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Author Topic:   Bumps in the Night
Aussie
Member
Posts: 216
From: Sanford, FL USA
Joined: 10-02-2006


Message 1 of 21 (507442)
05-05-2009 7:28 AM


Hello to all of you at EVC!

I made a very brief appearance here a couple of years ago, but sunk very quickly back into lurker mode. But I have continued to follow and learn from the debates enthusiastically. Thank you all again for a great site.

Science is not a strong point for me in the same way that some of you have been active scientists for many years, so in many ways I feel unqualified to reply in many of the threads. But there is an area that I have not seen discussed too much here (With good reason), and I would love to throw it out there and see what sort of responses I get from you. I will try and be brief and to the point here to begin with, and will attempt to expand on the details later, if any of you show interest in hashing through it with me.

Although I come from a conservative Christian background, through much reading of my own I have left that behind me. I appreciate that the scientific method is superior to what I have come to see as random babblings that constitute the majority of religious methodologies. I am not particularly religious, and most certainly not superstitious. But there was a period of time in my life, that I have not been able to explain in any logical way.

My wife is from Spain; we married there 8 years ago, and lived in the same house for about four years. I lived there alone for a year, while we were getting our things in order for the wedding, she moved in after the honeymoon. There is no other way to state it than by saying the house was classically "Haunted." I am not by nature a fearful or irrational person, but I spent many a night alone -truly alone- there in the dark listening to footsteps and voices swirl around me. Not a week went by, in fact; sometimes for days on end, I would be awakened by sharp repeated rappings on the headboard next to my ears. Bed moving; lights turning on and off, the whole haunted thing.

This continued even after my wife moved in, and it was not just limited to us, sometimes entire groups of friends at a time would be left looking around wondering what was going on.

I want to keep this opening brief, so I won't give any more details now, but I will be glad to elaborate or explain any questions I can as they are offered. I know this may be difficult in the sense that you don’t know me, and are not able to evaluate my psychology, but assuming I am not a basketcase, could there be some explanation for these experiences that do not involve the paranormal or the supernatural?

To be clear, I DO NOT believe in ghosts or demons, or the disembodied spirits of dead things roaming the Earth; I DO believe there must be a rational explanation for these experiences, and would love to hear from any of you, religious or otherwise, to hear what your thoughts are on such things.

Mods..please feel free to pick the most appropriate forum, I have no idea where this one should go. :)

Edited by Aussie, : Forum selection request.

Edited by Aussie, : No reason given.


"...heck is a small price to pay for the truth"
Replies to this message:
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Message 2 of 21 (507451)
05-05-2009 8:28 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
    
Theodoric
Member
Posts: 5954
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 3 of 21 (507461)
05-05-2009 10:12 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aussie
05-05-2009 7:28 AM


Dr Adequate has a great site for you to check out.

SkepticWiki

Sounds and emotional responses can easily be explained by the house itself.

Our brains organize stimuli based upon prior experiences and also tries to organize the stimuli in a more understandable way. Therefore, random sounds can sound like voices or footsteps. In my bedroom I occasionally hear rappings on my headboard. By rationally investigating I can tell it is caused by mice in the walls and when they do certain things it sounds like it is rapping on the headboard.

I have a related problem with visual stimuli. There are times when I cannot see something that is right in front of me. My brain seems to see in archetypes more than most people. If the TV remote is directly in my view there are times I can not see it. It seems my brain looks for the archetype it has for the remote and if it is up side down or at a strange angle it is hard for me to see. Though the image of it is hitting my eyes my brain does not interpret it as the remote. The most noticeable time this happens to me is looking for planes in the sky.

Your brain is constantly interpreting stimuli. Not always correctly. Research info on the ghost hunting hoaxers. Also, pick up some copies of the skeptic magazines out there. They do a great job explaining how the paranormal can be explained by natural causes.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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kuresu
Member (Idle past 591 days)
Posts: 2544
From: boulder, colorado
Joined: 03-24-2006


Message 4 of 21 (507462)
05-05-2009 10:43 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Theodoric
05-05-2009 10:12 AM


There are times when I cannot see something that is right in front of me. My brain seems to see in archetypes more than most people. If the TV remote is directly in my view there are times I can not see it. It seems my brain looks for the archetype it has for the remote and if it is up side down or at a strange angle it is hard for me to see.

