I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghost. In Theory.

22 Dec

One thing you may not know about me is that I believe in ghosts. I have never had a personal experience that led me to this conclusion, I was never specifically instructed to believe in them, but I feel that there is impelling and substantial evidence to say that they exist. I’ve been interested in ghosts and spectral-related phenomena since I was a kid, preferring books of “real” ghost stories over young adult thrillers and horror fiction. When I became old enough to comprehend more academic treatises on paranormal studies, I decided two things: one, that ghosts, or occurrences known as “hauntings” exist, and two, that there was an awful dearth of academic treatises on this fascinating aspect of our physical world.

Theoretically, ghosts transcend many scientific disciplines: ghosts appear to be a kind of electro-chemical mash of metaphysics and alternate realities that affect us on sociological and psychological levels. This is most likely the main reason there isn’t more collegiate paranormal study; it’s not like your findings could get published in a biology journal or a mathematics monograph that would explain the breadth of the phenomena. Another reason, I think, that ghost study is taken less seriously than it should be is because talking about ghosts and possession invariably leads to a discussion about the afterlife, and that is decidedly not in the interest of scientific pursuit. If there’s an afterlife, then the foundations of modern science erode, the core beliefs being that all processes move in patterned cycles: birth giving to life giving to death which creates more births. But I don’t think that the existence of apparitions and sensory irregularities are necessarily evidence of an afterlife, I don’t know that ghosts are in any way connected to death at all. We perceive them this way, and as a species we have always perceived them as relatives, historical figures, characters in period dress that support any local scary stories and rumors. Or perhaps the phenomena is related to death and emotional trauma, but is not controlled or attached to a nebulous post-life consciousness that walks along darkened corridors, rattling otherworldly chains.

The human belief in an afterlife pervades nearly every culture throughout recorded history. Our shared rituals of observing and disposing of the dead are largely based on making sure a corpse stays put, and doesn’t go wandering around, placing curses on church rectories and inhabiting creaky mansions. Certainly, seeing a wispy apparition of your dearly departed Aunt Edna wafting through the kitchen might imply that there’s some kind of existence after death. But what if seeing Aunt Edna is our perception of an unfamiliar, unnatural occurrence, something so mind-bending that the only way it can be comprehended is to attach it to the familiar? We tread purely hypothetical waters here, presenting the effects before completely understanding their causes. However it is far more dangerous to sane, coherent research to presume something as broad and truth-fracturing as an afterlife which, in at least some aspects, interacts with our own reality. If the object is to prove an existence after death, then prove that. Don’t hold as evidence something whose nature is not in the least bit understood.

I don’t know what ghosts are, I’ve never seen one. But I’ve listened to countless EVPs, watched hours of influential footage, read hundreds of thousands of words depicting first-hand accounts of paranormal occurrences, all of which leads me to believe that there is substance in the ectoplasm. Even if it is some grand, shared delusion, that possibility is as fascinating and incredible as notions of an afterlife. It implies that we do have a shared consciousness, that there are archetypical totems that are familiar to us as a species. Doesn’t that bear some kind of organized investigation on a grander scale than four retards stumbling around in the dark, waving EMF meters in front of themselves like the Ghostbusters? I suppose there’s no obvious pharmaceutical or military application for the study of ghosts, a fact which severely curtails potential funding. Still, there should be a concerted effort to determine the exact qualities of ghosts and their related phenomena. After all, they’re going to get away with it if not for us meddling kids.

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