Tuesday, October 31, 2006


So in her Tell It To Me Tuesday style, Janet asks: Do you believe in ghosts?

Good question, with a short answer: No.

So far, I haven’t seen any evidence that’s the least bit convincing that ghosts exist. I’d like to believe in them, as I think their presence would make the world a cooler place (and not just because of those unexplained temperature drops that they supposedly cause, although if we could harness ghost power to solve global warming, I’d start killin’ right away).

Sometimes I talk to dead people. They don’t talk back. But I can imagine what they’d say if they were around, and that usually works out fine for me. Imagination is a big part of any ghost.

Once, years ago, I did go to a meeting of a ghost hunting society, researching a newspaper story I never wrote. A bunch of nice people with a kooky hobby. Dspite their gadgets like tape recorders and electromagnetic detectors, they struck me as a bunch of Mulders in need of a Scully. Their group would have been a lot stronger with a few skeptics in their midst, trying their hardest to debunk various “hauntings” and “spectral resonances” on videotape.

They showed a number of videotapes with supposed ghost sightings on them, and most of them were pretty ridiculous. One was filmed in a graveyard. It was a mostly dark screen, but eventually there were three lights in a pattern moving around the screen. The videographer was at the meeting, and he claimed that there were no such lights in the graveyard. Still, anyone who wasn’t intent on seeing ghosts would recognize the lights as the sort of floodlights situated around a convenience store parking lot. The only reason they were moving is that the cameraman was stumbling around in the dark.

But the last video they showed was genuinely creepy. I wouldn’t call it evidence of a ghost – it was almost certainly a trick of the light – but we rewound it several times and couldn’t come up with an explanation from the evidence on the video.

The first thing about the video that was different from others we saw is that it wasn’t filmed to find ghosts. It was a wedding reception video, and the cameraman walked around the dance floor, watching Aunt Hildy and Uncle Mike do the funky chicken. As the camera moves, it looks like we see a little boy standing in the curtained doorway. He seems to be dressed strangely, in frilly cuffs and a collar, like Little Lord Fauntleroy. The camera moves past him, and we see more people dance. Then the camera swings around again, and we catch sight of the doorway. The little boy is still there.

And suddenly one of the caterers walks right through him. And then he’s gone.

It’s creepy, and I honestly can’t explain it. It almost certainly wasn’t a boy (or a ghost boy), but instead some sort of pattern on the curtain that looked like a kid. But the curtain was black, and didn’t seem like it had any sort of pattern on it. Maybe a napkin was sticking to it, maybe it had been patched and maybe perspective played some sort of trick. But man, it looked like a little kid.

Apparently this happened at the Knights of Columbus hall in my hometown of Springfield, which made it a little bit creepier to me.

What drove me nuts the most about this is that I really wanted an explanation for this. But the ghost hunters looked at this genuinely intriguing video with the same inquisitiveness that the showed the other obvious trick-of-the-light footage: that is, none at all. If it looked remotely like a ghost, that was enough for them.

So no, I don’t believe in ghosts. But I do believe that some people will stumble around in the dark for the slimmest of reasons.



Natsthename said...

I'm in total agreement! (I guess I watch too much "Bullshit" with Penn & Teller)

Janet said...

I think it's only the people who have had experiences that they cant explain that are open to believing. Hey, I should include that in my post.

Rob S. said...

Well, I'd say I'm open to believing. But belief without evidence is a different story.

And cripes, Nat, did we mind-meld or something? I *love* Bullshit and was thinking about thier skepticism when I wrote this post. That's just spooky!

Mark said...

If I may do a little shameless self-promotion, my most recent post has a little something to do with this, oddly enough.