Psi and the Far-Right
Myth of an Afterlife?

Ghost Stories

Regular readers know I like to poke around and see what’s afoot in the media at this time of year. Mostly I found only a lot of rather boring short articles providing ‘scientific’ explanations for ghosts, from the likes of Joe Nickell. This one made me laugh:

Shane Rogers and his team from Clarkson University in the US observed similarities between paranormal experiences and the hallucinogenic effects of fungal spores. This may explain why ghost sightings often occur in older buildings with inadequate ventilation and poor air quality.

As did this:

Kesha's Sexy Supernatural Energy

Pop singer Kesha admitted in an interview with Ryan Seacrest that she believes she once had sex with a ghost. "I've got a song called 'Supernatural,'" she explained. "That song was about having sex with a ghost. I lived in this flop house at Rural Canyon and there was this weird energy that lived there, and it used to keep me at night and wake me up. And it progressed into this dark, sexual spirit. It did scare me, but that's part of the fun of it."

Then I came across this piece in the comment section of the Guardian’s website. The article itself is weak, but it was clearly meant to start a conversation, which duly took place. The comments thread is some fifteen pages long, much of it containing personal ghost stories from readers around the world – a sort of global campfire event. For once, the scoffers seemed outnumbered, no one taking much notice of them.

I could comment, but sometimes it’s better just to listen. Here’s a selection:

when i was a kid around 10 my family and me lived with a ghost.. two things really stand out but small things also were apparent like leaving something on in a room leaving the room coming back later to see what you turned on was off...or at night when we went to bed light s turned off.. i was hiding under covers.. you would hear what sounded like a ball bouncing.. the two things that stand out .. my family and me were in the living room watching tv.. when down the hall on a dresser was a newspaper.. the pages were slowly turning one by one. as if someone was reading them.. and this one where there cannot be any doubt.. i was standing in the living room next to my brother.. mom was sitting on the couch.. across to where mom was sitting was a wall about10 feet in front of her.. on the wall we had a plastic ornament of a man.. i was saying to my brother their are no such things as ghosts.. and all of a sudden the ornament was slammed down hard to the ground right next to where mom was on the couch.. 10 feet to where it was hanging on the wall.. i apologized after that..


Here is my story: Believe it or not! I came to live in Brazil in 1991. After visiting a Spiritist Centre for charitable reasons and although a strong agnostic, I became interested in the Spiritist doctrine. (Although it had been prominent in the UK at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the 20th century, with famous scientists amongst others, it has all but disappeared nowadays.) Anyway, shortly afterwards I started doing some psychic writing and I was the biggest Doubting Thomas ever. My writing was produced in a conscious state, often in a dialogue (question and answer form)
"Your friend needs help!"
"Which friend?"
"The one in a wheelchair?"
"Julio?"
"Yes"
"When?"
"Now"
"Now?"
Yes , now!"
"OK"
It was after midnight. I told my wife and said "It's now or never. I need to go to Julio's house to see if this communication is real"
Ok" she said. " but don't go alone... take our oldest son along with you."

I woke him and we quickly set off into town. When we arrived at Julio's house, there was a light on. Not totally bad..... As is customary here in Brazil, I clapped my hands (they don't knock on doors) and Julio's mother appeared immediately at the door.

"You'll think I am crazy but I came to see if Julio needs help."
"Thank God you are here," she replied. "I need to take him to the hospital urgently and there were no ambulances available. I have no money."
"Do you want to go to the hospital now?"
"Yes please"
"Right, let's go."

We went to the emergency at the teaching hospital in a nearby town where a doctor saw Julio and said he was OK to go home with medication but if there was any change we were to bring him back immediately. We bought the medicine at an all night chemist next top the hospital and went home.
I asked Julio's mother if she was religious. She replied that she was and that she had her bible open and had been praying for help all day.
Julio was eight years old at the time. He had hydrocephalus with a valve draining excess fluid from his head to his abdominal cavity. One sign there may be a problem with the valve was if he started vomiting. He had been vomiting all day, hence the mother's worry and the need to get him to the hospital..
Needless to say, I am no longer a Doubting Thomas.


When travelling round Europe with friends as impoverished backpackers, we stopped off at my friend's penpal's granddad's house in Paris. My friend's penpal told us we can kip in the lounge but not go upstairs to where the comfy beds were. Sod that I thought, when he had gone and everyone else had settled down on sleeping bags on the floor, and went and found a bed upstairs in the dark. As I was dozing in bed, i suddenly felt myself wide-awake, and curiously watched as I was pulled upright in bed, pulled up to standing, floated off the bed and was suspended in mid-air in the corner of the room looking down on the bed. In the bed though, it wasn't my body but that of an old man with short cropped grey hair, pale complexion and eyes closed. There was no fear at all, only curiosity....then nothing. Next morning, I relayed my story to my friends who in turn related to the penpal when he came round to pick us up. He became very agitated, angry even at my having broken our promise to him. His granddad had died in that bed four months previously and no-one had slept in it since. There was no photograph of the granddad in the house, but when we returned to the penpal's house, he showed me a photograph of him then and. of course, it was the same man I had seen lying on the bed the previous evening.


