A high-level analysis of patterns behind these strange disappearances
By MARTIN REZNY
In case you were wondering what I’ve been doing for the last couple of months instead of writing articles here, I guess you could call it research. I’ve been trying to find the best data that doesn’t fit with the dominant paradigm of what is or isn’t supposed to be physically possible. And oh my, is there a lot of anomalous data in the world that serious scientists tend to ignore or refuse to engage with. Like the Missing 411 cases.
And yes, I also rewatched Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, obviously.
The Information You Might Be Missing
In case you’ve never heard of this series of books written by an American ex-detective David Paulides, I believe there’s eight of them at the moment, plus two documentary movies. I especially recommend the most recent documentary, Missing 411: The Hunted, as I have never seen such great visualization of movement through an area, plus the cases selected for this documentary are some of the most bizarre and inexplicable there are.
Speaking of bizarre and inexplicable, these books and documentaries describe a growing number of cases (now in the low thousands) of people going missing or being found under strange circumstances. When I say strange, what I mean is that, for starters, all of the usual suspects have been ruled out, like animal predation, human crime, voluntary disappearance, drowning, etc. Or there at least isn’t enough evidence for any of these.
But there’s more. Beyond a mere lack of explanation, Paulides has put together a profile which includes a specific list of factors, most of which tend to be present in all of these cases. Some of these factors are inherently unusual, requiring at the very least a sudden psychotic break or a chain of bad decisions, while others are unusual through the rate at which they correlate with these cases, and yet others seem utterly impossible all by themselves.
In this analysis, I will not be going in depth on any of the individual cases, since that is covered quite well by many different videos on this subject that you can find on YouTube, including many hours of interviews with David Paulides on various paranormal podcasts. What I will try to do is use my social science education and research methodology expertise to try to bring some clarity into how all of the variables in these cases seem to be connected.
Burning the Witchfinders
Yes, I have also watched Good Omens recently. Before I get into the things that connect all the cases, like profile points, geographic clusters, and the possible logics behind victim or perpetrator behaviors, I feel I should first address all the ad hominem attacks leveled at Dave (he keeps calling himself Dave from the point of view of third persons, and I’m a third person, so why not).
Dave may not be the best scientist or statistician, he may have lied or cheated in his life at least once or twice, and he was trying to find evidence for the existence of Bigfoot (plural) before he was approached to look into missing people in national parks. Does any of that mean that you should dismiss the evidence that he’s bringing forward? No, the evidence is the only thing that matters. He’s not putting forward his theories in the books, only data.
Apart from this (the fact that a personal attack is a logical fallacy, not a counterargument), if Dave incorrectly interprets some data point or a causal relation, it’s an error, not a crime. People make errors. Errors can be corrected. That’s how learning works. It’s not a reason to start hating a person and dismiss everything they have to say about everything else, it’s a reason to start talking to them. Especially if you’re an expert with answers.
Finally, being associated with Bigfoot research also doesn’t disqualify everything that you say about anything. Especially if it was research, like going places where Bigfoot might live, interviewing witnesses, collecting samples and sending them for laboratory analysis, and so on. That’s what Dave was doing regarding Bigfoot. Assuming that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, this is still a completely reasonable activity. Research is how we get to know things.
Perhaps the only type of thing that Dave tends to do that’s somewhat less than ideal is that in his descriptions of the cases, he sometimes omits facts that point toward more mundane explanations. But still, even assuming that they’re intentional omissions and not just Dave not knowing a fact or Dave keeping a fact to himself in the interest of the family of the victim, it’s very human. It makes for good storytelling, and beyond that, it’s important to understand that everyone has a bias. Scientists do this all the time.
Unwrapping the Enigma
With all the insults out of the way, let’s look at the profile points. Somebody called the profiling that Dave’s doing cherry-picking, and Dave said that yeah, that’s exactly what he’s doing. And it is what profiling is, in a way — you’re looking for cases that include selected elements. Profiling is in some ways similar to cherry-picking, but the science of it is more complicated.
Cherry-picking in this context would be for example assuming that Bigfoot is taking all these people, and then looking for all the cases in which the missing person seems to have been mysteriously abducted, and ONLY such cases. Dave assembled the profile by reviewing details of all unexplained disappearances he could find that took place in the U.S. national parks and by noting what they had in common. That’s inductive research, it’s good science.
This type of research is frequently used in not only social science in order to formulate hypotheses, or in this case a criminal profile. The only thing you need to make sure of is that the sample of your observations is representative. Dave’s criteria for the sample selection seem completely reasonable to me — a case being unexplained is an objective fact. Not many things need to be the same for all or most unexplained cases, and they will be objective facts.
The evidence for Dave not cherry-picking is that he himself has no idea why most of the profile points are what they are, what they mean. Some of the cases that meet the profile criteria do hint at abduction by neither an animal, nor a human, but others do not. Taken all together, as I will try to explain shortly, no single normal or paranormal hypothesis explains all of the cases, meaning that either multiple are at play, or a one so crazy that no one, including Dave, has even been able to conceive of it yet. On the internet.
Let’s approach this like a normal social scientist would approach reviewing a student’s thesis. Here are the most significant repeating profile points with my critical commentary as to their potential strengths and shortcomings:
- Subjects never being found
According to Paulides, every person should be found, especially if they are a small child or if they’re mentally or physically disabled and therefore presumably unable to travel long distances. Paulides also keeps mentioning that he doesn’t question the thoroughness of the searches or the dedication and skill of the searchers, or effectiveness of canines or helicopters with FLIR.
My critical point of view is that this is a nice sentiment, and you’d want to have searchers with this attitude looking for you, but there is a number of conceivable conventional scenarios in which it would be very possible that the person would be exceedingly difficult to find or unlikely to be found.
In at least some cases, a wrong search area could have been set up or the search effort could have been otherwise insufficient (or plain unlucky). An animal could have sneakily killed and buried the missing person. The person could have intentionally vanished. The person could have fallen into some hard-to-access crevice or got buried. However, this only calls for a more thorough screening process for the cases to control for these possibilities.
The main analytical problem with using this as a profile point is that while it is a good place to start, the fact that the person wasn’t found is a better indicator of which variables prevent people from being found, more than it is an indicator of why or how they got lost in the first place. I will discuss this in more detail when I get to related profile points like the role of bad weather.
- Subjects being found in an unusual position (like face down on the ground, the wrong side up in water for their gender, or with unusual lividity or state of decay for the length of their disapperance)
This is a fairly strong profile point, given that there is no good explanation, conventional or otherwise, for why or how any of this should happen at all. People don’t have good reasons to lie down on their faces and Paulides is correct to point out that corpses in water can offer a lot of reliable information about the deceased person. Specifically, when, where, or how they died.
The available data that connects the water-related cases together (mainly the ones of students being found dead in water in some college cities) makes them somehow more inexplicable than the cases of people who got lost in a forest and were never found (cases in which all data is missing).
The hard evidence found here indicates that many of these people must have died on land days after they disappeared, but days before they entered water, or that they must have died in a tumbling stream, when they were found in a pond with no flowing water, etc. Sometimes, high amounts of alcohol or GHB were found in the blood of the deceased, but without any clear idea how they were ingested. No one anywhere has ever seen these people enter water.
