Created By: Unknown Troper on January 16, 2008
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Shared Mass Hallucination

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"Explanation" cooked up by unbelievers whenever something that contradicts the Mas Querade is very, very public.

Hallucinations don't work that way, even if multiple people were exposed to the same hallucinogen, they wouldn't see the same thing.

It's up there on the Stupid Explanations Chart with "it was a weather balloon" except that it's said with a straight face.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • January 16, 2008
    GuesssWho
    It was in H 2 G 2 #4.
  • January 16, 2008
    scooter007
    Used by the Amoral Attourney (or whatever he was) in Ghostbusters
  • January 17, 2008
    JethroQWalrustitty
  • January 17, 2008
    Danel
    The only time it's remotely plausible is if the people were already expecting to see whatever it was they believed they saw - and even then, they probably wouldn't share the particular details of the hallucination.
  • January 17, 2008
    huwawa
    I think it's always funny when people refute conspiracy theories on for being conspiracy theories, but cling to "explanations" like this (which are scads more unbelievable than a conspiracy).
  • January 17, 2008
    Yuri2356
    The ending of Contact has the folks on Earth writing off the experience of the protagonists as one big Mind Screw. Especially annoying in the original book, where it's five highly intelligent people who share over a day's experiences in the Machine.
  • January 17, 2008
    BobbyG
    A Pokemon episode had the police attibuting reports of an Aerodactyl attack to mass dreams. I thought that was ridiculous even as a kid.
  • January 18, 2008
    arromdee
    "It was a weather balloon" actually is plausible in some real-life UFO cases. Of course it isn't plausible if someone claims to see a hundred foot wide saucer in great detail, but it can easily be a bright speck.

    I remember in the old X-Factor comic they blamed Inferno on mass hallucinations caused by A.I.M. satellites. At least it's plausible given the weird tech that villain groups have.
  • January 18, 2008
    Air of Mystery
    Yes, I got annoyed about that in Doctor Who particularly. Its occurance in Torchwood annoyed me too, but then again pretty much everything in Torchwood annoyed me.
  • January 18, 2008
    AirHadoken
    H 2 G 2 was kind of forgivable because it was the only way to explain how an impending global crisis suddenly just wasn't there. Doctor Who, though, is annoying because it seems like only the fringe seem to get the notion that Aliens Are Here while the majority of the population may as well be in Shaun Of The Dead for the amount they seem to notice.
  • January 18, 2008
    BobbyG
    Thank God for Martha.
  • January 18, 2008
    Unknown Troper
  • January 18, 2008
    BobbyG
    I'm not familiar with Jung's writings. In what way?
  • January 18, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    In response to Air Hadoken's post, it's seems to be implied in Doctor Who that it isn't so much a case of outright disbelief so much as humans responding to the threat of something very scary and out of their control with the rather useless tactic of pretending it didn't happen. Evidence that this is the case was provided in the 2007 Christmas episode, where the Doctor found London to be almost completely deserted due to the usual inhabitants having realised that Christmas in London = dangerous weird stuff and cleared off.
  • January 18, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    @ Bobby G - Actually, neither am I, outside The Theme Park Version, that is. I've heard he was the one who coined the theory of a "collective unconsious" that explained the presence of similar myths and folklore in different cultures.
  • January 1, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Television is both an hallucination and an extended form of dream vision. See http://radicalacademy.com/studentrefphilfmd11.htm The article that clearly, consistently, and completely demonstrates that this is so is called Television is an Hallucination. We need legislative action on this ASAP. Where are our "experts"? TV is far worse for us than we have been led to believe. This article makes this readily and plainly apparent.

  • January 1, 2009
    Alucard
    The mages of Mahou Sensei Negima use something like this maintain their Masquerade. A villain attempting to reveal said Masquerade used just the opposite: remove people's logical reaction to disbelieve the mystic, then spread over the planet to make sure no skeptic is left unbelieving (magically powered suggestion on a massive scale).
  • January 1, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Stupid Explanations Chart? What an excellent idea!
  • January 1, 2009
    turnerjer
    As Danel pointed out, it depends on how major and unexpected the "hallucination" is.

