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Shadow People: What Are They?

An interview with author Jason Offutt about these eerie entities


Darkness Walks

Have you seen the Hat Man?

Anomalist Books

DO MYSTERIOUS, SHADOWY entities drift into our world from some other existence, another dimension, another time? These shadow beings seem to be reported with more and more frequency. What are they? Where do they come from? We spoke with Jason Offutt, author of Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us about this unnerving phenomenon.

Q: The “shadow people” phenomenon seems to be fairly widespread. Do you think they are related to what we generally consider ghost and haunting phenomena?

Jason: Yes and no. From my research, I've found shadow people fit into many different paranormal categories, ghosts / hauntings being only one. However, many shadow people encounters do seem to mirror ghost encounters and are the most common [type of] shadow person encounters: a blacker-than-night, human-shaped shadow that people see walking through their bedroom, hallway, living room, etc. These shadow people are the most benign, usually not taking notice of those who observe them.

Q: How far back have you been able to trace written mentions or documentation about shadow people?

Jason: The oldest first-person encounter I've found was a man who told me he saw shadow people as a kid in the late 1940s. The oldest mention of entities like this in literature I've found was in the late 1800s, although shadow people have been reported in various religions throughout history.

Q: Obviously, there must be many instances in which what people assume are shadow people are just plain shadows caused by ordinary means. Do you have any estimate of what percentage might be considered “genuine” shadow people?

Jason: I’m not going to take a stab at the percentage, because the people I’ve spoken with have seen something real, moving and menacing. The millions of people out there who got spooked by ordinary shadows eventually realize that’s what it was and forget about it. However, there are many, many encounters that are misidentification, sleep paralysis, and other psychological manifestations that aren't real shadow people encounters – although they seem to be.

Yes, some shadow people sightings are just a coat rack, a trick of light and shadow or the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain, but these reports are from people who wake up in a haze or just see something in the corner of their eye. In Darkness Walks, all the shadow people encounters are genuine – many of them are while people are wide awake or are during the daylight.

Q: Can you briefly describe the empirical or scientific evidence, if any, that shadow people might be real?

Jason: There is scientific evidence shadow people aren’t real, and I explore that in the book. The behavior of shadow people doesn’t correspond to any laws of physics. They can be explained away through psychology and experiments that have been conducted on epileptic patients. However, the vast amount of first-hand accounts where these entities have left physical evidence (broken glass, misplaced objects, pain when touched) makes me certain these entities exist; science just hasn’t caught up with them.

Next page: The mysterious Hat Man

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