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#51 Dram

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 04:23 PM

I wasnt refferring to you hexen ;)

#52 SneaksieDave

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 05:25 PM

Next topic........UFO's. Do they really exist? Find out next on...."Deconstructing your Reality".

Ack! And that's one of my pet peeves. Even the History channel, which is one of the only consistent quality TV channels out there, strokes it when they say or endorse someone in their shows saying, "the government officials ADMITTED it was a UFO!"

UFO means "Unidentified Flying Object."

UNIDENTIFIED!

It doesn't mean "alien." :)

I could throw a dog turd past someone's head, and if they don't realize what it is, it's a UFO to them.

As for the original topic, I hope people will post more ghost stories. I enjoy reading them, and actually envy the writers in a way. Everyone wants to believe in something, wants to believe we're not alone or without a higher purpose, and whether the viewer's interpretation is correct or not, it has to be somewhat comforting (if not completely life altering) to have faith in something. I only wish I was lucky enough. I remain an unlucky skeptic, looking for scientific evidence of things, instead.

Anyway, I watch UFO shows and usually end up yelling at the TV (call it perturbed amusement :)), but I won't miss them just the same. I have zero belief in Roswell type of crap, but at the same time, I fully expect there is life elsewhere out there.

#53 obscurus

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 05:34 PM

Ahh the typical human problem of jumping to conclusions that are not warranted by the evidence.

You see a strange object in the sky. A UFO? Must be aliens of course? No. Look up the definition of the word Unidentified. you don't know what it is unless you can capture it and study it. It could be any of a enormous number of things, and without any good evidence, you have no basis for jumping to the conclusion that they are aliens from the planet Zaaargon.

You see a strange cloudy smudge in a photograph that looks vaguely human. A ghost of someone who died there of course?
No. It could be the result of a huge range of natural phenomena, coupled with the human tendency to see patterns where none exist. The human brain is so sensitive to detecting patterns, that it has a very high false positive rate. The same is true of any organism with a very highly tuned sense organ - they can often be easily fooled because the organ is so sensitive to stimuli it picks up interference and misinterprets it.

You and your sibling see a strange light in your bedroom in the middle of the night. A ghost? Not likely, it could be a hallucination brought on by a gas leak or any other of thousands of perfectly mundane natural phenomena that don't require you to invent fantasies about ghosts or other such concoctions.

You have a dream one night about your grandmother dying, and the next day, she is dead. A premonition? No. People dream about all kinds of things, and generally forget them. They often only remember them when some coincidence occurs that makes the dream stick out. People remember hits and forget the misses, which is how superstiotions develop.

You can actually make monkeyes, rats and pigeons (and presumably any animal with sufficiently developed cognition) develop superstitious behaviour by giving them food in a completely random way. In one experiment, pigeons were given food at random times and places in their cage, and soon developed obsessive pecking, swaying, pressing a lever that actually did nothing or other idiosyncratic behaviours because on a few occasions theye happened to be behaving in that way when the food appeared.

Humans are even more succeptible to superstion, because our brains are possibly the most highly sensitive pattern detectors in the known universe, and consequently prone to all sorts of errors, artifacts and illusions as a direct result of that sensitivity.

Religion, God, fairies, UFOs are all the result of superstious people trying to make completely random inexplicable things have some meaning by inventing a meaning for them.

If you see a strange light, say you saw a strange light, but don't say you saw a ghost, because you don't know what that strange light could have been (assuming it wasn't an artifact of your brain misfiring), and to assume it was your dying aunt is just ludicrous.

I'm with oDD on this - if you don't know something, you have no basis for believing you do know something just because you happen to have a vivid imagination.

#54 Macsen

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 05:45 PM

This topic is very timely! Ooh, it's halloween!

