The Practice and Psychology of Not Seeing Ghosts

Pareidolia is a real beast. Seeing faces, ghostly images in every day items is not something you can easily dismiss. The chances that it is Aunt Maureen, visiting you from the great beyond is quite a stretch when you really think about it — especially if you haven’t gone through the process of elimination.

It’s important to let you all know that I’m not technically within the field of the paranormal. I’m not a para-scientist, or an expert at anything mentioned in this post. I’m a first and foremost, a storyteller. I’ve dabbled in the area of radio entertainment specific to the supernatural, and explored the field as an outsider. The one thing I bring to the subject is, restrained fascination, and the ability to ask questions first before shooting off with the assumption of what is, and what is not proof.

So here we go.

To get into this, I have to first allude to an episode of Star Trek the Next Generation. Stay with me on this: after a transporter accident, Ensign Ro Laren and Commander Geordie La Forge are thought to be dead. They aren’t dead, naturally, as the show always reached for the science to create a story where they cannot be seen by their shipmates, and can walk through walls. In one particular scene, as both characters attempt to analyse their situation, this conversation takes place.

Ro: We’re dead Geordie.

Geordie: But… my uniform! My VISOR! Are you saying I’m some blind ghost with clothes?

Ro: I don’t have all the answers. I’ve never been dead before.

This always got me questioning the whole “seeing ghosts in clothing” thing. The one theory that comes to mind is that sure, when people die, there’s possibly an energy. Where there is energy, there is every possibly of manipulation of that energy when you add the human equation. Ghosts don’t wear clothes, but perhaps, the projection of them would manifest, with clothes, because that is how we would remember them. Clothing is a part of identity, as is hair, and sometimes accessory (in the form of guns or swords when it comes to seeing war soldiers.)

That opens up another theory, that perhaps, persons associated with inanimate objects would be drawn to objects, not necessary like-for-like, but of the same energy (material or form). Olfactory senses is another thing entirely, and something of which I have no data or information to present within this article.

So what of Pareidolia? Are we seeing ghosts with clothes? Are they relatives coming back to see us?

Well all of that is nice. Comforting, but it is a literal dead end when it comes to the further understanding and exploration of things super-natural. We can’t show personal experiences to people, and call it evidence, nor can anybody validate whether you did, or did not, see Aunt Maureen manifest within a photo, a video or on an audio device. We should however, never dismiss personal experience, or personal association with an experience. It is absolutely reasonable to believe that these events happen for a person’s benefit. After-all, said person is present in the situation where an event would take place. If we are to believe that spirits in the afterlife have a consciousness, then it is perfectly acceptable to believe that communication could be taking place. Memory could very well remain as energy of the life that they had. Why would we ignore that desire to be around people that they cared about?

But that doesn’t mean that Aunt Maureen can come visit. If this was possible, we would be living with the scientifically proven reality that they are all around us. They’d be checking in, all the time, like Force Ghosts in Star Wars.

But then, as a personal connection, we not only want, but need to think that those we care about, can do this. They can manifest and can communicate. But what about those who we don’t see? Is there a choice beyond death, whether or not you can or cannot visit?

So let’s be brave. As I said before, concluding that the man in the uniform, holding a bayonet — that we were lucky enough to have captured on our camera — standing in a field is in fact our Great Grandfather Johnny Radford, expired. That’s it. We’ve hit a dead end, because once you see it: you either are unwilling or unable to un-see it.

So being brave, we can perhaps keep those thoughts to ourselves. Let that be our personal belief that we can have in our heart, and then let that be parked. Because the brain has another purpose, otherwise known as the Holmesian fallacy: “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Saying that it’s your loved one come to visit is a dead end (again, no pun intended). It stops you from going through the vital process of elimination. By this, I don’t mean it’s not “Johnny Radford standing in a field”, it is just a parked thought. Let is sit to the side for a while as we break it down.

Back to being brave, and somewhat scientific. There are always things we can do before jumping to the conclusion that a place is haunted, or a photograph shows evidence of a clothed afterlife.

Here’s the data.

Take at look at this screenshot from a Skype call, back in July, 2010. As you can see, the screenshot shows two people, Eric and Joan, enjoying a catch up with their beautiful daughter and very handsome son-in-law.

