I was particularly struck, afterwards, by the lack of fox colours in the scene. While this didn't stop the misperception happening, it is probably why it vanished so quickly as I saw the scene better.

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