23 Jan 98

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.




Ftrain.com is the website of Paul Ford and his pseudonyms. It is showing its age. I'm rewriting the code but it's taking some time.


There is a Facebook group.


You will regret following me on Twitter here.


Enter your email address:

A TinyLetter Email Newsletter

About the author: I've been running this website from 1997. For a living I write stories and essays, program computers, edit things, and help people launch online publications. (LinkedIn). I wrote a novel. I was an editor at Harper's Magazine for five years; then I was a Contributing Editor; now I am a free agent. I was also on NPR's All Things Considered for a while. I still write for The Morning News, and some other places.

If you have any questions for me, I am very accessible by email. You can email me at ford@ftrain.com and ask me things and I will try to answer. Especially if you want to clarify something or write something critical. I am glad to clarify things so that you can disagree more effectively.


Syndicate: RSS1.0, RSS2.0
Links: RSS1.0, RSS2.0


© 1974-2011 Paul Ford


@20, by Paul Ford. Not any kind of eulogy, thanks. And no header image, either. (October 15)

Recent Offsite Work: Code and Prose. As a hobby I write. (January 14)

Rotary Dial. (August 21)

10 Timeframes. (June 20)

Facebook and Instagram: When Your Favorite App Sells Out. (April 10)

Why I Am Leaving the People of the Red Valley. (April 7)

Welcome to the Company. (September 21)

“Facebook and the Epiphanator: An End to Endings?”. Forgot to tell you about this. (July 20)

“The Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. An essay for TheMorningNews.org. (July 11)

Woods+. People call me a lot and say: What is this new thing? You're a nerd. Explain it immediately. (July 10)

Reading Tonight. Reading! (May 25)

Recorded Entertainment #2, by Paul Ford. (May 18)

Recorded Entertainment #1, by Paul Ford. (May 17)

Nanolaw with Daughter. Why privacy mattered. (May 16)

0h30m w/Photoshop, by Paul Ford. It's immediately clear to me now that I'm writing again that I need to come up with some new forms in order to have fun here—so that I can get a rhythm and know what I'm doing. One thing that works for me are time limits; pencils up, pencils down. So: Fridays, write for 30 minutes; edit for 20 minutes max; and go whip up some images if necessary, like the big crappy hand below that's all meaningful and evocative because it's retro and zoomed-in. Post it, and leave it alone. Can I do that every Friday? Yes! Will I? Maybe! But I crave that simple continuity. For today, for absolutely no reason other than that it came unbidden into my brain, the subject will be Photoshop. (Do we have a process? We have a process. It is 11:39 and...) (May 13)

That Shaggy Feeling. Soon, orphans. (May 12)

Antilunchism, by Paul Ford. Snack trams. (May 11)

Tickler File Forever, by Paul Ford. I'll have no one to blame but future me. (May 10)

Time's Inverted Index, by Paul Ford. (1) When robots write history we can get in trouble with our past selves. (2) Search-generated, "false" chrestomathies and the historical fallacy. (May 9)

Bantha Tracks. (May 5)

Tables of Contents