I grew up in a weird creepy house and have lots of stories but know they'll just be torn apart but there is one strange thing in particular that happened which isn't really a ghost thing but anyway. One day I was doing the dishes in the kitchen and I had a like a vision/waking dream kind of thing where my sister burst into my house crying. About 20-30 minutes she did burst into my house crying and everything about it happened in the same way I had imagined it. It wasn't some big trauma or anything and I don't even remember what she was upset about but I often think back and wonder what happened to make me 'see' it before I did.


Mostly I've seen a cat, resembling our beloved late Siamese, but most of the sightings were actually before she died, when she was becoming ill - no, it couldn't have simply been her. During one, I was feeding my hamster and turned to see a Siamese sitting on the kitchen table, just as clearly as reality, I was surprised since I always shut the door to keep her out when caring for the hamster and checked she wasn't in the room first, so looked to the door which was clearly still shut, not understanding how she'd seemingly got in, looked back at the Siamese still sitting on the table, then after a few moments, they just weren't there any more. I think that the room looked different after that, too - the laundry room tidier, which wasn't the only time things seemed to change or more likely shift back after such events. Perhaps it's a kind of access of (your) earlier memories, imprinted on the current scene, or alternatively the space-time disruption theory, if you like.


Sunny afternoon playing chess with my young son. We were in the enclosed veranda, in what was reputed to be the oldest house existing atop the Scarborough Bluffs, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, that is. When a female in a long white summer dress went through the door into the garden. Thinking it was my wife I called out for her to put the kettle on so we could have tea . No response which was unusual. My wife was still upstairs in our bedroom. Seemed strange, as I looked out in the garden. Nobody there. Past it off.

Weeks later at a neighbour's house party. The local councillor's. His wife asked if I had seen our ghost yet. Seems quite well known in the neighbourhood!

Didn't believe in Ghosts before, but do now. Appears she has a history.


Something similar happened to my husband when he was a teenager - the house his parents own used to be a bakery (amongst other things...) and one weekend, he somehow managed to wake up before his parents and went downstairs and was sitting in the living room (which used to be the shop part of the bakery). The door to the stairs started to open, and he thought it was his mum having come down to make breakfast, and went to open the door for her, and came face to face with a woman in a Victorian-style red dress, her hair up, and with a shocked look on her face like she hadn't expected to see him there, just as much as he hadn't expected to see HER. Then she disappeared.

Another time, he was in the kitchen, and saw someone in the living room, walking around where the old bakery counter would have been, also dressed in Victorian style clothes. He thought (again) that it was his mum, and called out to her if she wanted any tea making. When he didn't get a reply, he went in to ask again, thinking she hadn't heard him, and was startled to see she wasn't there. She'd been upstairs the whole time (and obviously not dressed in Victorian clothes) and was confused as to why he was asking if she'd been downstairs at all.
Interestingly, they later found a painting of the woman my husband saw, in that same red Victorian dress, in the attic (loft?) and gave it to the relatives of the previous owner of the house (who they are friends with) thinking it belonged to them. But whenever they try to hang it up, the painting flies off the wall and ends up on the other side of the room, face down, so they've given up even trying and have it stored somewhere. Personally, I think it belongs with that house, but that's just me.


When i was a kid my family and me lived with a ghost we had quite a few scares.. one time while my family and me was watching tv in the living room. down the hall on a dresser was a newspaper and slowly one by one the pages were turning as if someone was browsing through it.. another time which cannot be any doubt i was standing next to my brother in the living room by the front door.. mom was sitting on the couch.. across where my mom was siting is a wall.. on the wall was a plastic ornament of a man .. i was saying to my brother their are no such things as ghosts.. and all of a sudden the ornament was slammed hard to the ground where my mom was sitting 10 feet across from where it was on the wall i apologized after that


My work colleague's eighteen month old year old daughter always refused to have a bath in his mother-in-law's old house, even to the extent of grabbing hold of the door frame as she was being carried in there. The mother-in-law sold the house eventually and a few weeks later went round to collect the post. The new owner told her that her husband was refusing to sleep upstairs and had made up a bed in one of the downstairs rooms because of the ghost of a woman in a red dress on the landing.

My own mother-in-law was a district nurse and went to visit an old lady. On her way up the stairs a man dressed in old-fashioned attire walked down past her. When she turned to see who it was, he had vanished into thin air. She went into the old lady's room with a shocked expression and the old lady said: "You've seen him then? He came with the clock" and she pointed to an antique grandfather clock she'd had delivered a few weeks previously.


As a younger single mum with a child, I exchanged with a woman who was in a hurry to get out of her house. From the first night, I heard a child crying... it wasn't mine, no other children around, no cats. As time went on, several friends who stayed at the house, heard a crying child. I didn't say anything, but kept copious notes. I also had the feeling that someone was watching me, and my own child was heard talking to someone and referring to him by name, though there was nobody in the family with that name. I then found out that the woman I had changed with had a child that she had neglected. He died. And yes, his name was the one my own child kept repeating. I lived in that house for ten years. The really sad thing for me though is that the woman later neglected a second child who died... but this time, she went to prison.


When I was doing my post doctoral research at a famous west coast university, I encountered a ghost of a close relative. This relative told me stuff regarding "my personal and professional" career in two and a half years. This was details I considered to be very specific, and in fact so outlandish to be impossible. This ghost appeared whilst sitting in my bedroom at around 9 pm west coast time. This close relative "verbally" communicated to me then quickly vanished.

To cut a long story short - Two and a half years time later: it was true.
From being an atheist rational scientist, I became an agnostic!


