Lost and Found – or – How to deal with trans-dimensional weirdness

Within the paranormal sphere of things, there is a collection of puzzling phenomena which have not been properly investigated because of the frequency by which they occur. It is not because their occurrences are rare, but because they are very common indeed, affecting almost everyone at least once in their lifetime.

This class of phenomena encompasses a host of diverse happenings; ranging from the mysterious appearances and disappearances of objects (championed by the missing sock phenomena);  to hearing someone hum a tune which you are singing in your head.  They are considered by most to be ‘just one of those things’ or something that ‘just happens’. However, things that ‘just happen’ do so for a reason. When the reason is obscured from us, no matter how mundane it appears, the phenomenon becomes fair game for paranormal research. This article looks at one aspect of this puzzling class of mystery: The ‘disappearance’ phenomena, where an object you have put down just moments before is not there when you look for it again.

Almost all of us have experienced the annoyance of not being able to find something we have just put down, and the puzzled thoughts in our heads when we eventually relocate what we were looking for (usually several days later in an improbable place whilst trying to find something else). After a spate of such disappearances, and the coincidental publication of a dozen or so readers letters in Fortean Times describing similar events,  I decided to look a little closer at my own experiences and the events surrounding them.

Mysterious appearances and disappearances of objects have been documented in quite a few poltergeist cases, but there has not been any real attempt to find out where the objects came from or went to, or what mechanism and/or conditions had to exist to facilitate their appearance or disappearance.

As any scientifically trained person will tell you, the first thing to do in any investigation is to look at all the available theories and try them out against the observed phenomena. As far as I can tell, the main contenders are the following:

Quantum Trans-locations
The missing objects have temporarily slipped into the fourth dimension(time) or a fifth dimension, only to emerge a while later. This is supported by quantum theory, which states that at the quantum (sub atomic particle) level an object can simultaneously inhabit two places at once, can travel backwards in time and also come into existence only if you look for it. It is interesting to note that the universe appears to operate on many levels, as the laws governing what happens at the quantum level do not seem to apply in the big (macro) world around us. Or do they?

Parallel universes
It is a well established theory, backed up by mathematical models, that there are an infinite number of parallel universes in existence, but they differ from our own in very minute ways. The theory is that you put your pen down on a desk in one universe and then slip through unnoticed to another universe where the pen does not exist. This could explain why busses do not turn up on time and, when they eventually arrive, turn up in threes.


Boggarts, Imps and Faeries
Throughout the ages there have been tales of small magical creatures who live amongst us in the shadows, who pick up our things when we are not looking and use them for a while before returning them. This is the stuff of myth and legend, made famous by Mary Norton in her novels about a family of miniature people called ‘the borrowers’.

Long dead beings who still roam the Earth ‘spirit’ away our possessions, and eventually return them after a while. Since nobody really knows what a Ghost is, or if one actually exists, this explanation does not cut much ice. Explaining one paranormal phenomenon by using another is, quite simply, cheating. 

Human psychology
There are many well documented physiological and neurological brain conditions, or temporary aberrations of normal human thought processes, which may well account for part of the disappearance phenomena. One such condition, called visual agnosia, is the inability to recognise physical objects for what they are, or to interact with them in a normal way. This condition is a permanent one, but has close links to another temporary condition known as Jamais vous which can come on in an instant, and then leave as quickly as it came. Sufferers of Jamais vous have been known to attack their own legs because they temporarily forgot what they were. A temporary bout of mild Jamais vous may leave you unable to see an object you are looking for purely because you have ‘forgotten’ to recognise that object. 

The next step is to observe the phenomenon at work, and to record as much information as possible about the conditions surrounding the event and the observed effects. This is known as ‘the waiting game’. Within paranormal research this usually turns out to be a fruitless task. However, with this class of common phenomenon, you don’t have to wait very long. My next experience came two days later. 

It was a typical busy morning. I had several million things to do before going to work and only an hour to do them in. I was running a bath for my three year old son and getting his clothes ready, so that when I bathed him I could get him ready in a flash. I took a towel from the linen cupboard and put it on the radiator in the bathroom. When I had bathed my son, I turned to reach for the towel and found that it had gone. With time against me, I frantically looked around for the towel. After a few hectic moments I found it, but not where I had put it. The towel was now sitting on a box which was about three feet behind me.

Suddenly a thought struck me. Here is something about the phenomenon which is measurable. I was expecting the towel to be in one place but found it in another, about three feet away. What if the distance between the place where I put things down and where they eventually turn up is significant?

Over the next few weeks I measured the distance between object loss and recovery. Out of ten events, seven followed the previously described pattern ie three feet behind and to the left of where I had deposited the object. The other three were a little further away, between seven and eleven feet.

The next time it occurred I simply turned around, walked three feet away and looked over to my left. Sure enough, there was the pad and paper which I had seemingly put down on a table, now located on a chair. Ironically it was the same notepad which I was keeping my results in! Was a Boggart desperately  trying to hide the evidence? Although I was no nearer answering the how or why parts of the problem, at least I seemed to have discovered a practical solution for retrieving lost objects.

So what about the events surrounding the disappearances? Usually they occurred when I was in a hurry, especially when I was trying to plan ahead to fit many tasks into a short space of time. They seldom occurred when I was less busy. This led me to conclude that I was looking at a psychological process, perhaps a form of stress induced absent mindedness.

Of all the theories put forward, I preferred the psychological one above all the others mainly because it was relatively straightforward. It did not depend on the existence of fantastic mythical creatures, miniature rifts in space/time or alternative realities. I suppose I could have created a Boggart trap and baited it with an irresistible trinket, or even sit for hours armed with a camcorder waiting for an object to warp out of existence right before my eyes, but the circumstances surrounding the disappearances, ie intense and accelerated thought processes, did not lend themselves to these theories. Why would a warp open up only when you were thinking a bit faster? Why would a Boggart only strike when you are pushed for time? The answer has to lie in our thought processes.

My theory is this: That under times of stress and haste, where your mind is trying to plan several steps ahead, the memory processes are somehow slowed down a fraction. Going back to the towel incident I suggest that in my haste, whilst I was thinking ahead, I put the towel down on the box in order to deal with the next task at hand. Because of the speed of my actions, and the simultaneous thoughts running through my mind, my memory mechanism kicked in a few moments later and I registered the location of the towel; not where I had actually put it, but where I was now, ie at the radiator. This would give rise to the strong memory I had of putting the towel on the radiator. It would also account for the consistency I had discovered in the distance between object loss and recovery, ie the lag between action and memory.

The three occasions where the distance was greater could have been due to me running around a bit faster on that day! The three feet factor in my case might be my PRD or ‘Personal Retrieval Distance’. To find your own PRD all you have to do is observe, measure and test.  

So there we have it, my theory of the ‘how and the why’. Of course this may only apply to me. Other afflicted people may just have a hoard of practical joking Boggarts hiding in their cellar…… 



~ by markrosney on October 9, 2009.

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