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Complex moving optical illusions?

 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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11 December 2017 18:40
 

Someone I know recently saw “stickman” on a late night drive (if you’re not familiar, it’s a creature people report seeing in various locations across the globe, set somewhat apart by the fact that it does not exist in mythology the way that claims of things like alien / demon abductions do - it’s a pretty new phenomenon.) I would brush it off as nothing, except that he was following someone in another car, and she reported seeing the exact same thing. Not like a flash out of the corner of the eye, they both saw it moving around and running away and such. I suppose I could chalk it up to lying, but I have absolutely no reason to think they’re lying about it. They both feel they saw it clearly, not that it was a shadow that was probably a bear or something.


I am really perplexed by this. I think it’s interesting that this phenomenon is new and people ‘see’ it most often by roadsides while driving at night, especially when tired. It really made me wonder if humans are capable of incredibly complex visual hallucinations. Again, if one person saw it, I’d say it was a fluke - but two, it makes me wonder if our visual systems are actually wired for complex optical illusions, the way that two people would both see the same thing when looking at a simple static, black and white optical illusion? Could the right set of conditions reliably trigger group hallucinations? Or are such things just statistical flukes? Again, perplexed on this one, no one answer seems intuitively obvious.

 
 
jdrnd
 
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12 December 2017 05:19
 
NL. - 11 December 2017 06:40 PM

...it makes me wonder if our visual systems are actually wired for complex optical illusions

yes out brain can have complex illusions and hallucinations.

 
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12 December 2017 05:21
 
NL. - 11 December 2017 06:40 PM

Someone I know recently saw “stickman” on a late night drive (if you’re not familiar, it’s a creature people report seeing in various locations across the globe, set somewhat apart by the fact that it does not exist in mythology the way that claims of things like alien / demon abductions do - it’s a pretty new phenomenon.) I would brush it off as nothing, except that he was following someone in another car, and she reported seeing the exact same thing. Not like a flash out of the corner of the eye, they both saw it moving around and running away and such. I suppose I could chalk it up to lying, but I have absolutely no reason to think they’re lying about it. They both feel they saw it clearly, not that it was a shadow that was probably a bear or something.

Similar to big foot sightings.

Do you think Big Foot exists?

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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12 December 2017 07:24
 

Our brains are wired for pattern recognition.  That’s why clothes in a child’s closet can become monsters at night, even seeming to move. 

It’s kind of amazing that we can recognize people, animals, and objects in all their different forms, created by their distance, perspective, and postures.  Part of this is learning to see when we are very young, and part is probably hard-wired.  I suspect both of these come into play for moving optical illusions.

In the town just north of mine, there is an interesting city name sign along the main road.  It is static metal mesh.  When you drive by, it appears to ripple, due to the changing perspective of the overlapping strands of mesh.  So the driver is moving, not the sign elements, but it looks like the sign is moving.  Maybe “stick man” is caused by a related sort of visual.  Probably the changing reflection of the car headlights plays a part too.

[ Edited: 12 December 2017 07:26 by hannahtoo]
 
sojourner
 
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12 December 2017 08:48
 

Hannah and jd - thanks - I agree with what you’re saying and wouldn’t think twice about it if it were viewed by one person (or, alternately, if it were viewed by two but it was a static, simple optical illusion, like the Ebbinghaus or Chubb illusion). I think the combination of complexity and ‘inter-rater reliability’, if you will, is what kinda blows my mind - I never really got why people were into optical illusions before, as I was a bit ‘shrug’ about them, but at this level, I gotta say, it kind of merits a “Whoa!! That is wild!”.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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12 December 2017 09:24
 

There have often been mass optical illusions, perhaps the most famous being the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, Portugal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Fátima  If people are primed for something, a natural event can seem like something unnatural, supernatural, or miraculous.  Driving at night is a slightly scary experience - we can imagine things coming out of the darkness. That primes us for seeing something to fit our expectations.  Ghosts appear and then fade away. Plus, if it was late night, perhaps their eyes were tired or strained.  How did the occupants of the two cars communicate with each other about the stick figure?

 
hannahtoo
 
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12 December 2017 11:18
 

NL, I bet an artist could create just such an illusion that would be seen by everyone,if he put the thought into it.  Like the roadside sign I mentioned.  The illusion of rippling is intentional, and all drivers can perceive it.  But again, it is the drivers who are moving, not the sign.

