So here's the thing, ever since I was little I've watched a lot of ghost movies and shows, even after I became an atheist. I would read books about ghosts as a kid, and I thought I could communicate with spirits through a magic 8 ball. I'm not by nature very skeptical, I make an honest effort to ask questions and keep my mind open, not jumping to conclusions. I was raised by my single mother, and as you may have guessed she loves reading about ghosts, and watching things about ghosts on TV and we would see scary movies. Honestly I was exposed more to things of that nature than I was to religion. I've gotten to a point that I can't watch scary movies with anything supernatural in them because I get scared that any minute things will start moving on their own, or something will appear in a mirror or in front of me, it really freaks me out. I know that it's stupid for me to feel/think that way, but I just can't help it, and I'm really ashamed. I'll be 18 in less than a month and I'm still sometimes afraid of the dark.

I was wondering what everyone's opinion here is on the topic of ghosts? Do you think they exist or not, is there any evidence for/against them, and is there anything that science has to say? Do you have any tips on being a good skeptic?

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Last week this guy from work was showing these pictures he took with his camera during a visit to the Stanley Hotel in Colorado...where Stephen King was inspired to write the book which became the movie "The Shining". Lo and behold, there are these little globules of light in the pictures that he is convinced was a small child in a long hallway. He zoomed in so I could "defiinitely" see the facial features. It sort of reminded me of the face on Mars, but less so. 

How about it was perhaps a smudge on the lens, a reflection from the flash, or some other reasonable explanation. When you look for strange things, expecting to find them, suddenly the natural becomes supernatural. I've been on this planet for 41 years and have yet to experience a thing that would convince me there are spirits among us. Superstition and hogwash. 


You have had plenty of exposure to TV and movies (and perhaps parenting) that want you to believe in these things. I would spend some time, as others have suggested, in watching or reading skeptical materials. I think you will find your fear to be irrational, and it may help turn that fear into a reasonable appreciation for trickery. 

As for being afraid of the dark, I think that is a fairly common problem. Thus the invention of night lights. I would recommend this They Might Be Giants inspired blue canary: http://bluecanarynightlight.com/order.php

 

   You said it yourself: "I know that it's stupid..."  Well, if you recognize this fact, why would you continue to believe in such preposterous nonsense?  There are two very good reasons not to believe in things that are supernatural, including ghosts (and gods).  One is that they make no sense, since they are completely antithetical to any of the well-established principles of biological or physical science.  In other words, if ghosts exist, then science is all a big lie and you shouldn't get that flu shot.  Second, there has never been a single bit of empirical evidence produced for the existence of any supernatural entities, including ghosts (and gods).  Be advised: what people SAY has happened to them is not evidence that it DID happen to them.  Anecdotal evidence is the WORST kind of evidence.  There are three possible explanations for such a claim.  One is that the person is hallucinating; a second is that he/she is making it up like they do on TLC (The Lunatic Channel); and the third is that it really happened.  One of those three alternatives is highly doubtful; the others are highly likely.  You choose which is which (and don't be "stupid").

   Think about it.  Those people (deluded or disingenuous) who report ghostly encounters describe things that are ridiculous on their face.  They often report that the ghost simply flows, oozes - whatever - through walls.  If they are that insubstantial, how is it then that these same people report the ghosts actually manipulating objects, such as in a typical seance?  Ghosts can't have it both ways: they can't be so evanescent and still be solid enough to pick up an object; yet, they do.  Ask yourself why ghosts are described sometimes as floating through the air, and other times walking on a solid surface?  If a ghost walks on a floor (dragging a chain, perhaps?), then it must be affected by gravity.  Conversely, if it floats, then gravity doesn't affect it; which is it?  This assumes you believe in gravity.  Does it seem logical to you that ghosts are always clothed?  That means, of course, that not only are their bodies ghosts, but so are their clothes.  Why do they nearly always speak in deep, ominous tones?  Why is it ghosts seem only to appear in their "houses"?  I've never heard of any strolling down the street.  Why not?  If ANY ghosts exist, then it follows that there are likely billions of them; so why don't we ALL experience them, often and everywhere?  Is it because they only make their presence known to "stupid" people in scary places?    

   Aside from the evidence that ghosts don't exist, why should you be afraid of one if it does?  Have you ever known or heard of anyone injured or killed by a ghost?  Has a ghost ever appeared on "America's Most Wanted"?  Does SWAT roll out to capture a felonious ghost?  If ghosts do exist, they must either be very benevolent or totally incapable of hurting anyone.  Rest assured, Lewis, you have nothing to fear from ghosts or anything else supernatural (like Hell).  Stop worrying.  If you happen to run into a ghost, take my advice: laugh at it.     

