11.12.16

IT WAS HERE A MINUTE AGO

Tony Jinks. Disappearing Object Phenomenon: An Investigation. McFarland and Co, 2016.

If you are like me, you will find from time to time that things in the house go missing; the keys you knew were on the table, the rail-card which should be in your pocket or that book that you just can’t find. Sometimes these occur, or are remembered to have occurred, in odd circumstances, the glasses you put down next to you seconds ago and which when you next look are no longer there, only to turn up in the back shelf of a shed you haven’t been in for months. The psychical researcher Mary Rose Barrington called things like this 'just one of those things' or 'jottles'. Now Tony Jinks an Australian neuroscientist and psychologist with an interest in the paranormal has written the first full length book on the subject.

He distinguishes a number of varieties of the experience; the flyaway when an object disappears and is never seen again, walkabouts where the object disappears in one place and then reappears in another; comebacks when an object disappears from a place and then returns there some time later, a turn-up where an object is suddenly found in an unexpected place, a windfall, the sudden appearance of an object that is not yours and trade-in in which one object disappears and another appears in its place.

Jinks has collected a data base of 385 such cases, though this is not presented here, rather a number of examples are given through the text; the things missing (in descending order) are jewellery, food and beverages, keys, clothes, computer items, grooming items, utensils, small household goods, books and magazines, toys, minor nondescript items, money, telephones, spectacles, TV remote controls, watches, tools and building materials, credit etc. cards, medicines, cigarettes, reefers and other drugs, purses and wallets, media, artwork, linen and bedding, musical instruments, ornaments and finally furniture. The bulk of these are, of course, small items that easily get lost. Motor cars, washing machines and fridges seem noted for their absence.

Jinks discusses the various levels of significance of the items concerned and examines both normal and paranormal explanations. Though he recognises the role that anomalies of memory and perception must play in many of these cases, he seems reluctant to accept that this is all that is involved. Of course different cases probably have different explanations.

The exotic “natural” explanations follow, involving all sorts of science fiction notions about parallel universes, teleportation, wormholes, higher dimensions and the like, none of which are there any reasons to believer operate at kitchen sink level. We then get mention of zero point energy, however even if it could be harnessed, it is doubtful you could raise the temperature of a glass of water by even 1 degree by it, let alone fling things into other dimensions.

The most likely set of explanations of these phenomena is that our perceptions and memories are more subjective that we think, and many cases are just due to absent mindedness, distraction, errors of memory and that the world we perceive is always largely subjective being based on memory and expectation as much as on current input. Some may have more unusual solutions, for example small objects near open doors might be taken by birds for example and in the States there always the racoons. – Peter Rogerson.

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