Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hallucinating using ping-pong balls and static

I am tremendously fascinated with subjects like optical illusions and hallucinations - phenomena that distort reality and trick the brain into "thinking" or "imagining" things that aren't true or even there.

Yesterday I stumbled upon an article that described an interest experiment (first performed in the 1950's to test theories on ESP and other assorted mumbo jumbo) that leads to pseudo-hallucinatory experiences (why I use the term "pseudo" will become clear in a moment). Since I am not a prominent member of a rock band and generally like to follow the law, this was my one golden opportunity to engage in some groovy mind-altering activity in a G-rated manner.

The experiment (called "Ganzfeld", German for "entire field", if wikipedia is to be believed) is tantalizingly simple and requires hilariously low-tech equipment:

1. One ping-pong ball

2. A pair of headphones

3. Some device that produces static noise

4. A lamp

First, cut the ball in two and place the two halves on both eyes. Next, start the static noise (some helpful soul posted 11 hours worth of white noise on youtube here) and plug in your headphones. Turn your face towards the lamp, lie down and relax. Here's a cartoon dude (presumably dreaming about rainbows and a bearded man) demonstrating the procedure:



Now before I delve into my own experience, a word about the mechanism. Unlike (highly) illegal drugs like LSD, which work through receptors and whatnot, the ganzfeld experiment works by "fooling" the brain or compelling it to "fill in the gaps" by depriving it of proper stimuli. The ping-pong balls force your eyes to look at a uniform white field and the static saturates your ear with sound of one frequency. The brain freaks out and frantically starts churning out random halo-like images to compensate. In this sense, what the user witnesses are not real hallucinations (now that's an oxymoron, if there was one), but extreme visual distortions that we can call pseudo-hallucinations.

So I trotted out to Walgreen's, purchased some ping-pong balls (the employee there mistakenly thought I was interested in buying a beer-pong kit, which I assured her I wasn't) and came back home. I turned off my phone, cranked up the static and plugged in my super sweet Audiotechnica headphones. One ping-pong ball sacrificed for the noble cause, I was ready to go.

As my body started to adjust to the conditions, I began relaxing. Within 10 or so minutes, I began seeing weird shapes and started feeling a sensation of being rocked gently, as if on a boat. Pretty soon, I started seeing weird stuff: tissue samples from histology, rotating hands, people shaking hands, a woman descending a staircase, a dog running up to a man to lick his hands, a bunch of people surfing on waves....

I slipped into a dream-like state and saw Shawn and Gus from the TV show Psych. I also saw a bunch of people playing chess and, perhaps the strangest apparition of them all, the umbrella lady from the following painting:


I also saw myself on the roof of some tall building which was engulfed by massive sea waves in seconds. Each image sort of appeared in the middle of my visual field and dissolved. After about 20 minutes, I took off the balls and unplugged the headphone. I staggered to the sink to wash my face, still in a bit of daze.

Definitely a very illuminating experience.

93 comments:

  1. what color do i have to buy the ping pong balls and what color should i be the lamp?

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    1. white i am guessing. so all you have to look at is white.

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    2. Whatever you do avoid the color blue. I remember it having something to do with hospice. They said waking up to red is natural and easy for your body (something to do with your circadian rythem) but blue was the exact opposite effect. I dunno there's my 2 cents

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    3. Blue is dusk, red is sunrise. Our bodies associate those colors with those times of day.

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    4. whatever you do, DON'T be the lamp!

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  2. the color of either shouldn't matter, but white balls and white light works best. i tried yellow balls and white light and it wasn't as good.

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  3. man, i tried it like 3 times .. 15 min evry time. nothing happend !!! :(
    i took white ping pong balls , tried twice with white light and 3rd with red light! still nothing happend! :(
    any advice? :/

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    Replies
    1. I read on another site that it generally takes about half an hour to start working

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  4. i guess the only thing i can say is, try relaxing and "emptying" your mind as much as you can. if you lie down and keep thinking (even in the back of your mind) about getting hallucinations/images/whatever, it's gonna make it a lot more difficult. just relax and let it descend over you.

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  5. should I use a red light or a white light?

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    1. shouldn't matter, but i used white.

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    2. it is supposed to be a red light

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  6. any substitutes for the ping pong balls?

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    Replies
    1. I used computer paper and taped it over my eyes, worked just the same.

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    2. yeah as long as you find something suitable to cover your eyes completely and still let diffuse light filter through, you should be fine. just so happens that ping-pong balls work perfectly because of their dome shape.

