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Quick Survey Time: Ghostly Edition

I watched the trailer for White Noise today and it creeped me out. So, a simple (or not) question for you. I'll be writing more about this tomorrow but I'm interested in your take: Do you believe that ghosts or spirits exist in our world and that they have the ability to contact us? Has anything weird like that ever happened to you?

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Mac was talking about ghosts. Michele was talking about the trailer for the new movie White Noise (see the trailer... [Read More]

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There are questions floating around out there in the blogosphere, and I've decided to answer some of them: 1. Michelle Malkin asks: Do you have better health care today than you did five years ago? Well Michelle, I actually have... [Read More]

Comments

Yes ma'am. On both counts.

ooo! never heard of that movie, but now i want to see it!

me? i can't really say that i fully believe in ghosts, but i keep an open mind on the subject. i mean, i'm pretty sure that there are a lot of people who have experience "real" paranormal events, but i think that like, 99% are either fake or can be explained away.

like, most of these pictures? i don't see how they're ghosts. but i'll be lying if i didn't say that some of 'em didn't creep me the fuck out.

I woke up one night at 2:14 a.m. to find a blurry, transparent man dressed in 1920s garb standing over my bed looking down at me and smiling. I sat bolt upright in bed and tried to scream but couldn't. I pinched myself to see if I was awake, and I definitely was. He didn't say anything, but smiled and made a "shhh" mouth back at me. I turned on the light, and he was still there, although I couldn't see him as clearly. After about a minute he was gone.

He came back two days later at the same exact time. Same outfit, same smile. I was probably even more terrified that time. Or terrified in a different way.

He came back one more time that week. And reappeared several more times in the span of a couple of months.

When my lease expired, I moved out. And wouldn't you know it ... the very last night I stayed in that apartment, he came back. This time he did not smile. I swear I saw him crying.

I actually miss him. I never found out who he was.

Eventually I got in touch with the new tenant of my apartment and asked her if she ever "met" this "ghost". She told me she did believe in "ghosts" but no, she never met him. I told her to let me know if she did. But I haven't heard from her, so I guess he didn't come back.

I think that the innate desire in us to have it be true can cloud our reason and allow us to accept the far-fetched results of such"experiments"Its like the reincarnation people,no one was Mongo the sewer dwarf in their previous life,they were Cleopatra ,so with this new techno contact technique people are hearing what they want tp hear and not the diatribes of Richard Speck.

No and no. Sorry kids, but consciousness is the result of the electrochemical processes of the central nervous system. Shut that down and there's nothing left.

Yeah, that's creepy. I've heard about this phenomena. Guess I'll have to go check the movie out.

Cool trailer! I hadn't heard of the movie before and when I saw the "White Noise" title the first thing that came to mind was the creepy book by Don Delillo.

But I want to see this movie!

I don't necessarily believe in "ghosts." But I don't believe we cease to exist when we die either. And I know enough people who swear they've had somesort of supernatural experience where they've been visited or warned by a passed relative that I'm not going to out-of-hand dismiss it.

I am very willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy these movies. Loved Sixth Sense!

Yes and yes. The complicated question is what are and where do they originate from...

Not really but open-minded and sort of.

Anyone who's been using computers for a long time knows that the more complicated you make something, the more often it goes wrong and in more different and original ways; the human brain is no exception. Between the jumble of memories, impressions, and ideas plenty of anomalies emerge; hallucinations and waking dreams aren't things that only happen to crazy people, they're things that happen to everybody at least once in their lives. It's so common it's considered a more or less normal phenomenon of the grieving process, for example.

Still, not every story is easily debunked, and even if ghosts were completely real they wouldn't lend themselves very well to study by the scientific method, so I won't fully commit myself to the scoffing-skeptic community. While Occam's razor tells me that if 90% of the data is provably bad then the other 10% is probably bad too, I prefer to leave such things in a mental open file. Besides, I love a good spooky story.

Anyway, the most ghostly thing that's ever happened to me personally was hearing my cat crying and scratching at the window to be let in several nights in a row after he died of antifreeze poisoning. I tend to think this was in the grief-based hallucination category, though.

Haven't run into any, but I will say, like Richard Pryor said, if I'm lookin to buy a house, and I'm checking it all out and everything, and I heard a voice that said "get ouuuuuut", I'd be like "This is a nice house...really nice, I like that, too bad we can't buy it"!

Alex

You may think your amino acids bumping up against each other "cause" consciousness, I look at it the other way around... those physical structures are used by consciousness, the same way a beautiful piece of poetry or music is more than the electrical impulses along the networked computer it is being transmitted on.

I've never bought the 1000 monkeys on a 1000 typewriters for a 1000 years theory of human creativity.

yes and yes

Yes on both counts. Not positive experiences, either.

