"A Rational Look At Ghosts: A Scientific Explanation For A Worldwide Paranormal Belief"
"This survival of alert and suspicious ancestors, and death of those that didn't notice a danger until it was too late, has given today's population the tendency to see and hear things that are simply not there.
Young children desperately tell sleep-deprived parents about the monster outside the window. Grown adults stare towards the corner of the room, convinced they've just seen something in the corner of their eye.
The human brain sees and hears things that are not there, because they have evolved to be over-cautious. With this in mind, stories of ghostly apparitions, foot-steps in the middle of the night, objects that change position, and whispering voices in a deserted churchyard suddenly have a rational, psychological explanation.
Add to this mix a culture of scary Hollywood movies, a wide-spread belief in the paranormal, and various religious sensibilities that assume the existence of ghosts and spirits, and the result is a population with a natural tendency to sense things that aren't there, coupled with an enormous amount of fuel for the imagination."
I must explain my end of this. I don't believe ghosts exist. I'm not the guy who will point at a believer, laugh, and say "You're full of shit! HAHAHAHA!!!" No. Perhaps folks who have "encountered paranormal activities" really do
encounter what they encounter. Just like our ancestors encountered lightning and thunder and attributed it to the mythological entities and other paranormal odds and ends, even developing entire stories to support their theories, folks who encounter modern "paranormal" events are, in all probability, encountering natural phenomena. I don't agree with the stance the article takes, per se. I don't think that all people who believe they encounter "paranormal" phenomena are delusional (though some really are and are in need of professional psychiatric intervention). I think we're taught to label certain things we encounter a certain way as youngsters and that if such encounters indeed occur that the way we're taught to label these encounters is, at best, inaccurate.
The article touches on the human brain's fight-or-flight response which I think makes a pretty solid theory, but this does not account for the stories of people who are convinced they saw/felt/smelled what they encountered. The human brain is a tricky organ. We know less about our own minds than we do about outer space. Human perception is very easy to manipulate
. Couple that with the ease at which human beings can be influenced to do or believe
just about anything. Alas, we have scientology, the Jim Jones cult, and various military experiments to prove that. With that in mind, how can a reasonable person say that we cannot be influenced by our culture to believe things that aren't true or to incorrectly attribute what are likely perfectly natural phenomena? This leads to my theory about ghosts, demons, etc...
Knowing that the brain and human thought processes are so easy to manipulate by many different entities, I speculate that the human mind that perceives a "paranormal" phenomenon could be under the influence of any number of forces. Barring the influences of mind-altering substances, legitimate psychiatric illness, and human-induced brainwashing, one can only assume it's natural phenomena
Let me explain:
The human brain conducts electricity. The magnetic fields of the earth and the moon are known to influence animal behavior. Solar flares and severe weather can wreak havoc on any electronic device in their path. Seeing that the brain is actually a highly complex mass of neurons that are constantly conducting information in an infinite variety of patterns, my theory (I'm no scientist, by any stretch) is that one of these phenomena affect the brain in such a way that we perceive what is known in our collective consciousness as paranormal activity.
Remember the thunderstorm analogy? We're doing the same thing when it comes to the paranormal. We perceive something and give it a name, even though we haven't verified what it really is.
I'm okay with not knowing, and I certainly won't be losing any sleep worrying about if, when, or where I will encounter some anomaly. What if I do? I'll cross that bridge when I get to it, but expect me to approach it with a critical mind and a healthy amount of skepticism. If I hear voices or see weird shit, I'll promptly report to the men in the white coats. I'll worry about, and take the necessary precautions against, that meth head roaming the streets that just might invade my home or the fact that I just might get in an accident next time I drive to the supermarket. I will examine these concerns and their statistical probability and act appropriately, but I refuse to live in fear. The Dark Ages