Blogging at The Sun – Tabloid Lies, D-Notice links to an article on the Sun’s website, where some woman was filming her baby and there’s odd sounds on the tape. I won’t say any more than that about the particular article: not because like D-Notice I want to let you decide about it for yourself (although you’re welcome to do that), but because despite the eerie shiver it gives me the actual underlying subject of hapless media outlets stirring up this sort of thing just makes me roll my eyes.
After all, I speak in a sense from personal experience. Almost every morning I wake up with an odd cognitive effect buzzing around in my head. I don’t know what happens to my brain in my sleep—who does, he added a bit fatuously—but my first half hour or so of (semi-)wakefulness is spent with an overstimulated visual recognition system, a weak innate pareidolia that I can’t quite control. I’ll occasionally see faces in curtains, artex patterns, folds of cloth or arrangement of similarly coloured bottles. The faces will be grinning, frowning, smiling, confused or (most often) looking a bit vacant and awkward, like a slighly mushed-up cloth face is wont to do.
Later in the day I’ll find it hard to experience the same perceptual kick, and while I can intellectually accept that the same arrangements exist, they don’t spontaneously form meaningful patterns. Until, that is, I begin my next day’s “morning stare.” So as these odd features come and go in my surroundings, I don’t consider them imbued with any actual meaning: I appreciate they’re a perceptual mirage, connections being made without any bearing on either the real world or the higher levels of my rather foggy reason.
Looking again at the video on the Sun’s website, I think of two things. Firstly, that it’s hard to believe that Murdoch is asking people to pay for this sort of sub-YouTube rubbish. Secondly, that the accompanying audio track is full of compression artifacts. In fact, it’s telling that you only ever seem to pick these messages up on really rubbish equipment, such as the cameras that photograph globes of eldritch, floating light (otherwise known as “specks of dust on the lens”) and the tapes with a background of hissy, chirpy white noise which will, like monkeys on typewriters, form every sentence in the English language given infinite time.
Still, whether or not you accept the more-things-in-heaven-and-earth big epistemological tent that includes this sort of stuff—and it’s worth pointing out that the less people know about how to interpret evidence, the more rubbish they stuff under that very canvas—I can’t believe the Sun can dare to make advertising revenue of the back of this phenomenally old rope. I mean, what is this, the 1890s? We’ve got Derek Acorah and the like running round like prize tits, mesmerism and horoscopy rampant and now we’re encouraging people to read significance into any old thing, like noises on a tape, or the initial letters of paragraphs in online articles. We’ll see the return of theosophy, trench warfare and a decent postal service next: you mark my words.