Ok,on another tact,we all love the Zombie concept for all of the metaphors implied,so I think that this little concept sould be viwed in a similar light.'What if" is the engine,but not the reality.

This is easy: "No" and "No."

But, then again, people believe in all sorts of wacky things from gods to UFO abductions to past-life regression, so I won't be surprised by anything else I read in the comments. :)

darleen -

To quote Madonna, "We are living in a material world." As far as I'm aware, there has never been any evidence for the existence of an immaterial consciousness. We are what we are--animals with sophisticated brains. When we die, we die. If you have evidence to the contrary I'd certainly like to examine it.

I don't believe in ghosts or spirits or whatever you want to call them. But that trailer still creeped the heck out of me!

I do think that people have seen/experienced "something" that they think is a dead loved one or a previous resident of their house. But I don't believe it really is that person. The few instantces where it's not a figment of imagination or a dream, but something real. I quite honestly think it's something from the devil. Something he's sending to confuse people, to create the chaos he wants. Probably not the most common opinion on the phenomenon, but it's what I think!

I don't believe in ghosts just because I've never seen convincing evidence myself. But I will pass along this story that I haven't been able to explain beyond "weird coincidence."

In the student co-op I live in, there was a girl who died here in the 70s from a drug overdose. I had known about this for a while, but then this girl moved in who said she saw a ghost of a very sad, very sick looking girl in one of the bathrooms. That happened within the first few days that she moved in, before she heard the story. From my understanding, she was only told the story about the dead girl after she mentioned the thing she saw to somebody. Apparently she saw ghosts on a fairly regular basis.

She wasn't into talking about it, either. I tried to bring it up once and she shuddered and hurriedly cut me off.

Given that what consciousness actually is is a poorly understood emergent property of neurobiology, being strictly materialistic about it isn't working with much. Saying we understand its nature is like saying you understand the nature of combustion because you know the structure of an engine.

Double No from me. And I think that those who do report contact with spirits are loons. I'm on the side of the boring rationalists, those stoic spoilsports who dismiss omens, miracles, tarot cards and horoscopes as bullshit feel-good snakeoil therapy for the naive. And I am thankful (if that's the right way to think about it) to those sparks of life that popped up under the right conditions (hey, it doesn't matter what the odds were, we won the life lottery and we get to live it up!)

And scary supernatural movies are fun because the evil nasty things do exist in them. I get scared and love it not because it's real, but because I don't have to bother with whether it's real or not. Watching zombies/orcs/Lovecraftian Nasties eat people in a movie = good fun. Watching zombies/orcs/Sloggoths eat people in my home = time to sober up.

I have never had anything even remotely close to a paranormal experience. Not even a spooky experience, nor a creepy one. Hell, I don't even get deja vu.

But I am piss-my-pants terrified of death. I'm not a religious person, though I'm not one of those "Christians are stupid" morons either. The net result is that I acknowledge the possibility of life after death but have no firsthand experience with it. But I wish, I wish, I wish I could find some, so that I wouldn't be so scared of dying.

"We are what we are--animals with sophisticated brains. When we die, we die."

Spoken by a man who has faced death, I presume.

Saying there is no evidence of something therefore it does not exist is not exactly scientific. If there is no evidence it means just that - there is no evidence. A true scientist would never say it is impossible simply because there is no evidence. They would simply say "there is no evidence" and maintain an open mind.

Frankly, in my opinion, saying there is absolutely no life after death is no different than saying there absolutely is life after death. We won't know for sure until we die...and then of course it's too late.

No and no.

And Jeff, I was afraid of dying. Then one day that fear just disappeared. I started thinking that perhaps my memory won't go poof after all, and hey, we all have to die someday. I'm just hoping my someday is still decades away.

On the other hand, I do believe in God, and I think there's something afterward. I'm really hoping I'm reunited with my friends and relatives.

But not with the assholes.

If there's no life after death, how will we know? Will we spend eternity in a room that isn't there?

This is now waaaaay off track. Aren't you glad you're back to blogging here, Michele? (For the record, I am.)

I'm an agnostic on the issue of ghosts, as I am on all other supernatural beings. Just on the odd chance that they might exist, I do try not to go out of my way to piss any of them off...

Agreed, a most creepy trailer.

No and no.

Having lost my wife less than a year ago, I've heard her voice many times since. Not because she is here, but because I am.

Yes, and yes.

Aside from the two times I was with dying people who were talking to those who had been gone for years, I had a strange experience after my grandfather died.

He had cancer - metastic melanoma - which (there's no other way to say this) smelled terrible. The hospice nurses told us that small cups of vanilla extract placed around his room would help cut the smell. It did, somewhat.

He died there, at home. Six months later, I was coming down the stairs, and as I neared the bottom step, that inimitable smell - vanilla and sickness - hit me like a sledgehammer. I was afraid to keep going, because I just KNEW I'd see him, frail and tired, sitting on the couch. I waited there for five minutes, until the smell was gone.