It amuses me that many of these ghosts are colonial or American ghosts (ethnically, culturally) haunting western structures.  If you think about it, there have been many more generations of Native Americans who died in America than any other ethnicity.  Perhaps because very few of their structures remain and their history is marginalized it seems the average person of superstition has "forgotten" to be haunted by the Native American ghost.  Ghosts are a cultural phenomenon, otherwise the majority of ghosts would be Native Americans encountered "outside." 

Well I had a "paranormal" experience once. I bet it  has some scientific explanation, even when I think about it I say "nah! It's all in my mind".  I'm not so sure about it being 100% real. I have witnesses and they swear it was real.

Telling you that ghosts don’t exist is not going to be very helpful. However the very act of you posting the question and being honest about the way you perceive it moves you from the irrational to the rational side of the line. You have confronted the fear by making an effort to challenge your belief. That takes courage in itself because many people become secure in their fears and would rather try to defend them than challenge them.

So maybe without yet even realising it, you have removed the fear or broken the spell. That will allow you step through your though process on the subject. Write down your beliefs and why you hold them. Read them again in a week or two.

If you get attacked by a grizzly bear, and close your eyes, the grizzly bear doesn't disappear. You have to punch the grizzly bear in its fat grizzly face. What I'm saying here is, what would be there in the dark that wouldn't be there when you turn a light on. In this life, you need to fiercely tackle every obstacle, literally. What can a ghost do? Scare you by making spooky moaning sounds? You need to holler and snarl at that fucking ghost like you're going to eat its face off. If it comes at you, go for the tackle. If it passes through you, turn around and call it a coward, then tell it that it has no honor and demand that it commit seppuku. Short of that, you'd need a particle accelerator, as it's the only known thing to affect a ghost's molecular structure.

Lastly, don't feel weird. I always check my shower when the curtain's closed, because there could be a serial killer in there. I do the same for the back seat of my car. Danger is everywhere, or at least it could be, so you have to be prepared.

I saw the ghost of my father standing in my room when I was 14 but he just stood there and didnt say anything and then he was gone and once I felt like a friend of mine who committed suicide was following me around for about a week.  But for some reason, these things didnt scare me.  I dont really believe in the scary kind of ghosts they show in all those movies...if you can learn to look at those movies in a different light you will realize they are actually comedies.  Ghosts, or memories, whatever they may be do exist somehow and I cant deny it since I know I saw my dad and he died when I was 4.  I dont know why I would make it up and I dont know why I never saw him again after that.

So when you saw the ghost of your father, what was he wearing?

Thanks everyone, I just finished reading through everything, I was surprised to find so many replies. I found them helpful and comforting. I suppose people's stories about ghosts are rather like some people's religious encounters, the speaking in tongues, possessions, seeing jesus or hearing god speak to them, etc. As Richard Dawkins once put it "The human mind is extremely susceptible to hallucination." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRVEXgBXdmE   Just a few weeks ago there was a shadow on my ceiling, one that I didn't recognize at 1st, after investigating it, I found that it was caused by me moving my computer table a little bit that day, the light on my printer caused the shadow of the corner of my table to appear on the ceiling, and I suppose it makes more sense that people are turning things like this into supernatural experiences. I was talking to a friend of mine a few days ago and he was saying about supernatural experiences he had, it was 3am and he saw a man's face reflected in a window as if someone was standing behind him, he turned around and no one was there. I tried asking him about other possible explanations but he seemed to want to believe that it was a ghost. He also talked about recorded knocking sounds that he didn't hear when the tape was being recorded. So yeah, I guess what everyone is saying makes sense.

also, don't forget hypnagogic and hypnopompic hallucinations. they're to blame for most "supernatural" occurrences. such as your friend's at 3 am. typical. 

I didn't realize that people could actually hallucinate just from going in and out of sleep. I mean I though of it but there's words for it and everything. o.o That's an interesting thing to know.

Ha. I've noticed this trend among my atheist friends. Most have developed and irrational fear/interest of the supernatural. Usually along the lines of ghosts, shadows, or Slederman (ha!). It seems that with the apsence of a belief system they have developed and overactive fear of ghosts. Personally I find the irony highly amusing.

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