The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ghost Stories

I remember years ago I was in my parent's house. I was downstairs getting something off the floor just inside the door-frame of the laundry room. I was bent over and, very quietly but clearly, I heard a voice above my head say, "Boo." No intonation or volume, just one word. It scared the crap out of me. When I looked around, there was nothing but the open door, an empty wire hanger on the door frame above me, and lots of dead air. Freaky.

Today I was at a private client's house doing a massage. His downstairs is spacious with two couches, a nice television and the entire wall opposite where I was set up was stone with a wood fireplace in the centre. About a half hour into the treatment, the client raised his head off the table and said, "Did the fireplace just start up?" I looked over and, indeed, yes, across the room where no one had been, a fire was in the fireplace. Not a gas fireplace. Wood.

He returned his head to the table saying, "That's fucking bizarre."

I relate both of these stories to show that weird things happen to the most skeptical people as well as the superstition-prone. The difference is that we skeptic-y peeps look for any natural reason for what happened and leave off the ghost nonsplanation because it answers nothing and only raises more questions.

At the time of the "Boo" incident, my heart was pounding and I was genuinely scared. Taking time to see what could have made the sound, I started moving things, checking out possibilities. When I noticed that the door slowly swung closed on its own, I moved out of the way and saw that the slow-moving door rubbed against the wire hanger in just such a way to make a sound that, to me, sounded eerily like "Boo." Freaked me the Helsinki out, I tell ya.

With respect to the fire today, I was much more mentally prepared and have had more than a decade of reading and science-y preparation. I said to the client, "Well, there's likely embers...you had a fire last night, right?", to which he replied, "Uh...yeah...yes we did." I said, There's likely a small draft that comes down the chimney and kept the embers alive through the night and now the piece of wood above is sufficiently hot that any extra gust will provide the burst of oxygen to ignite it."

He said, "Yeah, makes sense. Weird though, eh?" I said, "Oh yeah, it's unlikely, but now you know why you have to make sure that your campfire is completely out."

"Yep, that's true.", he said.

"And now you know why people believe in ghosts", I added.

He said, "Ha ha...ain't that the truth."

2 Barbaric Yawps:

At 21/2/11 2:23 pm, Anonymous L.Long said...

I am babysitting my house thru the winter till it sells. It is big and empty.
Any big empty house that DOES NOT sound haunted would be unusual. I have over the last few months heard all sorts of weird bangs, grunt, sighs, and words; as well as people walking around and up the stairs.
And as you say the difference with the skeptik is that we look for the cause rather then running from the house screaming "GHHhhOoooSTs!!!". Being sensible I know its only Casper.

 
At 22/2/11 1:38 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the time I was sitting in my apartment in Toronto, looking out the window, and suddenly noticed what appeared to be a half dozen or so black disks in the sky. They were moving in formation at high speed and performing impossible maneuvers. I got this little fluttery thing in my stomach as my "that shouldn't be happening" sensor took a hit.

But after watching for a few more seconds I realized they were black baloons against a flat grey sky being blown by strong swirling winds. The UFOs became IFOs - but I think if I had really wanted to see Roswell North, I would have :)

 

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