Monday, 29 June 2015

An interactive ghost

Crows in a treeI have never personally come across a case of an 'interactive' ghost (IG) which suggests, to me, that they are probably rare. I've read about cases, of course, but published accounts almost always lack crucial details, making them difficult to assess. In typical ghost cases the apparition appears to be oblivious to the presence of the witness. With IGs the apparition interacts directly with the witness in some way. So I was intrigued to come across an IG case recently that happened to someone known to me.

The witness was sitting on a chair indoors when they became aware of somebody, a complete stranger, directly in front of them, talking. The figure had not been there previously and, being in a locked building with just one other person (well known to the witness) present, should certainly not have been there. The ghost addressed the witness who, unfortunately, cannot recall what was said. Then, suddenly, the apparition was gone! The second witness did not see the apparition, or anything else unusual, despite being just a couple of metres away. Curiously, the main witness did not feel alarmed during the course of the experience, which lasted just seconds.

The witness was my acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM episodes. MA identified the episode, from experience, as an MWR. The surprising tolerance of bizarre events is typical of both ordinary dreams and MWR experiences. In a previous experience (here), MA was stared at by an immobile apparition. A stare barely counts as an interaction, to me at least. Being talked to is clearly a very active interaction, more typical of the accounts of IGs I've read.

So here we have an example of a xenonormal cause for an interactive ghost experience. It's important because interactive ghosts might, at first sight, appear to be evidence in support of the widespread idea that ghosts are spirits. In fact, there appears to be no compelling evidence that ghosts are spirits (see here). Misperception can, of course, explain many of the more typical non-interactive ghost experiences.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Ghostly presence on a train

Crows in a treeOn a recent train journey I was chatting with someone when I became acutely aware that the person in the seat behind might be listening. It made me feel self-conscious. It wasn't a particularly embarrassing or secret conversation, just a bit personal. The seats had high backs so I couldn't look at the person behind without it being obvious what I was doing. Eventually I looked all around casually, as if searching for something. That was when I discovered that there was no one there, nor any sign that there ever had been.

Now it's possible that there HAD been someone there earlier who had gone. However, I think I would have heard them go. More importantly, I still felt the strong sense of presence right up to the point when I looked round. I haven't had this experience on a train before, where I thought there was someone sitting behind me when there wasn't. So why did I think there was someone present this time? In a word - sound. There are lots of sounds on a moving train but someone shuffling in their seat is reasonably distinctive. Except in this case I was clearly wrong.

So, once again, sound is implicated in one of my 'sense of presence' experiences. And, also again, a desire not to be seen or heard for some reason appears to be a contributory factor. It is starting to form a consistent picture, at least for my own experiences. This is the first time it's happened on public transport, though. So, a first after all!

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Three types of orb in one photo

Three orb sizesIn this recently taken photo (right) there are three distinct types of daylight orb, determined by size. There are some tiny ones, looking like white dots, all roughly the same size. Then there are some larger ones, again all roughly the same size, looking grey and resembling the 'classic' orbs. Finally, there are some huge orbs, resembling amorphous blobs, yet again all roughly the same size. There was no flash used for this photo and the orbs were actually visible in the viewfinder at the time of exposure. So what's the cause?

The orbs here are produced by three groups of insects swarming. They were all between the camera and the tree but at different distances, hence their sizes. The closer the insect the larger the orb it produces. The strong illumination, required for orbs, was supplied by the sun.

Why is this of interest? Well, I'm always on the lookout for unusual photos that might be interpreted by someone as anomalous. And when I see a similar 'mystery' photo it becomes much easier to explain by comparing it with an example with a known cause. That's one of the main principles of xenonormal studies. I don't just wait for someone to report an anomaly and then try to explain it, often with inadequate information. Instead I look out for and study likely causes of xenonormal phenomena in advance. I've found the approach very useful.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Spade wings

InsectorodI haven't had a photo of one of these for a while (pic right). It's a picture, taken recently, of a hovering insect, probably a hoverfly. The view with the naked eye didn't look like this photo. It is what I call an insectorod. It's doesn't resemble a typical flying rod but neither is it an accurate representation of the insect being photographed. The insect did not have those unusual-looking wings. Anyone trying to identify the insect from this photo might decide that it is apparently an unknown species!

The problem is that the wings are motion-blurred but give the superficial appearance that they are not. Hoverflies have a wingbeat rate of around 120 per second. This exposure had a shutter speed of 1/250s. So while the shutter was open the wing moved half a wingbeat, either one up or one downstroke. And so we see the full down or upward motion of a wing, as if it was a solid object, givng rise to the spade-like shape.

Motion-blur is not always obvious in photos, especially if it only applies to one object in the scene. It can lead to odd-looking objects which are not as they seem! It is something to consider when examining an anomalous photo of something oddly-shaped.