While I tend to disregard all 'evidence' for ghosts, I think that those who dismiss the unlikely out of hand are as foolish as those who believe everything they hear. I'm an agnostic; I don't hvae 'faith' in God, but I don't have 'faith' that he doesn't exist like atheists do. We just don't know. Same thing with ghosts and other paranormal activity. Believing they don't exist takes faith just like believing they do.

Frankly I'd be surprised if nothing we consider paranormal today actually exists. Gorillas were considered a mythical, made up species before they were discovered, as was the giant squid.

#55 obscurus

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 07:35 PM

This topic is very timely! Ooh, it's halloween!

While I tend to disregard all 'evidence' for ghosts, I think that those who dismiss the unlikely out of hand are as foolish as those who believe everything they hear. I'm an agnostic; I don't hvae 'faith' in God, but I don't have 'faith' that he doesn't exist like atheists do. We just don't know. Same thing with ghosts and other paranormal activity. Believing they don't exist takes faith just like believing they do.

Frankly I'd be surprised if nothing we consider paranormal today actually exists. Gorillas were considered a mythical, made up species before they were discovered, as was the giant squid.



As a scientist, I do not "believe". I make observations, reasoned assuptions, predictions based on evidence and probability, but I do not believe things. I will hypothesise that x is the most probable explanation for y assuming z. This is far superior to taking things on faith - I have something to work with, but I am not locked into a position, because my position can and will change as the variables change. Science does NOT seek to prove things: Science seeks to find the most accurate and probable explanation, and to ask questions that will lead to more questions.

A scientist, upon seeing a strange apparition or cloud, will be more inclined to examine the scene and to work out what the apparition or cloud consists of and describe it without making any assumptions about what it might be.

A gullible fool on the other hand, will immediatly say "oh, I've seen an apparition, it must be the ghost of Joe Bloe who hanged himself in the closet in 1897"

A scientist is by definition agnostic, and to a scientist, somthing is not real until there is tangable, testable evidence that can be independently examined and described by anyone.

I don't believe that ghosts don't exist; I simply have not seen any evidence that any strange anomalies justify a paranormal explanation derived from imagination rather than evidence.

#56 Macsen

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 07:50 PM

As a scientist, I do not "believe". I make observations, reasoned assuptions, predictions based on evidence and probability, but I do not believe things.


Yeah. I believe this to be a load of claptrap. :rolleyes:

You must have a certain amount of belief in order to operate from day to day, unless you're one of those guys who walk around thinking 'Hmmm, I do think that when I lay down one foot after the other on a solid surface I shall move across the floor. However, I cannot believe that this is the case, for I am a scientist. The only way I could know is if I lay down my foot and see what happens... eureka! Laying down one foot before the other, and so on, has indeed, resulted in me walking across this room.... But how do I know this is a room? I cannot simply depend on faith, or previous knowladge, for circumstances may have changed... I must check that this room is enclosed by walls, a floor and a roof. Ah! Indeed it is. I'll make a note of that. Now what does this pen do when it touches the paper?'

I believe I'm sitting in my bedroom writing a message on my PC. Since I have not turned around to check in a minute or so, this may or may not be the case. I don't really need to keep checking because I believe that I'm still there. ;)

#57 obscurus

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 08:12 PM

Yeah. I believe this to be a load of claptrap. :rolleyes:

You must have a certain amount of belief in order to operate from day to day, unless you're one of those guys who walk around thinking 'Hmmm, I do think that when I lay down one foot after the other on a solid surface I shall move across the floor. However, I cannot believe that this is the case, for I am a scientist. The only way I could know is if I lay down my foot and see what happens... eureka! Laying down one foot before the other, and so on, has indeed, resulted in me walking across this room.... But how do I know this is a room? I cannot simply depend on faith, or previous knowladge, for circumstances may have changed... I must check that this room is enclosed by walls, a floor and a roof. Ah! Indeed it is. I'll make a note of that. Now what does this pen do when it touches the paper?'

