Do you believe in ghosts? Do ghosts exist? What about haunted houses?
In America, 28% say they’ve seen a ghost, while 45% believe in them. In Canada, 18% say they’ve seen a ghost and 46% believe in them. I have never seen a ghost, and I believe I will never see one because I don’t believe in them.
Ghosts and the paranormal are fun to play around with, like Ouija boards, but they don’t have any legitimate evidence to support their existence other than anecdotal. Images are often doctored, grainy, or blurry. Videos are often shaky or low res. And more often than not, investigatigations of ghost stories or the paranormal lead to (boring) natural explanations, or nothing at all (see any episode the show Ghost Hunters, Celebrity Ghost stories, or related spin offs… so many seasons… never a ghost). Worse, many investigations turn out to be a hoax.
So why do people believe in weird things, like ghosts? Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic Magazine, tells us that,
All humans seek patterns. That’s our nature. We are also storytellers because it helps us find meaning in a chaotic world. In order to survive, we have evolved to find cause-and-effect relationships in nature, and then weave a plausible story to explain them. Our ancestors who identified the pattern linking the seasons to animal migrations ate better and left behind more offspring. But because believing that the rain gods can be appeased through rituals isn’t fatal, we also have inherited magical thinking. Add to this the fact that many of these beliefs make us feel better, meet some emotional need, promise miracle cures or instant wealth, and in general appeal to our emotional brains and bypass our rational brains.
Check out the infographic below (click to enlarge) and get a dose of paranormal factivity…
Humans tend to believe weird things like ghosts without scientific merit because we seek patterns, we seek to explain things, we are uncomfortable not understanding the world around us, and because we are stubborn. It’s hard to change someone’s mind – try it. It’s no easy task. And so, it falls on our teachers and mentors to train future generations to think critically and use “baloney detection kits” to weed out the bunk from the brain.
Source for infographic: Cheapflights.com