Friday, 16 June 2017

Pale figure at a window

Sun behind treeWalking along a suburban street the other day something caught my eye. There was a very pale human figure in an upper floor window of a house ahead of me. I couldn't help but think 'ghost'. This was despite the fact that ghosts are usually reported to look like perfectly normal people (see here). The pale or white ghost appears to be largely a convention of movies rather than real apparition cases.

So, I was intrigued by this unusually pale figure. I watched it continuously as I walked closer to the house. The 'figure' changed shape as I moved, getting larger and losing all resemblance to a person. I realised the pale shape was the reflection of a nearby tree. It looked pale due to the lighting conditions and because it was a reflection.

It was yet another example of a coincidence causing an anomalous observation. If I'd noticed the shape just before or after the moment when I did it would never have resembled a ghostly figure at all. And if the lighting conditions had been different it would never have looked so strangely pale.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Is that my voice?

Sun behind treeMy acquaintance (MA) who gets microsleep with REM (MWR) has had possibly the weirdest experience yet! MA was just talking when there came the unmistakable feeling of coming out of what was clearly a MWR. A witness was present and could confirm that MA had, in fact, said nothing and looked asleep. MA was, however, aware of the real surroundings exactly as they were and felt there was nothing wrong until 'waking up'.

Usually in MWRs, MA is a passive observer, or listener, to what is going on. But on this occasion clearly MA was speaking out loud though the witness heard nothing. This, then shows that MWRs are not always passive experiences. This would appear to border on lucid dreaming. However, MA experienced it as listening to a voice which was clearly MA's own but was not consciously aware of speaking voluntarily. I've had a feeling like this myself in everyday life when doing public speaking! It is certainly a strange aspect of MWRs that could explain yet more apparently anomalous experiences.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

White flying object

White flying objectSo, here's a UFO picture I took recently (right). I suppose, technically, it's not a UFO because I knew what it was when I took the photo. However, when I looked at the picture later I was struck by how it resembled a classic flying saucer. It is pure white with a shiny metallic look to it.

People routinely discover human figures (or objects resembling them) in photos that they did not notice at the time of exposure. They are often interpreted as ghosts. I have also come across this phenomenon with UFOs. People will notice an object in the sky in a photo when they saw nothing there at the time of exposure. If it is recognisable as a plane, balloon, cloud or some other mundane object, that is the end of it. But if it is not obviously recognisable, it may get reported as a UFO.

The very fact that a figure is only seen in a photo, but not at the time of exposure, is enough for people to think it might be a ghost. This relies on the commonly held belief that there are invisible ghosts. I'm not convinced that such invisible ghosts exist, as I discussed previously here. But I can see how something appearing in a photo, but not noticed at the time of exposure, might be considered paranormal. I guess a similar argument could be made for UFOs. If it really was an alien craft then some kind of invisibility would probably be an easy thing to do compared with interstellar space travel.

However, as always in such cases, it is entirely possible that the photographer simply missed what was plainly visible at the time. They may have been paying attention to the subject of the photo, not some object in the background. Another possible explanation for such pictures is a photographic artefact. In other words, the object in the photo is not what it appears at first sight to be. And that is the explanation here.

White flying object detailThe white flying object is actually a bird. Here (left) is a zoomed version of the object cropped from the same photo. The apparent 'saucer' shape is caused by the way the bird is holding its wings at the precise moment the photo is taken. Had the picture been taken at a slightly different time it would never have looked like a saucer. Had the photo been of lower resolution it would not have been possible to zoom in and get the extra detail required to show the true nature of the object. It might, then, have remained a mystery. This is, then, yet another example of a coincidence causing an apparent anomalous incident.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Ghostly object movement


Sun behind treeOne of the ways I address my poor memory is to leave important things in the same place. Always! As a system it works pretty well. So when an object I use as lot was not in its usual place recently, for the first time ever as far as I can remember, I couldn't even begin to imagine where it might be. I tried searching in obvious, less obvious and downright unlikely places, to no avail.
Then, suddenly, it came to me. Like many people I have habitual routines. These are also useful for coping with a poor memory. I remembered that one thing I habitually do every day had been unexpectedly interrupted that morning. Sure enough, when I went to look there was the object I'd lost, exactly where it would be if I'd failed to complete my normal routine.
This would all be pretty trivial were it not that object movement and disappearance are quite commonly reported aspects of hauntings. I wonder how may such reported disappearances or object movements are actually simply people leaving things in places they wouldn't normally do and then forgetting what they've done. Of course, this sort of thing happens to everyone from time to time and most people will think nothing of it. But if several such events happen over a short period of time someone might start to suspect a ghostly presence! And this is more likely if someone already thinks the place they are in is haunted. It is yet another case of coincidence causing apparent anomalous phenomena.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Ghost in a high visibility vest?