They were the only people in the room when this screenshot was snapped. The screen of their laptop can be seen in the bottom left, but then, there’s somebody else. Oh loo. I see a note, and what looks to be a neck leading down to a shoulder. The hair is a give-away. I suppose they have bowls and barbers in the afterlife.

Upon seeing this, we had to snap it and take a closer look. It was a little weird to say “There’s somebody in this image that shouldn’t be there.”

The question should never be who. Not straight away. First things first. What are we looking at. As a very healthy skeptic (believe me there are things that turn my head and make me go, eh? without giving it any thought. But for the most part, I will question things.)

We didn’t want to draw any conclusions, The ghostly image of the man, or boy over Eric’s shoulder only appeared for a little while before disappearing. We are certain (not certain) that this was always present during that call, but we can say for sure, we never saw it again since.

But why in that moment did we see a person? We sent it to a couple of people. The wrong people: relatives. They threw out a couple of names of those who had passed. They looked like Fred, or even Ned.

(The only fiction in this article, are the names. No imagination needed.)

So the only thing we could do was wait until we visited the house of Eric and Joan, and see if we could put the pieces together. If you can recreate a situation with natural elements, then we can safely say that the event was naturally occurring. Then we can blast the beast that represents pareidolia for attempting to foil us once again.

So as we were there in the daytime, we couldn’t recreate, but we were able to instantly debunk the happening — or at least, half of it. This photo was when we visited. Can anybody see a ghost yet?

For sure, the hair-style was a give-away. Not mine, the unexpected visitor in the original photo. The bird feeder outside had us fooled, even though such a hairstyle was on the nose when it came to the bowl on the head cut, which was why some people in comments for the ghost image said that it could have been a helmet of some kind. That would make sense, but also not. Going back to Geordie in Star Trek: there’s no reason why he would carry a prosthetic device over his eyes if he was a ghost. It would be up to us to fill in the blanks on this side of the great corridor between life and death.

The parasol behind the bird-feeder doesn’t match the original ghost image at all. No doubt it was too far away to be picked up on the image. The only thing we needed to figure out was the nose, and that shoulder. The big thing about those elements were that they were brought out by light.

The room reflected in the window has a light source in the far left (stage right) but the light source goes against being lit up by that back light. The only other light source would be the laptop screen. The funny thing about reflections is that they can change. To the left of Eric, on that wall was a long mirror, and that in itself was a likely cause of that reflection which may have come from the curved arm of the ceiling light. Although this we could not confirm, it seems more likely. As we’ve already eliminated the great head of hair, you are left with merely shapes that do no longer correspond to that of the human image.

We don’t know if there was anything else reflected on the table at the time. No doubt something moved, before and after as the ghostly image didn’t stay there for very long.

Debunking this image was very important. For one thing, my wife didn’t want her parents to be concerned. There is more on that point in my next article, when it comes to children and the vulnerable.

But it goes to show: give it time, and revisit if you can. The process of elimination is a very powerful thing to consider when making a break-through. It cannot be done on faith alone, or personal identification. You have to be brave to keep the personal thing aside. If you are indeed working with a conscious presence, I’m sure they understand if you are a touch analytical about what it is you are being presented with. I wonder why so many people ignore the “investigative” approach to solving data.

But what if we weren’t able to solve the mystery of that photo? Does that mean it was a spirit? Let’s not be hasty. For that to be true, it would always be a spirit. Every photo that has an unexpected visitor would automatically become a spirit. It’s not a through road. There is nowhere to go and no progress will ever be made.

But what if what happened wasn’t paranormal, and it was something entirely that we just didn’t understand. Projection, dimension, or fissure in the universe. In all fairness, everything and nothing is on the table. To me, spirit is energy. I believe we, as the living, are a live conductor of that energy. Do we have to be present when they occur? Perhaps. But don’t forget, we’re not the only things that are made out of energy. It would arrogant to think that any spirit would simply be out there, with a sole purpose, just to speak to us.


I don’t know…


Note that don’t call that data, evidence. To me, evidence is something that is tangible, or repeatable, well tested and thoroughly documented. It is something that you can see, hear, or touch it over and over, and others too can to. Ultimately, it is something that when all things are considered, and all things are ruled out… what you are left with must be the truth.



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