Maybe I was still grieving, but that shook me to my loony bones.

Having lost my wife less than a year ago, I've heard her voice many times since. Not because she is here, but because I am.

Surely among the most beautiful things ever said.

Sure there are ghosts. There's a bunch of Confederate soldiers who hang around in the back yard. The house is built right where they had a big encampment during the war. You can hear them talkin' at sundown--around the campfire maybe.

For a while they got real fascinated with computers and the Internet. They'd come inside and start it up to log on. AHM used to jump about ten feet when she'd be in the other room and hear it dialing itself. Then she got mad and told them to knock it off. They did.

Now they stay outside. Sometimes we try barkin' to chase them off, but it doesn't work so we mostly ignore them. At least we do until they have their hoedowns or whatever ya' call it. I like music but we canines can only stand so many verses of "Turkey in the Straw."

No, no, and no. There are no "ghosts" or spirits or other such paranormal nonsensical creatures.

No and no. I think it's interesting that so many reported "ghosts" are wearing clothes. Apparently, our jeans and t-shirts have spirits too. Or maybe it's only vintage clothes that qualify for the garment afterlife. I'll probably get stuck with bell bottoms, polyester and puka shells (circa 1976). Now that's scary.

Yes and yes.

Always interesting to post on such a hot topic...

Yes, I am sure that spirits exist in our world. Yes, I am sure that they have at least occasionally communicated with those still living. Not the sort of thing I'd typically volunteer in conversation, though - just because I feel a certain way doesn't mean I think others must agree.

For all those detractors that shout "empirical evidence": explain to me the human brain. In rational terms, describe to me how a series of chemical interactions can generate as chaotic a system as free will.

There is something in us that has existed longer than our flesh-and-blood forms, and will continue to exist after our brain functions cease.

dang - seems like only yesterday we were conjuring up ghosts of a different sort, working our way through the haze of nearly thirty years to come up with our most memorable saturday night live moments.

yes and yes.

They are spun through the structure and chemitry of our brains and exist on a continuum of relative survival value.

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horation, than are dreamt of in your philosophy".

Qualified yes ("the ability to contact" is the tricky part--lots of frauds, and no way to verify.) and Oh My Yes Indeedy.

I have had a few experiences, but I am not sure as to whether or not it was ghosts. Since they usually happened as I was waking up, they may have been 'leftover dreams'. As there are so many unknowns about how the universe works (hell, astronomers have to invent stuff like 'dark energy' to explain the acceleration of stars when all previous models had them slowing down) I think anyone who thinks they are 'sure' that they know whether or not there is a hereafter are naive and foolish. How do you KNOW our consciousness is only chemical processes? How do you KNOW that it is not? Me, I am just gonna keep an open mind on the matter until someone can say conclusively yea or nay.

Kong

No and no. People believe in ghosts for the same reason people believe literally in God: They want to. Believing adds something to their personal universe at little cost to them.

Frankly, living in a world without ghosts (or vampires, or werewolves, or unicorns, etc.) would be "boring," and since believing in them requires absolutely nothing except a little bit of pleasant irrationality, many people can just say, "Why not believe in them? I don't wanna live in a world with no ghosts, so as far as I'm concerned, there are ghosts."

All I know is that if ghosts are real, they're not building any space shuttles, or curing any diseases, or creating any art. All they seem to want to do is knock stuff off our shelves while we're asleep and tell us to get out of our own houses.

In conclusion: If ghosts are real, they are jerks, and we should not idolize them so. That having been said, this "White Noise" movie could be pretty cool.

Yup and yes.

Not thingies in sheets, tho. And I don't know about poltergeists.

I do know that shortly after my Mom passed away, I had a dream that I was talking with her. Towards the end, I realized that it wasn't a dream. I believe I was talking to her. Could I prove it court. No.

Could it have ben wishful dreaming on my part? Sure. But it's really an idle debate... there is no proof one was or another, at least, of the kind that will stand legal or scientific scrutiny.

But that doesn't make something un-true. Just unprovable.

Jeff beat me to it, but:

Having lost my wife less than a year ago, I've heard her voice many times since. Not because she is here, but because I am.

...is absolutely perfect and beautifully said.

Yeah, that was said nicely.

Sorry for your loss Matt30

Yes and yes, but it isn't weird. Most people have some level of reality that we are spiritual beings inhabiting a body rather than meat.

The body dies and the spirit goes elsewhere, usually to pick up anopther body and get on with the game.

People dying in unusual circumstances often seem to hang around the place where it happened. This usually ends when somebody notices them and lets them communicate about it.

Ghosts are merely beings who are stuck in some incident. Listen carefully to the next one you see, let it know that you understand and see what happens.

Jeff, Andy, and Dave:

Thank you for your kind words. They are sincerely appreciated.