Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ghostly apparitions... or just a trick of the light? Scientists attempt to solve mysteries of paranormal

A dossier of ghostly apparitions is being compiled by scientists in a bid to solve the mysteries of the paranormal.

Experts are inviting members of the public to send them pictures of alleged ghosts to allow them to examine them in greater detail.

Hundreds of paranormal pictures are expected to be submitted online as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival.

They will be posted on a website and examined to see if any defy explanation.

Ghost-debunking psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, who is heading the experiment, said: 'About once a month I get sent a fairly good ghost photo where it's not immediately obvious what's going on.

'Often you might see what looks like a face in semi-darkness but its just a trick of the light. The human brain is hard-wired to see faces, for instance in clouds. That's because faces are the most important thing we can see around us.

'I'm pretty sceptical, and usually there's a rational explanation, but it could be that someone out there is sitting on something really interesting.'

One of the strangest appears to be the face of a little girl poking between the legs of a group of friends. It was taken at a house where there have been sightings of a ghostly child aged three or four.

'Believe it or not it's just a very odd configuration of the light,' said Prof Wiseman. 'These are always the hardest ones to explain.'

Another taken at a castle 22 years ago appears to show the transparent figure of a headless ghost in an army coat standing in front of two children playing on a cannon.

Prof Wiseman said: 'The person who took it is absolutely convinced that it's a photo of the headless ghost who walks around the castle walls. Maybe he's angry with the kids playing around. This one might be a double exposure.'

A survey of people's ghostly experiences is also being launched at the Edinburgh Science Festival.

'Ten per cent of the population have had a ghostly experience, but no-one yet has carried out a survey of what kind of experiences they have,' said Prof Wiseman. 'We know ghosts tend to be seen as solid figures, which only reveal themselves as ghosts when they do something like walking through a wall.'

A number of ghost pictures can already be seen on the site http://scienceofghosts.wordpress.com.


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