Spooky staredown by YouTubers Rhett & Link tests face-morphing theory
Remember at camp or a friend’s slumber party when someone got you to chant “Bloody Mary” into the bathroom mirror late at night? Maybe the terrifying image you saw staring back at you wasn’t a bloodthirsty ghost trying to eat your soul. Maybe your brain was just messing with you.
Frankly, I’m not sure which is scarier.
If you stare into a mirror or another person’s face in a dimly lit room, you may begin to see strange hallucinations that range from silly to downright terrifying. Rhett McLaughin and Link Neal, better known as Rhett & Link, took this strange phenomenon for a scientific test drive during Wednesday’s episode of their daily YouTube show “Good Mythical Morning.”
The episode features the pair of “Internetainers” trying out the experiment on themselves in a mirror and each other once they overcome the natural laughter that occurs when two grown men try to engage in a staring contest. It doesn’t take very long for both of them to start seeing strange faces emerge under the dim lighting. The results range from horrifying faces like a skull to something sillier like one of the apes from “Planet of the Apes.”
Rhett and Link’s experiment was inspired by a series of studies conducted by Giovanni B. Caputo, a professor of psychology at the University of Urbino in Urbino, Italy. Caputo’s latest paper, published in June in the journal Psychiatry Research, describes an experiment in which he asked two strangers to simply stare at each other in low lighting for 10 minutes and write down what they saw.
The results also ranged from strange to downright disturbing. Ninety percent of the participants reported seeing some kind of deformity in the other person’s face and 75 percent said they saw a monster, according to a report from the British Psychological Society’s journal Research Digest.
Caputo wrote in the study’s abstract that these hallucinations may be “psychodynamic projections” that our unconscious mind places on the other person’s face.
I hope the experiment also included a free change of pants — at least for the 75 percent group.