And I thought we basically only had to worry about our blind spot.


This message is a reply to:
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Aussie
Member
Posts: 216
From: Sanford, FL USA
Joined: 10-02-2006


Message 5 of 21 (507463)
05-05-2009 10:50 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by Theodoric
05-05-2009 10:12 AM


Hi Theodoric,

Thanks for the response. Of course I agree that our brain is a pretty unobjective participant in our experiences. And I understand that it cannot always be relied on to give a balanced perspective in events we participate in/are subjected to, so no argument there.

In no way am I implying that these things could not have been hallucinatory in some sense; in fact, I will ASSUME that before blaming interdimensional apparitions. :)

There are some things that seem a little harder for me to explain. We were a group of about five families living in a beautiful little orange orchard. Our home shared a building with two other apartments below ours, including my in-laws. There were several other homes spread around the orchard, most of them with children. All of us had some experiences with these unsettling events, even the children, who were constanly asking their parents what they were hearing. Of course the parents were making excuses trying to explain away the noises and voices the kids were hearing.

The houses were block/concrete, so there was no creaking or settling of floorboards to make that kind of noise. Two of the men there were professional builders and the three of us spent hours scouring the attics, and around the buildings trying to determine the sources of the various noises to no avail.

This is not too easy for me to type, knowing well how ridiculous it must sound to someone who has never gone through that before. Very, VERY easy to write off as a trick of the mind, but it is not so easy to tell this to yourself when you are in your room and the door starts opening and closing, and the lights turning off and on without apparent help.

Try not to laugh at me guys. :) I am being sincere, this happened to me. No one has accused me of lunacy, and I rarely think back on these times, except occasionally to think, "What the hell was that?"

We moved from that house about five years ago, and never once has either one of us thought our new place had personality issues. The first weeks in our new place was a luxury, and we kept talking about how nice it was to sleep through an entire night.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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Theodoric
Member
Posts: 5954
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 6 of 21 (507464)
05-05-2009 11:13 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Aussie
05-05-2009 10:50 AM


Low frequency sounds would explain it.

Source

Low-frequency Sound Waves
Several experiments have demonstrated that low-frequency sound waves, known as infrasound, can cause phenomena that people typically associate with ghosts. This includes feelings of nervousness and discomfort as well as a sense of a presence in the room. The sound waves may also vibrate the human eye, causing people to see things that are not there. Usually, these waves have frequencies of less than 20 Hz, so they are too low-pitched for people to actually perceive. Rather than noticing the sound itself, people notice its effects.

That the houses were block/concrete would not lessen the chance of infrasound. If anything I think it would enhance the possibility. I guarantee you all felt and hears something. It weren't ghosts.

When my wife was in medical school they taught here that if you hear hoof beats you should assume it is a horse not a zebra. Look for the simplest most realistic explanation first. Save the wildest explanation for after you have eliminated all other explanations. Occam's Razor if you will.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
This message is a reply to:
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Theodoric
Member
Posts: 5954
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 7 of 21 (507466)
05-05-2009 11:18 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by kuresu
05-05-2009 10:43 AM


My wife thinks I am just lazy.


Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
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Aussie
Member
Posts: 216
From: Sanford, FL USA
Joined: 10-02-2006


Message 8 of 21 (507475)
05-05-2009 12:31 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Theodoric
05-05-2009 11:13 AM


Hi Theodoric,

Let me reiterate in case you misunderstood me: I do not believe in ghosts. But I really like the explanation of low-frequency sound, and I appreciate your response and links. This is right along the lines of what I am looking for in terms of rational explanation.

I have made it a point several times to explain to my wife that almost EVERY time humanity has been faced with something "inexplicable", it has directly implicated the supernatural; be it lightning, thunder, viloent storms, earthquakes, or bumps in the night. Until of course, they were ACTUALLY explained.

