Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Figure vanishes!

Crows in a treeI paid little attention to the scene before me until something odd happened. I saw someone standing motionless beside a car. I looked away for literally a couple of seconds and the figure had vanished. There was a house door nearby but not enough time had elapsed while I looked briefly away for the person to reach it. Apart from that there was no nearby cover where the person might have been hidden from view. A ghost then!

Now I have to admit something - I was not wearing my glasses (I have myopia) at the time of the observation. Suddenly, mystified by what I saw, I put my glasses on. At first I could see nobody. Then I saw the person had got into the car and was sitting motionless in the driving seat. It was not easy to make them out from my distance so I'm not surprised I didn't see them without my glasses.

Now, obviously, someone with better eyesight than me would have seen the person in the car, after a while anyway. However, if it had been dark or foggy they too might have thought the figure had simply vanished. And they might have concluded that it was a ghost. A figure vanishing while someone looks away is typical of ghost reports.

This was another case of a coincidence causing a anomaly. The person must have got into the car at exactly the time I looked briefly away and shut the door by the time I looked back. And without my glasses I couldn't seen them in the car. Only when all these events coincided was there any apparent mystery to solve.

I only report this apparently trivial incident because, at the time, I really thought I'd seen a ghost. For someone to vanish so quickly was decidedly strange.

Finally, it's the end of August and, sad to say, I've seen no celebrities this month (see here). Indeed, I haven't even caught myself studying passers-by intently in the last week or so. Maybe my unconscious mind had already given up!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The wasteful way of sleep

Crows in a treeThe wasteful way of sleep! This musing was heard by MA (my acquaintance who experiences microsleep with REM - MWR) recently. It is interesting because it might be a direct reference to MA's situation at the time. An odd characteristic of all the voice 'communications' until now was that they never appeared to refer to MA. They were more like overheard snatches of one side of a conversation (see here).

Of course, if you listen to enough random messages some are bound to appear relevant to you, even if they are not. So MA then started listening out to see if there are any other examples that appeared personally relevant. And a few days later one appeared. It was a very specific reference to a place that is special to MA. It could just be another coincidence of course.

Considering that the source of the 'messages' is MA's own brain it is actually extraordinary that they seem so random and irrelevant to their own creator. This could, of course, be seem as evidence that they are real communications from outside MA's brain to anyone who does not know how MWRs work.

MA also recently reported that that there were TWO voices in one communication apparently talking to each other! However, it only happened once and MA was not certain that the two voices were actually conversing. Though MWRs are easier than normal dreams to remember, it is still not always easy to recall exact words used. If it happens again then, like the 'relevant' message, I will report it here. Once again the whole phenomenon appears to be 'evolving' in some way (see here for previous discussion).

Monday, 22 August 2016

Shadow ghost

ShadowLooking out of a window very late at night, something strange intruded on a very familiar scene. It was the shadow of a person moving across a wall. That would have been unexceptional had I been able to see the person causing the shadow. But there was no one to be seen, just the shadow. The area concerned has no trees, bushes or other places where a person could easily hide and the area is well lit by street lamps. So anyone present should have been obvious.

Many shadow ghosts are seen in peripheral vision (see here for a discussion). However, this shadow was very clear and in central vision. I was just wondering if it might be a paranormal shadow ghost when I finally saw the person throwing the shadow. They were in a completely different place to the one I expected for a shadow on that particular wall. That's why I'd completely missed them until I widened my area of search. The shadow was coming from a street lamp round the corner out of my line of sight. Had the person left the scene before I found them I would still be left with the mystery of a shadow ghost sighting!

So, no ghost then! I think what happened was that my familiarity with the scene made me only look in places where I expected to see a person throw a shadow on that particular wall. Had I been looking at an unfamiliar scene I might have searched in more places for the person creating the shadow and found them more quickly.

