For as long as I can remember, I have been surrounded by people who firmly believe in the existence of ghosts. Members of my family are convinced that my aunt's house is haunted by a little girl who sits at the end of people's beds. My grandmother and all of her brothers and sisters swear a ghost, believed to be the protective spirit of my grandmother's father, threw one of the sisters across the room when she mocked my grandmother for believing in ghosts. Apparently she even had a red handprint on her face to prove it, and all of the sibling swear by it. This same grandmother apparently predicted the deaths of several members of the family, saying she had seen their ghosts appear in front of her before the phone rang announcing they had passed away. My grandmother also used to say that by the koppies (hills) where she lived she often saw khaki boere (old South African white farmers) walking, dressed the same way they were when they were killed at those same koppies in pre-Apartheid boere wars. A couple of years ago myself and some other women in my family were having a candlelit dinner and we started speaking about a woman in our family who's husband had "accidentally" shot her, and the candles went out. My mom mentioned it again yesterday saying she could feel Jeanette was in the room with us.

I can think of a thousand more stories like these.

I don't know what to make of all of this. I really want to do a stake-out at my aunt's house, for one thing. So many people have said that that house is haunted that there must be something up, right? There's a long history of belief in ghosts in my family, and it's really beginning to clash with my worldviews.

I consider myself a skeptic and therefore I am not inclined to believe in something because of hearsay or based purely on anecdotal evidence. However, what if there are ghosts? What would this mean for a belief in an afterlife? If ghosts are simply spirits who had passed away suddenly or still had unfinished business, as my mom believes, then why isn't the surface of the planet swarming with the billions and billions of spirits whose bodies died in car accidents, wars, genocides, murders etc.? If there are ghosts then that would mean that we have souls.

And so the belief in one intangible thing automatically entails a belief in a whole cohort of intangible things. I don't believe in a soul or in an afterlife, but what do I make of all of these ghost stories? My mom is convinced that I should be able to see ghosts because every second woman in our family is apparently met die hemel gebore (born with a sixth sense/touched), and since my ouma (grandmother) could see ghosts I should be able to too. But I don't. I've tried. I've played glassy-glassy when I was younger and I've tried speaking to ghosts. I just don't find this belief in the ethereal to be realistic.

Am I being rash in thinking that? How do I reconcile these family stories and beliefs with the way I see the world? Should I do that stake-out at my aunt's house and see what happens? What if there's a ghost there though? What if there really is something there? What then? Will I become some sort of weird New Age believer?

Gawd, I'm confused.

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I no longer believe in ghosts. However I believe the power of suggestion is often strong enough in people that the brain will often fill in the gaps and provide wrong visual information.
However I believe the power of suggestion is often strong enough in people that the brain will often fill in the gaps and provide wrong visual information.

These are my thoughts exactly. I think that our interpretation of sensory input is extremely susceptible to suggestion.
That's my stance as well. People will often see what they want to see. Whenever my wife watches Ghost Hunters, I have to laugh at their 'evidence'. Especially the EVP's. Just about every single time, it sounds like nothing but static to me. Yet the are like, "WOW! It clearly said X"... Power of suggestion and an overactive imagination if you ask me.

Even if some phenomenon were proven, I would have a hard time attributing it to ghosts, simply because no brain = no you. There is no soul, so there is no room for ghosts. The only possibility I can think of would be that if multiverse theory is correct, it could be a temporary overlap of two realities... But that would be pretty unlikely as well.
No ghosts just superstitions, no god -just supersition.
Funny how when dead people are contacted they are always in a good place. Must be full up.
How many billions have died since time began. Take more than a few minutes to contact someone I believe.
If I told a priest I had seen the ghost of god, he would think I was round the bend.
I have this theory about ghosts, feel free to tell me its stupid.
Okay so, time is basically an illusion. everything that has happened and will happen is happening and time is the way we perceive it. So maybe when we see ghosts its like a glitch in time because they're at the same place we are.
Maybe ghosts are human bosons. XD
Exactly! Its more probable than dead people. I'm sure a figment of our mind is much more likely obviously. I mean I kind of stole the idea from my dad and he also thinks ufos are time travelers and that they're on like the ground of the future because the earth is going to start building up. haha but I liked his ghost idea.
Man I wish the stuff in Stargate was real.
I love his UFO idea! Creativity is highly under appreciated sometimes. :)
Why is it that people who see something in the sky that they do not understand, immediately come to the conclusion that it is an alien spacecraft, piloted by intelligent beings, from outer space? UFO means "UNIDENTIFIED" Flying Object. The same phenomena applies to ghosts.
UFO means "UNIDENTIFIED" Flying Object.

I really never understand why people will continue to call something a UFO after designating it as an alian spacecraft. I mean, doesn't that mean that it has been "identified" in some sense?
I would totally do the stake-out! I don't believe in ghosts but I still retain a childhood fascination with all things occult and gothic. Now, I just understand these things to be products of human psychology rather than minions of an ethereal realm. This makes it no less fascinating in my eyes. Plus, I like to wear a lot of black. ;)

The main reason--aside from the primary reason of supernatural souls being completely illogical--that I do not believe in ghosts is the utter failure of modern technology to capture conclusive evidence of their existence. Our human senses of vision and hearing--the two most commonly cited for ghostly encounters--are so pathetically weak compared to the capacity of modern technology in detecting sound and electromagnetic waves. It only stands to reason that if our weak human senses can detect these ghosts, then modern technology should have absolutely no problem documenting such phenomena.

(I know that some ghosthunters claim to have evidence like "orbs" on photographs, but these do not seem to match any of the actual eyewitness stories of ghosts. No one ever just sees strange "orbs" in a haunted house; they see people in antiquated fashions, much like the example of the farmers above. Shouldn't these photographs then capture mysterious figures in anachronistic clothing rather than indistinct blobs of white light?)

Anyway, I totally think that you should do the stake-out, if only to explore your own limits of suggestibility. Sometimes, I will watch a horror movie at night alone just to see if I can freak myself out. I'm fascinated by my mind's ability to completely misinterpret visual and audible data and turn innocuous situations into horrific encounters.


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