Thursday, 3 December 2015

Shadow ghost in 3D?

 VigilI was wandering beside a development of new flats when something caught my attention. A poster I was walking past appeared to be in 3D! As I moved, my point of view appeared to change just as it would for a real 3D scene. However, I could see it was plainly a flat 2D picture and, on close inspection, nothing actually moved relative to other objects in the background. Incredulous, I went back and tried it again and saw the same bizarre effect! It worked even though I knew it wasn't real. I've never seen a picture do this before. The effect occurred in full daylight (overcast). I think it was a misperception phenomenon where my unconscious perception system was overruling my conscious knowledge of what I was seeing.

There were other posters nearby but the 3D effect only occurred on this one. So what was special about it? The picture was of an interior of a flat. Importantly, it was life size and at street level. In other words, had it been a real room, I could have simply walked into it and everything would have looked normal. The other posters were smaller than life size and elevated above the street level by a metre or so. I think the fact that it looked as though I could walk over into it was crucial. Misperception relies on expectation. I don't recall seeing similar life size street height posters before which is probably why I've never noticed the effect before.

What does this have to do with the paranormal? I think it shows that misperception is not just about visual object substitution I now think it can make scenes appear to have depth when they have none. Examples might include shadows on a wall or a mural in low light. If shadows on a wall involved a shape resembling a human figure it might be interpreted as a shadow ghost. And if someone suggests it was in fact just a shadow, the witness might reply that the ghost moved relative to its background as they moved so it must have been three dimensional! Until now that might have been a pretty good argument but not any more!     

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