It wouldn't be This Time Of YearTM without IRREVERENT doing something seasonally spooky. This year is no exception, so let's talk about ghosts. First off, in the spirit (ha ha) of full disclosure, let me admit that I don't believe in ghosts. I also don't believe in the boogeyman, paranormal spirits, angels, or that they actually managed to get studio financing for over a dozen Friday the 13th movies and Freddy Versus Jason. I prefer to believe they just sold drugs. And obviously consumed them during production.
Google "ghost" and you'll get stuck with 22 million results and counting. Ask the American people and 37% will tell you -- after tearing themselves away from The Weekly World News -- that they believe in haunted houses and 32% will say ghosts exist1, which is a pretty interesting way to look at hauntings. I guess houses can be haunted by other stuff besides ghosts; certainly my un-trainable beagle would qualify. But can 32% of the public -- that's 96 million people, several of whom are more or less educated -- really believe in ghosts? Oh you betcha, spanky. Fully 70% don't understand basic scientific processes2 while 68% want creationism taught alongside evolution in schools. That's the type of ignorant superstition that should make us all proud to be an American.
But it's easy for me to sit here in the IRREVERENT bunker and snicker at blockheads. In fact if it wasn't, I would've shut down this site years ago. But that won't do much to address ghosts, which as far as I can tell is our topic.
Why believe in ghosts in the first place? I mean they're scary, they frighten children and small rodents, even house pets, and they remind us of our own inevitable mortality. None of this is particularly entertaining, except maybe scaring small mammals but that's probably just me and a thin minority of you. So what powers the belief in such nuttiness? Well, for one thing, it's kinda fun and certainly more interesting than most stuff in a typical boring-ass life. It's like there's a sneaky little secret piece of eternal wisdom in the world, and only you and your buddies are privileged with understanding.
Also, it is kinda comforting. No, not the one from Poltergeist, but most ghosts -- like Gramma Ethel and Grandpa Joe -- aren't throwing stuff at you or turning into big scary things to tan your undies. They're here in case you wondered if they were okay in the afterlife or if you wanted a second chance to ignore them at the old folks home after you steal their retirement nestegg, take their house, and then act shocked when they both "slip on some soap." On second thought, maybe you better wear a flak vest. Still most ghosts aren't here to seek revenge for opportunisitic murder, they're here to comfort the living and that's not such a bad thing. At least until hucksters and con men start banking your benjamins to give it to you, that is.
Non-addictive believing in ghosts, I guess, is one of those basically harmless self delusions. So long as you're not hurting anyone else, is it really so bad to believe that Aunt Jeane and Uncle Bob knock stuff over at random every now and then in your rodent infested attic? On the grand scheme of things, no not really. A sign of a rapidly decaying investment in critical thinking skills, definately, but the worst thing in the world, no.
So when things go bump or cry in the night, it's okay to think that it's the spirit of Napolean come to revenge itself upon your poorly maintained efficiency. But in the frenzy of your supernatural belief, please also try to remember to regularly feed your cat.
1 From a June 2005 Gallup Poll News Service report.
2 National Science Foundation's (2002) report "Science & Engineering Indicators"