I was recently reminded of something I have encountered that seems to me to be good evidence for paranormal phenomena. Can anyone help me figure out what might be going on?
When I was a little younger, I used to play the online riddle game Notpron. In this game, the player (essentially) has to analyze a webpage for clues towards the URL to the next webpage, and then repeat for 140 stages. The creator of this game, DavidM, at some point became a huge new age conspiracy theory loony type. Three years after the original ending of the riddle went online, he revised it to include an additional final level: Level Nu. This level is very different than the ones preceding it. I can't link to the page for obvious reasons, but I will transcribe it here:
835 492 147 264
Remote view the photography this number represents!
Email me all your results to email@example.com. I'll get you some feedback. Get me all elements or impressions that seem really strong for you. Or send me your sketches if you like.
Don't bruteforce, or you'll be banned from this one. You have as many attempts as you like, take your time.
Yes, I mean it. No tricks here, just pure remote viewing. The number represents a picture, I want to know what's on there.
So learn some remote viewing technique you like best and go ahead. The internet has lots of information. Have fun!
Please do this ALL by yourself, not even with your very very close friends. Because its boring and stupid, and because you can put bullshit into each others head, which is hard to get rid of again, because the mind needs to be shut down for this to work properly. So do it alone, just talk to me about it, please.
(Yes, this really works, one friend got the content of the picture on first try...and yes, he only got the number from me.)
- 31 people have successfully completed this level.
- Before this level went up, around 200 people had successfully completed the game (iirc). Given that Notpron has declined in popularity since Level Nu was created in 2008, I would estimate that around 300 people in total are in a position to attempt Level Nu, although it could be more. However, I would imagine that many people 1) probably did not come back once they had already finished, 2) were too intimidated by remote viewing and the trivial inconvenience of having an email discussion with DavidM, 3) did not even bother due to disbelief in remote viewing.
- The first person who solved it did so by dreaming about the answer. She dreamt night after night that a German man (DavidM is German) was aggressively trying to sell her a boat. The solution picture was of a boat. One of the very first posts on the thread was her talking about her dream and saying "I think this has something to do with Notpron, but I don't know what". DavidM had to immediately remove the post so as not to give away the answer.
- The second person solved it on their first try with just one word (presumably "boat").
- Someone who solved it said "What I got was literally a much sharper much detailed version of a badly scribbled picture in my mind". This person apparently also got "the one right word that you need to solve it" (boat).
- Someone on the forum writes: "Mailed my visions. I swear it was first thing i saw in my head. But no doubts i was wrong =)". Immediately after, DavidM replies saying that he figured it out.
- "The last 3 or 4 people solved the thing at the first attempt. Some little inaccuracies everytime, but the main 2 objects were always named first."
- "i didn't have any "visions". just was reading my university-stuff, when snowman "forced" me to write david. i thought it could be funny though and wrote the first shit of which i was thinking at that second. didn't even look at the numbers or anything."
- Someone's first idea that he sent was what David planned as the future solution. It seems like what he said was "rainbow colors" for a picture of an assortment of fruit. David told him to look at the current solution instead, and again, his first idea was correct.
- Same guy: "weird thing is. i got the "future solution" picture in my head right away. without even trying. then i just send it in.and when david asked me to get the current one. my gf came to me with my son in her arms saying i had to take him and i just: "Hold on, i just need to get a picture in my head". and while she was standing there with my son crying next to me. i got a pic up in my head immidietly, but that didnt feel right so i pushed it away and got another on right away and mailed it in. and it was the right one. hehe. :) and especially the second pic, i saw very clearly. even colours."
- Post where he reveals the original answer: "Most people just said right away, "it's a boat" or "boat/raft on a lake/sea/river". Or one said "going fishing", which was vague, but I let it count. What I got a lot as well was the skyline and water. 2 guys have been listening to a song called "I'm on a boat" while solving the riddle, and I watched the video clip. One scene in it looks just like the solution. Crazy."
- Post where he reveals the second answer: He says several times that he believes that this one was harder than the first. "Almost [all? sic] saw round things. Some interpreted it as ball(sport), circles, pom poms, the sun or the moon etc. So I'm glad this round-element was so dominant. CTRL saw rainbow colours right away. At least something. Kasper then pretty much nailed it in his this attempt: I saw two things O.o i saw an animal and fruit/vegetables maybe animals eating fruit/vegatables." It seems like only two people solved it during this time, although there may be more.
