Friday, 4 December 2015

Do 'false steppers' see more ghosts?

False stepI nearly ended up sprawled on the stone floor. Luckily I managed to recover from my stumble and stay upright. I was merely embarrassed rather than injured. I was walking down some stairs in a busy public place. I knew what had caused me to stumble at the bottom of the stairs. I have done it a few times now and have decided to call it 'false stepping' (with apologies to anyone who has already named the phenomenon).

What I saw as I went down the white stone steps was much like the diagram (right). The floor below the steps consisted of the same, or a very similar, stone to the steps. As you can see the first joint between floor slabs was parallel with the steps and at a similar distance from the steps as the tread width of the stairs. The next joint was much further away. So, the bit labelled 'floor' in the diagram resembled another step and that is certainly how I saw it and why I treated it as such.

I think these 'false steps' I do from time to time, in similar circumstances, are a result of the fact that I tend to notice misperceptions that most people never do. I first started noticing misperceptions a few years ago when i realized that they are part of normal human perception. Ever since then I have seen ghosts and other visual objects that were not actually what they appeared.

So, what did my embarrassing stumble teach me? Firstly, since not one of the many other people around at the time stumbled, I'm guessing that noticing misperceptions is rare in the population, as are people who see ghosts. Secondly, I've realised that noticing misperceptions can cause accidents! So, there are down sides to noticing misperceptions, including false stepping.

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