Sun behind treeI was on as train when I noticed someone in a high visibility vest beside the track. It was a familiar sight to anyone who regularly travels by train. I idly watched the person as the train drew closer to them. Suddenly, to my surprise, I realised the 'person' wasn't a person at all! As the viewing angle changed, the 'person' turned into a trackside sign with a bright yellow portion. It was clearly a case of misperception. Had I looked away, instead of watching the 'person' continuously, and then back again seconds later I might easily have concluded that the figure had vanished and that it was a ghost.

Regular readers will have noted that I have misperceived rail signs as human figures several times. It is a recurring cause of misperception, like trees and bushes, discussed in the last post. I had not expected signs to be a frequent source of misperceived figures before I started to notice them. I guess it makes sense, though.

Many rail signs consist of a post with the actual sign on top at a similar height to a human head. The bit that doesn't fit is the post. Surely, it is far too thin to resemble a human torso. However, I've noticed many of the signs are seen from some distance away (as in this case) or are partly obscured by something nearby, like a bush. Also, such sightings are frequently made from a moving transport vehicle, making viewing transient. Taken together, these factors can make viewing conditions difficult which always encourages misperception. So it makes some sense after all.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Green man

TreeI don't know much about the green man. I've seen carvings on buildings, of course, but I'm not aware of any sightings of actual green men in the wild. So I was intrigued to find this object (right) in a recent photo I took. The dark tall, narrow bush in the middle of the photograph resembles the proportions of a human figure. But what struck me was a fairly obvious (to me anyway) face at the top of the 'figure'. It is, apparently looking towards the right. This is a misperception so it is entirely possible that other people won't see it, even though it's obvious to me. Whether you can see it will also depend on what device you are using to view the photo.

BushI can even still see the 'face' in a cropped version of the photo (left) which makes the image appear bigger. In this version, the 'face' is just above the centre of the frame. I can quite clearly see a nose, eyes and a bright area above suggesting a forehead. A light 'chin' is also outlined by a dark line below.

Given that the face is clearly made up of leaves it gives the impression of a classic green man carving. Though I see a 'face' in my misperception, it is clearly not a human face. The substituted image (from visual memory) is probably that of a green man carving rather than any real face.

Many of the misperceptions I've seen in recent years have been of trees or bushes as human figures. One reason for this is, I imagine, is that bushes or small trees can have similar sizes and proportions to a human figure. This does not explain how apparent faces are often seen too. This is, I imagine, is down to the complex patterns formed by leaves. It will also depend crucially on the illumination. Putting these factors, illumination and presence of leaves, together means that 'faces' and 'figures' probably only appear at certain specific times. This is one of the problems with investigating misperception, unless you can reproduce the exact conditions of the original observation, the misperception may not appear again.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Ghost in a crowd

Sun behind treeI have said, on several occasions, in this blog that I would probably not notice a ghost in a crowd. I have often wondered how such a ghost might be spotted. A recent incident means that now I think I know! Ghosts are usually reported as looking indistinguishable from normal people. It is only when they do something unusual, like disappear, that their true ghostly nature is revealed. This is why one might not notice a ghost in a crowd.

I was standing in the audience at a concert, recently. It was dark and the crowd was tightly packed allowing little room to move. However, there were always a few people moving through the crowd. I found it annoying because I got jostled. I noticed one man heading my way and prepared for the expected disturbance but it didn't come. He went right by me and I felt nothing! Then I realised I hadn't seen him jostle anyone in front of me either. Suddenly remembering ghosts, I turned round to see what effect he was having on the crowd behind me. But there was no sign of him. It was as though he'd had no physical contact with the dense crowed and then vanished! So, a ghost in a crowd, then!

So could there be a xenonormal ex[planation for this observation? There are certainly factors that point that way. Firstly, I only remembered not seeing him physically interact with the people in front of me - I wasn't actually watching them closely at the time. So it could be memory affected by expectation. Secondly, when I turned round there was a gap behind me, no doubt because I am tall! But I only turned round after a second or so, as I realised something odd had happened. The man could have traversed that gap easily in that time and once beyond would be difficult to see in the dark. Thirdly, it's possible that the man had gone past me so carefully that he hadn't touched me despite the tiny gap. Even so, it still felt very odd overall and I wasn't sure at all!

Luckily, a few minutes later, the same man returned going in the other direction. And this time he did indeed touch me as he passed by. So he definitely was physically present! I concluded he was not a ghost after all.

PS: Some readers may have noticed that I seem to often have strange experiences at concerts. I've no idea right now about why that might be!