Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Could we see ghosts on demand?

ShadowOne of the things that has struck me down the years is the sheer elusiveness of anomalous phenomena. They seldom, if ever, turn up when expected. Instead, witnesses are usually caught completely by surprise. It is a quality that makes these phenomena incredibly difficult to study. If only we could see anomalous phenomena in demand.

Take ghosts. Unlike UFOs, at least ghosts have a tendency to crop up repeatedly in the same location. The trouble is, you never exactly when they are going to appear. When I used to go on ghost vigils I didn't see a single apparition, despite many long nights spent at haunted locations. Statistically, that's not surprising. If a ghost has been seen a handful of times over a decade, for instance, the chances of seeing it on any particular night are slim. At least that's the usual explanation.

But I now think the elusiveness of ghosts has a different cause. Investigation has revealed that many ghost sightings are caused by such things as misperception, hallucination and coincidence. All of these will produce unpredictable sightings. For instance, misperception is highly sensitive to viewing conditions. And coincidences, like seeing someone in historical costume on their way to a re-enactment, are both rare and unpredictable.

So, if we know what causes many ghost sightings, can't we mess around with the variables involved to make ghosts appear on demand? I thought I'd accidentally managed that with the door ghost (see here). However, though this misperception ghost appeared quite frequently, I could never predict when. That's because I first had to FORGET about it for it to reappear! It is one of the few times when having a terrible memory actually proved useful. When the ghost DID appear I had just seconds to remember my pre-planned experiment before the apparition disappeared. And now the door ghost only puts in sporadic appearances like that reported recently (here).

What about hallucinations? My acquaintance (MA) who experiences MWR saw a ghost on as train once (see here) but reports that such apparitions are rare despite having had innumerable MWRs. MA could not recall anything different about that particular experience that might suggest a way to make it happen again. As for coincidences, they are uncontrollable by definition!

So the most promising way forward has to be with misperception, given that the door ghost showed it is possible to have repeatable experiences. I have also had some quite prolonged misperception experiences showing they can be quite robust in the right circumstances. The main problem is that the witness must not be expecting to see a ghost!

So my new ambition, alongside the permanent photographic misperception (see here) is a reproducible ghost! Will it be difficult? Yes!

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