October 11, 2002
is drawing close, and I’m practically giddy with anticipation.
I love everything about the holiday, especially the inevitable tales
of the unexplained. There’s just one thing: Despite having my
own ghost stories, I just don’t believe anyone else’s.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s not like
I’ve got a closed mind: I make no secret of being Christian, which
requires more than a little blind faith, and as I mentioned above I’ve
had brushes with the unexplained. (I’ll share more closer to Halloween.)
I guess I’m a skeptical believer. When it comes to bumps in the
night or unidentified flying objects, I gotta see it to believe it.
I fully believe most “sightings” can be explained naturally.
And yes, I fully acknowledge that I am a hypocrite.
What gets my goat is that most true believers totally disregard Occam’s
Razor. That is, the simplest explanation is usually the right one. This
is most prevalent right now with crop circles. Look, the guys who originated
this hoax confessed long ago. They told exactly how it was done, a surprisingly
simple yet inventive procedure. No wonder the crop-circle fans still
insist only aliens could create such elaborate designs: They were completely
shown up with two men using rope, boards and makeshift sightline techniques.
You read that right. Despite the confession, the croppies still think
advanced civilizations with access to faster-than-light travel can find
no better communication than large symbols etched in fields. This despite
the fact that a U.S. farmer very recently created an incredibly elaborate
maze depicting all 50 states and the words “God Bless America”
in his cornfield. Alien technology? Nope. He whipped up the design on
his computer, mapped it over an image of his field, hooked up a GPS
to a sort of industrial-issue lawnmower and went for a ride.
Television psychics? Can’t stand ‘em. I hate the whole atmosphere
of preying on the needy, especially after hearing about backstage hijinks
(bugging the green room, for example, or “chatting up” the
guests before the show – all the better to later use personal
information). We need a new Houdini to spend a year or so publicly exposing
frauds like that. CSICOP does a good job, but is unfortunately not prominent
enough to convince Joe Sixpack.
Ghost stories are my biggest bugbear. I have my own ghost stories. I’m
not shy about sharing my own ghost stories. But let someone else tell
one, and I immediately dismiss it as mistaking the natural for supernatural
(or fiction). Let me reiterate: I am a hypocrite. More to the point,
I have to be shown something to believe. Plus, the whole “Indian
burial ground” thing started as a joke after the movie Poltergeist,
but now every other “true” ghost story ends with the witness
finding out their house/apartment/roller rink/whatever was built on
an Indian burial ground. (Outside the U.S., change “Indian”
to the long-dead culture of your choice.) Man, is this nation built
on a layer of bones or what?
Anyway, it’s Halloween. I’ll be told dozens of ghost stories,
and I’ll smile and nod politely. (Hell, I’ll share tales
of my own.) Just know that you’re better off taking me by the
hand, dragging me to the haunted spot in question and letting me see
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