When you have such data, a lot of it, about a state of an object, and it doesn’t make any sense how it got there from its last known state, what you’ve got is a proper anomaly. If it keeps happening again and again, what you’ve got is a systemic anomaly, an anomaly on which you will keep getting more data, an anomaly that you can try to predict. This one is of course extremely tragic, but that only gives you literally all of the reasons why everyone should study this.
How do you keep getting bodies into water without it being seen, ever?
How do you infuse high amounts of drugs into a body quickly and stealthily (or extract all of the blood, for that matter)?
How do you manipulate lividity of a corpse, like achieving none?
I’m really only qualified to speculate on the first question. Clearly, a person drunk or out of it enough to fall into water and drown is not going to take care to avoid security cameras and potential witnesses at the point of entering the water. Conversely, a person out to dispose of a corpse in water clearly would take that care. Occam’s razor therefore says foul play. The further questions are those of exact methodology. This is a suspiciously good record.
While static city cameras could be known about and avoided, there don’t seem to be any related deaths of potential witnesses, who statistically speaking must keep bumping randomly into these people entering the water. It’s unlikely that all such witnesses could be successfully bribed or threatened with all of the impromptu recordings being destroyed. This would require for the dumping of the body to be virtually instantaneous (think teleportation), perfect optical stealth, Men in Black-like memory or perception control, etc.
If you’re convinced that it can’t be any of the exotic explanations, then what is any possible explanation? The longer this series of deaths goes on globally, the less likely it is that it’s all just a result of someone’s bad or good luck. At the very least, it would require a vast, perfect conspiracy, and that’s never a good go-to explanation. It’s basically just as magic as teleportation. Not wholly impossible, but an extreme leap nonetheless. I await suggestions.
- Subjects being seen or found in places that are unusual, seemingly too far away from the point where they got lost, or places that they otherwise shouldn’t have been able to get to.
This is another strong profile point. The whole idea of the movie The Prestige about rival illusionists is that the most impossible magic trick is teleportation. If anyone who’s unable to travel many miles is found many miles away, especially if it is in a very short amount of time, it’s extremely suspicious.
Pretty much the only non-exotic explanations are that the person was carried, or put into a vehicle and driven or flown away, and there were cases of people too heavy to be carried by anything normal, while there tend to be no tracks or noises indicating either of these options taking place. It would be easier to do in a city setting, where there are at least roads all over the place, but in that case, I would expect someone at some point seeing some of the kidnappings.
The exotic options would all be variations on the person entering some sort of portal or spacetime warp or legitimately teleporting. While phenomena of this type are not strictly speaking ruled out by theoretical physicists, they would at the very least expect them to be substantially more rare, if they were to occur strictly naturally. In any event, I believe that Dave is correctly focusing on the cases where the most inexplicable travel speeds or distances took place.
- Subjects being found in a previously searched area, including areas that were searched many times
If an area has been searched dozens of times, chances are the search was sufficient. Especially if the body wasn’t even found by dedicated searchers, but by random hikers or passersby after the search was over. This includes a number of cases of divers not finding the body, but random people on the shore finding it afterwards. Again without anyone seeing the body get in.
This is another strong profile point, given that the most likely explanations are the body being dropped there to be found, or perhaps a temporal displacement. Yes, under these specific circumstances, things like temporal displacement start sounding more likely than dozens of searchers missing an obvious corpse dozens of times. Remember, Occam’s razor does not exclude “something I don’t understand happened”. When all you understand couldn’t have happened, it points to none of that. Ask Sherlock Holmes. Or Spock.
- Subjects found alive having no memory of the disappearance, or giving an account that sounds incorrect, confused, or outright fantastical
The reason why amnesia always seems contrived in TV shows and movies when used more than minimally is that it is rare in real life. Or it’s supposed to be, anyway. In contrast, hallucinations should be much more common. This is why it seems very suspicious to me that in Missing 411 cases, the majority of people who are found alive have amnesia and only a minority reports something strange happening. The proportion of the two should be inverse.
For this reason alone, this appears to be a strong profile point. Given that brain damage is almost never involved even in the cases where the Missing 411 subjects were found dead, there’s no good explanation for high incidence of amnesia. Getting lost in a forest certainly can be a traumatic event, but exhaustion, dehydration, or hypothermia could account for hallucionations, skewed perception, or irrational behavior, but again, not so much for amnesia.
It’s also unusual that it seems that it’s young children who much more often tend to remember and report anything, as opposed to adults. It’s also unusual for such high percentage of adults to remember what happened, but then not report it, to not even make anything up, which would be the only normal alternative explanation. These people should not be considered reliable witnesses, but they should have some witness testimonies to offer.
The only conventional explanation for reliable amnesia is when it is induced by some sort of chemical. Making the target unconscious or suggestible immediately and wiping their memory after the fact would be desirable tactics for any type of predator, if they can pull it off. Besides chemicals, one could make an argument for an uncommon EM, other type of radiation, or infrasound-based technologies, but nothing should be 100% reliable.
And maybe nothing is. Maybe some of the people who died had an allergic reaction to whatever method of incapacitation or memory wipe was used. Maybe it’s not used on or as effective for children, either because it would certainly kill them, or because their brains aren’t fully developed yet. The most low-tech version that I can think of, some combination of taser and GHB, would clearly be inadvisable for use on children and shoud kill some people.
As for the specific weird scenarios that were reported, assuming the reports were accurate, they seem to be conistent with there being an organized perpetrator. Well, apart from the stories of people who got lost suddenly in familiar territory, but only temporarily and with full memory of the event, which means that they didn’t qualify as Missing 411 cases.
The latter type of accounts, mainly collected by folklorists in connection to fairy lore, is consistent with natural spacetime distortions, but it can also be indicative of a special kind of traps being laid in the forest. This type of account would go some way toward explaining the seemingly missing failure rate of the perpetrators, as these would be the cases where the predators let the captured prey go, or when their traps, even though advanced, failed.
But back to how the specific Missing 411 accounts of the people who were found indicate organized predation. The most common report from adults, adult women specifically, is that of being stalked by weird or strange men. That obviously points to a kidnapping or assault attempt, though it doesn’t clarify anything else. The most common type of account from children is that of being taken or kept safe by some type of animal or animal-like men.
Taken together, it is safe to assume that the “men” in question have something going on with their appearance, like advanced camouflage or perception-altering ability. That would explain why it’s so hard to identify or catch them. The fact that they were never identified or caught is also the first indication of their organization. While you could come across a person randomly in the forest, it is much harder to be able to single people out, avoid being killed by our weapons (or leaving the dead to be found by us), and cover one’s tracks.
The other type of accounts shared by children indicates the existence of facilities. The clearest one is the account of being taken into a cave with robots and then asked to poop on a foil, but a similar conclusion can be drawn from less obvious accounts, like the one about there being continuous sunlight for several days. Only in an artificial environment can you have lights on for several days, unless you want to go for an exotic explanation.
Finally, the seemingly most ridiculous element of all of these stories, the stool sample, is a clear sign of organization. If you are some sort of wildman creature, you may want to do something primal, like hunt someone to eat them, kidnap someone as a mate or a kid to raise as part of your tribe, get rid of a witness, or attack someone for fun or because they did something to offend you. You have no reason to want their poop, specifically.
