Back in the mid 90s, when I was doing some graduate work along with getting my PharmD, I was a frequent visitor to the Art Bell web site. I remember listening to Art Bell on his Coast To Coast radio show, which aired on AM radio in the middle of the night. This, obviously, was back in the days when I didn’t need sleep and wasn’t ready for bed at 8:30PM like I am now. Anyway, the first thing I ever remember hearing on Art Bell’s show was the theory that a UFO was accompanying Comet Hale-Bopp on its trip past Earth, a fraud that ultimately culminated in the Heaven’s Gate suicide. As is the case with most paranormal things, I desperately wanted to believe in the Saturn-like object following Comet Hale-Bopp, but the rational part of me knew that it was not so.
So after I listened to Art Bell a little bit, I managed to find my way to his web site. At the time, there was a gallery completely devoted to ghost photos. As a kid, I was fascinated with ghosts – my favorite of all time being the Tulip Staircase ghost, although the chandelier always scared me a little more than the actual ghost creeping up along the railing. Anyway, I was looking through the pages and pages of alleged ghost photos – most of which were streaks of lights or orbs or things equally disappointing. Weren’t ghosts supposed to look like people? That’s what I always thought at least.
Then I stumbled upon “the man in the tree” and I was seriously freaked out.
I’m not sure why it creeped me out so much – probably because it was so unexpected and after looking at all these pictures of things that, in my estimation, were most certainly NOT ghosts, seeing something that looked vaguely human was freaky, to say the least. I told myself to save a copy of that photo but I never did. I’ve been looking for that photo ever since. It’s long vanished from the Coast To Coast web site and, not knowing the title of the photo, the best I could Google was “Art Bell” ghost tree. You can imagine how many hits THAT got.
This morning, I decided to ask Reddit if anyone knew of this photo. I posted in the Paranormal subreddit and I swear it didn’t even take 10 minutes before someone had found it.
Creepy, right? Now, I’m not so naive or gullible to actually think that’s a ghost. Thanks to the person on Reddit who found it, I’ve not only seen a photo I thought I would never see again, but I’ve also learned a new word. The above photo is one of the best examples of pareidolia – the tendency for the human mind to see significant image where none exist – that there is. The same thing that makes people think a cloud looks like an elephant or that they see the Virgin Mary in their Dorito is what causes us to see this man standing in a tree.
The Internet is a beautiful thing, as well as being creepy as hell.