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Mass Hallucination


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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When two people independantly see an apparition at the same time could it be some kind of mass hallucination and are they really seeing exactly the same thing?

Mauro
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I do not believe in the

I do not believe in the classic "mass hallucination" scenario. Two neighbouring witnesses may influence each other but, again, there are a number of cases in which one person observed a phenomenon (UFO landing, ghost sighting etc) anf his/her companions absolutely nothing or had very different perceptions.
If two independent witnesses observe the same phenomenon there's of course a very small possibility that they are both hallucinating but the most likely explanation is that they are both observing the same phenomenon and perhaps coming to the same conclusions.

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Ophiel
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Excellent discussion I have

Excellent discussion

I have never encountered a situation where two people (or more) saw exactly the same thing so questions of this type are known as 'loaded' - in the sense that they have untrue premises tied into them (i.e., that such a thing occurs).

The similarity is often in terms of location (like a haunted room) and not necesarrily the content of the experience. Now that is interesting - but it requires a totally different form of explanation.

There is a phenomenon known to psychologists as 'psychological contagion' where ideas / perceptions / impresessions can 'infect' other people. Anyone remember the radio play "war of the worlds" from the 1930s and what happened?

Matt.H
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Especially on the subject of

Especially on the subject of UFOs I'd hazard a guess that there's plenty of joint reports of mis-sightings and Devereux-style earth light sightings.

Apparitions are a little harder to call. Myself and a few others did all "see" a gate that wasn't there at the Galleries of Justice once, although like a plonker I asked everyone "Can you see that gate down there", so there's a strong possibility of suggestion involved. Interesting, all the same as it was very, very believable - not one of these "is it a shadow or isn't it moments" - I actually just accepted that it was a real gate until I looked away and it dissapeared.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Matt.H wrote: Especially on
Matt.H wrote:

Especially on the subject of UFOs I'd hazard a guess that there's plenty of joint reports of mis-sightings and Devereux-style earth light sightings.

I will certainly agree with you there Matt. I once had an instance of several witnesses to a UFO that had just stared at the sun too long.

It is often said that two people looking at a rainbow aren't actually looking at the same rainbow as they are in two differant locations and it is an optical illusion.

So, unless the object in question, appartion, UFO etc is physically real you cannot really say any two witnesses are seeing exactly the same thing.

Matt.H
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There's some interesting

There's some interesting examples over at www.roadghosts.com, particularly the number of joint sightings at Bluebell Hill over the years.

Mysteryshopper
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In the case of

In the case of misperception, there is a physical cause for the sighting (it's just not what it appears). In this case, there is absolutely no reason why multiple witnesses shouldn't see more or less the same thing without any need for 'mass hallucination'.

wombat
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Is it hallucination or just

Is it hallucination or just mass confusion and/ or misperception?

For example, I might believe that the animal I saw in my backyard was a kangaroo. It is highly unlikely that a kangaroo was in my yard - probably I mistook another animal for it. At the same time, it is possible that a kangaroo escaped from the Indianapolis Zoo and ate a short snack in my tulip bed. It is also possible that the animal I saw was another large brown animal and my brain said, "oh, look, large and brown, a kangaroo!"

Short of Doctor Who and LSD, I tend not to believe in mass hallucinations.

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Red Don
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I have heard the term mass

I have heard the term mass hallucination but what does it mean? Is it a group of individuals sharing an hallucination and if so how can this work?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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"A mass hallucination is a

"A mass hallucination is a phenomenon in which a large group of people, usually in physical proximity to each other, all experience the same hallucination simultaneously. Mass hallucination is the most common explanation for mass UFO sightings, appearances of the Virgin Mary, and other paranormal phenomena.

In most cases, mass hallucination refers to a combination of suggestion and pareidolia, wherein one person will see, or pretend to see, something unusual (like the face of Jesus in the burn-marks on a tortilla, or the face of a kidnapped girl on a blank billboard) and point it out to other people. Having been told what to look for, those other people will consciously or subconsciously convince themselves to recognize the apparition, and will in turn point it out to others.

In other cases, such as when separate people or separate groups of people who are not in contact with each other all experience the same phenomenon simultaneously, the explanation of mass hallucination can be just as "paranormal" as the phenomenon it's being used to dismiss. "

I found the above on a site saying thet ripped it off Wikipedia in 2005. Wikipedia and some medical encyleopedia's I have checked now direct mass hallucination requests to mass hysteria. I am not sure if it is a good description, what do you guys think?

Matt.H
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That's a pretty poor

That's a pretty poor definition - they seem to be describing a form of peer-led misperception rather than any sort of hallucination. That's a pretty important misperception in itself!



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