I believe I'm sitting in my bedroom writing a message on my PC. Since I have not turned around to check in a minute or so, this may or may not be the case. I don't really need to keep checking because I believe that I'm still there. ;)




You misunderstand me. I operate on the reasoned assumption that certain things are overwhelmingly probable, for example gravity. Gravity cannot be proven absolutely to exist (nothing can be), but I can make the reasonable assumption that it does based on a huge mass of evidence to support the idea that it is not just a coincindence that objects fall to the ground etc.

That is subtly, but very importantly different from believing that gravity exists, and it is the inability to distinguish between assumption, imagination and belief that is the root of so many superstitions and myths.

Believing in something like God requires that you first imagine that there is a god, and that you imagine what God is like. There is no initial empirical observation of god, and no evidence that makes God seem overwhelmingly probable (or even minutely probable), so my operating assumption is that it is so unlikely that there is a God that I will not concern myself with such a concept until such clear and overwhelming evidence is presented. That is not belief, it is reason. Belief is irrational and emotional, based on what you wish to be true, not necessarily what is likely to be true. In a sense I am both an atheist and an agnostic: I regard the probability of god as so small that I might as well be an atheist, but I regard it as a completely untestable hypothesis with zero probability of knowing to any semblance of certainty if there is or not. Technical agnosticism, but functional atheism until something changes the odds.

The fact that I don't "believe" in gravity doesn't mean I am going to jump out of a plane without a parachute: I operate (as I said) on the reasonable assumption that gravity is a real phenomena and treat it accordingly until evidence to the contrary comes to light.

In short, there is an important distinction between assumption and belief.

#58 Gildoran

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 09:20 PM

I am am a faithful and devout follower of The Flying Spagetti Monster. Only a fool could look around and not see a world obviously created by His noodly appendiges. It has even been statistically proven that global warming is caused by a shortage of sword-carrying pirates! (this shows that the Flying Spagetti Monster really exists and is enacting vengeful punishment for our shameful lack of the afformentioned pirates)

#59 heXen

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 10:12 PM

Yeah, I saw one guy from Ubisoft forum with that site in his signature. Never heard more rubbish in my life. :lol:
May the Abyss rule!

Shadow of the Serpent Riders fan.

#60 Gildoran

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 11:03 PM

*gasp* HERETIC! Begone, you heathen!

I know that The Flying Spagetti Monster is real, because the Holy Noodle tells me so. Since it is His word, I believe everything in the Holy Noodle.
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#61 New Horizon

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 12:23 AM

Back on the topic of Ghosts... :D

I'm somewhat confused by the belief that science debunks the existance of 'ghosts/spirits/manifestations'.

I think people are thrown off by the wooo wooo, of it all. The word ghost makes people think of bed sheets with holes cut out for the eyes. I brought up the subject of energy before, our inner life force. We are both electrical and chemical beings. Our brains and nervous systems are electrially charged. I believe we have proven this scientifically. Now if Albert Einstein was correct, energy can not be destroyed...it only changes form. So, when our organic selves cease to exist, where does that energy go? Does it simply disappear and become something else or are there residuals of that being left behind? Now, this doesn't have to mean that the manifestations people see are actually 'intelligent' otherworldly beings, spirits haunting us blah blah, but they isn't it mildly possible that these manifestations are echos of something/ someone that have been left behind? Perhaps we change form and move on...or perhaps our energy just leaves us and what we were ceases to exist.

I'm neither 'new age' nor 'religious' in my personal belief system. Perhaps I didn't go into enough detail earlier but I would like to think that science does explain what people see, regardless of whether or not we have the technology or the perception to prove their existence.

#62 Darkness_Falls

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 12:32 AM

oDDity wrote: THe only possiblity apart from it being true, is that the entire world's media and some of my relatives are involved in a planned conspiracy against me in order to trick me into believing...

I love movies that have plot like described here...