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  7. I've tried this a number of times and all that happens is my view hazens a little. I will sit there for a good hour doing this, and that's all that happens. Any pointers?

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    Replies
    1. Try dipping them in horse shit mixed with elf cum

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  8. man/woman....i really don't know what to say. as i have said before (both in the blog post and the comments), all i did was put the balls on my eyes, turn on the static and enjoy the ride. maybe your expectations are too high?? like, don't expect to see real live, vivid hallucinations, i guess. i saw flashes and shadows and stuff like that...

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    1. maybe your expectations are too high?? like, don't expect to see real live, vivid hallucinations, i guess. i saw flashes and shadows and stuff like that...LIAR

      YOU ALREADY SAID THIS: WHICH IS IT?


      I slipped into a dream-like state and saw Shawn and Gus from the TV show Psych. I also saw a bunch of people playing chess and, perhaps the strangest apparition of them all, the umbrella lady from the following painting

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  9. I know you're probably sick of these questions, but I tried it, and it wasn't as if the visions were real, more like scraps of dream, and I felt like I was falling at one point... Is that close to how you experienced it?

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  10. yeah they were scraps that would shift to something else every quickly. the feeling of falling is actually pretty common with normal sleep too.

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    1. Thanks, I can tell I'm going to have some fun with this.

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    2. if you are curious about the "falling down sensation", most scientists believe that's because the muscles begin to slack as you begin to relax and the brain misinterprets these signals as you having lost muscle tone, and thus must be falling.

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    3. Ahh, how interesting, is there a similar principle in the feeling you get when you lay down after a day on a rollercoaster do you know?

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    4. that feeling is a different origin. that's an inner ear issue. basically, the inner ear (which has cells that track movement in space and give the brain information about direction, space and balance) is "getting confused" and sending misinformation to the brain. you can simulate the same effect when you get drunk (alcohol seeps into these cells) or if you pour cold (like, ice-cold) water in one ear. be careful if you try the latter, though: it can induce vomiting and nausea.

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    5. Thanks, I think I may give that a try.

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  11. I was taken on a journey through time and space by a unicorn, who in the ends tried to kidnap me. It was as if he was preventing me from snapping out of it and i was extremely terrified. In the end i managed to pull the paper off my eyes, my heart was pounding.

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  12. this is a process that also sucessfully stimulates visual and ausitory hallucinations.
    step 1: buy LSD
    step 2: eat the lSD
    step 3: smoke a bowl

    this process is highly effective and requires no ping pong balls (unless You want to playping pong while youre tripping)

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    Replies
    1. Haha best answer I've seen lol

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    2. Only problem is that LSD is illegal and this isn't

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    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    4. 1P-LSD is not that illegal :) just take two of them

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  13. im so gonna try this. do you recommend to do it alone or with a another person?

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  14. with another mother fucker

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  15. If any you want real powerful halicinations (I was flying through space at the head of a marching band). Then smoke SALVIA DIVINORUM extract and then just lie back in a quiet place and close your eyes. It's a natural herb that's legal in the UK (not sure about elsewhere). If you smoke it the effects only last about 5 minutes but you'll be puzzling about what the halucinations meant for years. Research it on the web first, there's a correct way to smoke it and also many different strengths (5x extract, 20x extract). It can be very powerful stuff so don't do it alone,some people have been known to start wandering about while seeing the stars and hurt themselves.
    I shouldn't be recomending it, the ping pong ball idea sounds much safer and milder.

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    1. salvia sucks. this coming from an avid tripper.

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    2. salvia is scary as hell and i will NEVER touch that stuff again. sat in a quiet room, relaxing and then all hell broke loose. NEVER again. *shudders*

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    3. Pussies above.

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    4. No, I can handle my drugs but salvia is another story...I'm a very calm and relaxed person but when I smoked it it took everything I had in me not to murder my bother ...never again!!!

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    5. I can handle my own very well, but that shit is terrible. I will never smoke it again

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  16. Keep ur eyes open or closed?

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  17. is it okay to use white clear paper?

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    Replies
    1. White or Clear, what are you asking?

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  18. Is it bad if u do this. What do u see when u do this

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    Replies
    1. This article is literally and answer to the questions you are posing underneath it.

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  19. do i keep my eyes open ?

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  20. Can I eat the ping pong balls after I'm finished with them? And perhaps use the static as sauce?

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  21. Do I keep my eye's open or closed

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  22. do I keep my eyes open or closed

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  23. DOES HE KEEP HIS EYES OPEN?

