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Scientists "see" Ghosts


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#1 Willow

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 09:26 AM

The reason that apparitions, bogeymen and phantoms like to lurk in the shadows may have been revealed by scientists.



A team from University College London finds that when we gaze around in a poorly-lit context, it can fool our brains into seeing things that are not really there.

Although no one has done a systematic study of ghosts, neuroscientists are convinced they are "all in the mind" and, in the light of the new work, it does not seem so surprising that they seem most often glimpsed in "spooky" dimly-lit circumstances

In the journal PLoS Computational Biology, Prof Li Zhaoping and her colleagues say that the context surrounding what we see is all important - sometimes overriding the evidence gathered by our eyes and even causing us to imagine things.

They were surprised to find that a vague background context has more influence on what we see than one that is bright and well defined, and speculate that this might explain the power of some abstract art and why we can see vivid details in the vague brush strokes of impressionist paintings.

"The paintings are vague in details, but I speculate that, perhaps because of this vagueness viewers are free to use their vivid imaginations to fill-in the details," says Prof Zhaoping, who adopts her first name as her scientific pen name - Li is such a common name it can cause an identity crisis for Chinese scientists.
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"Everything we see is an hallucination generated by the virtual reality machine inside our head," comments Prof Mike Morgan of The City University, London.

"Normally these hallucinations are vetoed by the information coming through our senses, so we can call perception 'controlled hallucination.'

"But when the input is ambiguous we can see all sorts of things, like the faces de Quincy saw in clouds and carpets. There are hundreds of faces hidden in the textured floors of the platforms at Euston Underground Station, if you look for them."


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#2 AnnieV

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 10:43 AM

This article seems to explain the phenomena of matrixing and pareodelia quite well, but not necessarily of ghosts in general. So while this is an explaination of why my coat rack looks like a horned beast or anything else stationary might look like a monster in the dark, it still doesn't explain things that move. For example, if you're sitting still in a dimly-lit, otherwise empty room and you see something move right in front of you, the details of the image aren't the profound part...it's the fact that something was there at all....

But when the input is ambiguous we can see all sorts of things, like the faces de Quincy saw in clouds and carpets.

This is another example...the faces are imagination, but the clouds and carpets themselves are not. Have I made any sense?
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#3 Romie

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 11:50 AM

Hi Annie!
You make alot of sense to me.
I know our mind can play tricks on us. and even the power of suggestion plays a large role in what the human mind sees.
But what about things that move before our eyes.That is a good question.

#4 AnnieV

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 01:03 PM

See, that's what I think. I'm about as big of a skeptic as you can find, but I'm rational about it. I definately think that much, or even most, of the time what people think they see in photographs or patterns, or even what they hear around their house, can be completely explained away by logic.

A couple weeks ago after reading a newbie post where the person was describing the noises they've heard in their house (I don't remember who's or exactly what it said, though) I decided to start actively listening to my own house. The sounds that I have heard are unbelievable! When the heat kicks on it's one thing, but I don't think I would have noticed that the noises don't stop for a good 10 minutes after the heat stops running! All kinds of pops and creaks, and some noises that sound exactly like footsteps in my hallway.

Other sounds that I've noticed: Icicles falling from the gutters outside my livingroom that sound like something falling inside the house if I'm in another room....the wind blowing really hard makes very eerie noises in my kitchen because of the way it travels on that side of the house, and again sounds like it's coming from inside....also with strong wind, the doors make a cracking sound once in a while, as if someone's pushing on them....and lastly, the most surprising one for me: air pressure from closing my back door made the basement door move slightly, causing the purse hanging on the door knob to swing a bit. That one wasn't just a noise, and it actually startled me a bit at first.

Okay, well I got waaaay off track there...sorry. But my whole point is that even after all these explainable things are brushed off by the best of the world's scientists, there remains the fact that an extremely large proportion of the the world's population has seen something more profound than the silhouette of a stuffed animal in a creepy room. There is something going on, and even the most skeptical person can't deny that, unless they're completely irrational.
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#5 Romie

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 02:36 PM

:lol: BRAVO!
I couldn't have said it better myself Annie.Good thought.

#6 Oniix

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 02:42 PM

Excellent post AnnieV, your explanation of your own home experiments and observations prove one very certain thing... people need to be far more observant and skeptical of the strange things they see and hear. One should also observe how dust and lint move around in the air throught one's house. It's not a steady movement in a uniform direction. It swirls, some drop, some rise right next to the pieces that fall, some move in what seem like living things. Yet we know from the experiment it's dust. Now turn off the lights and use an IR camcorder.... what do you see? zipping around orbs. Now I'm getting off topic.