Another moving illusion I’ve seen is created in a wide, dry valley about 2 hours from my home.  The combo of rising heat waves, scattered trees, and clear air create the appearance of a moving train in the distance from the perspective of car passengers on the lonely highway.  I’ve seen it many times.  The valley also has dust devils, hot springs, thunderstorms, warm and cool air pockets, and other conditions that have contributed to local lore of alien landings and harmonic convergences.  It’s a fun area to visit.

So I think it is highly likely that the moving stick man was created by just the right lighting conditions falling on just the right materials…or else an ET.

 
EN
 
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12 December 2017 11:39
 
hannahtoo - 12 December 2017 11:18 AM

Another moving illusion I’ve seen is created in a wide, dry valley about 2 hours from my home.  The combo of rising heat waves, scattered trees, and clear air create the appearance of a moving train in the distance from the perspective of car passengers on the lonely highway.  I’ve seen it many times.  The valley also has dust devils, hot springs, thunderstorms, warm and cool air pockets, and other conditions that have contributed to local lore of alien landings and harmonic convergences.  It’s a fun area to visit.

Mirages are quite common in the desert.  Those waves can look like water, especially if you are thirsty and want to see water.  Plus, the heat can cause a case of delirium.  Lots of factors go into optical illusions.

 
sojourner
 
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12 December 2017 13:01
 
EN - 12 December 2017 09:24 AM

There have often been mass optical illusions, perhaps the most famous being the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, Portugal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Fátima  If people are primed for something, a natural event can seem like something unnatural, supernatural, or miraculous.  Driving at night is a slightly scary experience - we can imagine things coming out of the darkness. That primes us for seeing something to fit our expectations.  Ghosts appear and then fade away. Plus, if it was late night, perhaps their eyes were tired or strained.  How did the occupants of the two cars communicate with each other about the stick figure?


The guy said that he saw it standing in the road, then run away in a sort of bizarre, ‘not human’ manner as they got closer (I think he said its legs appeared to move at an unnatural speed and yet it didn’t move very fast.) He was like “WTF, I didn’t realize how tired I am!, I’m seeing things!”, but then when they stopped, his friend asked “Did you see that thing back there?” and described the same thing. Also, other people report fairly similar experiences in different places, so whatever conditions trigger that particular visual effect, I think it must be something fairly specific. It doesn’t seem to be vague and amorphous in the way it would be if you were like “Aaa, I see a ghost! Oh wait, that’s just a coat rack in the shadows,” or something. Maybe some combination of moving along a road and shadows and visual closure or something.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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12 December 2017 15:02
 
NL. - 12 December 2017 01:01 PM
EN - 12 December 2017 09:24 AM

There have often been mass optical illusions, perhaps the most famous being the “miracle of the sun” at Fatima, Portugal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Our_Lady_of_Fátima  If people are primed for something, a natural event can seem like something unnatural, supernatural, or miraculous.  Driving at night is a slightly scary experience - we can imagine things coming out of the darkness. That primes us for seeing something to fit our expectations.  Ghosts appear and then fade away. Plus, if it was late night, perhaps their eyes were tired or strained.  How did the occupants of the two cars communicate with each other about the stick figure?


The guy said that he saw it standing in the road, then run away in a sort of bizarre, ‘not human’ manner as they got closer (I think he said its legs appeared to move at an unnatural speed and yet it didn’t move very fast.) He was like “WTF, I didn’t realize how tired I am!, I’m seeing things!”, but then when they stopped, his friend asked “Did you see that thing back there?” and described the same thing. Also, other people report fairly similar experiences in different places, so whatever conditions trigger that particular visual effect, I think it must be something fairly specific. It doesn’t seem to be vague and amorphous in the way it would be if you were like “Aaa, I see a ghost! Oh wait, that’s just a coat rack in the shadows,” or something. Maybe some combination of moving along a road and shadows and visual closure or something.

Maybe he could go back at the same time of night and see if he sees it again.  Then he could look around to try to find out what was going on.  It could have been his car headlights reflecting off ice, or water, a metal gate, or a piece of abandoned machinery.  It could have been a barn owl that was on the road, then took flight at ground level.  It could have been someone crossing the road, carrying a swinging lantern.  If it was two people together, their combined legs would have looked like “legs moving at unnatural speed.”  Coulda been teenagers wearing clothing with some of those reflective strips (like on sporting clothes), goofing around, dropped something on the road, then darted off when they heard the car.  But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a supernatural stick man.

