The ghost in the avenue

The ghost in the avenue

So I was about to enter a path in an avenue of trees, as you do, when I noticed a slightly sinister dark figure standing by the path ahead of me. I stopped and studied the figure before proceeding. But the figure was no longer there! So, a ghost then. The figure’s place was taken by a tree covered in dark ivy, which is what you see in the photo.

For a couple of seconds I saw an actual human figure before it became a tree. It was around the height of a typical person. It was a bit thin for a person but believable. It was in a position, by a path, where you  might well expect to see a person. All of these factors contributed to this fine example of glance misperception (see here). You are unlikely to see the tree as a figure in a photo because you have as long as you like to examine it.

You may ask could a glance misperception really be seen as a ghost? After all, the misperception would only last a few seconds before the witness realised what they were really seeing. In this case that is true. However, there are occasions where an object may only be seen for a few seconds by a witness so they may never stop thinking they’ve seen a mysterious figure, maybe a ghost.  It could a scene glimpsed from a moving vehicle, for instance. Or the object itself might be moving.  Or something may come between the object and witness. Or it might be at night and the object is caught briefly by a torch or car headlights.

All of this shows that is important to find out how long a witness could actually see a ghost. It is also important to find out what the witness could see after they lost sight of the ghost. If the sighting was for just seconds then glance misperception is a strong candidate for an explanation.

Author :© Maurice Townsend 2021

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