4 STRANGE Paranormal Phenomena! feat. Jack Black
Vsauce, I’m R.L. Stine and I see you’ve
let yourself into my home…and found my latest work. I’d appreciate it if you’d put that
back. You have no idea how dangerous this book is. Inside it, the things that are written,
are real. What have you done? Oh no, it’s already too late. You’re on your own. Vsauce! I’m Jake and I don’t really know
why I was in that room, everything is a bit hazy, but what I do know is that something
paranormal is going on. Have you noticed) What…what is that?! Is that a midcentury
basket weave chair? Oh, it’s beautiful. Now…where were we? Ah yes, the paranormal!
Now before we begin our investigation lets clarify the difference between Supernatural
and Paranormal. Supernatural is a phenomenon that is beyond our ability to understand and
doesn’t fit within natural law. Paranormal on the other hand is a phenomenon that goes
beyond what we consider normal and hasn’t been scientifically understood…yet. An example,
germ theory, that is how germs cause disease, was thought to be paranormal in the 1700s
because scientists didn’t understand how it worked. Now, according to my notes, what
we supposedly have here is a cursed ventriloquist’s dummy named Slappy that is somewhere in this
house. Let me guess: it’s Slappy that is making that noise? Let’s apply Occam’s
Razor for a second. It’s a philosophical principal, that states that the simplest,
the least extraordinary, of two ideas is usually the one that is correct. If you hear hooves
behind you, think horses, not zebras. So is it an evil dummy that has come to life and
is making that ruckus? Or is the noise being made by an old falling apart house? Or is
it even more straightforward than that? For example, do you know about Mr. Splitfoot?
No? Well, let me tell you the story of the Fox Sisters. In 1848, in Hydesville a small
hamlet in New York, there was the Fox family with their 3 daughters: Maggie, Kate and Leah.
For months there had been strange knocking in the house and beds shaking. On the night
of March 31st, the day before April Fools, Kate decided to communicate with the spirit
she called Mr. Splitfoot. She did this by clapping three times. And a few seconds later,
3 knocks were heard coming from the walls. 3 knocks are heard down the hall, I’m sure
that was uh…just a coincidence. Which the Foxs also checked for. They asked Mr. Splitfoot
the ages of the sisters. And he correctly knocked out their ages. After more questioning
it was discovered that Splitfoot was actually the spirit of a man who had been murdered
in that very house. Success was quick for the Fox Sisters. They helped kickstart the
spiritualism movement and traveled around the world communicating with spirits in seances.
Then in 1888, not being able to bear the weight of guilt, Maggie admitted that it had all
been a lie. What started as the girls banging on the floor with an apple tied to string,
evolved into them cracking their toe joints to simulate knocking. In the end it wasn’t
a spirit or something equally paranormal, it was just normal. Just like the knocking
we were hearing before was an old house making noise. See, there’s nothing here. Alright,
I get it. Very funny. Open the door now. Come on, open the door. Hello? Is there anyone
in here? Sl…Slappy? JSlappy…if you’re really here…make a sign. Peek-a-boo! Um…Hi. I…don’t really know what just
happened in here but I think I have a theory or, well, really it’s more of a suggestion.
In 1977, scientist Michael O’Mahoney and the BBC conducted an experiment. They told
viewers that they had created a way to transmit smells through sound. They were going to transmit
a country smell and after playing a tone for 10 seconds the experiment was over and viewers
were told to call in and describe their experience. Over 170 people said they could smell hay,
grass, fruit, and flowers. But of course, you can’t send smells through a television.
What the study showed was that the power of expectation, of suggestion, was powerful.
And this too plays into the paranormal. If we expect something, even if we aren’t consciously
thinking it, we can create that reality. Like being trapped in a room with the idea of a
sentient ventriloquist’s dummy. Let’s try something. Here take a photo of me. How convenient
you just happened to have a polaroid camera. The power of suggestion is even more persuasive
when we add a visual element to it. It could be as simple as sneakily pressing your thumb
over the subject in a photo while the photo is still developing. The heat of your finger
creates a kind of halo effect around the person’s head. But what if you could actually capture
spirits on camera? Well, that’s where William H. Mumler comes in. William Mumler was a well
known spirit photographer during the 1860s and 70s. His most famous photo being of Mrs.