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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12 December 2017 16:57
 

I’ve never heard of “Stick Men” sightings so I used our dear friend Mr. Google.

Here’s a website I found about the phenomenon:

https://tinyurl.com/y7ucckqs

The details, of what little there are, about these creatures/apparitions seem to be consistent from story to story.  The appearance usually takes place along a deserted road, or in an alley way, away from bright lights and prying eyes.  The person encountering the stick men more times than not report being tired. The figures move smoothly as if gliding, they do not make any sound although the air around them is reportedly charged with static.

The actual stick men themselves seem indifferent to us unless provoked or if they realize they have been spotted. Then they will flee quickly or in some rare instances will approach quickly in a frightening display of aggravation. However, there have been no reported incidents of anyone being touched or harmed by the mysterious beings.

The only indications of their intent have been reports of vague feelings of malevolence, though some feel this has to do with the disturbances in the atmospheric/barometric pressures that often accompany a sighting.

I bolded the text above that mentions being tired, since N.L.s friend comments on being that way:
“WTF, I didn’t realize how tired I am!, I’m seeing things!”

 
 
sojourner
 
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12 December 2017 19:53
 
hannahtoo - 12 December 2017 03:02 PM

Maybe he could go back at the same time of night and see if he sees it again.  Then he could look around to try to find out what was going on.  It could have been his car headlights reflecting off ice, or water, a metal gate, or a piece of abandoned machinery.  It could have been a barn owl that was on the road, then took flight at ground level.  It could have been someone crossing the road, carrying a swinging lantern.  If it was two people together, their combined legs would have looked like “legs moving at unnatural speed.”  Coulda been teenagers wearing clothing with some of those reflective strips (like on sporting clothes), goofing around, dropped something on the road, then darted off when they heard the car.  But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a supernatural stick man.


Lol, maybe, but I don’t think he is ever going back there anytime soon, ha ha! It seriously freaked him out.

 
 
sojourner
 
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12 December 2017 20:04
 
Cheshire Cat - 12 December 2017 04:57 PM

I’ve never heard of “Stick Men” sightings so I used our dear friend Mr. Google.

Here’s a website I found about the phenomenon:

https://tinyurl.com/y7ucckqs

The details, of what little there are, about these creatures/apparitions seem to be consistent from story to story.  The appearance usually takes place along a deserted road, or in an alley way, away from bright lights and prying eyes.  The person encountering the stick men more times than not report being tired. The figures move smoothly as if gliding, they do not make any sound although the air around them is reportedly charged with static.

The actual stick men themselves seem indifferent to us unless provoked or if they realize they have been spotted. Then they will flee quickly or in some rare instances will approach quickly in a frightening display of aggravation. However, there have been no reported incidents of anyone being touched or harmed by the mysterious beings.

The only indications of their intent have been reports of vague feelings of malevolence, though some feel this has to do with the disturbances in the atmospheric/barometric pressures that often accompany a sighting.

I bolded the text above that mentions being tired, since N.L.s friend comments on being that way:
“WTF, I didn’t realize how tired I am!, I’m seeing things!”


Yeah, I find such things kinda interesting (they are not anywhere near the top of my ‘nature of how the mind works’ fascinations, but interesting enough.) I guess they kind of have a parallel in the similarity between drug hallucinations for certain substances. I remember reading the book DMT: Spirit Molecule, and how, aside from the traditional DMT ‘elves’ or ‘bug creatures’ or whatever they are, many people also reported seeing the same clowns. I mean - I dunno, I honestly don’t know what to make of that. Do we have a ‘clown module’ in our brain that is very specifically triggered by that very specific substance? It seems like if our brains are that open to incredibly specific hallucinations that are replicable across people (as opposed to just taking DMT and going into a disoriented, incoherent seizure-like state,) that you would actually expect hallucinations to be far more common in daily life. I mean, I dunno, if they’re that easy to induce, why don’t we just hallucinate all the time? Is it like the ‘blind spot’ on the retina (i.e., our retina evolved mostly to work quite well, but not without at least one blip that shows up under very specific circumstances,) that our brains evolved mostly to be resistant to such things but do actually have the odd mis-wire that allows for similar hallucinations across people? It’s kind of interesting regarding the nature of our brains and minds.