I am an atheist and do not believe there is anything after death. Some years ago we had a time when we could hear a baby crying. It would happen most often in the evening and several people heard it, both family members and visitors. The baby monitor picked nothing up. It lasted for about three months and then stopped as suddenly as it started. We lived in a detached house at the time and there were no babies nearby in neighbouring houses.

I have no explanation for this phenomenon. I just know what I heard.


We went on the Mary King's Close ghost walk with a couple of friends who were visiting from Peru a while back (this is going back a fair few years, since we haven't lived in Scotland for over 10 years now, and my son is now 19 and he was just a wee thing then...) but we didn't even get a third of the way thru before he went absolutely mental ape shit and refused to go any further no matter what anyone said or did (I didn't even consider it that bad, and I DO believe in spirits), so they had to get someone to come and get us to take us back to the main ground level. I never did get to see the rest of it, tho my husband and friends continued on without us and said it was really creepy and spooky, even without my son's freak-out.

He's always been a bit odd tho. (when he was about 2, he had a 'conversation' with his Gran-gran who'd just passed away, tho we didn't know it (that she'd passed away, I mean) until about 3 minutes later when the nursing home staff opened the door to the room we were waiting in and told us. Then they asked him who he'd been 'talking' to, and he very calmly said 'I talkin' to Gran-gran' and pointed to the corner where he'd been sitting and chatting away, and all hell broke loose. (Hubby's parents (or any of his family, for that matter) are not religious people at all, but they all went completely nuts when he said this. It's still a matter of contention even now - he still insists he saw her, and they insist he didn't.


I have some stories. I am late to the party, but here goes...
I own an interesting old house that dates back to the 1500s. Four people who have worked in the house have had "experiences." One was a young cleaner who opened the master bedroom door into the hallway to see a middle-aged woman in a black Victorian dress and white apron, with her hair styled in a bun, descending the stairs. She appeared solid, but when she reached the landing below she vanished into thin air. The cleaner was stunned by what she saw—or thought she saw. She went home.

Recently a man doing some work in the attics claimed he distinctly heard someone enter the house and noisily stomp up several flights of stairs. He called out to the "stair stomper," assuming another worker, a younger man, had come by, though he was not expected. There was no answer, so he searched, but the house was empty and the door was locked. No one else was ever there that day—not even a delivery was made. This man did not believe in ghosts, but then another time he briefly glimpsed a woman in the main hall, so now he's open to the idea of them.

Another worker, an older man, arrived one morning to check the house (we were away on a trip) to find a saucepan set upright on the slate floor in the kitchen. The saucepans were always kept firmly stacked upside down in a standing iron rack. The wayward saucepan was filled to the brim with water. No one had been in our isolated house and there were no leaks in the ceiling. No thirsty dogs to drink from it, either. There was no explanation to be found, but certainly there must be one.

There are ancient vaulted stone cellars below the house and the door leading down to them is sometimes found open, even though it latches firmly. I do put that down to the micro climates found in an old stone house.

A previous owner saw an angry-looking man with a dark beard. He was wearing a black old-fashioned suit and he walked into the main reception room and scowled at her. She told him to get out and he vanished. She may have been tipsy at the time.

I had a cleaner who would only work if she could bring her mother or her daughter along for company—she was so spooked by the house. She really was unhappy about it and finally quit.

Is my house haunted? I've never experienced anything spooky there, other than a strong sense of past lives lived in the house. No ghosts, no personalities. The house is very atmospheric in a nice way. Maybe that strong sense of the past suggests things to people. There is a ancient burial mound out front which probably helps!

We have been approached by ghost hunters seeking permission to do an investigation. That's not happening!


My husband's parents' house has several spirits similar to what you're describing (it's Victorian-era as well, tho it's been thru several incarnations as a bakery, a doctor's surgery, and the village post office during its lifetime). My husband has seen a Victorian lady several times, and we both have seen (and heard) a dog in the house which vanishes into a walled-off area into what used to be the butchery. (an area of the house I refuse to go in because it's creepy as hell...) His parents claim it's a fox but what fox is in the house and disappears into a wall? I mean, come on... (never mind that his mum is animal-phobic and won't have animals anywhere near her, let alone wild ones in the house)

I've seen an old man (I'm assuming it's a man, it was man-shaped, tho I never really saw a face. It was pretty evil, whatever it was) at the end of the upstairs hallway, glaring at me one night when I went to use the loo and it scared me so badly I wouldn't go without waking hubby up to come with me after that. He was outside what used to be the doctor's office when it was the surgery.

And we've both heard the old lady who used to live there before his parents bought the place (she died in his parents' bedroom; she was the aunt of the people they bought it from), coughing and hacking away at night in that front bedroom whenever his parents were away. Apparently she used to talk to the Victorian lady in the red dress when she was alive, so she knew there were spirits in the house too. We found this out from the neighbours who used to be her carers. She would sit in her rocking chair and chat 'into thin air', while claiming to be talking to a lady in a red dress, which was the same lady my husband saw multiple times as a teenager. (and nearly walked into once LOL)

I'd definitely believe houses have a way of at least recording the lives of people who lived or passed thru there, if nothing else. Tho it kind of creeps me out to think it might be recording ME at the same time, and I might someday appear as a spirit to someone else. *shudders*


I grew up in a weird creepy house and have lots of stories but know they'll just be torn apart but there is one strange thing in particular that happened which isn't really a ghost thing but anyway. One day I was doing the dishes in the kitchen and I had a like a vision/waking dream kind of thing where my sister burst into my house crying. About 20-30 minutes she did burst into my house crying and everything about it happened in the same way I had imagined it. It wasn't some big trauma or anything and I don't even remember what she was upset about but I often think back and wonder what happened to make me 'see' it before I did.


