Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Groovy Ghoulies, Part One

"I believe in ghosts because..."

yep i believe in ghosts because there isw one living in my house and at night sometimes i can feel him/her sitting on the end of my bed so i just tell it to move and it doesn't so i kick it off then it sits down again, then i kick him/her off....this goes on for a while then it finally stops. Or one time it through a candle at me when i was doing my makeup, i dont know why. And my mom always wakes up and sees this red headed woman and stuff in her room at night. Also sometimes it turns on my brothers lamp. and one time I was trying to sleep and it kept hitting my wall everytime i would start to fall asleep....but its never hurt us or anything and im preety used to things happening now......oh yeah i forget to say one time i woke up and went to get in the shower and i noticed this weird mark on my leg kinda like a hicky?? in the form of the number 8....dont know what it ment but it stayed for 2 days then went away. -- liltiggasmootay

The best indication that an expeience is not coming from the undead is when it happens when someone is falling asleep, asleep, or just waking up. There are possibilities, and by Reason they have names!

1. Sleep Paralysis: (from the Skeptic's Dictionary)

is a condition that occurs in the state just before"The Nightmare" by Johann Heinrich Fussli, 1781 dropping off to sleep (the hypnagogic state) or just before fully awakening from sleep (the hypnopompic state). The condition is characterized by being unable to move or speak. It is often associated with a feeling that there is some sort of presence, a feeling which often arouses fear but is also accompanied by an inability to cry out. The paralysis may last only a few seconds. The description of the symptoms of sleep paralysis is similar to the description many alien abductees give in recounting their abduction experiences. Sleep paralysis is thought by some to account for not only many alien abduction delusions, but also other delusions involving paranormal or supernatural experiences (e.g., incubus and succubus).

Hypnagogic and Hypnopompic Experiences are associated with sleep paralysis: this state can lead to visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations.
When I was around 9 years old, I was drifting off to sleep when I felt a sharp flick of someone's fonger on my shoulder. It really pissed me off. I looked around and no one was there. I marched into my brother's room, ready to give him what-for, and he was fast asleep. The next moring the family denied screwing with me. I thought/hoped that I had been visited by a ghost of some kind. Of course, this left me terrified for a couple fo weeks. What I probably experienced was a hypnopompic hallucination. It makes more sense than some dead person whose not dead but invisible somehow being able to float through walls, yet apply force to a nine-year old in an apartment complex and then leave without doing any fantastic damage.

As far as lamps and red-headed women? Lamps are good at turning on and off by themselves. I have one to my right. It's old and cheap. The redhead could be a mom screwing with her daughter, or a sort of pareidolia: combinations of objects can look like other things when we glance at them for short moments. I see them all the time. A proce sticker, a shelf, and a frozen bass in a supermarket turned into a little red-headed girl to me once. It took me a second to figure this out. If you want something to be a ghost, you can easily make it a ghost.

A Japanese Ghost

The materials that breed obake can be many, and often routine, as if it is precisely the near-at-hand object that is the most susceptible to transformation. A discarded umbrella may enter the world of the strange as an umbrella obake--steam seeming to rise oddly from the waxed-paper brim and forming a leering face. There is also the lamp (chochin) obake that grows out of a normally swinging lantern, investing its approachable, dangling form with weird life, as the shade and candle inside bounce angrily against the blasts of a gale.

Obake can possess an element of cuteness as well; indeed, they sometimes evoke more amusement than fear. Children make drawings of umbrellas with grinning faces, and may giggle at the image of a ripped and gaping lantern. Most of the time such things are perfectly harmless. But therein also lies their danger--no one can ever be quite certain when the transformations will take place.

So, we make ghosts out of things, not the other way 'round.!

More to come!


Anonymous said...

When I was in my teens I used to watch programs about the supernatural. At the end, a scientific explanation sometimes given. I could see the the faces of disappointment on family members, like a child being told that santa doesn´t exist.Even a certain hostility twards scientists who did the crime to explain the bullshit away.
I came to the conclusion that people don't like explanations like yours because it robs them of their magical world and feel that believing in the supernatural doesn't bring immediate bad consequeces.Interestingly, people don't behave like that when buying a used car.

If they were aware of the evil they create for others and themselves because of this childish behavior, ceticism would have the place it deserves in everybody's life.

Atheist Bill said...

When I was younger I had problems with low blood preasure. this caused all sorts of weird things to happen every once in a while. The worst was my vision blacking out but my legs continuing to walk forward and me running straight into a wall, but the most common thing to happen was that I would "See things" out of the corners of my eyes. This wasn't just a dark spot or anything, this was all kinds of shapes that would appear to move.

For the most part I knew what they were, even though sometimes they did still scare the crap out of me. My sisters on the other hand would sometimes claim that they saw "a ghost" whenever they had the same spots.

Hellbound Alleee said...

We'll have to talk about that one: when people feel robbed of their world by explanation.

I too watched every paranormal show I could, ravenously. It took me a short time to get out of that believing mode, and I prefer it now. I don't like being afraid of demons and hell. The loss of that belief was, I think, the single greatest thing that happened to my mind. After that, I was able to do so much more. It's like removing a blockage from a pipe. A new world opened up for me.

In the ghost-belief, the mind is closed in the way the saying is used. There is no thought other than which supernatural event happened. Once you settle on that, there can be no more investigation. You can't think up, down, through, below, sideways, backwards...it's just fiction. Pure making up stuff. That's fine, but it has nothing to do with the event. It's like the mind is totally distracted and goes onto other things. Ghosts = ADD, as it were. It's much more interesting, I think, to be "open-minded" and investigate. Scooby Dooby Doo!

Thomas said...

It's funny how skepticism works. I don't recall ever having believed in God as a child, which is a benefit of having been raised by completely unreligious parents. Likewise, I frowned on such notions as ghosts, spirits, fairies, psychic powers, and astrology. But I fell for any bit of stupid pseudoscience that seemed compatible with my family's materialism. So, I was a true believer in UFO's, alien abductions, Bigfoot, sauropods in the Congo, the Loch Ness Monster, and even the bloody Lake Champlain Monster. For a long time, I was riddled by the fear that aliens were taking me in the night, tying me down to a dentist's chair, and erasing my memory before dawn. How could I ever prove that it wasn't happening? In those days, I did experience what I now recognize as sleep paralysis, which was combined with very vivid visual and auditory hallucination. Maybe the aliens were doing a crap job on their brain erasing?

Fortunately, before I was out of sixth grade, I read an article on sleep paralysis, and I recognized what was actually happening to me. From then on, I stopped believing in UFO's, in favor of the much neater explanation of mass delusion. I started reading Carl Sagan and my parents' Skeptical Inquirer magazines, and soon I was on the road to mental sobriety. Strangely, I never experienced sleep paralysis after my woo-woo days. It may have been a sort of wish fulfillment.

Looking back on the experience now, I do have a bit of empathy for the condition of the "true believer." Once people get the notion into their heads that their thoughts are being registered and judged by a higher power, or that their perceptions of empirical reality are being systematically warped by the Devil (or the CIA or whoever), it can be extraordinarily difficult to even begin the process of rational inquiry into the substance of beliefs. The mental trap is especially nefarious for children, for skepticism is by no means a natural instinct. If I had been raised by religious idiots instead by friendly humanists, I might still be a fundamentalist to this day, or at the very least tortured by guilt and by fears about the afterlife. Thank God for atheists!

PS: As much as I have sympathy for children trapped in the quicksand of credulity, so-called grown-ups who fall for religion or other forms of bullshit have only themselves to blame.