Tuesday, 8 September 2015

More about the way ghosts vanish

Crows in a treeOften, with ghost experiences, the witness does not even realise they are seeing a ghost during the experience. This happened to me recently. I was walking along a suburban street when I noticed a small car parked ahead of me. It was in an unusual position, which is why I noticed it. And there was someone in it, which was also noteworthy. The person in the car appeared to be looking in my direction but not directly at me. Sitting in the driver's seat, the person had an arm draped over the top of the adjacent seat.

As I approached closer, still looking at the car, the figure vanished. It wasn't an abrupt disappearance, like in a ghost movie, they just simply weren't there any more. I could see now that it was a misperception.

The figure's 'head' was actually a light coloured head restraint. The 'draped arm' was actually a dark garment lying along the top of the back seat. The two objects lined up, from my viewpoint, to resemble a head and outstretched arm.

I was so impressed by this strong misperception that I straight away retraced my steps and walked towards the car by the same route again. As feared, the misperception no longer worked but I could see why it had. The head restraint and garment certainly resembled a human figure, though not enough to actually appear as one on the second attempt. Misperceptions rarely work a second time because the witness's brain now knows what it is really seeing. Also, misperception usually only works when the witness is not expecting it. I have seen ghostly figures in cars before. They usually involve a head restraint because it occupies the space where you'd expect to see someone's head. Misperception is always helped by an object being a position where you would expect to see a person.

The weather during this sighting was dull and overcast giving flat lighting with faint shadows. Lighting is crucial to misperception. On this occasion, it made the interior of the car difficult to see well, though the light head restraint showed up prominently.

The way misperceived ghosts vanish is interesting. As I said, they don't suddenly disappear, like in a movie. Nor do they fade away slowly. It is hard to describe but they are just no longer there. It doesn't feel odd at the time, only afterwards when you realise what's happened. It is as if you completely believe you are seeing a figure one second and then completely believe you don't see one in the next, without any feeling of contradiction. That is a strange experience in itself! This expands a little on my previous attempt to describe the process of misperceived ghosts vanishing here.

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