#63 Unskilledlaborer

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 01:08 AM

You ghastly ghostly people must have lived under high-tension power lines. This conversation reminds me of a discovery or learning channel thingy I watched about a doctor who was able to stimulate people’s brains with low frequency magnetic fields.
Basically he constructed a device that would emit electro magnetic fields in various places on the head (sounds like quackery). When the subject laid in a chair much like a dentist chair they laid back and put on the blinders. The test was what if any result would be found when the subjects where subjected to several different wavelengths of a electromagnetic field.
Most of the subjects described what is termed “feeling of presents.” This is that eerier feeling that you are being watched or that someone is in the room with you but neither is true.
The doctor asked the subject periodically how they felt or to describe how they felt and the subjects would often say things like “I feel like a hand is coming up through the chair to grab me.” Many of the subjects felt spiritual thing “like Jesus is here with me. Many said I feel like you(talking about the doctor) are standing close. Many said things like my grandmother is watching me from heaven.
The doc discovered that people’s frame of reference was causing them to interpret this “feeling of presents” in the various ways. If they are religious they see Jesus. if they are Ghostbusters they feel extra haunted.
Your brain is not reliable. Your mind and your senses can be bent by drugs, radio frequencies, and even geomagnetic disturbances.

“Because,” said Scrooge, “a little thing affects them. A slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”


As for blue light on the wall I have seen similar this is not ghosts like I thought when I was 7 running past my dark room. It is merely a defect of the optic nerve. It is a GHOST on the retina brought about by sudden change of light or by temporary damage to the cones of the retina. Did you know that people often see blurry colorful masses at night? Why? The cones and rods are burned out by the end of the day. They are replaced every night after a good night sleep so nothing to worry about you won’t go blind. Ah sleep its cool and dark at night.

#64 obscurus

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 02:42 AM

Back on the topic of Ghosts... :D

I'm somewhat confused by the belief that science debunks the existance of 'ghosts/spirits/manifestations'.

I think people are thrown off by the wooo wooo, of it all. The word ghost makes people think of bed sheets with holes cut out for the eyes. I brought up the subject of energy before, our inner life force. We are both electrical and chemical beings. Our brains and nervous systems are electrially charged. I believe we have proven this scientifically. Now if Albert Einstein was correct, energy can not be destroyed...it only changes form. So, when our organic selves cease to exist, where does that energy go? Does it simply disappear and become something else or are there residuals of that being left behind? Now, this doesn't have to mean that the manifestations people see are actually 'intelligent' otherworldly beings, spirits haunting us blah blah, but they isn't it mildly possible that these manifestations are echos of something/ someone that have been left behind? Perhaps we change form and move on...or perhaps our energy just leaves us and what we were ceases to exist.

I'm neither 'new age' nor 'religious' in my personal belief system. Perhaps I didn't go into enough detail earlier but I would like to think that science does explain what people see, regardless of whether or not we have the technology or the perception to prove their existence.




You seem to misunderstand the law of conservation of energy and basic biology a little.

You consist of matter, which is also energy, depending on how you look at it (E=mc2). The electricity in your nerves is the result of differing concentrations of ions separated by a biphospholipid membrane, which creates an action potential (ie an electric charge). When you die and start to decompose, all of those chemicals mix and react. Any energy is released in the form of heat as bacteria respire while they consume your remains.

There is nothing (that we can currently detect at any rate) missing or not understood about this that you could possibly attribute to some kind of separate energy that could persist after your body has ceased to exist. There is no evidence of a "soul" or any separate component that is attached enough to you to retain your personality or form, yet separate enought to survive your death.

I am not saying it is impossible that there are ghosts or that people have souls or what have you, I am saying there is no evidence for it, and no reason to jump to conclusions on the basis of seeing an anomalous entity in the middle of the night when you brain is addled and in a semi-dream state.

As unskilled labourer points out, the most likely explanation for that blue light is that the retina had sustained a temporary injury, and some of your cones were bleached, or the optic nerve was misfiring, or the brain had misinterpreted the information it was receiving because it was not fully alert..

