Thursday, 28 May 2015

Why are so few ghosts seen on vigils?

VigilThere have never been many ghosts seen on vigils. The traditional reason for this is simple. Ghosts are not that commonly seen, even at haunted locations. So the odds of one turning up on the particular single night when a vigil is taking place, are rather small. But a large proportion of ghost sightings are actually caused by misperception. And misperception occurs when objects are seen in poor viewing conditions. And many vigils are held in the low light which clearly constitutes poor viewing conditions. So, there ought to be a fair number of misperception-induced apparitions seen on dark ghost vigils. So why aren't there?

Regular readers will know that I have a tendency to notice misperceptions more than I once did. As a result I've seen a number of ghosts in recent years. But, interestingly, virtually all my misperceptions, of ghosts and other things, have come in good lighting conditions. This appears counter-intuitive. Most of my misperceptions are caused by seeing something for a very short period (glance misperception) or in peripheral vision. Walking around in low light conditions I rarely notice anything odd. So why is this?

I have two theories. The first revolves around the fact that misperception involves individual objects. A misperceived object is visually substituted for another. This process obviously involves some brain processing power. If every object in a scene is poorly-seen, it would require massive processing power to do substitutions for all the objects in view, so the brain may simply not bother at all. My second theory is that, in low light, our brains simply accept that everything we see will be viewed poorly so we never notice any misperception that is going on. I've no idea which, if either, idea might be correct.

Whatever the reason, it appears to me that misperception is only ever noticed in one or two objects in a scene at any one time. I don't think you can notice misperception for lots of objects at once, far less an entire scene. So there will only ever be one or two things that are noticeably 'wrong' in any given scene. I'm going to try to see if this is true by attempting to see multiple simultaneous misperceptions in a single scene.

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