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  24. Eyes mother fucker. Are they open or closed?!

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    Replies
    1. Both... your eyes must be open yet at the same time they must be closed

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    2. Stare thru the lids....takes a minute

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  25. Is this safe to do? How long do the hallucinations last? Are some of the hallucinations scary to see?

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    1. Seriously... Its a brain hack. NOT drugs. If you dont like it take off the balls and you will be fine thought unfortuntely we will have to revoke your man card / woman card.

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  26. Can you take the ping pong balls off whenever you want?

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    1. No, if you take them of between 32min 12sec and 34min 40sec, you will stay trapped in a world where unicorns fight amish people ruled by Hitler.

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  27. MDMA just take that shit

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  28. The bearded gentleman is Isaac Asimov.

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  29. I got something for you guys. Try out Michael Radugas "The phase"

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  30. It works better with heroin

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  31. wut happens if i eat the ping pong balls

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  32. can this be remade using paper or something of the sort as i don't have ping pong ball casually lying around my home?

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    1. Jesus Christ I feel sorry for your soul. How in gods name do you not have a fucking ping pong ball!?

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  33. the most vivid things was

    Watching someone walk towards the side of some white weatherboard house with someone else already close to it but the person walking was going to the front of it

    and in the distance i saw like navy boat railing/fence like that of from a recent farscape episode

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  34. (That first one i wasnt thinking of anything) for a moment i was thinking after it as a test if my actual thoughts would change what i saw

    i was slightlyclosing my eyes / partially open

    Thinking "god loves me"

    After a minute i saw some face of a similar image they usualy use for yahshua/yehshua/jesus what ever they want to call him

    the face was like looking down on a 45 degree angel and face was to my left looking down to the right

    \ <<< that Angle


    It wasnt as vivid as the house one though

    Then a slightly less vivid one to the face i saw someone infront of me with a similar appearance but a full body thing in maybe a white robe (this is all from thinking "god loves me"

    after that however

    I saw a very vivid image (95% as vivid as the house with someone walking) it was of some desolate wasteland of a weird large alienish skull that had tiny human skulls on it and the ground was tiny human skulls or dirt im not sure and this image was like i was looking at a world of warcraft trading card

    As i became aware of what i was seeing the images vanished (i was slightly unaware of what i was seeing during the hallucinations)


    later i heard random weirds very quietly before and after all of this

    I suddenly thought of some sexual experience if it happened of something(and visualing it) my mental visualisation was interrupted by another hallucination of 2 girls walking down what looked like A new york street cinema in the background the one of them had a black suit on she was asking what appeared to be her sister if she was still doing drugs and i heard a few sentences and she was walking beside her coming from the left side of my vision to the right side but she steped infront of her sister or friend toAsk about that drug thingi soon became aware of what i was seeing then the vision vanishedI felt a bit sick during all of this like nausea

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  35. I bought ping pong balls for this i had to cut 2 because one side had a logo on it i used white balls

    And my led colour changing globe was set to red and i looked at its directition with ping pong balls on though the balls only covered like the main 95-98% of my vision looking straight ahead but if i looked side ways i could see gaps though looking straight ahead worked fine to cover my vision

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  36. I used my iphone app "relax melodies" by "ipnos soft" company/developer

    For the white noise

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  38. Do you keep your eyes open or close?

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  39. hahaha every one om namho shivay the best way to do is first smoke pot and then do this ...... its really amazing

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  40. Bbbb faaaaaaaa dahnnniweeeerfbb

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  41. omfg eyes open or closed?

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  42. can there be some sort of substitute for the ping pong balls?

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  43. How close does this compare to lsd

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    1. Or how is this compared to lsd

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  44. I just tried this and I saw the fucking lucky charms leprechaun running through a field of the lucky charms marshmallows

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  45. Great suggestions and some interesting comments to boot. I enjoyed your post a lot. Thanks for sharing nice thing about Ping Pong Balls. Think about table tennis ball also which is also important in view of the Tennis player.

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  46. What if I do it in complete silence

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  47. What if I do it in complete silence

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  48. What if i smoke weed, take some cocaine, kick some chikens and then do the ping pong ball treak while i fap to the sound of deepweb porn?

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  49. Suckkkk thisss mothafuckinnnnnn johnsssoooonnnnnnn niggaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

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  50. Will it work if you have a dude put his balls on your eyes instead of ping pong balls?

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  51. But wait, was the eyes open or close?

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  52. Just checking this blog out because of a picture I saw on 9gag.

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