However, if you are running some sort of medical experiment, the three most logical things to do are to get a DNA sample (ideally reproductive cells), to perform a neurological exam, and to get a stool sample, which includes the gut bacteria. Anything to do with poop may be inherently silly, but as recent advances in medical science show, gut microbiome is essential for our physical health and it interacts with our brain, affecting our mood. Not suprisingly at all, these types of things are reported by alien abudctees. Of course, that says nothing about who these “aliens” are, only that they’re organized.
- Subjects found deceased having no identifiable cause of death, or an unexplained fever if found alive
Much like it is with the other inexplicable details of the typical state in which the bodies in these cases keep being found, no identifiable cause of death theoretically is a solid profile point — a positive evidence of something unusual going on.
While our current medical science is far from perfect, the real number of truly unknown causes of death appears to be quite low, somewhere in the range of 1.34 per 100,000 (in the U.K.) and 15 per 100,000 (in the U.S.). The U.K. study also suggests that the truly undeterminable deaths (called the “sudden adult death syndrome” there) can be incorrectly misdiagnosed as a different cause of death as much as two thirds of the time.
Furthermore, if I understand the abstract of the U.S. study correctly, 5% of autopsy reports in the U.S. list the cause of death as undetermined, even though the real number of undeterminable deaths is much lower than that.
In the Missing 411 cases, I believe that the percentage of how many causes of death are reported as unknown is far higher than 5%, while even many of the deaths that were reported as death by exposure or drowning seem to be questionable. In a normal sample of deaths, you’d expect roughly 500 unexplained deaths in 500,000. Here, you could have 500 in a 1,000.
While the logical statistical bias of unexplained cases of missing people should be to involve more cases of no obvious cause of death than what you should expect on average for all deaths (since otherwise the cases would likely be explained), the apparent failure rate of medical examiners in the Missing 411 cases still seems wildly excessive to me. It should never be tens of percent.
It would either mean that Jon Oliver was even more right than he thought when he was describing the current sorry state of how especially coroners (the ones without any actual medical training) operate in the United States, or it would mean that some of the Missing 411 profile points actually function as a cause of or significant contributing factor to the sudden adult death syndrome. What an apt name, by the way, SADS. While sudden arrhythmia can account for some of the Missing 411 cases, there are just too many.
- Subjects getting quickly separated from the group before disappearing, often the first or the last person in line, and sometimes after the person in question says that they’re feeling unwell or tired and separates themselves
This profile point doesn’t sound necessarily unusual to me, since in any scenario, it has to be much more likely that a missing person’s case will remain unexplained when the person disappeared while being alone and out of sight, while any intelligent perpetrator would wait for that moment.
If the person was seen, say, falling of a cliff, then that would be an explanation, just like it should be easier to find someone when you’d seen where exactly they entered the forest, at what speed, and in what state of mind. Though there are Missing 411 cases where that didn’t help, like when a person was seen chasing a dog into the forest, which only helps explain how people can get lost more often while walking a dog.
The potentially unusual elements connected to this profile point are the speed at which someone got lost after they got out of sight, which sometimes appears to be downwards of a minute, and the instances that seem to indicate that some luring or messing with one’s mental or physical state took place. Which is of course reasonable in principle, especially with animals, except for the fact that it is unclear how you would do that remotely and without a trace with a human, especially a healthy adult.
Speaking of animals, there’s of course the dog whistle or similar techniques that could certainly be used to make a dog run into a forest to make its master follow him, and a variety of more sophisticated technologies currently under development, mainly to be used as forms of crowd control.
If some sort of targeted infrasound, microwave, or EM-based device is used, I bet you can make someone feel unwell at a distance, or make them hallucinate, or start behaving irrationally. The science is almost there.
The question is not so much whether someone can have or be using such technology, since the recent sonic attacks at U.S. embassies across the world prove that the capability exists. The question is why would there be high-tech kidnappers, possibly using also advanced camouflage or noise cancellation technology, snatching random people sneakily in the forests. It would make much more sense for this tech to be involved in the urban cases.
For the profile point, it means that more weight should be given to cases where the disappearance after separation was abrupt, but also that the feeling unwell or the wildly running into a forest-type separations should be looked at separately. After all, that’s how a sudden health crisis or mental break would start.
In this light, it would only be strange if the person who felt unwell then traveled huge distance, which would be incongruous, or if the person was later found alive and healthy, but with no memory of what happened. There is a chance that the person will not want to admit a bout of irrational behavior, but they should not have amnesia, unless a blow to the head, extreme psychological trauma, or very specific chemicals were involved.
- Subjects missing some or all articles of clothing, especially socks, shoes, or boots
Yeah, that’s a weird one, which probably makes it a good profile point. It only has to be cross-checked carefully with cases where paradoxical undressing could have realistically taken place. Dave have made some comments over the years that indicate that he initially didn’t believe that paradoxical undressing is an actual thing that happens, but after he got predictably criticized for it, he appears to understand it better now.
Overall, the cases that he selected seem to correctly rule out normal cases based on details like there not being low-enough temperatures at all, people getting undressed too quickly after disappearing (before the cold could have set in), or people traveling absurdly long distances after they removed some articles of their clothing, especially if that included shoes or boots in rough terrain. Dave also likes to cite one case in which the police officers noticed that the subject who lost his shoes had clean socks, after apparently traveling on his own for several miles through a muddy area.
As for any data points or theories that may shed some light on why the clothing tends to be missing, the only explanations provided by the survivors of something like a Missing 411 incident are either that they removed it themselves (without understanding why and later regretting it), or the story of one little girl that a dog/wolf man “ate” some articles of her clothing. Dave also mentions legends from Hawaii and Indonesia which explain that you should not wear bright clothing if you don’t want to offend some kind of spirits, or that some spirits demand that you lie naked face down in their presence, which is how Missing 411 people often are found.
There are also plenty of weird, and weirdly specific, clothing-related instructions in the fairy lore, like that in order to ward them off, you should turn your clothing inside out. Which sometimes happens in the Missing 411 cases, without any good reason. Sometimes to children too young to be able to dress or undress themselves. This clearly points to an intelligent perpetrator, and one who, inexplicably, doesn’t have a very good grasp of how human clothing works. That’s definitely the weirdest scenario.
If I think about how likely it is that this profile point signifies something unusual, the inside-out clothing is very hard to explain away, but the brightly colored clothing may have a mundane explanation. Anything that makes you more visible from a longer distance by default makes you an easier target for any kind of predator, animal, human, or otherwise. So, I would expect more people to get lost while wearing colorful clothing rather than natural shades or camo. However, after they get lost, I would expect more people with colorful clothing to be found, as it cuts both ways.
Which brings me to some practical reasons why you would undress a person that you have kidnapped. Maybe you did notice and track them more easily because they had colorful clothing, but then, once you got them, you removed it so that it would now be harder to notice and track you carrying them. Similarly, as I have heard someone theorize, you may want to remove their shoes first so that they can’t run away from you very easily, or maybe you’d steal their clothing so that they more quickly succumb to the elements if they somehow ran away from wherever you’re holding them that’s presumably some kind of shelter, base, or vehicle.