I don't think it explains everything, but it's a great start. :)


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Stile
Member
Posts: 3393
From: Ontario, Canada
Joined: 12-02-2004
Member Rating: 2.6


Message 9 of 21 (507479)
05-05-2009 12:58 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aussie
05-05-2009 7:28 AM


How fun
Aussie writes:

assuming I am not a basketcase, could there be some explanation for these experiences that do not involve the paranormal or the supernatural?

If we are assuming you are not a basketcase, and we're throwing out paranormal or the supernatural (which I think is a good idea). Then we're left with one class of explanation: You were being fooled.

Now for the hard part. How were you being fooled?
We cannot rule out sensory mistakes... our minds and senses play tricks on us all the time. Even groups and multiple families are not immune to such mistakes. But... this path leads us to the answer of "in reality, it was nothing at all, it was all imagination."
Although quite possibly true, it's a rather boring explanation, so I will move onto the funner stuff:

Assuming the sounds/visuals were actually real, how were you fooled into thinking of ghosts?

This type of question is one of the hardest to answer. Because, by definition, if you knew what you were looking for you'd already have your answer.
So how do you uncover something when you have no idea what you're looking for?

Track whatever information you can.
Do not rely on your memory.
Look for patterns or anything recognizable.

First, forget about any experience in the past. Such experiences are already tainted by non-objective memory, rationalizing and group-interaction.
Then, record everything you can whenever you have an unknown experience.
What was the sound?
What was the visual?
What was it closest to sounding like/looking like?
What happened? - Be specific and as detailed as possible
What time was it?
What day was it?
What was the ambiant temperature?

Then you can start answering other questions later:
-Does it have any pattern in when it occurs?
-Is there any pattern to how it occurs?

Also, cameras are your friend. Set up cheap, easy cameras in multiple areas to try and pick up sounds/visuals while you are away. Carry one with you to record anything when you're present.

I, for one, would love such a supernatural-seeming puzzle to occur in my home. But then again, I'm a bit obsessive-compulsive in figuring such things out. Especially where recording accuracy is concerned. Most other people just don't care that much.

We moved from that house about five years ago, and never once has either one of us thought our new place had personality issues. The first weeks in our new place was a luxury, and we kept talking about how nice it was to sleep through an entire night.

Oh... so even if we do get "good guesses", we'll likely never know for sure.
You are almost invariably cornered into the answer of "I heard/saw some stuff, not sure what it was, I think it could have been this..."

A few questions just for kicks, then:
Did things always happen at night? Or just mostly? How often? Every night? Once or twice a month? The higher the freguency of occurance, the easier it is to track and discover. More in the winter? Summer?

Let me reiterate in case you misunderstood me: I do not believe in ghosts. But I really like the explanation of low-frequency sound, and I appreciate your response and links. This is right along the lines of what I am looking for in terms of rational explanation.

...

I don't think it explains everything, but it's a great start.

No where in the rules of reality does it state that your unknown issues are all from a single cause. It certainly could be a combination of one or two or more things. Add in the fact that as soon as one starts listening for "unexplained noises/visuals"... one is assured to find them. The chances that none were imagined stretches any sense of credibility.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Aussie, posted 05-05-2009 7:28 AM Aussie has responded

Replies to this message:
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dwise1
Member
Posts: 3309
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 4.6


Message 10 of 21 (507492)
05-05-2009 3:16 PM
Reply to: Message 6 by Theodoric
05-05-2009 11:13 AM


The Wikipedia article on infrasound (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrasound) says much the same thing about the effects on humans and also mentions Tandy's The Ghost in the Machine, as well as:
quote:
Infrasound has been known to cause feelings of awe or fear in humans. Since it is not consciously perceived, it can make people feel vaguely that supernatural events are taking place.

Some film soundtracks make use of infrasound to produce unease or disorientation in the audience. Irréversible is one such movie.


But neither link mentioned harmonics. Most, if not all, naturally occurring sounds are not pure, but rather have complex waveforms produced by combining a series of pure tones of different intensities. The frequency of each harmonic is some multiple of the fundamental frequency and the intensity (sound volume) tends to be strongest at the fundamental frequency and decrease as you go up through the harmonics, though that's not always the case. The intensities of the harmonics of a complex sound wave can by worked out by Fourier analysis and displayed on a graph called a "power spectrum". In music, each instrument produces different harmonics which accounts for their timbre, which is why a violin sounding at a particular pitch sounds different from a flute sounding at the exact same pitch.

