Things that go bump in the… well, anytime really

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I’m not a huge believer in ghosts. I definitely fascinated by the possibility of their existence, and I love hearing people’s ghost stories — particularly when they’re first-hand — but I’m one of those people who has to see it to believe it. I lack faith, even in Class V Free Roaming Vapors. I’m like the crotchety, nay-saying geezer who scoff and waves dismissively at such nonsense.

Regardless, Scott and I had Marliss Weber on the Halloween episode of the Unknown Studio. Marliss is an editor at See Magazine, and she has a keen interest in stories of hauntings and ghostly encounters, particularly as they take place here in Edmonton. Marliss has gone on a few ghost hunts in the city, even, using such scientific tools as digital voice recorders (DVRs) which have the uncanny ability of picking up ghostly sounds inaudible to humans. If you download the latest ep of our show, some of her tales will no doubt give you chills.

With so much anecdotal evidence and eyewitness accounts of these hauntings, why is it so hard for me to believe in the existence of this ethereal plane? I think it’s because often the mind sees what it wants to see. In spite of the often, incorrectly touted notion that we only use 10 per cent of our brains at a given time, the human mind is a powerful device. And though a science like psychology is still in its infancy (at least in relation to other more traditional sciences), it helps to explain a lot about why we see what we see.

Add the power of the brain to external forces, such as magnetic fields, and you get apparitions people swear are real. I dug up this old article to illustrate the point:

“Individuals prone to paranormal experiences are sensitive to weak electromagnetic fields and to man-made electrical fields, which are becoming more prominent in the communication age,” explains Persinger, who has studied the link between magnetic fields and paranormal experience for 15 years. […] In our increasingly electronically charged world, it would seem that midnight apparitions are really just clock radios rather than ghosts.

So should we dismiss the notion of ghosts entirely? I don’t think so. I don’t think there’s enough evidence to say decisively one way or another whether ghosts exist or not — though admittedly I’ve done very little research on the subject. And to my knowledge there are only three scientists who were studying paranormal phenomenon anywhere in North America…

But Drs. Venkman, Stantz and Spengler lost their research grant, all because of a crotchety old dean.

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3 Responses to “Things that go bump in the… well, anytime really”

  1. abraaten
    October 28, 2009 at 2:07 pm #

    Watch God on the Brain, a BBC doc. About 2 mins into Part 3, it gets into Persinger’s work. Don Hill has recreated the machine as an art installation somewhere in Edmonton, and people I know who have sat in it say it was truly scary. But it all depends if your brain is sentitive to EM fields.

    God on the Brain, Part 3

  2. bingofuel
    October 28, 2009 at 7:50 pm #

    Holy (ha!) that’s incredible… I want to try it!

  3. abraaten
    October 28, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    Make a reservation. I’m sure he’ll hook you up. I’m quite sure it’s still set up in Edmonton.