The psychology of the 'After Image' and how it can apply to paranormal investigating
We all know how easily our brain can play tricks on us. We ourselves are just as unreliable as today’s equipment. I was recently reading a book I came across for $2 at a shopping centre sale called “Paranormality – why we see what isn’t there” by Professor Richard Wiseman. In this book he has a simple little exercise allowing you to ‘summon your own spirit’ using only your brain.
How do I summon my own spirit
Simple! See this image? Stare at the white dot on the left hand side for 30 seconds. Then move your line of sight to the black dot on the right hand side and concentrate. You will soon see a ‘lady in white’ float down. It really works!
Why am I seeing an image that isn’t there?
It is referred to as an ‘after image’. We all have a perception of colour which is broken down into 3 systems. Red and Green, Blue and Yellow and Black and White. These two colours in each system are the opposite to each other and they cannot be seen together because your brain doesn’t allow it. So for example. When you see the colour red, the red side of the colour system is activated and doesn’t allow any green to be seen. By staring at the black image for a prolonged period of time, you have quietened down the neurons in your brain. When you then look at the black white box with a black box, the neurons wake up again and are a little bit over excited because they were relaxed for too long. It creates what is called a rebound effect that caused the ‘lady in white’ to magically appear
How can I apply this to investigating
Like anything with investigating, it is important to be aware of these types of things and be vigilant when out in the field. Are you staring down a long hallway for a prolonged period of time and then perhaps focusing on a doorway with light in it? Could this shift cause you to see an apparition that isn’t really there? Close your eyes. Is the image still there? Did it dissappear once you reopened your eyes? That would be your first indication.
Being aware of all of these little tricks makes us better investigators. This phenomena doesn’t necessarily discount an experience you have had or explain everything, but it could explain certain experiences. When we are dealing with light, we have to understand the affect this has on our vision. Our brains play tricks on us and we are not reliable in certain conditions. If you do have an experience with seeing an apparition, look at the circumstances before the sighting. Were you staring in the one spot for a prolonged period of time? Is there a difference in lighting? Was the apparition the same shape as something you just saw in another area? This brings me to what is probably your most valuable piece of equipment. A note book. Write down the conditions and experiences as you have them. We know that again our brains are not reliable in remembering information so if we record things straight after they happen, it is a more reliable account of the night. Take photos with the lights on of the area before or after the investigation. Was it maybe a fire extinguisher in the corner in the dark you were seeing? Once we can eliminate all of these possibilities, then the real questions begin.
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