Wednesday, 1 February 2017

A figure vanishes

Mound I turned to survey this scene (photo right) and a rather odd-looking person caught my attention immediately. They became even odder when they quickly vanished. All that remained was a low bush! So, a ghost then!

In case you can't see it, the 'ghost' is the bush about a quarter down the photo (right) near the left side of the frame. It was this bush that I misperceived as a human figure. The photo has obviously been cropped but apart from that is completely unedited.

In the photo the bush does not look much like a human (or ghost) figure. With photos, of course, the viewer has the advantage of being able to study objects for an extended period of time whereas I only saw the bush as a ghost for a few seconds in my initial view. Nevertheless, the bush is surely too small, isn't it?

At the time, the rather featureless landscape made it difficult to judge how far the ghost was away. If it had been a bit closer to the distant trees then it would have been a perfectly reasonable height for a human figure. There were several real people in the area for comparison and some distant ones were quite similar in dimensions to the bush.

As with most misperceptions, viewing conditions were not ideal. In this case, it was the short duration of my initial 'glimpse' that limited the visual information. I've noticed that misperception of all kinds often involves mistakes about scale and distances, as in this example.

A momentary glance at a scene can get all the scales and distances wrong. How? I think it is because the brain unconsciously 'recognises' one prominent object in the scene incorrectly. So, in this example, I think I noticed the bush first, seeing it as a human figure and mentally 'adjusting' the scene to fit that 'recognition'. But then I saw the distant trees, realised my mistake, and 'adjusted' the scene again towards reality (all unconsciously). This changed the 'distant figure' to a nearby low bush. I did not notice the change of scale, probably because I was concentrating on the ghost /bush.

This is similar to the mini-OBE experiences I've had (see here). In one such case the scene consisted entirely of regularly spaced bricks. These made it difficult to judge distance and scale. So I ended up apparently viewing the scene from a point in space much closer to the bricks than my real physical position. As you can see from the photo here, the scene of brown vegetation is rather featureless making it difficult to judge scale, especially if the distant trees weren't visible. That's why I cropped the photo the way I did to illustrate the problem.

No comments:

Post a Comment