    There's a well-known stunt allegedly performed for Psych 101 students. Someone rushes into the lecture hall screaming, appears to stab the professor, then runs out again. Afterwards, many students will swear they saw a knife in the assailant's hand, when in fact, it was a banana.

    This is apocryphal, of course, but similar things do happen, especially if the idea of a knife has been "primed" in the students' minds beforehand. (If, for instance, an accomplice yells "He's got a knife!" when the guy rushes in.) This is a very large part of how Stage Magic is performed.

    It can only be said to actually work in very limited situations, though. Sorry, Masqueraders, your secret is out. :D
  • January 1, 2009
    JethroQWalrustitty
    in CSI Grissom refers to the alien conspiray theorist club to having a shared mass hallucination. Off course, they saw this as a part of the evil police force working for the reptilians trying to put them down.
  • January 1, 2009
    Koveras
    One short story by Robert Sheckley saw the protagonists land on a deserted planet and see mass hallucinations of the monsters they invented in their childhood. It turned out, the planet's atmosphere contained a hallucinogen that forced humans to relive their childhood fears, which became really dangerous if Your Mind Makes It Real.
  • January 1, 2009
    Ialdabaoth
    In the Hitchhiker's novel So Long and Thanks for All the Fish, soon after Arthur Dent lands to his shock on Earth, he is told that the Vogons' apparent destruction of the planet (the very premise of the series) was a CIA-induced mass hallucination. In fact, Dent has landed on a parallel Earth, not the one he left.
  • January 1, 2009
    Indigo
  • January 1, 2009
    Goldfritha
    I believe that the first outbreak of Legionnaire's Disease was diagnosed as mass hysteria -- until the official who gave the diagnosis came down with it.
  • January 1, 2009
    ManyHills
    Mass hysteria and mass hallucinations are different things.
  • January 1, 2009
    Dante668
    Wasn't this Walter Peck's Asspull of an explanation for the giant Staypuft Marshmallow Man in one of the Ghostbusters movies?
  • January 1, 2009
    Duckay
    A penis panic is a form of mass hysteria where groups of people suddenly become convinced that their genitals are shrinking or disappearing.
  • January 2, 2009
    Arivne
    Film
    • EPA official Walter Peck's explanation for the ghosts in Ghostbusters:
    Peck: These men use nerve gasses to induce hallucinations. People think they're seeing ghosts and they call these bozos, who show up with a fake light show.

    They meet the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man after this.

  • January 2, 2009
    Medinoc
    I recall reading a story about telepathic people hallucinating and sharing there hallucination with each other and the protagonists.
  • January 2, 2009
    Unknown20Troper
    Truth in televison - We are more influenced by our environment than we think. In a famous experiment, a group of people were led into a room and tell if two lines drawn no the board was the same length. They were (it was a pretty obvious optical ilussion) but after the tested person saw a number of people (really part of the test) claim otherwise, they either believed it against their own senses or disagreed but felt very uncomfortable about it.

    Sometimes this happens in real life, it can lead to real mass hysteria. There was a case in Croatia where a rumor about Serbs using a biological weapon caused a school to be evacuated because a large number of people felt sick, all with the same symptoms.
  • January 3, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Real Life - Some times I've taken hallucinogens with other people, we did have shared hallucinations. Like the time we passed a dutchie that wasn't there among a group of people, of which some were not there; we noticed the joint did not exist at the point we tried to put it in the ashtray. Then proceeded to talk with the hallucinatory people. (Drugs bad, kids.)
  • January 3, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Related:This is the diagnosis on one episode of House the one on the airplane
  • January 3, 2009
    SomeSortOfTroper
    Though that wasn't a hallucination, I think technically it was described as a mass psychosis, which is an important part of the trope- people confuse the two and presume that one can be shared like the other.
  • January 3, 2009
    ManyHills
    It was mass hysteria in the House episode. Again, different things. Related, but different.
  • January 3, 2009
    DomaDoma
    Girl Genius had a suggestion-based hallucinogenic spray. The subjects didn't see exactly the same things, but more or less, anyway.
  • January 4, 2009
    Medinoc
    The gas that makes people "see what we tell them to" ?

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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