- Finally, someone who doesn't believe: "(This is Jooly, who used to be a mod here and one of the first solvers of the fair levels, and whose account has been mysteriously deactivated since she started discussing DavidM's increasingly wacky ideas a while ago) I spoke with one of the level Nu solvers, who explained to me exactly how it was solved. Remote viewing had nothing to do with it. Duping a very very gullible (desperately wanting to believe?) DavidM was all it took, and it was very easy too. I won't bother, having solved the real notpron levels. But for those of you who must have the new certificate, don't worry. It doesn't take any magic powers or much effort to do so." (David denies that he deactivated Jooly's account and says Jooly is free to disagree with him.)
- I personally talked to the skeptic in question on IRC back in the day. I can't recall the conversation too well, but he refused to give any concrete details on how he solved it exactly. I asked him "Was it something like, for example, you say 'Is it blue?', David says 'no', you say 'Is it red?', David says 'no', you say 'Is it big?', David says 'no', you say 'it's an apple', David says you figured it out?". He said it was something close to that. Note that as far as I can tell, everyone else who solved it either believes in remote viewing or remains agnostic.
- On how someone solved the level: "Yeah, she asked a friend about the number. He said the correct answer, and there you go."
- The third answer is revealed. There's too much stuff here to copy and paste, but he reveals a bunch of successful attempts, some of which are pretty uncanny. The most interesting part is: "Kimmo, who was not considered to have solved it said: 'It is something that is approaching me, not sure what it is. It is that kind of situation where you need to react to and not stay there just looking what it is.' (Now I don't really see why I didn't let him pass; if you're reading this, contact me!)"
- After around twenty-something solves, DavidM maintains that most people guessed it on their first try.
- "Most people" apparently guessed it on their first try.
- According to David, about half the people who tried it have solved it.
- The dream thing - absolutely insane, hard to imagine that it's a coincidence.
- David did not consider the guy who guessed the shark as "something approaching me, it is a situation that I need to react to" to have solved the level. This shows that he requires fairly high standards of accuracy.
- David implies that in order to have guessed the boat, you need to say the word "boat", also implying high standards.
- David did not really give me very much help or "lead" me anywhere when I tried to solve it.
- One person who solved it says that he did not solve it using remote viewing.
- It didn't work for me at all.
- David might very well be exaggerating both the percentage of people who successfully solved it and the percentage of people who guessed it on their first try.
- David might be (and in fact probably is) only reporting the "best" answers in his forum posts. For the fruit and the shark, he seems to be posting about half of the people who solved it in that time period. For the boat, he doesn't really give specifics, and instead says "Most people just said it was a boat on their first guess."
- Maybe DavidM is in fact "leading" people to the answer through a series of multiple guesses. For this to be true, however, a few things would have to be the case. First of all, his assertion that most people guessed it on their first try would have to be greatly exaggerated. Let's imagine that David is outright lying about most people guessing it on their first try and that half the people who attempted the riddle solved it. However, at least six people (I don't feel like going back through all 29 pages and counting) posted on the forum that they solved it on their first try. Let's imagine that all 300 people who reached the level attempted it. This is still a 1/50 "first guess" rate, and that's out of all the photographs in the world. However, maybe by some conjunction of 1) exaggerating those two numbers, 2) his dialogue with me being atypical, 3) the answers he posted on the forum being atypical, 4) his refusal to accept "something approaching me" being atypical and 5) the dream being a total coincidence, it may be true that he actually is doing a form of "leading" and is covering it up well. This feels like a really unsatisfactory answer. It relies on a lot of conjunctions and it seems clear that the only way to arrive at it is by a thorough search for some sort of answer that fits nicely in with our pre-existing worldview. That being said, I suspect it might be the most likely answer.
- Perhaps the level is an elaborate joke. In reality there is some other more conventional means of arriving at a solution, and people who solve it are told to play along. I can sort of see this being the case, given that 1) there are some other levels of Notpron that have "prankster-ish" elements and 2) I have actually myself been a part of a very similar joke on an even bigger scale, so I know that it can happen. However, on the other hand, DavidM really strongly believes in the conspiracy theory new age stuff and vigorously promotes it, so it seems unlikely that he would sabotage his own ideology like that. Also, while there are other prankster-ish levels of Notpron, nothing comes close to being as clever or elaborate as this scenario would be.