My ghost story - the great hairy wart on my otherwise rational scheme of things.

When travelling round Europe with friends as impoverished backpackers, we stopped off at my friend's penpal's granddad's house in Paris. My friend's penpal told us we can kip in the lounge but not go upstairs to where the comfy beds were. Sod that I thought, when he had gone and everyone else had settled down on sleeping bags on the floor, and went and found a bed upstairs in the dark. As I was dozing in bed, i suddenly felt myself wide-awake, and curiously watched as I was pulled upright in bed, pulled up to standing, floated off the bed and was suspended in mid-air in the corner of the room looking down on the bed. In the bed though, it wasn't my body but that of an old man with short cropped grey hair, pale complexion and eyes closed. There was no fear at all, only curiosity....then nothing. Next morning, I relayed my story to my friends who in turn related to the penpal when he came round to pick us up. He became very agitated, angry even at my having broken our promise to him. His granddad had died in that bed four months previously and no-one had slept in it since. There was no photograph of the granddad in the house, but when we returned to the penpal's house, he showed me a photograph of him then and. of course, it was the same man I had seen lying on the bed the previous evening.

Comments

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Thanks for collating these stories. I too was struck by the sparsity of sceptical rejoinders. Here is a similar thread. https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/oct/31/ghost-cat-and-a-faceless-man-nine-ghost-stories-for-halloween

There seems to be an excess of ladies in red dresses! Something to do with Chris de Burgh's nefarious influence, no doubt.

I'd like to add one I saw in a different article. It was originally on Reddit so it is publicly available. It has a bearing on one of the most famous ghost stories and should be of interest to people here:

I’m a technician for a major airline (can’t say which due to some points in this story). I was working on a second validation of recent upgrades to the cowling. That’s the metal part that covers the engines. A few flights had come in with the new cowling slightly loose, so not a huge issue, but in this business everything gets checked and checked again until we understand it.

Anyhow, while I’m at that, I look over and see this guy dressed in a pilot’s uniform messing around with the aerofoil. Something seemed off to me about him, but beside that, there shouldn’t have been anybody other than mechanics there, regardless. As I was walking over to him I realized what it was that was “off” about him. His uniform was way too old, as in out of date.

I asked him the usual sort of, “What the #$%^ you doing here?”/“Can I help you with something?” question. He didn’t even look at me, just answered, “You’re looking in the wrong place,” then walked off. I informed the airport police as soon as he walked off, but he was already gone. We checked the security footage together and to my total embarrassment I was standing there at the wing talking to nobody.

After my shift, I’m telling my sister the story, still pretty weirded out by the whole thing and she shows me [an article about Eastern Airlines Flight 401]. I swear to God the guy on the right [in the photograph] is the guy I spoke to. No idea what to make of the whole thing, but I guess I chalk it up to something paranormal and I’m not going to put too much thought into it. – achilles12, Reddit

Classic stuff!

Is it just me, or do a lot of modern ghost stories have to do with aircraft?

I think that all these stories are interesting in their own way.
However, I am drawn to your comments regarding the 'fungal spores' explanation for seeing ghosts. You seem to be quite disparaging towards that viewpoint but, surely, it is just a well-intentioned attempt to arrive at an explanation.
We must take the view that not every apparition seen is of paranormal origin.
Some are undoubtedly down to other factors.
However; I would agree that not all sightings can be put down to a universal panacea.
Maybe, that was your point?
Would you agree that skeptics often scratch around, looking in all the wrong places?
We are, after all, dealing with dimensional matters here.

Sorry,
I forgot the decency of address.
Hello, Robert.

Hello Stuart!

'surely, it is just a well-intentioned attempt to arrive at an explanation.'

Maybe. I'm all in favour of imaginative approaches, and of course there are normal explanations in many (most) cases. I just didn't think this one would fly. Surely, if visitors to 'haunted' locations were inbibing hallucinatory fungal spores there'd be independent evidence of this, reports of a whole range of hallucinatory phenomena, not just those that might be classified as ghosts. It reminds of Lambert's 'underwater streams' explanation, which is similarly tangential, but which he confidently applied to cases of wildly different types

What I found really ridiculous was that it was presented in the article as 'one of the top three scientific explanations' for ghost stories. I'd never heard of it before.

Robert, neither have I!
Mind you, I haven't heard any other scientific explanations either?
Maybe, you could say what those top three scientific explanations are? Or, do they exist solely within the skeptic mindset?

Oh, I think this was just a journalistic trope. We love lists! But it's likely that they were the only ones the writer had heard of.

The most common explanations I see mentioned are 'tricks of the light' and the effect of expectation. At least hallucinatory fungal spores has the virtue of originality!

Speaking of aircraft...

There was a book a few years back, Ghosts of the Air by Martin Caidin. Some of the stories seem more substantiated than others, but it is a fun read.

Obviously you are aware of John Fullers Ghost of Flight. He also wrote a very good book The Airmen Who Would Not Die about the aftermath of a dirigible disaster.

