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The Third Man
Thethirdman.jpg
Background
Type Phenomena
Continent All
Country All
One-Time? No
Theories  · Psychic abilities
 · Paranormal entities
 · Extraterrestrial activity
 · Magnetic fields, low oxygen, altitude or other natural effects

The Third Man or Third Man Factor is the name given to an unseen presence reported mainly by mountain climbers and hikers throughout history. The "witnesses" all find themselves behaving as if an extra person were present who is not really there and is not actually seen directly. Often this sense of presence is so strong among all that they find themselves preparing food and bedding for the third man.

Despite the name this phenomena occurs in parties of all numbers, including lone climber, polar explorers and shipwreck survivors. Also, while often asserted to be a universally helpful phenomena by some authors, there are plenty of accounts of neutral or outright malevolent "third men" presences, such as The Grey Man of Ben MacDhui and the Panic in the Woods.

Possible Explanations[]

There are several explanations as to what the phenomenon could be. Theories include:

  • Psychic phenomena
  • Paranormal entities
  • Magnetic fields, low oxygen, altitude sickness or other natural effects causing disorientation and hallucinations
  • A manifestation of the unconscious.

Sightings[]

  • On 20 May 1916, Ernest Shackleton, Frank Worsley, and Tom Crean reached Stromness, a whaling station on the north coast of South Georgia. They had been walking for 36 hours, in life-threatening conditions, in an attempt to reach help for the rest of their party: three of their crew were stuck on the south side of the island, with the remainder stranded on Elephant Island. To reach the whaling station, the three men had to cross the island’s mountainous interior with just a rope and an axe, in a journey that few had attempted before or since. By reaching Stromness they managed to save all the men left from the ill-fated Imperial Transantarctic Expedition.
    They did not talk about it at the time, but weeks later all three men reported an uncanny experience during their trek: a feeling that “often there were four, not three” men on their journey. The “fourth” that accompanied them had the silent presence of a real person, someone walking with them by their side, as far as the whaling station but no further. Shackleton was apparently deeply affected by the experience, but would say little about it in subsequent years, considering it something “which can never be spoken of”.[1]
    Shackletons account left an impression on the modernist poet T.S. Eliot, and he wrote a piece on the phenomena from which it gets it name:

    'Who is the third who walks always beside you?

    When I count, there are only you and I together

But when I look ahead up the white road
   There is always another one walking beside you
  Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
  I do not know whether a man or a woman

  — But who is that on the other side of you?'

  • Charles Lindbergh's wrote of on-board "phantoms" during his 1927 attempt to make the first solo non-stop trans-Atlantic flight from New York to Paris. As the pilot struggled to stay awake during the 33-hour flight, he felt that his companions were friendly and helpful. "(They were) conversing and advising on my flight, reassuring me," he wrote about them later.
  • In 1933, British explorer Frank Smyth almost became the first person to reach the summit of Mount Everest. The journey to the top of the mountain was arduous and nearly disastrous; his entire hiking party had fallen back, unable to make it through the sweeping wind, snow, ice and low oxygen. Smyth continued, but never made it to the top — he missed it by 1,000 feet.
    Later, writing in his diary, Smyth described something that scientists commonly refer to as the "Third Man Factor." He recounted how at one point on the ascent, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a slab of Kendal mint cake, broke it in half and turned around to give the other half to a companion. But there was no one there: "All the time that I was climbing alone, I had a strong feeling that I was accompanied by a second person. The feeling was so strong that it completely eliminated all loneliness I might otherwise have felt."[2]
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Phenomena
North American Phenomena
Black Aggie · Black Mist of Casa Grande Mountain · Bleeding House on Fountain Drive · Blinking Crucifix · Carnivorous Pink Cloud · Coke Mystery Vending Machine · Dancing Underpants · Death Valley Sailing Stones · Face in the Courthouse Window · Flying Mist Mattress · Fountain Cloud · Handprint of the Carbon County Jail · Handprint of the Chicago Firehouse · John Lawson Mannequins · Kokomo Hum · Michigan Blue Hell · Moodus Noises · Smiling Stones · Swirling Basement Thing · Taos Hum · The Black Angel
South American Phenomena
Asian Phenomena
Ghost Cities · Pollock's Mist
European Phenomena
Bélmez Faces · Black Volga · Devil's Footprints · Eyes in the Wall · Hessdalen Lights · Hungry Grass · Invisible Crowd · The Green Hand · Trevor Silverwood Postcards · Wall-Jumping Dog
African Phenomena
Australian Phenomena
Miscellaneous Phenomena
Aging Doll · Angel Hair · Bloop · Bottomless Pits · Cameraheads · Eerie Silence Phenomenon · Glitches in Reality · Panic in the Woods · Ringing Stones · Skyquakes · Smoke Ring · Solar Plexus Clown Gliders · Star Jelly · The Third Man · UVB-76 (The Buzzer)
v · e · d
Miscellaneous
Miscellaneous Cryptids
Antarctic Godzilla · Bermuda Beast · Kabagon · Ningen · Qupqugiaq · Rhinoceros Dolphin · Sky Jellyfish · Sky Serpents
Miscellaneous Alien Sightings
4chan Grey Alien · Martian Sasquatch
Miscellaneous UFO Sightings
Black Knight Satellite · Foo Fighters
Miscellaneous Hauntings
Miscellaneous Phenomena
Aging Doll · Angel Hair · Bloop · Bottomless Pits · Cameraheads · Eerie Silence Phenomenon · Glitches in Reality · Panic in the Woods · Ringing Stones · Skyquakes · Smoke Ring · Solar Plexus Clown Gliders · Star Jelly · The Third Man · UVB-76 (The Buzzer)
Miscellaneous Beings
Black Eyed Children · Black Stick Men · Demolition Elves · Dopplegangers · Flying Humanoid · Operators · Shadow People · Time Travelers
Miscellaneous Events
Disappearance of Amy Bradley · Roberto Ferreira Nobrega time travel claims
Miscellaneous Locations
Endless Elevators