Thankfully, though it would explain why you would remove someone’s clothing, we can rule out the sexual motive, as there’s no evidence that this type of attack is what the Missing 411 cases are about. At least not in any of the cases where the person was found. Or at least not in any way in which we understand this type of attack to work. Then again, the alternatives don’t exactly seem to be comforting, as they range up to Lovecraftian.
There is some possibility, given the erratic and illogical behavior of some of the people who testified to what happened to them, that either a mental breakdown, or some sort of suggestion, hypnosis, or mind control technology are to blame. Given that some cases indicate third-party involvement (like the inside-out clothing, children unable to undress themselves, or clean socks while traveling miles), the latter option, however unlikely and disconcerting, must be considered. The question is, why would a sophisticated perpetrator remove (and sometimes return) clothing, and not understand how it works?
Not to sound too alien-abductiony, but some type of medical examination or procedure would make the most sense. That would be bad enough if done systematically by some sort of human agency, but the inside-out clothing indicates that it really might not involve humans, or at least not exactly us, modern-day humans (insert you favorite sci-fi modifier here). The lack of visible damage to the bodies would in this context indicate either that the exam or procedure was neurological in nature (like an MRI scan), interrogative (interviewing the subject), or otherwise non-invasive (like a DNA swab). Or that there was stasis involved. Or any or all of that.
The stasis option might sound the most sci-fi, but there are multiple Missing 411 cases in which the body was found in a surprisingly pristine condition for how long it was supposedly dead. Better yet, there are a few cases in which the body was reported to be completely frozen, in a non-freezing environment. Which is scientifically speaking the most basic method through which to do stasis, especially if you don’t care about the subject dying. The mysterious part is how the bodies got to where they were found.
At the same time, if we ignore abject cruelty, when some major injuries were identified as the cause of death, those might have been done to cover up an invasive medical procedure. For example, the cases in which the missing died of major head trauma, of what was described as a possible propeller strike, even through a helmet or when there was no height to fall from hard enough. These could have involved a more invasive examination or procedure focused on the brain, and while they fortunately seem rare, especially to the extreme of cow mutilations, there are such cases. Which makes you think what could have happened to those who were not returned.
Finally, if you think about it, it’s important to understand that human clothing can be confusing to a highly intelligent, highly scientifically advanced species who has studied us for ages. For starters, it keeps changing, on a whim, basically, so you have to constantly keep guessing how it works. Furthermore, introducing it in the first place or doing things like turning it inside out could screw with pattern recognition AI that was designed to target us looking a particular way. The AI then has to adapt, and will probably never be able to do so perfectly and permanently. Which is an issue that we have already encountered with self-driving cars. Clothing really is tricky.
The cases of inside-out clothing in particular remind me of one potential UFO abduction case of Zigmund Adamski, which happened on the 6th of June 1980 in the U.K. It has many of the Missing 411 hallmarks — Adamski disappeared while on a walk and was last seen in the afternoon, only to turn up five days later, dead, on top of a coal pile located in a town twenty miles away. Naturally, without any explanation as to how he got there.
The reason why I’m mentioning it is that he had his shirt missing and various articles of his clothing were improperly fastened, almost as if he was undressed and then dressed back in a hurry. Or, again, by someone who had no idea how to properly fasten the clothes. The only theory other than aliens was KGB, or some sort of organized crime hit, but then it isn’t clear why the agents or criminals would fail to properly dress the guy.
The reason why foul play was suspected in this case was that there were burn marks found on the body, which has happened in at least one Missing 411 urban case that I’m aware of. Not only that, the burn marks were treated by an unidentifiable ointment and the cause of death was a massive heart attack. Which sort of plays into the possibility that Dave often mentions of people dying essentially of fear, like when being kidnapped and burned by what may seem as aliens, even if it were human agents.
While the possibility of pure fear killing a person is medically speaking speculative at best, extreme fear can certainly cause a lethal heart attack in a person with a heart that is in a less than stellar condition. It’s not at all hard to imagine that in this case, the person got suddenly kidnapped into a flying vehicle and stripped by some sort of non-human entities, was aware of it (which perhaps wasn’t supposed to happen) and panicked, burned himself while trying to escape the vehicle or fight the captors, got a heart attack, and died. Who knows, maybe that’s why the urban disappearances now tend to be targeted at young, physically and mentally fit people.
After that, the entities could have panicked, tried and failed to save him, did their best to dress him without his help (as normally, they would perhaps make him dress himself), and dumped him from the air to the top of the nearest pile, perhaps because of the absence of local natural peaks or mountains. A type of place from which Missing 411 people tend to vanish and at which they tend to appear. Which brings me to a statistical issue that I think Dave got wrong. In the Dave’s profile, whoever the perpetrators are seem to be perfect, but no one is 100% effective. I think the issue is that Dave by default rules out cases in which “they” would have made an error.
Like the case of Zigmund Adamski — criminal activity was not ruled out, which rules it out as a Missing 411 case, but it was not ruled out precisely because there was evidence of foul play. Making an error on the part of Missing 411 perpetrators means that people won’t go missing, that there will be evidence that will be interpreted as human crime (because what else would be a serious suspicion of the police in any scenario), or the person will see and report things that will make him or her sound mentally ill, and perhaps even diagnosed. This is why one should look into the work of people like Steph Young or various other paranormal investigators.
On this note, I like Dave’s more recent approach of looking for almost-Missing 411 cases that are substantiated with hard evidence, like those included in the most recent documentary (featuring the Bigfoot audio recording and the “predator” photo). Much like Dave eventually had to include urban cases that he was initially avoiding, I believe the next “spoke in the wheel” (as Dave likes to call it) will have to be cases that share many of the Missing 411 profile points without the person actually going missing.
- Subjects forgetting wallets or phones at home or in the car before leaving either at strange times or remote places, or getting missing suddenly while on the phone (with the phone being hung up, losing power, or ending up missing, destroyed, dry when it should have been wet, or unused when there was a signal)
Regarding this profile point, I tend to agree with a number of people who say that Dave overestimates the weirdness of people leaving essential items behind, as you can easily do that when you don’t think you’ll be gone long or when you just have a standard brain fart. But I totally agree with Dave that the disappearing-while-on-the-phone stuff is weird. Especially in the one case when the phone was later found shattered into a million pieces.
Disappearing while forgetting your phone behind is definitely much less bizarre than disappearing while having your phone with you, and especially while using it to call for help, or while something is happening to you as you are on the phone. The fact that phones today double as GPS locators and that they can record both audio and video and be connected to the internet at all times makes urban disappearances of people with phones suspicious.
Maybe if in all of the cases, the phone lost charge too quickly, it would be less strange, but that’s only the case sometimes. And even then, there often still should have been enough time to use the phone to report or record what happened. This implies that the way in which these people disappear involves their rapid incapacitation, or at least severe confusion.
The latter option seems especially plausible, since in none of the recorded calls were any of the victims able to relay any coherent, useful information. At most, they managed to say that someone is following them, but not exactly who or where they are, or if they described a specific location, they were already gone within moments (if the location they gave was accurate in the first place). Mostly, they just managed to say something like “oh my gosh”, or “my phone is about to go dead”, or gave out unsettling noises.