All aircraft related and good reads,

Robert, sorry, I was just about to say; 'in a nutshell will do?'
Actually, I ran a theory of my own and upon my own experience, regarding a similar level of thought. I relate to the events in Green Street, circa 1977/78. To me at the time and knowing nothing better, I considered the possibility of Gas poisoning. That is, all the council houses along that street and its environs were fitted with gas-fires which were intended for use with coal-gas. With the onset of North Sea gas onto the 'grid,' these fires were made inoperative by capping off the gas supply. I believe that the fires were not able to be converted for use with NS gas. The council (probably due to cost) installed central heating, downstairs only. However, all the apparatus for coal-gas was left 'in situ,' including all the pipework. When we moved into our house, the walls still had gas-lamps fitted to them! Not only that, gas still flowed through them! And the fires., also. The point being, of course, that there was a great deal of coal-gas left in the system. As you will know; coal-gas is poisonous as opposed to NS gas, which is explosive. The lack of maintenance on these systems could easily have led to leakage. This low-smelling poison could well of (and indeed, probably did) leak from the system and into the brains and minds of unsuspecting tenants. Could this have been the culprit? Of course, we still have the issue of why not everyone along Green St was effected. Then again, maybe everyone was? Maybe, some of us were (for various reasons) more susceptible than others?
I never did follow that up.
Do you think that myself and the Hodgsons could possibly have a claim?

The thing about "scientists have discovered/finally explained" reports - which are used several times a year in the newspapers in relation to NDEs, the Yeti, Lights in the sky etc - is that even a passing awareness of reported incidents in any of these categories immediately precludes the given explanation. And secondly that the official "scientific" explanation is always reported as definitive and yet completely forgotten about when the next definitive explanation comes along.

Near Death Experiences have been "explained", with no room for doubt in the reporting, at least three times a year every year that I can recall. Each report of scientists having finally solved the puzzle makes no reference to all to the previous ones which were claimed with the same finality.

And so it is with ghosts. Vic Tandy's soundwaves (eg from a malfunctioning fan or air conditioning unit) causing impressions of a presence and illusions in the peripheral vision is a popular favourite with debunkers...with no thought apparently given to where people in ancient Rome or Medieval England were getting exposed to such modern day contraptions. Over head electrical cables effecting the temporal lobes is another that would require, if taken seriously, that apparitions have popped into existence only in the last century and a bit. Electromagnetic explanations for poltergeist activities require you simultaneously preclude all reports prior to the 20th century AND the equally "definitive" explanation that they are all the result of attention seeking kids playing tricks on idiotic adults.

There is also the problem that deniers of the possibility of ghosts have a very limited concept of what the term actually refers to. They appear always to have in mind a full bodied, perhaps transparent, apparition of an identifiably dead individual. In reality people use the term ghost for everything from sounds and smells, the movement of objects, dream visitations...and the full figured duplicate of a person who isn't there is both rare and appears to happen far more often with people who are in fact still alive at the time. So called crisis apparitions. Anyone who says "ghosts don't exist" and attribute their certainty to the declarations of Science has, at best, been paying no attention to either.

As for why there is such a delusion among many online about science as a body having much to say on the subject, my impression is that the modern declarative atheism is a team or tribe people sign up to, adopting all of its positions without any great thought or interest in questioning or exploring them. Everything in category x is fake and science says so.. no need to check where and when science said so. But if you step out of line and give credence to anything in Category X you'll be subject to the same ridicule and derision you heap on the religious enemy. Knowing there are no ghosts etc is the badge of cleverness, wondering if there might be is a shameful admission of gullible idiocy. More than that we all go along with the idea that belief in anything suggestive of an afterlife is shaped by a deep human fear of mortality and oblivion (a fear the online sceptic is mysteriously and uniquely immune to), but very little attention is ever paid to its opposite state of mind: that a strident disbelief - and need to share it - is shaped by a fear of living forever and of some kind of imagined post mortem judgement if there is a "heaven". Eternity is every bit as disturbing to anyone who dwells on it as oblivion is. I suspect many an avowed sceptic finds the idea of ghosts etc as distressing as they imagine a "believer" finds the idea of death being final.

Ghosts do not exist... all evidence tells us when we are dead we are dead... we are in the 21st century yet you guys still believe in this superstitious nonsense. You really are not interested in reality or science are you? :(

Tell us about "all evidence". Take your time.

What's a "ghost" Waller and how do you know they don't exist?

Lawrence B

"Eternity is every bit as disturbing to anyone who dwells on it as oblivion is."

Of course, you are correct and it is that observance which drives many into the arms of the church. For my own part, I am not a church-goer; yet it is that same consideration that leads to my own 'wilful' belief in God.

"I suspect many an avowed sceptic finds the idea of ghosts etc as distressing as they imagine a "believer" finds the idea of death being final."

Maybe you have hit upon something here. Of course, as you say, some wear their scepticism as a 'badge of honour.' Also, some may willfully block their minds from fear of a 'post-mortem judgment.' Yet, it is undoubtedly also true that others have lost their faith, not only in religious matters but also to the consideration of paranormal events because of the heart-felt loss of a loved one.
God 'gives' and God 'taketh away' is a difficult concept when one is bereft.
Ghosts, spirits and indeed 'Holy Spirit' can seem as a cruel, inhuman jest upon the sanctity of our own minds. For some, to lose faith is to lose belief completely. A reliance upon ones own judgement becomes paramount. That would explain I think, to some extent, why many sceptics display anger in their viewpoints; why they display such disparagement. It is, I think, something to which believers need to keep in consideration when debating with such. After all, ultimately, we should all wish to have an answer to the eternal question.
something to which believers need to keep in consideration when debating with such. After all, ultimately, we should all wish to have an answer to the eternal question.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbArUJBRRJ0

Can I ask what your thoughts are on this?: http://www.sciencealert.com/harvard-scientists-think-they-ve-pinpointed-the-neural-source-of-consciousness

On the face of it it appears to be conflating "consciousness" (possession of a mind and sense of self) with "being conscious" (awake and responsive).