Lincoln with the ghost of her husband President Lincoln. His photos were proven to be fake
when it was noticed that some of the spirits in his images were found to be still alive.
Now, it might seem pretty obvious to us now how easy it would be to create a photo like
this, but at the time photography had only been around for about 30 years, since 1839.
Folks were easily fooled with thinking the spirit in the photo with them was a loved
one because they only had their memory to go by. People generally didn’t have personal
photos at this point in time. But let’s move to something more recent…something
that wasn’t a hoax. On June 15th, 2007 a deputy at a courthouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico
saw a ghost on the surveillance video. You can actually see it right here. It’s the
glowing object moving across the screen. Paranormal Investigator Benjamin Radford went to try
and solve just what exactly it was. J After exploring a few different theories the ghost
turned out to be…a bug. Radford was able to recreate the sighting by having a ladybug
run across the camera lens. Again, Occam’s Razor. Why do our minds jump to the paranormal
instead of just normal? In psychologist Richard Wiseman’s book Paranormality: Why we see
what isn’t there he gives an example. Look at this symbol. What is it of? If we place
an A and C on either side it becomes a B but if we put 12 and 14 around it becomes 13.
Or it could just be a random symbol. We tend to infer meaning when maybe there really isn’t
any. As Wiseman states, “Given the right context, people are skilled at instantly and
unconsciously seeing meaning in a meaningless shape.” Ah, yes our photo! Let’s see if
we captured anything “paranormal” in it. Ok, seriously, what is happening?! There’s
a dummy in that photo. Look at it! What? What do you mean he’s not in it? Ok…am I crazy?
I mean, I’m seeing a living dummy, I can’t remember much from before you showed up and…I
feel like there is a giant weight on my chest…like I can’t breathe. Wait! I know exactly what
is happening! The Nightmare. This 1781 painting by Henry Fuseli depicts exactly what it’s
titled, a nightmare. We have an incubus, a demon, also the counterpart to the Succubus,
sitting on a woman’s chest and a horse looking on. This painting also depicts something else.
Something can happen when falling asleep or when waking up. You actually might have experienced
this yourself. You realize you can’t move or talk. You’re trapped in your own body
and you might feel a weight on your chest and start to see things that aren’t there.
Sleep paralysis was considered to be the work of demons which explains Fuseli’s painting.
However, what was actually happening was this: there are four stages to sleep. In stage 1,
when you first fall asleep, you generally have two types of hallucinations at this point:
hypnagogic imagery, which happens when you’re going to sleep, and hypnopompic, which happens
when you’re waking up. After going through all the stages you enter REM sleep and begin
to dream. At this point to keep you from acting out the dream and flapping about your limbs,
your brainstem blocks your body from moving…making you temporarily paralyzed. Your brain can
sometimes get confused, causing you to experience hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations
while also experiencing the paralyses of REM sleep. So that must be what’s happening,
this is all just me hallucinating things while having sleep paralysis. Slappy is my incubus,
and you’re the horse – just watching in the shadows. This also explains why I don’t
remember anything before you showing up. So that should be it, right? 3 Paranormal phenomena.
What? What do you mean there are 4? We covered the Fox Sisters, Paranormal photography and
sleep paralysis. Then what’s the fourth?…wait…let me see the book. This can’t be happening.
No no no no no. Because if it is, then that means “that this whole thing has just been
the fourth story, Jake says as he realizes that he was part of the book the entire time.
What he didn’t realize was Slappy creeping up behind him.” Run! Doorsl locked! Windows…how
do these open?! Your friend over there is a real…dummy.
You should probably run now. Boo! Now, now, it’s OK. It is just a story. But
I really wish you had listened to me. Once you open the book and let the story out, it
changes. You become part of the story. Jake found the book first and now you’ve been
written in as well. It’s time to go into the book. And, as always, thanks for reading.