Saturday 11 February 2012

Ghosts and Things that Go Bump in the Night

Let me recuse myself right off the bat: I believe in ghosts.  I believe in faeries.  I believe in entities which are not and never have been human but which co-exist with us.

This is why I don’t mess around with them.

But I enjoy watching stories of people who do.  So I watch Ghost Hunters, My Ghost Story, Celebrity Ghost Stories and other documentary type shows on the supernatural.  For the record, I believe that Ghost Hunters is the best show out there for paranormal investigation.  They’re tough on their evidence and not too credulous.

I believe but I think some people out there are a little too eager to find “evidence.”  Most of the time when I listen to EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena), I just hear static.  I look at photos and see motes of dust and lens flare where others insist there are ectoplasmic orbs.  Humans are incredibly good at finding patterns and we tend to try and make random images and noises into familiar patterns: faces and voices.  It’s a phenomena called matrixing and it’s been proved scientifically.  So just because you think you see something, it doesn’t mean something was actually there.

Aside from over-eagerness, I also wonder at some of the evidence captured.  I was watching one show which had put a night-vision camera in a woman’s bedroom while she slept.  As she’s sleeping, a creature jumps onto the bed out of the electronic “noise” at the edge of the image.  I have cats and it looked exactly like a cat jumping onto the bed but misjudging and sliding off.  The show claimed the woman didn’t have cats or any other pets.  Okay.  But the fact that the image jumps out of the noise also makes it a little suspect to me.  Of course, I’m also willing to accept that supernatural activity does seem to play havoc with electronics, so perhaps the “noise” is the result of the paranormal.  But I don’t think that’s it.

Another too-good-to-be-true image captured was found with a set of cameras set up by paranormal investigators in the house of an elderly man and woman who had been having frightening experiences.  In the footage, you see a solid dark figure walking across the open door in the hallway.  It pauses, comes back as if to peer into the bedroom, walks back across the doorway, pauses again, then continues on its original path and goes down the stairs.  The image is very low resolution.  I have to wonder if it was faked, someone in the house in dark clothing.  It seems too solid and interacts with the floor just like a regular person would.

Sometimes when I’m watching these shows, I will start to get creeping tingles crawling up my upper arms and my back.  It’s an entirely subjective opinion, but I believe those goosebumps tell me when I’m seeing something which is actually paranormal.  In a standard show with four or five stories, I might get the goosebumps for one of them.  Neither of the two examples above gave me goosebumps.  I’ve noticed a trend with them.  I’m more likely to get goosebumps with stories where the people involved don’t have very clear physical “evidence.”  I don’t think it’s easy to get physical evidence.  I think the nature of the supernatural prevents it. 

The guys from Ghost Hunters talk about different types of ghosts and hauntings and their definitions make sense to me and match my own experiences:

Residual hauntings: where an image or apparition repeats the same action over and over, without interacting with people.  These aren’t conscious, more the psychic equivalent of a snapshot or video clip.

Ghosts: a spirit which is able to interact with the living.  These are the ones which make me sad because the thought of an intelligent sentient person being trapped without being able to communicate or escape is terrifying.  It would be awful.

Non-human spirits: a spirit which interacts but does not appear to be human.  I’m of two minds about this.  It could be non-human, since I don’t think we’re the only sentient beings in the universe.  Or it could be a spirit which has been disembodied so long that it has forgotten being human.  These spirits are often very agitated and seem to feed off fear.

I don’t claim to be a particular expert in this field but there are things which just make sense to me.  I believe there is more in this world than we understand.  And I think we ignore it or turn it into party games at our peril.

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