Monday, November 29, 2010

Tell me a ghost story

I had a strange experience at work yesterday. I was sitting in the box office, facing my friend and chatting, when I felt someone lay their hand on the back of my head. I could just see a shadow from the corner of my eye, so I turned around to see who was touching me ... and no one was there. I immediately broke out in cold goosebumps.

Oddly, I've never thought the museum was a creepy place, even though many other co-workers (especially folks who've had to stay in the museum at night time) swear there's something eerie about the building. Some have seen strange men who vanished on 2nd glance; others have experienced strange noises or mysterious cold spots. To me, the place is just a mid-century building with an extensive building.

Although I've had a few paranormal-y experiences that I still haven't properly solved, I'm the first person to look for a scientific explanation for these things. Despite my fascination (okay, obsession) with all things creepy, ghoulish and undead, I have yet to be convinced that any of it is real.

And yet, I was immediately freaked out by this phantom touch, which could easily have been the result of some kind of pressure change. Maybe someone opened a door in the building and the resultant breeze ruffled my hair in a way I've never experienced.

I'd like to say that when it comes to ghosts, I'm a tabula rasa. I don't believe in them, but if anyone could come up with a convincing explanation for them, I would probably accept them. But to be honest, ghosts are my very favorite topic. I love reading about them. And writing about them. (Living with them, however, is another story. Eek!)

But what about you guys? Any experiences that might sway me either way? Or scientific tidbits that might help clarify my thoughts?


Katey said...

I'm in a similar boat. All the eerie experiences in the world can't really make me believe until I see a ghost--or one of my other senses convinces me I've met one.

But I love them. I love ghost stories--I don't doubt people who have them, somehow. They're brilliant! I like to watch Ghost Hunters. I love all manner of ghost-related... things.

Which I guess is a kind of belief. In a weird academic way?

Cate Gardner said...

I'm a non-believer and possibly the only non-believer in my family. The rest of the family have experienced (so they say) a haunted wardrobe (I kid you not), had a ghostly encounter in a hospice (along with other staff), had someone shake their bed, tap them on the shoulder, breathe on them, look at cards on a mantlepiece and watch over their baby girl.

Me, I get nada.

SheikYurbouti said...

I stayed at an old home mostly abandoned one christmas w/ my husband, sister, her boyfriend, two dogs, and a cat. During the time we were there we all experienced insane things - like inappropriate feelings, phobias that we didn't have elsewhere, temperature differences unaccounted for. Finally, woke up one morning with no less than two dozen dog poos that seemed to disappear and re-appear as we tried to clean them. Left that day, then the house burnt down a week later.

I don't know that i believe in ghosts, but i do know that two dogs do NOT have that much poop in them, not in the span of 4 hours.

So. Essentially i may believe in ghosts because of poop.

Erin Stocks said...

This is a story waiting to happen! Write it!

Anassa said...

I've seen a couple pretty convincing explanations for hauntings. Not sure they're the whole story, but they're certainly compelling.

The first is that ghosts (and deep religious experiences) are the result of geomagnetic fields or infrasound triggering the temporal lobes to "sense" someone nearby.

The second is that ghosts (and religious experiences, and various demonic visitations) are due to waking dreams and the temporary dominance of the unconscious mind. The book I read with this theory also linked sleep paralysis with incubus/succubus myths.

Personally, I keep an open mind about ghosts because I haven't seen solid proof for either side of the debate. Most "true" ghost stories can be explained away, but I've come across a couple that I can't find a everyday cause for—particularly some of the poltergeist stories. Do I think we're really seeing and feeling the spirits of the dead? No, but we're certainly seeing something.