The ability of any perpetrator to remotely confuse, lure, or in some sense mind control targeted people would also be consistent with the victims leaving essential items behind — it would just be an induced brain fart. The people who were disappeared while on the phone would only be different in the sense that they must have been targeted after they were already outside. Which brings me to some espionage-related implications.
If the person was targeted at home and lured out, it is virtually certain that that person was followed beforehand. Somebody must have done their research and observed their daily routine for some time. Perhaps an evidence of that could be uncovered for some of the cases, for example by checking any street footage for suspicious vehicles outside of the victim’s residence. If the person was targeted outside, other options open up.
If a person disappeared from a place like a pub, then the perpetrators were either lying in wait on the location, possibly cooperating with whoever is operating the establishment, or they were again following the target person beforehand and waited for him to go to a social event. The reason why to wait for that could be that it is much less suspicious for a person to disappear while out drinking at night in the city than if they just left their house for no reason in the middle of the night. In any case, since many of the missing in cities were students, maybe they were targeted at school.
These are all angles that can and should be investigated, since precise targeting, luring, and covert disappearing of people aren’t trivial tasks. There’s bound to be some sort of infrastructure for this, especially since it is a global phenomenon and since having the staff of the establishment where you want to disappear someone on your side or having infiltrated the school which your potential targets attend would make everything much easier. This would also explain why it happens in only some cities — you can’t simply improvise it anywhere without having the infrastructure.
- Trackers unable to track
This a tough one because on one hand, I would like to believe Dave that trackers are by and large good enough to always find things like signs of struggle, but on the other hand, no one is perfect. There’s bound to be a normal percentage of cases in which the trackers simply fail to locate evidence that is present in the area. What makes it so tough is that I don’t think you can determine when it was a failure, and when there was nothing to be found. In either of these scenarios, the result will look the same.
This is also one of the profile points that may simply cause people not to be found, at all or in time to save the person, reversing the causality. For this reason, the inability of trackers to track the person should only be considered significant when other, positive evidence is present, like when the body shows up later in a previously searched area, or when the trackers actually do find something that’s harder to find than the person, like their matchbox, but not any of the much larger objects the person was carrying.
- Canines unable (or unwilling) to pick up scent of either living persons or cadavers
Much like it is with Dave’s trust in the ability of searchers to conduct proper searches, Dave also doesn’t question the ability of canines to find scent. I’m personally not an expert on animal behavior, but as I was told by a biochemist, nothing in biology is 100%. Dogs aren’t machines, which inevitably means they must have some sort of rate of error, some better and worse days, while scent can be affected by environmental conditions.
Given that this is perhaps the most consistent profile point, it could be a key one, but there are some nuanced considerations that should be made. For starters, in all of the cases where dogs couldn’t pick up the scent and then the search was unsuccessful, the direction of causality could be that dogs not finding the scent should decrease the chance to find the missing person. In other words, you’d expect these two things to correlate.
This means that this profile point is only interesting in combination with other data points that involve positive evidence. Ideally the kind of evidence that proves that the dogs should have been able to pick up the scent, but didn’t, like in the cases when a dead body was later found in an area after it was combed through with standard search dogs or cadaver dogs. But even then, dogs can simply fail in some cases, meaning that this profile point alone is never truly a conclusive proof of something unusual going on with the case.
- Sudden spell of bad weather immediately following the disappearance
Here I have to give credit to Seriah Azkath and the Snake Brothers, who pointed out the likely direction of causality regarding this profile point on a recent Where Did the Road Go show. Put simply, this profile point is something that makes it harder to find a missing person and easier for people to get more lost. That’s probably why it correlates so much with cases that remain unexplained. They even mentioned a hunter explaining that some hunters follow bad weather intentionally to catch more prey.
Obviously, bad weather happening while a person is lost should also mean higher chance of them dying of exposure, but also limit the distance that the lost person can travel. This means that in order for this profile point to mean something more interesting, the person would have to be found despite the bad weather, in a place they shouldn’t have been, and either alive when they should have died of exposure, or dead with no clear cause of death when they should have still been alive. Then it begins to be odd.
However, statistically speaking, the remaining cases of storms which didn’t ultimately cause the search to fail or during which the missing person ended up doing impossible things will still only be interesting as profile points if they keep being too frequent in comparison to how often storms follow non-mysterious cases of people going missing, or if they at least are individually unexpected instances of bad weather. Comparison is key.
On this count, I would very much like Dave to publish exact tables showing how significant (meaning frequent) each of the correlating factors is in the Missing 411 sample of cases, ideally in comparison to tables of what is normal for a representative sample of normal missing persons cases. For example, in a random sample of a thousand normal missing persons cases, how often do people go missing with a dog, in contrast to how often that happens in a sample of a thousand Missing 411 cases? So far, as far as I know, Dave made the clusters map and the table of how far away small children were found. Which are great, so please, Dave, do more of that.
But it’s true that on the other, more paranoid hand, if the storms are somehow being caused (or foreseen and taken advantage of) to thwart searches, them succeeding in thwarting searches is not a disqualifying factor. It would be an annoyingly good crime, however, as it is very difficult to prove such crime for the above-mentioned reasons. Especially if it’s only about taking advantage of naturally forming bad weather, as that would then maintain its normal, statistically insignificant rate of incidence.
From that point of view, this profile point should always be analyzed together with other variables. If a criminal group with the same unusual means and methods of abducting people in a forest setting is taking advantage of bad weather to kidnap and do god knows what with people in the same unusual ways, then the bad weather compromising searches should correlate more often with cases that contain other unusual elements to them than with normal cases of people going missing in a forest.
- Subjects disappearing with a dog, while dog often returns or is found unharmed
This profile point may be one of the more normal ones, as it makes a lot of sense that if you have a dog with you and the dog for whatever reason decides to run off into the forest, you chasing after it can rather easily lead to you getting lost. It also makes sense that in such a scenario, the dog should be more able to find a way back eventually, as opposed to its owner.
The dog returning back safely also makes sense in the context of human or other intelligent predation, since when someone is interested in a particular person as a target, they don’t have any obvious reason to also hurt their dog (other than to make it run into the forest as a distraction).
On the other hand, there are some data points that indicate that there’s something unusual going on during the disappearances with the dogs. There is at least one case in which the dog was proven to have been almost certainly fed (venison), which might indicate some perpetrator may have been more respectful of the life of the dog than that of the human target, as well as there are cases of dogs likely not having spent time in the area where they got lost, like the one dehydrated dog found in a swampland, or a number of cases of dogs being found in a surprisingly good condition.
If you couple it with the fact that dogs fail (or refuse) to track the victims in most of these cases, there’s some slight amusing possibility that I personally like to cal “dogspiracy”. Which is most definitely not the case, but it’s just crazy, yet logical enough to be worth mentioning to showcase how not normal the available data is. Maybe, just maybe, dogs are behind it all.
Specifically, either cryptids known as dogmen, or some version of skinwalkers who can shapeshift into canine forms. There are cases where a wolf man-type being was described as the one who kidnapped the target, they could be easily able to control dogs and likely to respect them more than humans, and if the shapeshifting into dogs is on the table, they could get around any human settlements, including urban areas, undetected.
