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Friday, January 23, 1998
By Paul Ford
Aliens and Ghosts
A Subway Diary reader is conducting research on those who believe in ghosts and aliens. I don't believe in either, but she asked me to participate anyway. Because my brain is a mess right now, I'll plead sleepiness and let her question, and my bloated answer, substitute for an entry.
You're entirely welcome to make me uncomfortable; I enjoy being questioned on these topics, as they are lately on my mind, and I find it useful to write them out. But I think you'll be disappointed in the drabness of my answers.
I have never experienced any direct contact with extraterrestrials, nor with ghosts.
If they did, I would find it reasonable to believe that any techno-centric, space-travelling culture would wish to analyze the human world culture scientifically, whether through sampling and abduction, or through other, more abstract means. But that's a sort of anthropomorphism; most likely we would be hard pressed to understand the motives of creatures so differently evolved.
As for more terrestrial visitations, I assume that by talking about "ghosts," you're referring to "manifestations of the spirits of dead people." I do not have any hard beliefs here, either, but have encountered people whom I believe to be intelligent, sane, and trustworthy, who have related to me their direct experiences with spiritual and psychic, phenomena.
While they have described their experiences as "ghosts" or "spirits," I do not believe we are contacted by the dead. I rather firmly believe that human beings are the sum of their genes, and upon death, their "being" ceases entirely. I have never experienced measurable evidence of a soul.
I do believe, most days, that humans communicate emotionally, without using language, physical contact, or vision. I am undecided as to how this works. I have two ideas:
- Emotional involvement with another person "syncs" their thinking processes, emotional processes, and hormonal cycles. These "synced" people then experience life similarly, even if separated. They thus "know what the other person is thinking" and experience an intense, shared bond with others.
- A sixth sense informs one person of the emotional state of the other.
I tend towards the first, but occasionally hear evidence of the second.
To return to your question, I believe that human beings are emotionally explosive animals. If above proposition 2 is true, then I would say that "ghosts" are outward expressions of very excited emotions through that sixth sense, which we then label as "spirits." The psychiatrist Carl Jung might agree with me, although he's dead and no longer returns calls.
Most descriptions of "visitations" indicate that the visited was going through psychic turmoil at the time of the manifestation. I think this indicates a process of externalization. I believe that "ghosts" are our internal demons, but we name them after the dead.