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Shadow people are supernatural shadow-like humanoid figures that, according to believers, are seen flickering on walls and ceilings in the viewer's peripheral vision.
They are often reported moving with quick, jerky movements, and quickly disintegrate into walls or mirrors. They are believed to be evil and aggressive in nature, although a few people consider them to be a form of guardian angel.
In 2010, the apparitions were described as one of the most regularly reported paranormal phenomena in the United States. This is attributed to occasional reports on the Coast to Coast AM show, where paranormal researcher Heidi Hollis has been interviewed several times on the subject of shadow people. Hollis believes that shadow people have always existed, that they feed upon emotions of fear, and that they can be repelled by thinking positively. Others believe that shadow people may be the extra-dimensional inhabitants of another universe.
The stories of shadow people have been compared to those of the Raven Mocker, a witch from Cherokee Indian mythology who sometimes appears as a shadowy phantom, and the Islamic Jinn.
Several scientific principles can be used to explain reports of apparitional experiences such as shadow people. These include optical illusions or hallucinations brought on by physiological or psychological circumstances, drug use or side effects of medication, and the interaction of external agents on the human body. Another reason that could be behind the illusion is sleep deprivation, which may lead to hallucinations.
The explanation we get from skeptics and mainstream science - and who are usually people who have never experienced the shadow people phenomenon - is that it is nothing more than the active human imagination. It's our minds playing tricks on us... our eyes seeing things in a fraction of a second that aren't really there - illusions... real shadows caused by passing auto headlights, or some similar explanation. And without a doubt, these explanations probably can account for some if not many experiences. The human eye and mind are easily fooled.
To call these entities ghosts demands first a definition of what we mean by ghosts. But by almost any definition, shadow people are somewhat different than ghost phenomena. Whereas ghost apparitions are almost always a misty white, vaporish or have a decidedly human form and appearance (very often with discernable "clothing"), shadow beings are much darker and more shadow-like.
In general, although the shadow people often do have a human outline or shape, because they are dark, the details of their appearance is lacking. This is in contrast to many ghost sightings in which the witness can describe the ghost's facial features, style of clothing and other details. The one detail most often noted in some shadow being sightings are their glowing eyes.
The dark countenance and malevolent feelings that are often reported in association with these creatures has led some researchers to speculate that they may be demonic in nature. If they are demons, we have to wonder what their purpose or intent is in letting themselves be seen in this manner. Is it merely to frighten?