Heck, there’s even a consensus in the cryptid community, as far as I can tell, that while bigfoot-type cryptids find themselves ethically speaking on the same range as humans (including benevolence), dogmen and skinwalkers are almost always strictly malevolent, or at least much more aggressive and dangerous. The stories about bigfoot tend to paint them as forest protectors, who would only hurt you if you seriously piss them off or attack and corner them, while dogmen seem to be out to hunt or scare us.
As I was listening to various cryptid-related podcasts and shows, I have also encountered mentions of a possible conflict raging between bigfoot and dogmen/skinwalkers. Like mentions of reports of bigfoot on one of the U.S. coasts attacking dogs (in one episode of the On the Trail of Bigfoot series), or a description of an area where there were almost exclusively bigfoot reports on one side of a road going through a forest, and almost exclusively dogman reports on the other (on The Venomous Fringe podcast).
Then again, at this point, it’s not much more than entertaining fiction. One that I will totally use in some of my sci-fi or fantasy stories. Overall, the whole dog connection is interesting, but not useful without other evidence. If there is evidence that something weird was going on with the dog, that’s the part that should be focused on, in my opinion — presence of inexplicable evidence is always more interesting than a correlation alone.
- Subjects disappearing in the afternoon
This is one of the profile points that may have a completely mundane explanation, which could be proven. There should be different amounts of people walking through the forests at different times of day, possibly doing different things in the forest at different times of day. I’d wager that afternoon is the time during which forests see the highest levels of traffic.
What should be done first is a comparison with the distribution of times at which people from a random non-Missing 411 sample disappear in the same areas. Given that the smallest useful sample is about 100 people, it would have to be for a whole U.S. state at least, or for all national parks in a country, since the largest cluster in the Yosemite is currently in the 50s, I believe. Without that, there’s no point in speculating any further.
I would just say that if the two samples have very similar distributions of the times at which people disappear, it’s likely that there’s nothing to it other than people get lost at the times at which they tend to be on a hike. If they differ, now, that would be interesting, especially if the difference is major.
Similarly, I would also like to see a chart of Missing 411 cases by date of disappearance, or ideally both date and time, so that there’s more to compare again with normal disappearances, and in the case of dates, also with tourist and hunting seasons, like any numbers of how many tourists or hunters can be found in the forest at what time of year. If those exact statistics aren’t available, similar ones should exist to give us an estimate.
Of course, proving that the times and dates at which people get lost mysteriously are normal times at which there’s an opportunity to get lost doesn’t prove that the disappearances are entirely mundane. If there’s an intelligent perpetrator behind any Missing 411 disappearances, they are likely to know when to lie in wait for people — at the times and dates when there’s the most opportunity. However, they may not follow that perfectly.
There is a chance that at least some perpetrators would slip up and instead of the most opportune times and dates go for a compromise between opportune times and times convenient for them. That’s why it is so important to not ignore this data, but instead compile it and look for discrepancies between the normal distribution and Missing 411 distribution of times and dates of disappearances on a large enough sample that will therefore give it sufficient statistical significance and reliability.
- Subjects disappearing while picking berries or mushrooms
As a person from the Czech Republic, where picking mushrooms is a national pastime more so than in most other countries, this is puzzling to me. I have never heard of a single case in the history of my country of anyone going missing mysteriously while picking mushrooms. Or at least not any more mysteriously than provably falling off a cliff, and that’s the only case I could find. Usually, the tragic stories are about mushroom poisoning.
When we go do that with my family, we go to a place we know, or with a guide who knows the local forest like their backyard. And even in the absence of that, the Czech Republic is crisscrossed with a network of marked tourist trails, with marks dotting trees and rocks along almost all trails that exist in our forests. Once you come across one, you know that following it will get you back to civilization within at most a day. Also, there are virtually no big predators in the Czech Republic that would kill a man.
Forests being bigger and unmarked could certainly be an issue, just like the number and type of local predators or overall crime rates in the area, and maybe that’s something that should be statistically analyzed using data that I don’t have at the moment (comparing forests where people go missing versus those where they don’t get missing based on these criteria).
But I think there’s more to it than that. When picking mushrooms or berries, a group of people typically stays within hearing range, which means that all you need to do to not get lost is being able to shout (or shoot, I guess). This leaves a sudden medical emergency, or an animal or human attack, that either quickly render you unconscious, or force you to be quiet.
Medical emergency would then prevent you from wandering away very far, unless it was a psychotic break, but regardless, many of the missing were in excellent physical and mental health. Which leaves being jumped by someone or something as the most likely explanation. Especially considering that feeding grounds are a great place where to lie in wait for prey, and perhaps the best way to narrow down where people will be found in a big forest, and roughly when. This can be a standalone subset of cases.
- Unusually high percentage of subjects being male, very young, college-age, or old, with some kind of apparent or hidden injury or disability, or with exceptionally high or low intelligence (including specifically academically accomplished people like physicists or physicians, very physically fit people like runners, athletes, or soldiers, or people connected to religion or Germany)
This is perhaps the main area in which I would like Dave to release tables with exact percentages of just how common various traits among the missing people are, as the first step that needs to be taken in any serious study is to compare the composition of Dave’s sample with the standard distributions of variables in the normal demographics of the involved states or countries. Without that, we simply don’t know if any of it is significant.
And that’s just the first step. It’s quite possible that the population of people who visit national parks differs significantly from the whole population of the given states or countries under normal circumstances. The comparison actually needs to be made between the Missing 411 sample and what’s normal for national park visitors in general, as well as it needs to be made between the Missing 411 sample and a control sample of non-Missing 411 missing people, ideally controlled by location (park vs. rural vs. urban).
Maybe there are more younger and older people visiting the parks in general, maybe it’s more of a white or specifically German cultural thing in general, maybe people with disabilities, geniuses, or athletes should be over-represented. Maybe more younger and older people get missing more often in general, or specifically, maybe kids always get missing more often when they’re watched by relatives other than their parents. There are so many comparisons that need to be made, and for that you need numbers.
What I would say does seem obviously wrong are for example the cases of water-related disappearances and deaths in urban areas, where the young white male students figure in almost all of them. In contrast, as Dave points out, to types of people who should be much more likely to drown in cities, like the homeless, but who aren’t involved in a single unexplained case.
Similarly, some traits like high intelligence, excellent physical condition, or relevant expertise and preparation are inherently suspicious, even if they happen in statistically insignificant numbers. After all, if there is an intelligent perpetrator behind at least some of these cases, they can be smart enough not to kidnap and kill too many people. But if they’re after exceptional (and therefore potentially valuable) targets, they can’t hide that, or even necessarily be able to do without specific targets, however unlikely those target people are to get lost or succumb to the elements.
It’s important to understand that when you’re working against an intelligent adversary, they will try to use your statistical reasoning against you, not doing anything too frequently, so that you brush it all off as a mere coincidence, normal chance. For that reason, what you need to focus on are any exceptional, unique, or odd attributes that ideally didn’t have to show up at all, or that would make someone a logical target for a predator, even if you don’t fully understand what that predator is getting out of it.
