Thursday, July 31, 2008

Stuff Believers Like: #2 Talking to Dead People.....

Whether invoking the aid of St. Anthony of Padua in finding their lost set of car keys, or tearfully discussing a long lost relative whose name starts with an A, L, M, P, R, T, or Y with douchebag medium John Edward, there is no doubt that believers like to talk to dead people. And though it is not inherently delusional, since many rational human beings speak to those who have expired as a form of symbolic exercise meant to bring about an emotional catharsis, the rub lies in the fact that in the mind of the believer, the dead talk back.

The fascination with contacting the deceased stems in large part from the belief that there are dead people to talk to, though just where they are thought to congregate differs depending on the individual believer's particular fantasy. A large majority hold dear the thought of their friends, family, and significant others ("Hi Susan, this is my wife Nancy. Oh boy, this is awkward.) waiting for them beyond the pearly gates, while many accept that there are other locations existing beyond the natural world where spirits and specters dwell. Naturally these spirits are ever ready to be contacted by psychics and other charlatans so that they might communicate once more with the living.

Many believers are taken in by opportunistic emotional predators like the aforementioned Edwards and his ilk, whose cold reading skills are more than a match for the underdeveloped critical thinking often employed by those plagued with both belief and and the loss of a loved one. The most prolific of these sinister shysters do rather well for themselves financially, with some even starring in popular television programs based on their deceitful mentalism, while desecrating their victim's most cherished memories. But this pales in comparison to the societal damage which has occured throughout recent human history as a result of the dialogue that occurs between the believer and the ghost of a 2,000 year old carpenter.


The Other Experiment said...

Ok, Ok. This one hits home.

As the relative of a famous ghost (think pilot/engineer whose demise was met in the Everglades) and one who has grown up with experiences to make her a believer, it was doubly hard to examine my beliefs about the existence of an afterlife.

It was easy to let go of the 2,000 year old ghost. No proof. It was easy to let go of god. No proof.

But, how could I let go of something that I clearly experienced throughout my childhood? There HAS to be ghosts. I've seen them.

Ok Zoo, before you roll your eyes so far back in your head that they get stuck, read on.

How could I let go? Quite simple. My skeptic friend unknowingly forced me to re-examine what I thought that I had seen as a child. I have clear memories of "happenings" from my childhood but none as an adult. Examining those memories with a skeptics mind left me with too many questions. I was left, once again, without proof.

It was fun while it lasted.

(I sure do miss being able to watch Ghost Hunters without rolling my eyes and yelling at the screen though.)

Zoo Knudsen said...

Trust me, I know the feeling. For years I was a firm believer in pretty much everything I write about, including ghosts. As you know, personal experience is extremely powerful and, unfortunately, extremely unreliable. In fact, the more memorable the experience the less likely the memory is accurate as time goes by.