As you said though, there are still those cases that don't fit into the explanable, unless you try to stuff them into one of these other rational explanations. Kind of like fitting something octagonal into a circular hole- sure it's closer to a circle than say a square, but it's not a square nor a circle.

#7 Axman

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 08:02 PM

That's a good example of matrixing and how it also applies to sound and smell. Have you ever had a fan going in the summer to take the edge off of the heat? Ever hear what sounds like a whisper or a low chatter while that fan is on? How about smelling a few scents compbined? Two or three different scents combined might make one think the odor is something completely different.

Edited by Axman, 22 February 2008 - 08:04 PM.

Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#8 AnnieV

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 08:17 PM

Have you ever had a fan going in the summer to take the edge off of the heat? Ever hear what sounds like a whisper or a low chatter while that fan is on?

This reminded me of another way our minds can play tricks on us. Backstory: For a long time my best friend would call me every morning. It wasn't always at the same time, but she often seemed to call while I was blow drying my hair, which meant I would always hear the phone and I would sometimes miss the call. My point? She doesn't call in the mornings anymore, due to a change in our schedules, but every morning while I'm blow drying my hair I think I hear the phone ringing. And it never fails...I turn off the hair dryer and hear only silence. It's funny how habit and expectation can fool with our senses! I still turn off the dryer to listen every time!
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#9 Direwrath

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 10:48 PM

I don't know, but the entity that I had seen recurring for atleast three straight years was always in broad daylight, outside, rain or shine. I don't let myself fall into believing something just because I want it to exist, but that entity was enough for me to want to take time and investigate the paranormal.
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#10 Axman

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Posted 22 February 2008 - 11:37 PM

I don't know, but the entity that I had seen recurring for atleast three straight years was always in broad daylight, outside, rain or shine. I don't let myself fall into believing something just because I want it to exist, but that entity was enough for me to want to take time and investigate the paranormal.



Absolutely! Many people seeing the same apparition and describing that apparition makes me think that it's not anything but a spirit. Even more so when it's a recurring sighting. I think the article that Willow posted is basically blowing off ghost sightings as "seeing things" by telling us it's all in our heads. I OTOH totally disagree with that theory.
Ah. Well... I attended Juilliard... I'm a graduate of the Harvard business school. I travel quite extensively. I lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that. I've seen the EXORCIST ABOUT A HUNDRED AND SIXTY-SEVEN TIMES, AND IT KEEPS GETTING FUNNIER EVERY SINGLE TIME I SEE IT... NOT TO MENTION THE FACT THAT YOU'RE TALKING TO A DEAD GUY... NOW WHAT DO YOU THINK? You think I'm qualified? --BeetlejuiceI'm the ghost with the most, babe.--BeetlejuiceWe've come for your daughter Chuck--Beetlejuice

#11 haunting Shannon

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 02:18 PM

Yeah, I know what you mean. I am the type of person that could be pressured or naive enough to believe in anything. But, I do believe in ghost and I guess I kind of have my own skeptism about it. That is not to say it isn't real. Did you know, that if you watch alot of stuff on television that might actually cause you to see illussions almost all the time.

#12 haunting Shannon

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Posted 27 March 2008 - 02:19 PM

What is with the football player pictures?

#13 stevenedel

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Posted 18 April 2008 - 07:54 AM

Yeah, I know what you mean. I am the type of person that could be pressured or naive enough to believe in anything. But, I do believe in ghost and I guess I kind of have my own skeptism about it. That is not to say it isn't real. Did you know, that if you watch alot of stuff on television that might actually cause you to see illussions almost all the time.


Shannon, I was struck by your phrase "my own skepticism". I pop in and out of these boards every now and then, and I realized reading your phrase that this is what seems characteristic of many believers here: they have 'their own kind of skepticism'. Which usually means that they allow themselves to be skeptical in a sufficient measure so as not to appear too naively gullible, but never skeptical enough to actually question the beliefs they hold dear.

The problem is that there is only one kind of skepticism: the one that doubts and questions everything until conclusive evidence silences it. It can be safely said that not a single paranormal experience, observation or phenomenon described on this board, or indeed anywhere else, can thus far be underpinned with any sound scientific evidence. There simply is no distinction between believable and dubious paranormal phenomena: in the absence of evidence all of them are equally questionable, and equally open to explanations such as offered in the study referred to at the start of this thread.
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#14 SeekX

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Posted 19 April 2008 - 05:50 PM

See, that's what I think. I'm about as big of a skeptic as you can find, but I'm rational about it. I definately think that much, or even most, of the time what people think they see in photographs or patterns, or even what they hear around their house, can be completely explained away by logic.

