Emergency Post 1.

Driving around, it just dawned on me that I haven’t posted since the first of the month, so I have to get something published fast lest I break the resolution I care most about. Here’s the post:

Attended a pleasant soirée this evening with friends and coworkers. Milk and cookies were served. The topics of discussion were wide-ranging. For instance, three of us somehow got around to discussing the existence of ghosts. That’s right, adults discussing ghosts at a party.

I stated flatly that I do not believe in them. There are better explanations for what people see than ghosts. We’re hard-wired to see patterns where none are intended, we’re hard-wired to see faces where none actually are, etc. We hope to see ghosts. But you would be hard-pressed to prove to me that whatever spooky apparition or serene spirit you saw was not a figment of your imagination. I know people who have “seen” them, or claim to have seen them, or aren’t sure what they saw. I think there are better explanations for what they saw. I have never seen a ghost, not even when back when I did believe in them and was afraid of them. I really, really wanted to see one. It didn’t happen.

I need proof that they exist. If so many people have seen so many ghosts, as one of my friends claims, then there should be more evidence than there currently exists, and not merely faith that they exist. Where is it? Where’s the falsifiable data that hasn’t been falsified? Where’s the experience that I can’t explain in any way other than to say “Yup. That was a f#$%^&g ghost”?

Don’t get the wrong idea: I’m willing to believe in them. I think it would be awesome if they existed. Hold on, let me italicize that. I think it would be awesome if they existed. But I see no reason to believe ghosts exist. Reason to hope they do? Sure! I’d love to visit with the ghost of a relative, or team up with a ghost to solve murders, or team up with a ghost to clean out casinos. But again, that’s a hope, not a belief.

I’d expound on this further, but I have to get to the other salient yet morbid point: we also discussed viewings of the recently deceased. Open casket, closed casket, or none at all? One of my friends said she didn’t want a viewing at all, and found the concept repulsive. I replied that I prefer open-casket funerals when they are feasible, and when that reflects the deceased’s wishes. I would prefer to see my fallen friend or relative one last time. And I would prefer that, assuming I die one day, my startlingly handsome corpse be displayed in an open casket. I’m willing to discuss how my carcass be posed, and what they do with my body after the viewing is everybody else’s problem.

So naturally, on the drive home, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if a ghost appeared in my back seat, scaring me into a fatal car wreck, and mangling me so badly that I couldn’t be displayed in an open casket? And I mean ‘ha-ha’ funny, not just ‘strange’ funny.”

We discussed plenty of other fun topics. Another time. I’m off.

P.S. I got quite a few serious calls, e-mails, and inquiries about my flight to Italy this summer. Thank you.

5 comments

  1. Well that’s what happens when Evinrude flies too close to the interstate.
    (If you don’t know who Evinrude then your life is meaningless)

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  2. What’s the difference between believing in ghosts based on faith and believing in a god? Scripture? Upbringing? Popularity?

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  3. Blonde, great question.

    The difference may be personal bias or upbringing or tradition, or both may be cases of the aforementioned predisposition to see patterns/faces where none exist, but I think there’s a logical or rhetorical difference between the two beliefs/faiths as well. Even though both beliefs may be unfalsifiable (i.e., no meaningful way to experimentally reject or fail-to-reject the idea), I find it much harder to argue that a god (something infinite, or omnipotent, or unfathomable, something we can’t even begin to comprehend) does not exist than it is to argue that ghosts (something finite, not omnipotent, something less unfathomable, something of which we have a somewhat more widely-agreed-upon-conception) do not exist.

    Another important difference is the context of the discussion. I wasn’t talking to an easily excitable hippie insisting that I had to believe in a god, I was talking to an easily excitable hippie insisting that I had to believe in ghosts. Thus my reaction.

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