Meanwhile I've been dreaming of seeing a celebrity! Yes, as 'fame month' continues with no celebrity yet seen, I actually dreamt I saw one. In fact, for a few seconds after waking up I was so convinced I really HAD seen a celeb that I was mentally preparing a blog post. This, I think, supports the idea that, unconsciously, I am on high alert this month concerning celebrities, despite not consciously looking for one. Of course, there still has to be a celebrity physically nearby for me to spot and so far I've drawn a blank! Time is running out.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

And now strange music

Crows in a treeFollowing on from a recent post, my acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM (MWR) has had another 'first' and it is extraordinary. Among a series of 'normal' voice 'messages' (see post) MA heard a snatch of music. It was a rock song. There was someone singing but MA can't remember the lyrics. MA was alone in an empty room at the time and there were no radios, TVs or other electronic devices present that could have been the source of the music. At the end of the music, MA experienced the usual feeling that marks the end of a MWR making it clearly the source of the music.

This is the first musical MWR that MA has experienced. But much more interesting is the fact that MA did NOT recognise the song! So where did it come from? One can only assume it came from MA's own brain. This means that the unconscious bit of MA's brain is apparently capable of composing original songs without conscious intervention. MA says the song didn't sound very original. Even so, the idea of a work of art being composed without conscious intervention is intriguing.

MA does not play music but listens to it frequently, including rock. So MA's unconscious brain may be playing with bits of music that MA has heard in much the way a dream is composed by rearranged conscious experiences (see here). Whatever brain process puts together dream narratives may be capable of putting together those strange voice 'messages' discussed in the 3 Aug post. And could it also put together simple remembered musical phrases in different ways to 'compose' an original, if highly derivative, song?

So what might a person who had MWRs, without realizing their natural origin, think of the arrival of such original music, seemingly from nowhere? If that person was a regular composer of music they might simply think it is their normal creative process. And, who knows, maybe some creative processes work like that for people with MWR. But for someone who has never written down a note in their lives, they might think the source of the music is external, somehow. It might, indeed, be interpreted as a paranormal process.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Phantom squirrel?

VigilRegular readers will know that I am a keen nature watcher. So when I saw a small shadowy animal (maybe squirrel-sized) moving around in the distance, in peripheral vision, I instinctively turned to look straight at it. I was a bit surprised to see no animal there, with nowhere it could have hidden in the fraction of a second it took me to turn my head. So, was it a phantom squirrel?

My first thought was that it must have been a misperception but there was no obvious object present to misperceive. Then I saw what I recognised to be the same object moving again. The 'squirrel' was actually a petal blowing around a few centimetres off the ground. So it WAS misperception after all!

This all sounds a bit unlikely until you consider the circumstances. It was early in the day, the sun was low in the sky, throwing long dark shadows everywhere. The petal was barely noticeable until it was caught for a second or so in a shaft of sunlight as it was blown around.

Movement is one of the most important ways by which I detect the presence of wildlife. So when I caught the movement in peripheral vision, my first thought was that it must be a small animal. The moving petal then visually combined briefly with a dark shadow behind. Peripheral vision is, of course, more sensitive to movement than central vision. It also has lower resolution so that physically separate objects can sometimes get combined visually, particularly in high contrast views like the one here.

This incident illustrates the most difficult to detect type of misperception - that caused largely by patterns of light and shadow. If an investigator finds a bush where a witness reports seeing a human figure, it is easy to see how misperception may be the cause of the sighting. But a sighting caused by a pattern of shadows that might only occur for a few hours of a few days each year can be much more difficult to track down. I've only worked out explanations for such incidents when I've investigated them at the time of the sighting. Had I investigated them later I doubt I'd have worked out what was really going on. Maybe some shadow ghost sightings are actually caused by normal shadows.

PS: I caught myself in the act of carefully looking at people's faces in the street twice recently! I just suddenly realised I was doing it. So maybe it IS an explanation worth considering for 'fame month' - see here for the background to this.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

More strange messages

Crows in a treeMy acquaintance (MA) who experiences microsleep with REM (MWR) is often addressed by voices during MWR episodes. MA will be doing something like reading when a voice is heard saying a few words before a feeling of coming out of a MWR. Here are some recent examples that give a flavour of these 'messages':

I only brought one in because I thought she was perfect.

