Friday, 10 July 2015

Weird stuff is everywhere

FoxWhy does the xenonormal exist? Why do normal things happening that resemble the paranormal enough to convince witnesses they are anomalous? It's a question I've often asked but never satisfactorily answered. So here's a simpler question that might help. How common is the xenonormal?

In my experience the xenonormal is actually quite common. I have documented many instances in this blog over the years. In most cases, had I not investigated what I'd seen at the time, I might still think I'd seen a ghost, UFO or other anomalous phenomenon. So if there is all this stuff going around imitating the paranormal, why aren't we swamped by paranormal reports?

Here is something I experienced recently. I saw a fox walking along a deserted street one very early morning. Then I saw someone walking the other way. They were bound to see the fox in the narrow street with nowhere to hide. The fox sped off but the person showed no sign of seeing it despite being only 3-4m away. How had they not seen it? Maybe because they were wearing headphones and staring at a phone!

I have seen this sort of thing many times before. Even without the distraction of a phone, people consistently fail to notice quite obvious but unusual things near them. As people go around their daily business they are not usually paying attention to their surroundings, especially when in a familiar area. People only see unusual stuff when it becomes too obvious to miss. If the fox in the street had run directly in front of the person with the phone it might have been seen.

And because people are not paying attention to stuff around them, when they DO notice something unusual it is often unfamiliar. And that is when it can sometimes be seen (or misperceived) as something other than what it really is. But why are so many unfamiliar objects reported as anomalous phenomena rather than simply unknown? Why is something unfamiliar in the sky get reported as an alien spacecraft rather than an odd shaped balloon or cloud? Why is someone in historic costume taken to be a ghost rather than a reenactment player or someone going to a fancy dress party? I think it is because people unconsciously EXPECT to see paranormal stuff because of all the movies, games and books about them. Indeed, in the case of misperception, the object must have been seen before for the witness to visually substitute it for a poorly-seen object. And many people are more likely to have seen a fictional alien spacecraft than a rare terrestrial aircraft.

It is familiarity which is the key factor here. This fits with the fact that very few astronomers ever report seeing UFOs. That's because they are thoroughly familiar with the objects likely to be seen in the night sky.

So, the xenonormal is all around us. How much of it is out there depends on how familiar you are with your surroundings. My latest answer to the question of why the xenonormal exists is therefore this: the xenonormal exists because (a) we will always be unfamiliar with something in our surroundings and (b) we are almost all steeped in a culture that includes a significant chunk of anomalous phenomena, whether fictional or real life. And this is why so many paranormal cases are found, on careful investigation, to have natural causes.

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