My point is that while an infrasound may be at a pitch that is too low for us to hear, it is also a complex sound that has harmonics. It just seems to me that some of those harmonics could very well be audible, which would account for hearing "voices".

Edited by dwise1, : had forgotten to add the URL


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Aussie
Member
Posts: 216
From: Sanford, FL USA
Joined: 10-02-2006


Message 11 of 21 (507496)
05-05-2009 3:59 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Stile
05-05-2009 12:58 PM


Re: How fun
Hi Stile,

Thanks for your well thought-out post.

If we are assuming you are not a basketcase, and we're throwing out paranormal or the supernatural (which I think is a good idea). Then we're left with one class of explanation: You were being fooled.

Okay, we're on the same page here. I agree that it was some sort of hallucinatory experience, except it was a long sequence of experiences over four years. But the result is the same. I would say that these were no more real than the "experiences" of alien abductees who truly believe that advanced extraterrestrial beings blazed across countless light years in order sample the rectal temperature of a large cross-section of humanity. Despite their sincerity, I doubt that it truly happened.

Assuming the sounds/visuals were actually real, how were you fooled into thinking of ghosts?

Good question, and I actually have an answer for it. The conclusion I immediately jumped to was not ghosts. This was a time in which I had not entirely let go of my christian belief system. So my initial reaction was not to blame ghosts, but rather demons/evil spirits. *blushing furiously* Looking back, I see this as no less superstition that a belief in the paranormal, but there you have it. I have since generalized it out to the collective "Ghosts".

In terms of sensory interaction, I never SAW anything.

We constantly heard a variety of sounds, that we ended up giving names to. One was the "Bowling ball". We would be in the bedroom, and it sounded like someone was rolling a bowling ball around the living room. When we would investigate, of course there would be nothing. Many times, while visiting her parents in the apartment below, we would listen to it roll around above. Her father had helped build that building and couldn't decide what it might be. It would sometimes roll the length of the apartment, bumping against the floor tiles, not stopping where there should be walls.

Another favorite was the "Moving Furniture". We would be in one room, and it would sound as it the furniture were being re-arranged in the rest of the house. These could happen anytime of the day, but of course tended to be a little more unsettling at night with the lights off. :)

Other things we heard were voices and footsteps imitating other friends/relatives who were not there. Many times a child (there were a few, 7-14 years old) would ask their parents, "Hey, why was Mrs. so-and-so walking in her high heels on our roof last night?" Yes, kinda funny, but I hope I make the point. Many thought it was a spirit imitating the real world.

As for temperature, it didn't matter, except the frequency and intensity tended to increase toward the end of the year, when it was very cold. Hmmm...

The chances that none were imagined stretches any sense of credibility.

Yes, my point is not to convince you they were real, but rather to find better explanations that what I have come up with alone. And so far so good. Thanks. :)


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Dr Jack
Member (Idle past 182 days)
Posts: 3507
From: Leicester, England
Joined: 07-14-2003


Message 12 of 21 (507517)
05-05-2009 6:16 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aussie
05-05-2009 7:28 AM


I don't know what caused the phenemona. None of us do. We weren't there, we can't investigate.

If you watch the start of this YouTube video, the narrator relates a story of a "haunted lamp" which turned out to be being moved by a fan heater. As he also points out no-one hearing the story of the moving lamp shade without being there could have convincingly offered that explaination.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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lyx2no
Member (Idle past 2794 days)
Posts: 1277
From: A vast, undifferentiated plane.
Joined: 02-28-2008


Message 13 of 21 (507542)
05-05-2009 11:53 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Aussie
05-05-2009 7:28 AM


I Have a Ghost Cricket.
I am skeptical of the supernatural, ghosts generally, ghost arthropods particularly, and this ghost cricket specifically. That may be due to an unreasonable expectation of mine. The octogenarian down the street from us had lots of ghosts and is forever telling me tales of their doings. Their usual habit is to leave messages with her to pass along to her children, grandchildren other relatives. (None for me so far.) These messages most often take the form of information no one could possibly have excepting the person whom the ghost claimed to be; i.e., “Molly had a puppy named skittles when she was a child.” or “You always did enjoyed Miltie’s sense of humor.” My ghost cricket never passed along such circuitously accurate bits of trivia. It only chirps.