The human eye is so succeptible to optical illusions it isn't funny.

Have you ever seen what the world looks like through a human eye lens? It is not a very clear picture, and most of what you see is generated by your brain from a very fuzzy, distorted image. Often, your brain generates an image that is wildy at odds with the actual light your retina recieved.

Compare the human eye to the ones squid and octopi have, and we got the sharp end of the stick in the eye department...

Seeing is NOT always believing (if you are into believing, which I am not).

#65 OrbWeaver

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 03:51 AM

The thing that amuses me about "souls", is that the soul is assumed to have all the same faculties of the physical body. It can see without any eyes, it can hear without any ears, and it can operate in the world without the physical abilities that we possess.

In which case, what is the point of having a body at all?

#66 Dram

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 05:15 AM

...How interesting is this: We actually slightly glow due to the phosphorous in our cells. Undetectable to eyes but can be detected by very sensitive equipment :D

So next time you see a glowing entity, you know it was just a person that stood in the light too long...

#67 Dram

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 05:18 AM

The thing that amuses me about "souls", is that the soul is assumed to have all the same faculties of the physical body. It can see without any eyes, it can hear without any ears, and it can operate in the world without the physical abilities that we possess.

In which case, what is the point of having a body at all?


I guess the point of the body would be to interact with the environment. Anyways, the most interesting thing so far is that the time of the big bang was proven to be false (not the theory mind, just the date). They aimed a telescope (dont know which one) into a dark part of the sky or whatever and found systems there. These systems are of course so far that their distance in relation to us proves them older then the big bang.

Interesting stuff.

#68 OrbWeaver

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 05:42 AM

Anyways, the most interesting thing so far is that the time of the big bang was proven to be false (not the theory mind, just the date). They aimed a telescope (dont know which one) into a dark part of the sky or whatever and found systems there. These systems are of course so far that their distance in relation to us proves them older then the big bang.


The actual date has never been determined with specificity. It all depends on the Hubble constant, for which different cosmologists have different values. I think the generally-accepted range for the age of the universe is between 10 and 15 billion years, although some scientists may assert values outside of that range.

#69 Dram

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 06:37 AM

ok. But the main thing about this was that it almost doubles the age of the universe ;)

#70 OrbWeaver

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 06:44 AM

ok. But the main thing about this was that it almost doubles the age of the universe ;)


Yep, that's one of the "some scientists" I mentioned...

You are right though in essence, there is an awful lot we don't know about the origin of the universe, and "what came before?" is still an open question. There is plenty of room for the influence of god(s), if you were predisposed to believing in them, which makes me wonder why fundamentalists don't focus their attentions there rather than spouting drivel like "fossils were put there by Satan to test your faith" or whatever pseudo-argument they currently favour.

#71 Dram

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 08:38 AM

yeah lol

#72 Gildoran

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 11:38 AM

As for blue light on the wall I have seen similar this is not ghosts like I thought when I was 7 running past my dark room. It is merely a defect of the optic nerve. It is a GHOST on the retina brought about by sudden change of light or by temporary damage to the cones of the retina. Did you know that people often see blurry colorful masses at night? Why? The cones and rods are burned out by the end of the day. They are replaced every night after a good night sleep so nothing to worry about you won’t go blind. Ah sleep its cool and dark at night.

You're forgetting that both he and his mother saw the same thing. What are the chances of them experiencing the exact same hallucination? However, the fact that the haze dissappared when his mother reached for the lightswich and came back when she stopped reaching for it makes me suspect a light shining from an unbeknownst source. I would have been inclined to repeatedly reach for the light source and back away to see if the haze dissipated in synch like a shadow. There's been a few times when I've seen lights or shadows that I had before assumed were impossible with the current room set-up.