 
 
hannahtoo
 
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12 December 2017 20:42
 
NL. - 12 December 2017 08:04 PM
Cheshire Cat - 12 December 2017 04:57 PM

I’ve never heard of “Stick Men” sightings so I used our dear friend Mr. Google.

Here’s a website I found about the phenomenon:

https://tinyurl.com/y7ucckqs

The details, of what little there are, about these creatures/apparitions seem to be consistent from story to story.  The appearance usually takes place along a deserted road, or in an alley way, away from bright lights and prying eyes.  The person encountering the stick men more times than not report being tired. The figures move smoothly as if gliding, they do not make any sound although the air around them is reportedly charged with static.

The actual stick men themselves seem indifferent to us unless provoked or if they realize they have been spotted. Then they will flee quickly or in some rare instances will approach quickly in a frightening display of aggravation. However, there have been no reported incidents of anyone being touched or harmed by the mysterious beings.

The only indications of their intent have been reports of vague feelings of malevolence, though some feel this has to do with the disturbances in the atmospheric/barometric pressures that often accompany a sighting.

I bolded the text above that mentions being tired, since N.L.s friend comments on being that way:
“WTF, I didn’t realize how tired I am!, I’m seeing things!”


Yeah, I find such things kinda interesting (they are not anywhere near the top of my ‘nature of how the mind works’ fascinations, but interesting enough.) I guess they kind of have a parallel in the similarity between drug hallucinations for certain substances. I remember reading the book DMT: Spirit Molecule, and how, aside from the traditional DMT ‘elves’ or ‘bug creatures’ or whatever they are, many people also reported seeing the same clowns. I mean - I dunno, I honestly don’t know what to make of that. Do we have a ‘clown module’ in our brain that is very specifically triggered by that very specific substance? It seems like if our brains are that open to incredibly specific hallucinations that are replicable across people (as opposed to just taking DMT and going into a disoriented, incoherent seizure-like state,) that you would actually expect hallucinations to be far more common in daily life. I mean, I dunno, if they’re that easy to induce, why don’t we just hallucinate all the time? Is it like the ‘blind spot’ on the retina (i.e., our retina evolved mostly to work quite well, but not without at least one blip that shows up under very specific circumstances,) that our brains evolved mostly to be resistant to such things but do actually have the odd mis-wire that allows for similar hallucinations across people? It’s kind of interesting regarding the nature of our brains and minds.

Certain moving angular patterns might be interpreted by many people as stick men.  Especially after this turned into a meme.  Who knows?  Or maybe it was Gumby.  He definitely walked weirdly.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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13 December 2017 23:50
 

The more I ponder this the less I’m astounded by illusions or mirages or phantoms. The truly amazing thing is that we can identify things correctly and in context enough of the time to survive an ordinary day in a modern city environment.

 
sojourner
 
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14 December 2017 21:28
 
hannahtoo - 12 December 2017 08:42 PM

Or maybe it was Gumby.  He definitely walked weirdly.


Aaaa! In cahoots with Jack Skellington, no doubt!

Brick Bungalow - 13 December 2017 11:50 PM

The more I ponder this the less I’m astounded by illusions or mirages or phantoms. The truly amazing thing is that we can identify things correctly and in context enough of the time to survive an ordinary day in a modern city environment.


I know, right? It boggles the mind.


As an aside, I feel I may have seen this phenomenon at play to some extent (keeping in mind that I openly admit, I am highly skewed towards bias in seeing evidence that meditation ‘does something’) in myself after meditation retreats. I feel after extended meditation I will think that I am ‘seeing things’ out of the corner of my eye that turn out to be everyday objects. Perhaps post-retreat I am simply a bit disoriented with the fast pace of daily life - but I also wonder if it’s possible that I’m seeing a mental ‘flip book’ that usually happens at the subconscious level. “Hmm, a shadow, what is that? Flip, flip, flip, flip, flip… yep, that’s a coat rack.” I think the mental scrolling through possibilities usually happens at a level just below awareness. Either that or it’s an after effect of being in a super low sensory environment - but again, I find such things interesting, how much malleability there is there.

 
 
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