The mysterious red box

The mysterious red box

The other day I went out in the hope of seeing a ghost. No, I wan’t going on a ghost vigil (in my experience they are the least likely places to see a ghost). It was a bright sunny day. At present, here in the UK, the sun is very low in the sky all day. My glasses quickly darkened in the winter sunshine. Combined with getting the sun in my eyes, I could barely see where I was going and people looked like shadow ghosts. It was all I could do to avoid colliding with them. I was nearly run over by someone in a wheelchair – I only saw them at the last second.

Then I saw a human-like figure standing still on the path ahead of me. As I approached the figure vanished. Then I saw a large red box also on the path up ahead.  It looked indistinct but then so did the fence and road that I knew for a fact were present.  My suspicion of the red box was confirmed when it, too, vanished as I approached.

These two ghostly sightings are examples of misperception. Misperception normally requires a physical object to be present which is misperceived. But not always. In this case the ghostly figure was a shadow, I have often misperceived shadows, particularly where they are large and particularly dark as this one was. What about the ghostly red box? I do occasionally see patches of colour with my glasses, not associated with an object, caused by bright light sources in my vision. It is lens flare, with the sun providing the light source on this occasion. I never had it in previous glasses I think it may be because it’s a high prescription or the lenses are thin or both. It is possible to see the effect without wearing the glasses just by pointing them at a bright light source.  It’s not normally a problem except when, like this time, I can’t see much. In this incident I misperceived the red light patch as a box. 

It is important when considering anomalous reports to try to reconstruct exactly how the sighting took place. And that includes the viewing conditions which can sometimes have a profound impact on what was seen. In this case my glasses where mainly responsible for what I saw because they darken in light conditions and this particular lens type can cause lens flare. Another witness standing right next to me at the same time would have seen nothing odd. I often wonder, when I read a report of an anomalous event, just what I’d have seen if I’d been there. In some cases I suspect the answer is nothing out of the ordinary.

Author :© Maurice Townsend 2021

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