Age and Anomalous Experience

Please note all this is a work in progress: little more than a series of memo’s in which Becky and I are developing ideas we want to explore…

OK last night I posted on a topic that interested me, and seemed to suggest that we forget anomalous experiences quite quickly. Andrew has raised the possibility that the more recent experiences may simply be made up: I admit  that is possible, but wonder why people would claim the fictional experience was situated in the last twelve months, rather than long ago, or just today?

This morning I am going to look at the data again, but this time look at age at time of the experience rather than time elapsed between the experience and the report. The first chart shows the ages of our respondents – by category, as we do not possess precise ages for most respondents, and many said things like “when I was living with my parents” or “twelve years ago”.

Table 1. Age of Persons Who Responded

The age of respondents to our "census" question

Age of those who responded

As you can see, they cluster around the 30’s – unsurprising given the method of collection, as most of the people who viewed the question were in that age category! However the age of percipients does set an upper limit for both how long ago an experience can have occurred, obviously enough (people can not have anomalous experiences before they were born), so I have reproduced the data here. It is a shame we did not ask for more precise ages!

Perhaps more interesting is the following chart, which shows how old people were when the claimed anomalous experience took place.

Table 2. Number of INCIDENTS reported by age category

Chart of Age Group at Time of Alleged Anomalous Experience

Age Group at Time of Alleged Anomalous Experience

The sharp decline after 30’s is simply owing to the age of our respondents as shown in the first chart, os it is not safe to assume any falling off in experience as we grow older, and the data set is really too small to allow for any meaningful statistical analysis (which is why the study used Grounded Theory methodology). The 1894 Census saw a peak around the age of 21: however there were methodological problems in that Census which may account for this. The Census of Hallucinations (1894) discounted experiences below the age of ten years – we have reported on them and included them in our dataset.

Bear in mind these are experiences, not people.  As we shall see in future reports, some people reported many incidents of allegedly anomalous experiences. Also note that continuing and ongoing experiences were not included in these figures. 42 incidents could be placed at a certain age in the percipient’s life from the accounts submitted.

However, some experiences (mainly those in childhood) were placed at a precise age: so here are the break downs for the under 20’s…


Table 3. Incidents in the Under-20’s

Chart of Ages at anomalous experiences reported in under 20's

Ages at anomalous experiences reported in under 20's

The number of experiences at age 18 to 19 appears comparatively high: not quite sure why that should be. Maybe moving away from home?

Anyway these figures are not as interesting as the last set to my mind, but if anyone has comment or thoughts on all this we would love to hear them!

cj x

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About Chris Jensen Romer

I am a profoundly dull, tedious and irritable individual. I have no friends apart from two equally ill mannered cats, and a lunatic kitten. I am a ghosthunter by profession, and professional cat herder. I write stuff and do TV things and play games. It's better than being real I find.
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5 Responses to Age and Anomalous Experience

  1. Pingback: Charting the Unknown: Ghosts, Memory & the Progress of Time « "And sometimes he's so nameless"

  2. “number of experiences at age 18 to 19 appears comparatively high: not quite sure why that should be” – again, I’d suggest a natural desire for people to appear interesting to other people? IIRC our original manifesto for Parasoc was “a method to meet members of the opposite sex who are a bit gothy but not drunk girls in pubs/clubs”.

  3. Chris Jensen Romer says:

    Yeah sure, but given they are probably 30 odd now, why bother to report it if that was the purpose? It would make more sense to claim to be having the experience currently: and the easy way to do that would be to just say “i’m a psychic, me, let me read your aura?”

    • I think these “stories that make me interesting” become part of one’s own perceived personality. They are retold and embellished initially to serve the purpose of making one sound interesting, but later become a defining part of that person’s identity. They become like university antic anecdotes; small things which were odd, but which are accorded larger and larger status.

      Particularly as one gets older and one’s exposure to new experiences declines. There becomes little new to talk about.

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