I have a glorious question going forward tonight.

Newcastle politics 19.

Screeches are off the agenda.

Each of our children are telepathic.

Hold it a day and I'll take it apart.

MA has noted some new points about these 'messages'. For instance, most are in a male voice though some are female. The voices never have a regional or foreign accent. MA has never recognized any of the voices as belonging to real life people. Nor has MA recognized voices from previous 'messages' though this might simply be because they are too brief to remember. One surprising thing is that the 'messages' never appear to go beyond a single phrase or sentence. This may be because MWRs are so short but it seems odd that there are never (so far) multiple sentences. One example above, Newcastle politics 19, sounds as though it may be truncated as there is no verb.

As previously noted, the voices don't appear to be addressing MA but rather sound like one side of a conversation between two other people. As can be seen in the examples above, which all occurred in the space of two days, the 'messages' don't appear to refer to each other, even when they occur seconds apart. Nor do any of the 'messages' appear relevant to MA, despite their origin in MA's own brain. Interestingly, though the voices often occur when MA is reading, none of them appear inspired by what MA is reading.

The subject matter of the 'messages' always appears incomplete. It is like hearing just one sentence out of a longer conversation between third parties. Though the 'messages' make some sense in themselves, without the rest of the theoretical 'conversation' they have only limited meaning. For instance, with Hold it a day and I'll take it apart what exactly is 'it'? One exception to this is the first example I only brought one in because I thought she was perfect. MA had a feeling at the time that the situation being discussed was a job interview. This is similar to the way that we are often aware of the background to a dream, even though there is no visible or audible content in the dream itself to support it.

If a person had MWRs without realizing their natural origin, it would be easy to mistake such 'messages' for psychic communication. But their apparent randomness might go against that interpretation. However, if someone gets enough of these apparently random messages it is inevitable that one will, by chance, eventually appear relevant to that person's life. And it is likely that it is such apparently meaningful 'messages' that the 'receiver' will remember rather than the others.

It is even possible, given that apparent 'evolution' noted in MA's MWRs towards more realism (see here) that the messages may change over time. Maybe they will become more relevant to MA and appear more meaningful. Maybe ...

Monday, 1 August 2016

It's fame month again!

Crows in a treeSo, here it is again - fame month! Though I failed to see a celebrity in the last fame month, April, I did see one just two weeks later in May (see here). I think two weeks in four months is close enough to qualify as a hit, though others may disagree. What would really get me back on track now would be a hit this month.

Regular readers will know what this is all about. For everyone else, here's a catch up. I had noticed my tendency to see more famous people than I thought was 'normal' - an average of 0.23 per month. But what was really weird was that I appeared to be seeing them at regular intervals, every four months, with the next one due in August 2016. Random events should not occur at regular intervals!

So what non-paranormal explanations might there be for this bizarre phenomenon? There is coincidence, of course, though that looks increasingly unlikely if the 4 month pattern continues. Another possibility I've considered is 'unconscious attentiveness'. By this I mean that unconsciously I am paying more attention to people I pass in the street during 'fame months'. Obviously, I can't make famous people appear when I want to (and I don't seek them out in obvious places like stage doors) but I can make sure I don't miss any that might just be there as I go about my everyday tasks. I'm sure I've walked past several famous people, over the years, without recognising them.

I suppose I could test this 'unconscious attentiveness' idea by trying to describe everyone I've just seen in one particular street. If I'm unconsciously being more attentive, I ought to remember more details than usual. I could repeat this exercise in 'fame months' and non fame months to see if there is a difference. The problem is that I'd need to do these tests randomly without warning, otherwise I may consciously affect the results. Anyway, I will try to see if I can do something to test the idea this month.

I have sometimes wondered if people become more unconsciously attentive when they are told the building they are in is haunted. They may then, without any conscious effort, notice lots of natural background noises that would otherwise be ignored. And these noises could be interpreted as haunting sounds because of the location.