A couple weeks ago after reading a newbie post where the person was describing the noises they've heard in their house (I don't remember who's or exactly what it said, though) I decided to start actively listening to my own house. The sounds that I have heard are unbelievable! When the heat kicks on it's one thing, but I don't think I would have noticed that the noises don't stop for a good 10 minutes after the heat stops running! All kinds of pops and creaks, and some noises that sound exactly like footsteps in my hallway.

Other sounds that I've noticed: Icicles falling from the gutters outside my livingroom that sound like something falling inside the house if I'm in another room....the wind blowing really hard makes very eerie noises in my kitchen because of the way it travels on that side of the house, and again sounds like it's coming from inside....also with strong wind, the doors make a cracking sound once in a while, as if someone's pushing on them....and lastly, the most surprising one for me: air pressure from closing my back door made the basement door move slightly, causing the purse hanging on the door knob to swing a bit. That one wasn't just a noise, and it actually startled me a bit at first.

Okay, well I got waaaay off track there...sorry. But my whole point is that even after all these explainable things are brushed off by the best of the world's scientists, there remains the fact that an extremely large proportion of the the world's population has seen something more profound than the silhouette of a stuffed animal in a creepy room. There is something going on, and even the most skeptical person can't deny that, unless they're completely irrational.



I am happy to see a good Skeptic here but I disagree about the most skeptical people having to be irrational , I think they simply perceive things in a very concrete sense.

Oddly enough though by what I just said one might think me a skeptic but I am not at all one , very much the contrary. ;)

Nice article :)

Danny



#15 tommyhancock

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Posted 07 December 2009 - 05:22 AM

Yeah, I know what you mean. I am the type of person that could be pressured or naive enough to believe in anything. But, I do believe in ghost and I guess I kind of have my own skeptism about it. That is not to say it isn't real. Did you know, that if you watch alot of stuff on television that might actually cause you to see illussions almost all the time.


Shannon, I was struck by your phrase "my own skepticism". I pop in and out of these boards every now and then, and I realized reading your phrase that this is what seems characteristic of many believers here: they have 'their own kind of skepticism'. Which usually means that they allow themselves to be skeptical in a sufficient measure so as not to appear too naively gullible, but never skeptical enough to actually question the beliefs they hold dear.

The problem is that there is only one kind of skepticism: the one that doubts and questions everything until conclusive evidence silences it. It can be safely said that not a single paranormal experience, observation or phenomenon described on this board, or indeed anywhere else, can thus far be underpinned with any sound scientific evidence. There simply is no distinction between believable and dubious paranormal phenomena: in the absence of evidence all of them are equally questionable, and equally open to explanations such as offered in the study referred to at the start of this thread.


i think youre the person i have talked to the most on here steven.i swear i am not singling you out,just of all the skeptics here you seem the msot set in "your ways"and so i find talking to you a tad bit more fascinating.there is only one KIND of skepticism,but it is not all to the same degree, i myself have my own degre of skepticism,and i do question the "beliefs i hold dear" i completely believe ghosts had something to do with some things i experienced,i questioned them and though i found no proof this is the belief i came to.you dont need PROOF to believe something,as long as youre willing to admit your beliefs may be incorrect.there are self proclaimed skeptics that question regardless even if its illogical because they dont want "the beliefs they hold dear to be incorrect either.i have seen things dead on that would make many believe blindly and i still question what else these things could have been, even though they looked a helluva lot like people i had known to be dead and were often in well lit rooms.i think this thread was great for the most part,it does give an alternative view on what we may see in the dark.in fact it gives us an example of what it probably almost always is we see in the dark,but it doesnt prove that all "ghostly" happenings are tricks of the mind,it does not explain why things move seemingly on their own.and also if i tell you "i saw an apparition standing directly in front of me in broad daylight in a brightly lit room and it stayed there for a good minute"and you respond,"well,your mind does tend to play tricks with you in the dark,it can make your coat rack look like the grim reaper." in my opinion that is not any where near an acceptable answer.in fact it would be way off base and sound ignorant,a lot of skeptics think if they solve one aspect of a certain paranormal claim,thats that and thats whats happening, trickery of the mind.
imo not all claims are equally open to answers offered by that particular study. surely trickery of the mind in a dark place isnt going to suffice when the claim is of an object moving in a bright room?if this belief is widespread among people looking into paranormal claims i think we have a prime example of why we have no evidence.lets just lump it all up and explain it with the test we did that one time.my nieces kindergarten class investigates and reasons better frankly.




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