The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Mundane Pointless Stuff I Must Share (MPSIMS)

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 05-05-2012, 07:31 PM
Mangetout Mangetout is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: England (where it rains)
Posts: 50,983
Do my eyes deceive me? Well, yes.

The other day, I was on the train on my daily commute and I looked out of the window as the train slowed right down at a bend. At the side of the track, up against a line of boards set there to retain the ballast, I saw some bones. Smooth White bones, articulated at what looked like a knee or elbow joint - over 2 feet long in total.

I saw them quite clearly, as the train was only travelling at about 5-10mph, and I immediately started checking off, in my head, what they might or might not be.
Too long for badger. Too thick for dog or fox, too smooth and rounded for sheep or deer, not big enough for cow. That's most of the options ruled out, except human.
The best fit for what I saw probably was human bones.

My first thought was that maybe they were plastic replica bones from a lifesize model skeleton (there was other refuse nearby, as the bend in the track backs on to a residential area, and it seems the residents just dump their rubbish over the fence onto the side of the track).

I looked out for the bones on the way home, but as the train was travelling on the other line, I couldn't look down steeply enough out of the window to be able to see them. I looked again the next morning (with camera at the ready), but the train took the corner faster and the concentration of trying to operate the camera and look out for the bones as they whizzed past left me feeling really giddy, and I missed seeing them again.

The next morning, I got my chance. I got a really good look at the bones.

They were not smooth, articulated bones at all - it was just a piece of dried hogweed stem (Google Image link). Not particularly bone-like, not smooth, or white, or with the conspicuous gap of a joint knuckle in the middle (there was a stem node, but that's not the same).

I guess the point of this is the realisation that "I saw it with my very own eyes" can actually mean very little. I saw something, but what I thought I saw was severely confabulated. I knew this could happen, but I really didn't expect it to be this vivid - this disparate from plain, actual reality.
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 05-05-2012, 07:42 PM
gracer gracer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
I once saw a cat spread its wings and fly away. It was close by, I saw it very clearly, no drugs involved. It was dark, but the cat was sitting in the light when I walked up. A black cat, green eyes. It hopped onto a wall, spread its wings and flew away.

I mean, I know that can't have been what happened, but dammit, that's what I saw. Weird eyes.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 05-05-2012, 07:46 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Never believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 05-05-2012, 08:23 PM
FloatyGimpy FloatyGimpy is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by gracer View Post
I once saw a cat spread its wings and fly away. It was close by, I saw it very clearly, no drugs involved. It was dark, but the cat was sitting in the light when I walked up. A black cat, green eyes. It hopped onto a wall, spread its wings and flew away.

I mean, I know that can't have been what happened, but dammit, that's what I saw. Weird eyes.
I've mistaken a Great Horned Owl for a cat before. It was dusk and it was sitting in a tree.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:16 AM
Siam Sam Siam Sam is offline
Elephant Whisperer
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Bangkok
Posts: 28,491
Quote:
Originally Posted by TriPolar View Post
Never believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.
Which half of this should I believe?
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 05-06-2012, 04:27 AM
gracer gracer is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Quote:
Originally Posted by FloatyGimpy View Post
I've mistaken a Great Horned Owl for a cat before. It was dusk and it was sitting in a tree.
It must've been something like that. But no, my eyes don't buy it! It had four legs and a tail!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 05-06-2012, 06:25 AM
shantih shantih is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siam Sam View Post
Which half of this should I believe?
The other one.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:05 AM
FairyChatMom FairyChatMom is offline
I'm nice, dammit!
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Southern Merrylande
Posts: 28,117
It's interesting how the brain processes what the eyes see and how it varies from person to person. Makes one wonder why police would bother talking to eyewitnesses at all! I seem to recall reading about a study where a bunch of people were gathered together for some made-up reason and they all witnessed a "crime." There was a wide variation among the stories told afterwards, but no one was lying - they simply "saw" different things.

I just did a quick google - there are a lot of links to studies and reports about this. I see myself doing a lot of reading now. Thanks a lot!
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:59 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.