Personally, I would say ( without getting too deep) that consciousness is more than the sum of its parts.

I see all these anecdotes and I half wish I could see something. Never found even an oddly-shaped shadow.

Hello chel, and sympathies.
If you have been actively searching for such in 'haunted locations' then I believe and fear that your efforts will be in vain.
My own opinion (for what its worth) is that this phenomena is much more likely to occur when you least expect it.
I see it as a dimensional problem. That is, this phenomena is a memory based, light transmitted repository, stored outside of our own dimension.
The very act of searching for it, reaffirms our own dimension and makes it impossible to view. This is a problem that scientists have in trying to establish the credence of such.
Scientific tests, by necessity, have to be reductive (in order to separate the 'wheat from the chaff.') Yet, in doing so, they strengthen our dimension and tip the balance.
The test will fail because of an unintended creation of a paradox. The more apparatus used and the more reductive the attempt serves only to strengthen our own dimension.
This same problem carries over into the mere attempt of just looking for it, outside of the laboratory. So, I would say, don't get too despondent. If the light comes from the correct tangent then you will at some time experience some form of paranormal activity.
I can't guarantee it, though.


"Eternity is every bit as disturbing to anyone who dwells on it as oblivion is."

Only if you assume that time is experienced the same way in the after life as it is in this one. Of course, even in this one we don't experience time the same way consistently in this one. Maybe the afterlife is an ever present "now" without any sense of time passing.

Yes, all mystical, I know.

Hi Tony,
I see Lawrence's line as a philosophical one, rather than mystical, although the answer to that observation may well be mystical, that is; beyond our understanding. Not that his point was questioning in its nature. However, it is directly connected to the eternal question. In an attempt to answer that question, our efforts will (as a matter of consequence) fall, like a piece of the jigsaw, into that observation.
We are confronted with the limits of our understanding; the limits of our own dimensional viewpoint. Surely though, the answer to that enigma can only exist beyond our dimension and beyond our earthbound understanding. Another dimension; hence mystical.
We are left with the realisation that, either from design or accident, we are intended not to view that answer. Of course, it is probable that this is for our own good; for the answer, if known, could drive us immediately into insanity. The truth may be terrible.
However, from where we stand, it could also be ecstatic. I should doubt if the answer is a mixture of the two. After all, I feel that our dimension already has that mix.
Sorry, I hope that makes sense. I do feel, sometimes, as if I am losing the plot!

@Waller Joel:

Are you Bill? Close your beak, you were already refuted on the Prescott blog.

"I see all these anecdotes and I half wish I could see something. Never found even an oddly-shaped shadow."

Maybe some have to resign themselves to reading the literature about this topic, as it happens to me, that I have not witnessed any psychic phenomenon or related to spirits of deceased.

Hello back, Stuart:

Actually I was referring to my response as being mystical - and I was being a bit tongue in cheek about it. My real point is not dissimilar to yours. It is simply that we cannot expect to understand what's next in terms of what's now. Just as a two year old cannot even begin to imagine the adult he will become.

@Stuart; Thanks, that's sweet. I haven't been looking in haunted locations, as I'm aware they're almost always environmental factors causing what MIGHT be a ghost but probably is just expectation or the sound waves thing. Electrical causes aren't necessary, the wind might be blowing at just the right frequency. (I really doubt the fungus one, though; surely people in those locations would have noticed a correlation with severe health problems if they were all huffing enough spores to cause hallucinations.) The ones which seem more likely to me to be an actual supernatural thing generally seem to be the one-offs after a close person recently went, and I haven't had that happen. I have tiny weird coincidences happen comparatively often, but I doubt they're more than that.

Juan

Unlikely Bill is Waller Joel. Information on Waller Joel that readers of this blog might find useful is here.

http://www.spiritualismlink.com/t2356-physical-medium-waller-joel

This was the same person banned from the Skeptiko forum and many other blogs. Likely he is responsible for Robert McLuhan's rationalwiki article and many other 'hit' pages on parapsychologists claiming they are pseudoscientists.