On the most basic level, it makes a lot of sense for a predator of any type or motivation to pick either easy targets (like kids, the disabled, the elderly, or less well-armed hunters), or exceptional targets (for the thrill, challenge, or some kind of interrogative or research value), so these attributes should be expected. I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if these were more common for Missing 411 cases than in the general population or among normal park visitors, though it would be interesting to see exactly how much more or less common they are for normal disappearances in the same areas.
However, that leaves a number of seemingly unnecessary attributes without any apparent logic behind why they should make someone a target or more likely to get lost mysteriously. These are mainly the German connection, the religion connection, and the military connection, or a combination of two or all three. This invokes a motivation or mentality that either has something to do with genetics or culture, or a specific grudge.
I have discussed the German aspect a lot with some people who understand the relevant genetics, and it appears that of all the possible ethnic groups, it wouldn’t make much sense to pick Germans. If the point was that you need to work with or study specific genetic markers, given that Germans are, ironically, one of the least genetically “pure” groups in the world. The German language also isn’t particularly unique, as it exists on a continuum with a number of other European languages that are all similar.
Moreover, again ironically, there are many other both genetically and culturally much older groups. Nazis were in fact spectacularly wrong about the “Arian” race, especially in the sense that the Germans are it (they’re not) or that they’re exceptional (not by any objective metric). So, if there’s any genetic program that deals with people who have German origins, it would have to be relatively recent and more likely to be motivated by something like Nazi mysticism, rather than any real scientific reasons.
With all that said, it would be interesting to take all of the people with the German origin within the Missing 411 sample and check whether their ancestors come from all over Germany, or if they all come from a specific region or regions inside of Germany (or Austria or Switzerland). The latter possibility would imply that even if there weren’t significantly many of them within the sample in comparison to all people or all park visitors, there may be a specific, several centuries-old genetic reason or personal grudge involved. Otherwise, literally only the Nazis would care about this.
The religion and military connection may also be connected to a specific cultural grudge, but what they imply to me is that maybe any targeting would be more of an issue of neurology rather than genetics. Especially since weird perception and memory issues are common among the Missing 411 cases. If there is someone out there with some kind of tech doing this, the tech clearly should involve remote brain or full-body scan capability (to ascertain hidden health issues or intelligence), perception altering, and memory editing. And even if the issue was some natural phenomenon, state of mind or mentality can affect awareness and behavioral responses.
Neurology-based research and technology would also help explain why the causes of death are so difficult to identify in many of these cases. Ignoring mind control for now (which is technically doable with advanced enough technology that we are already developing), someone who can remotely scan or edit brains can probably also stop someone’s heart with a more advanced version of taser. Interestingly, and horrifyingly, the screams and howls recorded in the case of Henry McCabe, who was found dead without any apparent cause, do resemble the noises made by people who are tazed.
- The locations often have “devil” in their name and tend to be close to water, boulder fields, and large granite formations
I do agree with Dave that it is safe to assume that places typically get named for a reason, especially if the name sounds ominous, like Devil’s, Demon’s, or Hell’s something or other. I guess I should look into places in the Czech Republic with our version of this, involving the word “Čert” in the name.
It’s too bad that the history of these names isn’t particularly well documented in the Americas, but using common sense, one would use such names for places where bad things happen, where people die or go missing, where they feel bad, or at least for remote, haunting areas.
All of which are attributes that should be connected with strange disappearances, if you think about it. If there already was a history of people getting lost or being found dead hundreds of years ago, maybe there always were hunting grounds of local predators, maybe there always was a settlement of local “wild men”, or maybe something about the natural environment itself was always potentially deadly to visitors.
Even if the name was selected purely on the basis of bad feelings, it may indicate that dangerous terrain, gases, radiation, or infrasound can be found in the area. Something that could be invisible and undetectable without very specific instruments, but nevertheless entirely normal and real. And even if the name is just related to the remoteness, more remote and hard-to-get areas would mean the most difficult search environments.
Because of this predictable universal connection, this profile point by itself doesn’t necessarily mean anything strange on its own. However, the understanding that there is such a connection between naming conventions and occurrence of a particular type of disappearance could be used as a lead to determine which places to investigate, either with priority, more thoroughly, or further back into the past. Maybe a comparison of natural features of these place can yield interesting correlations.
I mean, beyond the obvious connection to large bodies of water and boulder and rock formations. I’m not a physicist, chemist, or an engineer, so I can’t begin to speculate about any special properties of water or granite, though electrical ones certainly don’t seem to be off the table.
What I can speculate on is why any type of perpetrator would have an operational range centered around large bodies of water or rock formations, or national forests and parks for that matter. This seems to be pretty straightforward to me — it doesn’t matter if you’re a bunch of wild men, an underground civilization, or a fleet of E.T. scientists or drones, in order to hide from humanity, you’d need a place where you can hide.
There are no stretches of known science required for someone to be able to create an underground or underwater base. Any government can do that already. Sure, it would be somewhat difficult to hide the act of construction, but again, even your standard government can pull that off. Or I guess you could have built up your whole infrastructure before mankind developed science, or you could be hiding in natural habitats like national forests or parks, so no construction would be needed at all.
The ideal places to build bases would be at the bottom of the ocean or under beautiful sacred mountains, given that the former is still much less explored than the surface of the Moon and Mars, and that the latter is about the last place where humans would start a large-scale, invasive digging operation. If you could use portals to get in and out of them, that would help a lot, but all the technology you need is a camouflaged door.
If you think that this whole scenario is crazy, then you haven’t watched enough Star Trek. There are multiple instances of Starfleet observing pre-warp civilizations (which it is not allowed to interfere with due to the Prime Directive) from a secret base cloaked as part of a mountain. If we can already think of that, and undoubtedly would do it ourselves given the opportunity, it’s not crazy. What’s weird is that this is not happening in all of the parks equally, suggesting that a thorough comparison should be made.
Even if the perpetrators aren’t exactly advanced, protected primeval forests are the most logical place where to look for any surviving intelligent forest-dwelling creatures. The forests that are not protected have much less regulated traffic, much lower biodiversity, are much more likely to be randomly cut down or otherwise messed with, and likely lack continuity to ancient times. Also, in case you make a mistake and blow your cover, humans will be far less likely to torch a natural treasure to get you.
- Strange coincidences occur in connection to some of the cases, typically involving names of the people involved
I know I said I won’t to go into detail on individual cases, but it would be difficult to comment on the coincidences that Paulides points out without pointing them out. The main two cases involving multiple odd coincidences are the disappearance of Dennis Martin and the death of Elisa Lam.
In the Dennis Martin case, the Martin family went on a hike into a forest, and in the forest, they met another Martin family. Dennis disappeared while Martin kids were playing with the other Martin kids. Meanwhile, after Dennis went missing, the Key family, looking for bears some distance away, saw a dark man-type figure carrying something on its shoulder, a key piece of the puzzle.
If these coincidences seem pedestrian or contrived to you, brace yourself. In the case Elisa Lam’s death, around the time of her death, NIH was using a test called LAM-ELISA in the area to deal with a tuberculosis outbreak. Not only that, the details of her death, especially how she was found dead in a water tank on the roof of a hotel, mirrored the plot of a Japanese horror movie called Dark Water from 2002, remade in 2005 (Elisa died in 2013).
