Do you believe in ghosts?

I recently watched an article on breakfast TV about ghosts. “Do you believe in ghosts?” was the question and the reply was ably given by Professor Richard Wiseman. His new book, ‘Paranormality’, which he was there to promote, is all about the psychology of paranormal events and how these can be explained as perfectly normal, natural events. I haven’t read his book yet but I have ordered a copy. It is my firm belief that, whenever one is investigating paranormal phenomena, it is imperative to be aware of all the possible causes before reaching any conclusions.

However, I feel the telling phrase from the above paragraph is ‘these CAN be explained …’

While I agree that almost 99% of all reported phenomena can quite easily be explained, there does remain an annoying 1 percent for which no explanation is forthcoming. Simply because something CAN be explained, does not mean that it IS explained. That’s like saying that all apples are fruit, therefore all fruit are apples. This clearly is not true. Similarly, because it is possible to forge bank notes, does that mean that all bank notes are forgeries? Clearly not.

There is a trend among TV producers to glamorise the supernatural and the paranormal. Mediums like Derek Acorah, Sally Morgan, Lisa Williams, et al are treated like superstars and this attracts a whole gaggle of Wannabe followers. Some want this so badly they will go to any lengths to be part of it and this usually means accepting things as paranormal on the flimsiest of evidence. It is sad.

A case in question is orbs. They have a fervent following who will shout from the rooftops that orbs are spirit entities. Personally, I have never seen any evidence to suggest that orbs are anything more than camera noise and malfunctions, dust, insects, bits of cotton, bits of spider’s webs, bits of feather, airborne seeds, in fact any lightweight material that can drift on air currents. I think the main problem lies in the ease with which orb photos can be created. A simple digital camera, and the simpler the better, will produce orb photos almost at will and this makes it childishly easy for anyone to join in and feel they belong. Some even claim they can see faces in the things, although this can easily be explained as pareidolia and anthropomorphism . But I don’t dismiss orbs totally – I have left the door open for some real evidence to ‘drift’ in and will be happy to see it if it does. Many mediums I know, curse me for this explanation as it seems to be fashionable to accept orb without question. Alas, I will not hold my breath while waiting for this one.

On the other hand, we have the scientific community who live at the opposite extreme. They consider that any attempt to validate the paranormal is ludicrous and not worthy of their attention. I suspect they only stoop to this level when they see how big the market is and they want to make some money from it. They seem to have a god-given certainty in their knowledge that the paranormal is impossible. Yet they cannot prove it, they act on their own faith that they are right and we are wrong – and this is a contradiction in itself.

And that brings me back to the title of this little missive. Do you believe in ghosts? So, do I? Well, no, I don’t. I believe in spirit but the spectre with his head tucked underneath his arm is not a spirit. All common ghost reportings of this type are, I believe, recordings stored in the fabric of the surroundings and triggered for playback by something the onlookers do, or the sound of their voices, or just their presence. I can’t imagine an existence more pointless than being forced to relive the final few seconds of your life, over and over again, for all eternity. A spirit in visitation, on the other hand, is more likely to be a one-off and,  therefore, not repeatable as the scientists demand. Mediums, however, are testable and Professor Gary Schwartz (The Afterlife Experiments: Breakthrough Scientific Evidence of Life After Death) has made a detailed study of this. His conclusion, in simplistic terms, is – if it walks like a duck, sounds like a duck, looks like a duck, then the chances are it is a duck.

So, watch out for those ducks …

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