Some such as Victor Zammit have said this person is actually Jon Donnis trying to cause trouble for those in the paranormal community. No idea if this is true or not.

chel,....... well, don't let me put you off from going to haunted locations!
That was not my intention. What I was attempting to say was that; if you do visit these places, then it is best if you adopt little expectation of viewing anything unusual. The more expectation that you harbour, then the less likely you are to find anything.
I think, maybe, that I should explain a bit more about my own theory on these matters.
I stated earlier that I believe that this phenomena is a light transmitted, memory based repository; stored within another dimension. I base this theory upon my viewpoint that the cosmos is forever striving for a state of harmony. This may be linked to (and as a consequence of) the 'big-bang' theory of the origin of the universe. An attempt to reestablish a state of equilibrium.If that is indeed the case, then it would follow that the universe must hold within itself a memory of what equilibrium actually means. Of course, equilibrium (as a state of existence) must exist, as we have a concept of such. So, we are confronted with the issue of where that universal memory is contained. Is it a fixed place or, spread haphazardly throughout the cosmos? I believe that, at the present, it is a mixture of the two. That is; much of that memory is dissipated, yet; there must exist outposts whereupon it can be contained and dissembled in order to achieve its objective. What better place could there be, other than the omnipresent body of our own solar system; the SUN....?
And, we know at a quantum level that light has memory. The quantum field of string-theory would suggest that instantaneous travel to any part of the universe is possible. So, our dimensional understanding that nothing can travel faster than light, is proved by the qualified statement: 'nothing can travel faster than light; except light itself!'
The speed of light is the limit of, and proves our dimension.
The speed of light which is faster; proves another dimension.
So, what happens to this light? What happens to the memory of its travels; of its 'observance?' I suggest that it returns to its host, whereupon the memory is disseminated and adjusted and then sets out once more in a continuing process of finding and analysis. Being an attribute of harmony, light will revisit an area of previous disharmony to 'report back.' Being memory based, it will carry with it a recollection of past events. It is no surprise then, that hauntings tend to be in places where there has been disharmony. Unnatural death and tragedy will be analysed forever and until an answer is found. The Sun is locked into a contemplation of all these matters.
Tragic, isn't it?

All mediums from the past were caught in fraud look on the wikipedia article in the fraud section.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediumship

Countless of them, yet the new psi encylopedia doesnt even mention the frauds like Helen Duncan, William Eglinton, Charles Bailey, William Hope or Frederick Munnings. The entry for Henry Slade doesn't even cite several of his exposures. That's funny. Yet guys like Steve Hume, Juan and Mcuhan want to convince the world that such frauds were genuine... just give up already. No psychic or medium has ever won a cash prize and there are hundreds of them.

James Randi fan,
No worries. Your hero's cash will remain safe within his bank account.
All 'paranormal activity' is unable to be 'proven' by clinical testing.
I am not making a claim as to the validity of mediums. Rather, I am merely stating that it is (in my opinion) impossible to prove such, due to the dimensional forces that come into play.
Please read my response to 'chel' (November 10th, 02:06am) for more on where I stand upon these matters.
Please feel free to let me know what you think. Do you have any observations of your own upon these matters?

There have been many cash prizes for over 100 years Stuart... not a singe person has ever won one. Not a single person can ever just demonstrate moving a pencil with their mind or reading a sealed letter or someones thoughts without fraudulent methods. Why that? The rational conclusion is that psychic powers do not exist...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_prizes_for_evidence_of_the_paranormal

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos , .....hello.....
"The rational conclusion is that psychic powers do not exist..."

Rationalism and logic is determined by the dimension in which it exists.
Any attempt to conduct experiments regarding issues which are linked to another dimension, are destined to fail; for the reason that, at least half of that answer (and probably more?) lay beyond our own dimension. The methodology of our experiments are paradoxical.
Also, any conclusions that we arrive at, are subject to our own dimensional rationale. Leaving fraudsters aside, the most that anyone can hope for is; circumstantial evidence.
Cash prizes are not paid out on that basis. Bookmakers demand proof; 100%.

"All mediums from the past were caught in fraud look on the wikipedia article in the fraud section."

That is not true. Garrett, for example, was never caught in fraud. And many alleged frauds are not this, but presumptions of fraud.

Let me weigh in here. Technically unconscious fraud is still fraud...

Unconscious fraud, multiple personality disorder explains Garrett's mediumship. See tests by Carington in the SPR journal.

Whately Carington. (1934). The Quantitative Study of Trance Personalities. Part 1. Preliminary Studies. Mrs. Garrett, Rudi Schneider, Mrs. Leonard. Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research 42: 173-240.

She was not communicating with the dead, just the depths of her own mind.

LuckyLouie,
"Technically unconscious fraud is still fraud..."

The problem with that statement is that it is rooted within this dimension. It is a 'legal' argument and can only have validity within the eyes of the law. Outside of that, it means nothing.
"Ignorance is no defence in the eyes of the law." is another legal viewpoint and corresponds closely to your statement. Likewise; it has no validity outside of our dimension. As 'mediumship,' must be considered to be an 'interdimensional' ability, then I believe that a charge of 'unconscious fraud' would not succeed in a court of law. Therefore; it follows that, as you are claiming this (from this dimension,) then your argument, likewise, cannot be valid.

Just ignore LuckyLouie, he is a wikipedia editor responsible for 'debunking' paranormal topics on wikipedia and claiming parapsychologists are all doing pseudoscience. He's the same person on rationalwiki who has an account called Leuders, he has heavily edited the Ian Stevenson page to make out he was a crank and written many other negative things about psi research. If I was a betting man I would say he was associated with Joe Nickell.

Tom, thanks for the advice.
Personally, I don't like to ignore people; whatever name they choose to use. That is; as long as they don't descend towards personal insults. Other than that, I take the view that we are all entitled to our individual opinions. You would probably agree that healthy debate is a good thing, as it ensures that all of us - believers and skeptics - sometimes have to rethink our viewpoints. That can only be a good thing. However, I accept that there are those who's prime aim is to disrupt. Why it is that some people choose to do that, is another issue and a debate all of its own. I didn't find the comments by 'LuckyLouie' to be disruptive. Opinionated,..... maybe? Well, that's OK. I can sometimes come across like that myself. Especially if I forget to add the proviso of : 'in my opinion,' to my comments. I think it would help if those that don't believe were to add that same proviso to their comments. I am seriously thinking of adding; 'These are my personal opinions only,' at the beginning or at the end of any comment that I make. That would help, I think, to diffuse the suspicion that I am attempting to influence anothers viewpoint to their detriment. Anyway, thanks again Tom and nice to hear from you.