Sure, random things happen, even extremely unlikely things. How often you run into people with the same first name or surname as you is a function of how rare it is. When a Smith family runs into a Smith family, it’s probably no big deal. When Paulides runs into a Pavlides when on one of these cases, a thing that has never happened to him before or since and which doesn’t have to happen over an entire lifetime at all, that counts as a bit odd.
And sure, tests have to be named something and there is a limited number of letters in the alphabet. Granted, Elisa Lam is a rare name, so it’s a case of a rare name of a test that is the same as a human name, which was the same as a rare name of a person who died unusually, while the test was being used at the time and place where they died. That’s roughly a bit odd to the fourth power. The unusual death following a plot of a movie, an unusual plot, moves this coincidence to about a bit odd to the sixth power. How odd is enough?
These coincidences may of course ultimately mean nothing, or they can have nothing to do with what caused the disappearance or death even if they by themselves are more than just a fluke of random chance. But I myself am very interested in what could be called the science of coincidence, so let’s talk about what coincidences may mean for a bit. With the emphasis on “may”.
Right off the bat, it is important to distinguish coincidence from correlation. When Paulides subtitled one of his book A Sobering Coincidence, I’m pretty sure that he was talking about correlations — elements of the cases repeating in multiple cases. Coincidence is not the fact that something keeps repeating or happening in similar ways, it is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. An isolated concurrence so unlikely that it’s suspicious by itself.
Or to put it another way, a pattern of correlations is when the same things keep happening more frequently than they should by chance, while a pattern of coincidences is when unique, extremely unlikely events keep happening in connection to a person, event, phenomenon, etc. In theory, both may only be a product of sheer randomness, like number of pirates in the world inversely correlating to CO2 emissions, or they may reflect a statistical artifact caused by how the sample was selected, like unwittingly going by an ordered list.
My theory regarding coincidences is that if you have a sufficiently complete knowledge, you can use it to communicate with people or steer them using coincidences (by manipulating irrelevant details of situations around them so that only they will notice that something noteworthy is going on). Moreover, if you could pull this off, you would want to use this technique to help someone or manipulate them without it being traceable back to you, or without it being scientifically provable that it was a communication at all.
Yes, you are supposed to be thinking of Dirk Gently. The concept of a holistic detective may be a fiction invented by Douglas Adams, but the interesting aspect of his science fiction ideas is that while crazy-sounding and hilarious, they are logically consistent and potentially realistic. Like his idea of a probability-based engine — many macroscopic physical “laws” are only aggregates of chaotic movements and interactions going on at the subatomic level. Objects can spontaneously teleport, it’s just very, very, very unlikely.
Like, you just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly unlikely it is, but that’s all that is — unlikely, not impossible. There is mounting evidence that states of mind affect probability of external events, making it fluctuate. If that could be scaled up or turned into a realiable technology, then who knows, maybe it could be possible to cause coincidences, or they could be a side effect of some type of probability-based technology being used. Like to teleport. It’s not crazy talk, it’s a genius speculation of one of the sci-fi greats.
And don’t even get me started on synchronicity and how you absolutely would want to use systemic coincidences in order to manage a simulated (or similarly controlled) world. If you simulate a physical world and you want to interfere with it without rewriting natural laws all the time, you use any fuzziness or ambiguity within them, like chaotic probability, to essentially cheat. It doesn’t matter if you interfere from outside of the Matrix, or if you’re an emergent galactic civilization that constructs solar systems and sets up and directs evolutions over aeons. Coincidence is how “gods” can circumvent rules.
Think of it as a cosmic-level tool to bring attention of specific types of people or individuals to specific things, while hiding the act itself. Or it could be a sign of a design artifact, like when many bad guys in our fictional worlds contain “Mal” in their name, or how many hero names can be abbreviated as “JC”. Maybe names are not random, but to an extent generated with an audience to appreciate them in mind. How can we prove otherwise? We can’t, not really, which is why this trick would be used by higher intelligences.
The only way how to prove that a synchronicity (coincidence that is manipulative) is taking place, as far as I can tell, is to guess at the logic behind it and then try to predict not necessarily what specific coincidence will happen, but at least the incidence aspect — that it will happen, or the time or rate at which coincidences will be happening in relation to a particular person or phenomenon. A good enough guess should allow you to try to force and maximize the coincidence by removing all normal ways of the expected manipulation happening naturally. At the risk or irritating the given “god”.
As for how useful chasing coincidences is as an intentional profile point, Dave allegedly was told that he should expect unbelievable coincidences on his quest to figure out this mystery. Many serious paranormal investigators note the importance of the strange coincidence angle. Conventionally speaking, this should be a waste of time, since it basically amounts to following coin tosses. However, if your bet is that something smarter than humans (or humans smarter than you expect possible) may be involved, maybe it’s not such a crazy bet.
If it’s correct, I bet that benevolent “gods” would use coincidence to aid us and trickster “gods” to amuse themselves. Malevolent “gods” could theoretically use it to mislead us, but I bet that malevolent “gods” have a less perfect awareness and more of a self-centered, narrow viewpoint on things. There could also be competing goods, but let’s table that for now.
A Mystery Still Unsolved
You may have noticed that in all that speculation, I may have cracked the case at most in the sense of creating some structural microtears in it. I could also go on and on, but I think this is more than enough for now. At this point, I believe it is more about what direction I think should be taken in further analyzing the data. If I sum it all up:
- Cases with positive evidence of the impossible (facts gleaned from autopsies, missing being found in unlikely places, etc.) should always be prioritized over cases included on the basis of absence of evidence.
- Profile points that make people more likely to go missing or to not be found in general (bad weather, dogs and trackers failing to track, etc.) should be considered irrelevant in the absence of additional inexplicable positive evidence.
- All of the profile points should be quantified and the exact numbers published in tables, ideally in comparison with relevant control samples. This should definitely include basic data like demographics of the missing and the dates and times of disappearances, in addition to locations, which were already visualized as the cluster map. Best format would be an interactive table online, where all types of data could be filtered and sorted with immediate visualization.
- Beyond the basic scientific considerations, it’s important to understand that we may be doing research here against an intelligent adversary, which complicates things. It may even be an intelligence-type operation, specifically, which means that there could be an effort to avoid statistical detection or to obscure the true motivation by introducing false leads and using all kinds of misdirection, if not outright destruction of evidence, intimidation, or assassination. This means that nothing should be taken at face value and that it may be necessary to keep our cards close to the chest — not advertising our best leads or next moves, while trying to set up traps for the adversary. At the same time, however, getting as many people to know and think about this is key, as it directly defeats the main objectives of the hypothetical adversary (remaining hidden and keeping potential targets unaware).
This about covers what I would like to say about this subject at this moment in time. If you have any theories or suggestions yourselves, I’m all ears. I certainly intend to investigate this phenomenon further, as well as a range of other things that I may write about in the future. Oh and sorry about all this, if you’ve ever intended to go into into a forest again. On the other hand, cities don’t appear to be safe either, so… Look, squirrel!
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