Although I'm a bit skeptical about ghosts/spirits, I do believe that "haunted" houses exist. ("haunted" meaning places where strange things tend to happen) I'm not suggesting they're unexplainable by current science; maybe it's caused by geomagnetic forces, I don't know. What I do know, is I've had friends who I consider reasonable enough not to jump to conclusions (some of whom are athiests) relate personal experiences about living in haunted houses to me, so I beleive that there's something out of the ordinary going on.

#73 Maximius

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 01:11 PM

Although I'm a bit skeptical about ghosts/spirits, I do believe that "haunted" houses exist. ("haunted" meaning places where strange things tend to happen) I'm not suggesting they're unexplainable by current science; maybe it's caused by geomagnetic forces, I don't know. What I do know, is I've had friends who I consider reasonable enough not to jump to conclusions (some of whom are athiests) relate personal experiences about living in haunted houses to me, so I beleive that there's something out of the ordinary going on.


Ok, so given that weird things DO occur that are not readily explainable, this does not mean we open the door to every whack-ass explanation that presents itself. (Im not saying you are saying this Gildoran, Im just playing off of your point.) Ok lets say I wake up tonight and there is a man standing at the foot of my bed, who disappears when I say "Who are you?" Do I then have to allow for ghosts? No. Because there is a ton of evidence that points to the non-existence of ghosts for one thing. The complete lack of any empirical evidence, the complete lack of physical traces or remains, the fact that when sensors and meters and a zillion other devices are aimed at "haunted" sites, nothing shows up. Could it be that ghosts leave no such evidence, and that they are undetectable by our machines? Its possible, but if an infra red camera cannot see one, how come my eyes can? Why do digital cameras take photos of ghosts but no other devices register them? These things always appear to one or two people too, why dont we see ghosts at football games or why dont they appear at Parent Teacher Association meetings standing in the punch bowl?

Two, the evidence that there are ghosts is always provided by the most suspect of sources, word of mouth, memory, legend, family stories, kids returning from camping trips in the woods. For researchers, self reporting is the weakest form of evidence, because its well known that people embellish their pasts, they forget bad stuff and whip up good stuff, and this is not that they are all lying bastards, thats the way peoples minds tend to work. Yet self reporting is all we have to go on in the case of ghosts, no one has brought in a few grams of ectoplasm to be analyzed, yet.

So weird things can and do happen but the first course of the rational mind is to investigate but assume its something fairly mundane. It doesnt have to be , but its a prudent path. If the unexplainable keeps happening, then it may be time to adjust ones belief system. But time and time again, good explanations are found for "the unexplainable." A few years ago in Orlando, Florida an image of the Virgin Mother appeared to appear on the plexiglass window of a bank. Soon a crowd of mooks had gathered to gibber and chant. Someone came along and pointed out that the Mary shape was actually a warp in the plexiglass, when you pushed it the image warped into something else entirely. But that didnt stop the faithful, who continued to gather until the bank replaced the window. I wish Mary would show up, and take those brutes back with her.

#74 New Horizon

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 01:30 PM

You're forgetting that both he and his mother saw the same thing. What are the chances of them experiencing the exact same hallucination? However, the fact that the haze dissappared when his mother reached for the lightswich and came back when she stopped reaching for it makes me suspect a light shining from an unbeknownst source. I would have been inclined to repeatedly reach for the light source and back away to see if the haze dissipated in synch like a shadow. There's been a few times when I've seen lights or shadows that I had before assumed were impossible with the current room set-up.



I don't know of many light sources that shrink like a follow spot on their own. ;) Like I said, there were no external light sources. We live in the country...trees, no street lights. When it's dark out...it's really dark, unless there is moonlight, which there wasn't that night. The head of my parents bed was against the wall, no windows near and no light sources to block. I'll draw a quick diagram of the room so you can see how it was setup.

#75 sparhawk

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Posted 26 October 2005 - 01:36 PM

The light can "shrink" if you are obscuring the source of that light with your motion. And it follows naturally from this that the light will grow when you move back again.
Gerhard




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