In 1960, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge in England disguised himself as a ghost and tried to scare the audience of a horror movie. Unintentionally, this weird experiment explores the limits of human cognition and reveals one of the biggest “quirks” in our minds.
On May 28, 1960, at 7:40 in the evening, Cornell began to play a ghost and was sitting in the theater to enjoy a horror movie. Before coming out from the shadows, he used a white cloth to cover himself from the head to his feet. He emerged without any precautions from the audience and was exposed to the light projected by the projector. He moves from the left side of the screen to the right side in front of the screen and then back. This move is actually for science!
As an expert specializing in psychology research at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom, Cornell is conducting an experiment on “Ghost Experience”. In the experimental report, he tacitly stated that he accepted a premise: the soul of the deceased may appear as a ghost in the crowd. His experiment is not to directly prove this premise, but to try to artificially induce the “ghost” experience. Therefore, what he wants to observe is how people respond to the sudden emergence of “ghosts.”
Cornell’s series of experimental reports in this area, which was broadcast on British television not long ago, not only attracted the attention of curious people, but also led to the thinking of an experimental psychologist. The expert’s research on how people perceive the illusion allows him to observe phenomena related to psychics, wizards and ghost catchers. Cornell’s experiment of ghosting is something he has never encountered before. Although Cornell’s experimental results are suspicious, his experimental methods are unusual. After studying Cornell’s series of experiments, the experimental psychologist was surprised and very ridiculously aware that inadvertently, Cornell’s “pseudoscience” experiment proved cognitive psychologists. A conclusion that was recognized only 50 years later!
Before returning to the cinema to experiment, try to see two experiments before Cornell. At first, he attempted to be a scary man in a cattle farm near King’s College London, Cambridge. He carefully planned a four-and-a-half-minute “ghost dance.” After wrapping himself in a white cloth, he squatted behind a small mound, and then he suddenly stood up, as if it were a ghost appearing out of thin air. Then, as he walked like a ghost, he walked to another mound and disappeared behind the mound, as if it had evaporated from the air. The rehearsal process seems to confirm the sudden and deaf people appearing and disappearing out of thin air. He let some of his assistants stay on the path of ghost dance and observe how the unsuspecting passers-by will react.
After everything was properly arranged, the experimental team performed a total of six rounds of ghosting. But what frustrated Cornell was that no one in about 80 passers-by did not seem to have found anything unusual! Cornell did notice that the local people seemed to stare at him with concentration, which may prove his idea: the ghosts he installed are clearly visible, and anyone can see this “ghost.”
Cornell speculated that the poor results of this experiment were due to the lack of atmosphere in the ghost. So he changed the location of the second experiment to the cemetery of St. Peter’s Church. Because the cemetery is adjacent to a public road, the experimental team took special security measures to avoid frightening people. This time, Cornell’s assistants are not just standing by to observe the results of the experiment, but are ready to “prevent accidents” at any time because someone may be seeing “experimental ghosts” (Cornell wraps himself The regular name of the ghost dressed in white cloth) becomes hysterical – mad.
Such preventive measures are actually unnecessary at all. Among pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and motorists, Cornell estimates that 142 people should have noticed the ghosts he played, but in fact only four of them noticed the so-called “ghost.” After inquiry, none of the four people believed that they saw even a little “spiritual” thing. The first person said that the “ghost” is “a woman dressed as a man, and that man must be crazy.” The second person said that the “ghost” was mostly “a student who studied drama walked around with a blanket.” The other two said that they did notice the “experimental ghost”. I believe this is to provoke a kind of spiritual event, but obviously the effect is not good, because “we saw his legs and feet and knew that it was a dress. The man in white clothes.”
What makes the above-mentioned experimental psychologists most interested is that Cornell put forward his own improvisation hypothesis in his experimental report: the reason why people don’t realize how to play the ghost is because the “experimental ghost” only has “Pure visual features.” In his own words, “In the last 6 minutes of the experiment, I made a low-pitched voice to draw attention.” The experimental psychologist thought it was important to reaffirm that Cornell was referring to himself here: a man dressed in white cloth and standing in a cemetery at night. But this “ghost” seems to scare people, because there is no ghost in the world, and Cornell’s trick of being a ghost is too “low-end.” In fact, none of the 10 people that Cornell encountered during his own ghosting and swearing showed that he had noticed his signs. But in fact, it is also possible that they simply don’t want to see him.