It could just be that ghost crickets are more partial to the habits of crickets then to the habits of ghosts. I have evidence pro, con and meh* for this hypothesis.

On the plus side I have:

  • His chirp is identifiable not only as a courting call, but to which one of the three types of crickets that frequent my home.
  • It rarely chirped when I was searching for it.
  • The nearly impossible to pin point song.
  • An ability to remain unseen.

On the con side I have:

  • His unseasonable, Winter presents: our regular complement of crickets won’t make a showing till June.
  • Its disinclination to depart a location: It resides in a plate sized area about two feet down from my head board on the wall side of the bed frame. A location in which there was clearly no cricket.
  • It could distinguish verso from recto.
  • An eerie ability to remain unseen.

On the meh side I have:

  • He only chirped when I was near or in the bed.
  • He’d chirp if I were approaching from the door side of the bed.
  • He’d chirp while I read laying down.
  • He’d not chirp while I read sitting up.

Getting back to my story, I applied my skepticism and started an investigation. Ah, not so much an investigation as a gathering of the occasional, casual observation, some of the results preceding. The chance observation that finally tipped the cart was the cricket chirping most often when I was reading an even number page of a heavy book. That would put my back to the cricket and, more importantly, some of the weight of the book against my night table. The counter force pushed my mattress ever so slightly the other way invoking the spirit of the ghost cricket.

I’ve since learned to invoke his spirit at will with an undetectable push of my knee while standing next to my bed. I have a pair younger siblings, 5 & 7, who will spend the next few years looking for my ghost cricket before going off to bed themselves. And it will remain a ghost until they find it.

*Either way… might be a cricket thing… might be a ghost thing.


Genesis 2
17 But of the ponderosa pine, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou shinniest thereof thou shalt sorely learn of thy nakedness.
18 And we all live happily ever after.
This message is a reply to:
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Aussie
Member
Posts: 216
From: Sanford, FL USA
Joined: 10-02-2006


Message 14 of 21 (507555)
05-06-2009 7:45 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by Dr Jack
05-05-2009 6:16 PM


Hi, Mr. Jack. Thanks for the great video. I'll watch more his over the weekend. But hmmm...I AM being clear here, right? Of course I don't expect anyone here to think they actually WERE supernatural events. *blushing furiously* I don't believe they were; I can't bring myself to believe in the supernatural anymore. But I am thoroughly enjoying the feed back in that all I'm asking for are some good alternate explanations that don't rely on childhood fantasy.
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Aussie
Member
Posts: 216
From: Sanford, FL USA
Joined: 10-02-2006


Message 15 of 21 (507557)
05-06-2009 8:04 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by dwise1
05-05-2009 3:16 PM


Hi Dwise1,

Good to chat with you. I have a question for you: Are you the same Dwise that has posted a fair amount of writings concerning Creationism on the internet? If so I would like to say a very sincere "Thank you". In the last ten or so years I have made a painful yet worthwhile exit from the dungeon that is fundamentalism. Four or more years ago, I came across your writings, and they, as well as a host of other sources, (such as EvC) helped make that transition much smoother than it might have been otherwise. So good work, and thank you.

A little more back on topic, I really like the infrasound explanation. It explains quite a lot I think. I'll keep looking this up, and maybe try to piece together a rational explanation for my wife and family.

Funny you should mention Irreversible...I saw the unedited version in the theater while I was living in Spain. The staff warned us 4 or 5 times before the movie started that it was offensively violent. Have you seen it? It is to date the Only movie I have ever walked out on half way through. A rape scene that was just too real for me. But a VERY effective movie, and I wasn't aware of the use of infrasound until you told me. I'm liking this explanation more and more. :)


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