Skeptic: 1. a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual. 2. a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.
from www.dictionary.com, based on Random House Dictionary
Yet, I don’t believe in ghosts.
I’m not a naysayer, but a true skeptic. I question the validity or authenticity of certain claims and maintain a doubting attitude. However, highly intelligent, reasonable people have drawn conclusions that are different from mine. In other words, I don’t say that there are no ghosts, but I remain skeptical that there are.
In fact, I’m a skeptic about many legends and stories. For Deep-Fried Friday, let’s take a look at six main ones, and I’ll share my perspective. At the end of the post, I hope you’ll share your views as well.
Ghosts. Ghost hunting is popular these days with shows and websites gathering evidence of hauntings. I have never seen a full episode of Ghost Hunters – only clips. However, I have researched the claims for ghosts. The evidence seems to include temperature, EMF fluctuations, photographic anomalies, and audio recordings with unusual sounds or vocalization. I wonder why we have attached these factors to ghosts. There are plenty of physical phenomena that we were unable to explain in the past that we can explain now. These unusual events may simply fall into that category. To be convinced by this evidence that ghosts exist, you must first accept the premise that EMF readings are evidence of a ghost and not merely some yet unexplained natural occurrence.
That said, I have seen odd things which I cannot account for. For instance, in Debora Dale’s final post on The Ghosts of Gettysburg, the last video shows two shadows crossing without anything casting the shadow. Can I explain it? No. Does it make me believe that those are ghosts? Not yet. I am open to the possibility. And if I am ever personally haunted, I will eat all of these words – deep-fried and with a side of humble pie. But I remain skeptical.
My conclusion: I have yet to see a sufficient body of evidence that convinces me of the presence of non-living beings or paranormal energy in our midst.
Roswell UFO. In 1947, a pilot saw what he described as a flying object “moving like a saucer would if you skipped it across the water.” The United States Army soon after recovered debris which it claimed was a weather balloon. Rumors, however, abounded that what had landed was an alien spacecraft and the government was covering up. Top secret documents from the 1940s were declassified in the 1990s, and the Air Force studied the evidence and issued “The Roswell Report: Fact Versus Fiction in the New Mexico Desert.” Indeed, the debris was not a weather balloon; it was most likely the remains of a top secret research program called Project MOGUL. The project’s purpose “was to try to develop a way to monitor possible Soviet nuclear detonations with the use of low-frequency acoustic microphones placed at high altitudes.” Sounds plausible to me.
My conclusion: The UFO debris recovered at Roswell was the remains of a government research program device. The flying object has now been identified.
Area 51 Aliens. According to believers, a secretive military base in Nevada is the site where the U.S. Government has stored extraterrestials and alien spacecraft. For decades, the government would not discuss the base with the public, thus fueling suspicion about its purpose and contents. Recently, however, the CIA has declassified top secret programs conducted at the base. During the years when UFOs were sighted in the area, the U.S. was developing and test-flying spy planes – which would appear as flashes of light in the sky.
My conclusion: The sightings at Area 51 were of top secret spy planes which the government refused to acknowledge at the time due to security reasons.
|“Many a man has been hanged on
less evidence than there is for
the loch ness monster.”
Loch Ness Monster. The Scottish lake, Loch Ness, is home to the legend of a sea monster affectionately called Nessie. Of all the legends I’ve looked into, this is the one I am most inclined to believe. There have been thousands of eyewitness accounts – and not merely from enthusiasts inclined to believe, but from people of all walks of life. The reports of a large 15-20 foot animal rolling and rising out of the lake go back for centuries. Guesses as to what Nessie actually is include a plesiosaur, an elephant, an eel, and more.
We lack conclusive evidence, though. Sonar scans have indicated the presence of something, but several expeditions have failed to find bones or the Loch Ness Monster itself. Of course, if a single monster still exists, there must have been a breeding population, so we should see evidence of aquatic beasts in the lake. Then again, the lake feeds into the Atlantic Ocean through an adjoining river. Could the creatures swim in and out? Perhaps. Also, there are caverns within the lake where a creature could hide. Still, I have to wonder why there aren’t any bones.
My conclusion: There may have been a strange sea creature in the lake at one time, but probably not now.
Bigfoot, or Sasquatch. Bigfoot is a creature that is something between ape and man and roams the cold climate, wilderness areas of North America. Tracks, scat, hairs, and brief sightings comprise the primary body of evidence. Photographic evidence has been demonstrated to be suspect, if not an outright hoax.
Is it possible, however, that Bigfoot exists and we simply haven’t found him? Maybe. New species are discovered and classified every year. Then again, I have a feeling that if Jeff Corwin wanted to find Bigfoot, he could. So I wonder why all the Bigfoot enthusiasts haven’t tracked him down yet.
My conclusion: The sightings may be a variation of ape or other primate, but not likely a beast-man as we picture Bigfoot.
El Chupacabra. El Chupacabra has mostly been seen in Central and South America, although some sightings have been reported in the Southern United States. It is described as an animal with strange eyes, fangs, and claws which can travel on two or four feet. It attacks livestock and drains the animals of their blood. The word “chupacabra” means “goat sucker.” Sightings have been rare, photographic evidence is nonexistent, and when someone has caught a chupacabra, it turns out to be a sick or deformed animal instead. I don’t buy into this vampire tale. However, El Chupacabra is an interesting legend.
My conclusion: El Chupacabra sightings are likely due to mistaking predatory animals as vampiric creatures instead.
So what do you think? Are you a believer or a skeptic? Which legends are real and which are fake? What is your supporting evidence for what you believe? Have you had a personal experience with any of these?
Sources: UFOs? Aliens? Area 51 Revealed, ABC News; How Chupacabras Work, How Stuff Works; Nessie of Loch Ness, The Museum of Unnatural Mystery; Roswell – The Final Declassification, Rense.com; Roswell: Anatomy of a Myth, Roswell Files; The Roswell Incident and Project Mogul, The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry; Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization; International Institute for Species Exploration; The Shady Science of Ghost Hunting, Live Science; The Legend of Loch Ness, Nova; Rogue Nessie, StrangeMag.com.