"Unconscious fraud, multiple personality disorder explains Garrett's mediumship."

That is only an opinion of her that I consider wrong.

And that Carington article only deals with the controls of the mediums, which seem to be constructs of the subconscious of the medium, but it is not about when the mediums fall into trance and shows the personality and mannerisms of someone deceased or the drop-in communications.

Getting back to the subject of ghosts, I am drawn to Steve Hume's comment:
"There seems to be an excess of ladies in red dresses! Something to do with Chris de Burgh's nefarious influence, no doubt."
It is, for me, interesting that Steve's humorous rejoinder may show evidence of the workings of the interdimensional forces of enchantment (FoE) at play.
The fact that 'Lady in Red,' was released the same year (1986) that the Queen visited China, some would say is, coincidental. The fact that Margaret Thatcher, that same year, remarked that the Queen would probably vote for the Social Democratic Party, if able to, is further evidence (in my opinion) of these forces at play.
These forces are continually churning away in an effort to smooth and harmonise our dimension. In paranormal matters, FoE show their hand, often in a macabre way.
Take, for instance, the incident of the birthday card which appeared to presage the tragic death of Janet; the daughter of the late SPR member, Maurice Grosse.
How, for instance, the Daily Mirror carried the breaking news of the Enfield 'haunting,' alongside the story of the death of the son of Labour MP Peter Shore.
'SHORES SON FOUND DEAD'. ran the headline.
The point that I make is this: The name 'SHORE' is pronounced in the same manner as the word 'SURE'. The word 'SURE' means the same as the word 'CERTAIN'. Therefore; one can make the case that the poltergeist puzzle was proposed and answered at the same time? I believe this to be evidence and an example of how dimensionally psychic matters can intertwine and reveal themselves in the strangeness of their workings.
Any thoughts upon my opinions?

"There have been many cash prizes for over 100 years Stuart... not a singe person has ever won one."

A comment like this on the blog of author of Randi's Prize book, which explains why these tests are not legitimate to prove the existence of psi and afterlife.

Juan, I believe that there are cash prizes on offer to prove the paranormal wrong.
I haven't heard of anyone winning that, either.

I appreciate Robert McLuhan trying to fix up the PSI encyclopedia, unfortunately I just think it is too slow. They update a new article or two about every month. It's a bit slow coming.

They need to get articles out on Trevor H. Hall, Harry Price, Milbourne Christopher, Joseph Rinn or CEM Hansel. These are the skeptics that are loved on wikipedia, rationalwiki or cited in the Skeptical Inquirer and other debunking websites. It's about time psi proponents need to be pointed to rebuttals to these guys works.

Question for people here; anyone got any comments on James Randi's claims of having had an OOBE? Personally I wouldn't trust the man to tell me the sky was blue after seeing Storr's interview of him, but I'd like another opinion. I know Susan Blackmore had a drug trip which may or may not have been one - weren't there some inaccuracies in what she saw and so she decided that meant all OOBEs were fake?

'They update a new article or two about every month. It's a bit slow coming. They need to get articles out on Trevor H. Hall, Harry Price, Milbourne Christopher, Joseph Rinn or CEM Hansel.'

Yes indeed. Glad to see an eager anticipation of new material :) But these things take time. Writers with the appropriate knowledge have to be found, and even then it can take them months or years to get the job done.

As it happens, I'm starting to work on a general piece about psi skepticism that will refer to these and other sceptics. Not sure I'd class Harry Price as a sceptic, but there'll be a separate piece on him quite soon. The 'Edmund Gurney' entry has a useful section on Hall which you might like to check out.

'Question for people here; anyone got any comments on James Randi's claims of having had an OOBE?'

I never doubted these claims because the experiences they describe are quite common in the literature, of the environment observed in the altered state differing in important details from the reality. Sceptics of course take this to mean it's spurious. The 'occultic' view is that it's the 'astral' world, a (imperfect) replica of the physical. I think Oliver Fox noted this in his book on his experiences (but it could have been someone else). It's not the real environment they're seeing.

On the other hand, that seems to apply more to night-time experiences of healthy people. In NDEs the percipient also sees actual events, suggesting it's the real environment being observed.

I think that I need to read Roberts book; 'RANDI'S PRIZE' to see if there is any correlation between what Robert is saying and my own viewpoints.
I'm skint. Does anyone know if it available at the library?

Another quick question; I saw someone dismiss veridical perceptions as "blindsight" - the thing where people blind because of brain damage are still subconsciously seeing. I know that works in people with visual cortex damage, but surely not in people unconscious and with their eyes shut, nor in the case of the actually blind NDEr I saw who had broken optical nerves from birth? Is this as stupid an explanation as it sounds?

@Chel:

Such an explanation collapses when the information obtained by NDErs could not be acquired through the eyes or other known senses. Such cases have occurred; skeptics reject it because they have not occurred in laboratory conditions, but it is valid circumstantial evidence.

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