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Shadow People

How does one see a shadow in the dark? The Shadow People are described as almost invisible humanoids that are capable of complex interactions. Some accounts claim that Shadow People can been visible to one person while being completely unseen by a person looking at the same location. While reports of Shadow People are common today, prior to the 1950s, there does not seem to be a single report.

Written by Kyle T. Cobb, Jr.

Nos tibi credere.

Phenomenon explored

In 1952, a radio serial called the “Hall of Fantasy” (which began in Salt Lake on KALL in 1946) was broadcasting on WGN radio and syndicated across the United States.  This bare bones serial featured mysteries stories each week mostly written by Richard Thorne.  The third show after becoming syndicated, was titled “The Shadow People” and dealt with a woman haunted by mysterious people living in the shadows.  These entities spoke to the woman in garble words and could not harm her in the daylight.

Like the “War of the Worlds”  impact years before, the broadcast of this radio episode seems to have had a dramatic cultural impact.

From that point on, the world of the paranormal investigators began receiving reports of strange shadowy figures haunting innocents.

Not surprisingly, the properties of the paranormal shadow people seem to echo those of the Thorne story.  Described as black humanoid silhouettes with no discernible mouths, noses, or facial expressions, child-sized humanoids, or shapeless masses that sometimes change to human like form and featuring eyes that are either glowing or not discernable… sometimes seen in 1930s fedoras.

Debunking the Shadow people

Biology can cause false sightings.

When a specific region of the brain called the left temporoparietal junction is stimulated, it can create the illusion of a shadow person.

Images seen in peripheral areas of vision can be caused by pareidolia (MATRIXing), a condition in which the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns of light/shadow or texture as being familiar patterns such as faces and human forms.

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The question is whether there is really any basis in fact for the Shadow people or are they the effect of a popular delusion.

Cover of the collection of radio shows featured on the 1950s Hall of Fantasy.

Macular vision is a distortion caused the alteration of  eye as it struggles to adjust to low light conditions, or when viewing a complex but random image. It should be noted that this can also be a serious health condition. A common example would be perceiving a shadow, thrown by an item of furniture in a darkened room, as being a person.

Hypnagogia, also known as "waking-sleep", a physiological condition in which a person is part-way between sleeping and waking, can also account for such perceptions.  During hypnagogia, a person can be conscious and aware of their environment, but also in a dream-like state where they can perceive images from their subconscious. People experiencing waking-sleep commonly report the sensation of lights or shadows moving around them, as well as other visual hallucinations.

A feeling of dread is also a sensation that occurs when experiencing hypnagogia. Hypnagogia is sometimes known as 'the faces in the dark phenomenon' because those who experience this state commonly report seeing faces while experiencing waking-sleep.

Seeing Shadow People

Whether or not they actually exist, there are a large number of recommendations in the paranormal community concerning how to detect shadow people. For what they are worth here are some of the recommendations:

Click on the speaker icon above to hear the original 1952 broadcast of “THE SHADOW PEOPLE!”