Now go back to the cinema. Cornell said that after the experiment with the cattle farm and the cemetery, the logical next step was to conduct a cinema experiment. He wrote that in order to induce a ghost experience, his cinema experiment must consider two important aspects. The first aspect is based on practicality: the “experimental ghost” he wishes to play must appear in a place where the audience can concentrate (the implication is that he did not pay enough attention before he played the ghost). His second consideration is ethical: he fears that “experimental ghosts” may scare children. The reason why he chose to play a ghost experiment while screening a horror movie in a movie theater is precisely because horror movies prohibit young people from watching.
However, the cinema experiment was another defeat of Cornell. No viewers reported that they saw any ecstasy: when Cornell’s “experimental ghost” first appeared in front of the screen, 46% of respondents said they didn’t see any ghosts at all, and 32% of respondents said they didn’t pay attention at all. What is outside the screen? Even the film projectionist (his job responsibilities include observing any unexpected circumstances) also reported that he did not notice any ghosts at all. As for those who saw “something”, they could not clearly depict what they saw. One person said that he saw a woman in a coat. Another person said that he might have seen a polar bear. Another person said that the projectionist might have made a mistake. Only one person accurately stated that a man was wearing a bed sheet to decorate a ghost. Cornell finally concluded that his failure to experiment with ghosts was due to the lack of “super psychological factors” or “psychic stimulation” associated with “real” devils in experimental conditions. He even said that the actual number of “real” haunted events is much more than the number of reports.
For the experimental psychologist, it was the failure of Cornell’s experiments that was the most exciting part of the experiments themselves. Cornell’s experimental reports were published in the British Journal of Psychology in 1959 and 1960. He wrote these reports in a very relaxed style, so the report is interesting to read. He actually recorded the numbers, citing the words of the experimental participants, and letting the reader follow the experimental process, but he did not feel ironic (it was ironic to be a ghost). For him, the cinema audience and the horror film itself symbolize the perfect solution to an experimental method problem.
Although Cornell’s experimental conclusion based on “super psychology” is ridiculous in modern times, his series of ghost experiments have pioneered some human mental phenomena that are irrelevant to the spirit. As for why this is said, please see the experiment below (if you are interested, you can also try it). Participants watched a video showing the two groups of people. One group wears a white shirt and the other wears a black shirt. Each group passes a basketball to each other. The viewers were asked to count the number of passes by the white shirt.
Have you noticed anything strange? Curiously, many people did not notice that there was an orangutan in the video. This phenomenon is called non-attention blindness in psychology. This term was not created until 1998 by two psychologists. Psychologists have found through experiments that when the audience concentrates on a task, they may not notice unexpected objects (such as some simple geometric shapes, even an orangutan) and events.
Since the concept of non-attention blindness has been proposed, the number of studies in this area has soared, and the reported people have turned a blind eye to objects ranging from motor vehicles, simulated attacks to pirates, wheelbarrow clowns, etc., and doctors have not even noticed radiographic images. Orangutans appearing in the middle. Cornell’s experimental results are quite comparable to the results of the above-mentioned passing experiments: watching a movie trailer is like a statistical task. The “experimental ghost” is like an orangutan. That is to say, Cornell’s experimental results are It may be one of the first evidences to prove non-attention blindness.
Non-attention blindness is now a phenomenon that has been proven by the scientific community. Despite this, the average person does not understand this. Some recent surveys have found that most people insist that they can notice unexpected objects and events, but the results of the experiment prove that they are too confident – they actually failed to notice such objects or events. Further research on non-attention blindness may have important implications in areas such as security, advertising, traffic safety, and eyewitness testimony. But it is interesting to recall that Cornell’s non-deliberately successful experimental methods are so perfectly suited to prove non-attention blindness. In particular, the most valuable part of the Cornell experiment has been hidden under the broad daylight, for 50 years.