Since before the Shades of the Dead were encountered in Homer’s Odyssey, ghosts have been written into literature, igniting the imaginations of the living. But it’s when spirits move from the underworld to the real world that the stories can become transparent. This article explains why I don’t believe in ghosts. There are questions which I think need asking if you believe in ghosts & if you’ve got the answers let me know!
Now, I’m not talking about that awful film starring Forest Whitaker as a Mafia Hitman who ‘models himself on the samurai of old’, but actual ghost dogs. When was the last time you heard about a dog, or any animal for that matter, haunting its owner?
Would a ghost dog still be stupid enough to fall for the ‘pretending to throw a ball’ trick? Or would it see right through you? (Come on, I had to fit it in somewhere.)
Many animals die in horrific ways & I imagine there’s nothing much more horrific than an abattoir. Animals led quietly to be stunned & their throats slit. You can just imagine the tension, the unfamiliarity of the cold walls, packed together. The stench of fear, sweat & piss. Their bodies eventually drained of blood.
If ghosts are created through horrific circumstances then these places should be crawling with the ghosts of animals. But they’re not, which begs the question:
What makes humans so special?
We are essentially made of the same stuff but we just have better brains. Well, we like to think we do. So maybe one of the rules to becoming a ghost is that you need to have a certain amount of brain power.
Is the difference between stalking & haunting being dead? It seems that one of the fundamental rules to being a ghost is that you have to have ‘popped your clogs’. So this means something happens to the body once you die. Some kind of ‘energy’ must leave the body & take form in the physical world.
Two problems with this:
Are we really that energetic or are we more consumers of energy? When we stop fueling ourselves we literally run out of energy and can no longer function. The only way energy can leave our bodies when we die is through heat & the unflattering breaking of wind when our bodies relax. But there is a nicer way to think about energy which doesn’t involve vindictive ghouls: our bodies decompose & get soaked back into the ground / earth / universe. They can be used by another organism to create energy for itself. The Circle of Life! Mufasa would be proud.
To exist in a universe, ghosts have to play by the rules of that universe. For humans to be able to see ghosts they must become part of the physical world. They have to be made of a substance which can reflect light. If they can be heard, then they have be able to disturb air. And by those rules we should be able to manipulate ghosts. We should be able to video them, touch them & even trap them. Again, that never seems to happen.
It seems that it’s more likely that rather than inhabiting the physical world ghosts inhabit the minds of people.
My own eyes
I may sound like a skeptic but I have actually encountered ghosts on three particular occasions:
I’m pretty sure that after my Grandpa died he walked down the stairs into my bedroom. I could often hear the stairs creaking when I was trying to get to sleep.
He also moved the curtains. I saw that with my own eyes. I didn’t see him but I saw the curtains move when there wasn’t a breeze.
I heard thunder & screaming on a perfectly clear day. That was pretty terrifying.
However, it turns out that rather than experiencing ‘shades of the dead’ (which just sounds like a Halloween range from Dulux) I had really just experienced three, at the time, unexplainable events.
I later realised that:
- The wooden stairs would gradually creak back into place after they had been stepped on.
- Convection currents from the radiator below the curtains made them move.
- The thunder & screaming came from horses running around two fields across. Maybe they were spooked by a ghost too.
The first two events had nothing to do with my Grandpa but he was the only person from the house I lived in who had died recently. So I put two & two together.
We imagine what we can’t explain & what we imagine is flawed, much like ourselves.
Give up the ghost
If ghosts really do exist then I have to admit they’re crafty bastards. I mean, they managed to get ‘don’t speak ill of the dead’ ingrained into our culture. They have a whole festival dedicated to them in Mexico & they target our fear so they can’t be found out for the frauds that they are.
There’s plenty of scary, more plausible stuff in the real world that we can believe in and there’s plenty of unexplainable things out there which doesn’t need our misplaced belief, such as:
- Why is it really hard to open packets of pasta without it spilling everywhere?
- Why does buttered bread always seem to land butter side down?
- Who keeps on stealing all the bloody teaspoons?
Then again maybe there really is a kitchen ghost doing all these things. I wonder if I could get him to do the washing up?