Monday, December 07, 2009

Ghostly Image From Lancashire Pub Examined

lep - Ghosts and Lancashire pubs seem to go hand in hand ... almost as much as the beer and crisps.

There's the legend of Lizzie at The Sun Inn, Chipping. There's rumours of a grey lady at Euxton Mills on Wigan Road. And there are reports of flying CDs at The Wellington Inn, Glovers Court, Preston – to name but a few.

Now a Preston university lecturer has attempted to shed light on why watering holes seem to be linked to the paranormal – booze aside.

Dr Paul Rogers is a senior lecturer in the school of psychology at the University of Central Lancashire and since 2004 has taught a module called The Psychology of the Paranormal.

He said: "I suspect the obvious link is good old-fashioned storytelling.

"But with actual ghost sightings – or 'apparitional experiences', as parapsychologists prefer to call them – I suspect it will be a combination of several factors, including prior belief in ghosts.

"Psychologists know that prior expectations shape what we (think we) see. This is particularly robust in paranormal beliefs.

"And 'suggestion' also has a significant impact on our perceptions.

Being told a pub is haunted is more likely to elicit an apparitional experience in its customers."

Other factors which contribute, according to Dr Rogers, include the physical characteristics of many old pubs such as low-beamed ceilings and old paintings.

He added: "Another psychological factor is 'pareidolia'. That is the general tendency to misperceive vague and random visual stimuli. For example, clouds or shadows, having a significant form such as a human figure.

"In addition, previous research suggests that most apparitional experiences occur indoors, in familiar surroundings, when the experient is in a relaxed state of mind."

Dr Rogers studied a digital camera photograph taken in the Red Lion, Blackburn Road, Wheelton, which appears to show a ghostly figure hovering above a woman's shoulder.

He said: "I suspect this can be explained either by double exposure or by pareidolia. That is, the vaporish blur is either a light shadow, a smudged fingerprint on the camera lens or possibly smoke."

David Finch, 39, of Wheelton, who submitted the photograph which was taken at his friend's birthday party, said: "I don't believe in the afterlife and all that but I can't explain the picture. It's done the rounds in the village, everyone has come out with a story."
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