Are You a Believer or a Skeptic?

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

I have several author friends who have written compellingly about ghosts and hauntings. Stacy Green, Catie Rhodes, and Debora Dale all recently covered fascinating tales of paranormal activity.

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.”
G.K. Chesterton

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.

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20 thoughts on “Are You a Believer or a Skeptic?

  1. Skeptic. And yet I love reading – and writing – this stuff. It doesn't hurt that I work on the AF base that's home to Hangar 18, where the aliens were supposedly taken from the Roswell crash – and which doesn't exist!

  2. I am a believer. However, I often wonder about the more dramatic ghost stories. I've never seen a shadow figure. However, we do have a really weird picture in which you can see a shadow figure. It was taken at some deserted sawmill ruins in East Texas. But I've never seen a shadow figure with my own eyes. Instead, it's been more intuitive. I've gone into places and felt what could be considered leftover emotions. In the more intense cases, the air has a heavy feel to it. (Not necessarily cold.) The weirdest ones have a buzzing or a hum to them. It's something I can almost hear, but not quite. I know I'm a weirdo, but I think "they" are out there. As for bigfoot, the town I grew up in has a bigfoot hunters association. I am not sure I believe in bigfoot. However, I do think black panthers are in the East Texas woods.I'll shut up now. Fun post.

  3. Catie, I've talked to you about this, and I think your experiences are fascinating. Black panthers in East Texas? Cool. All I know that we have around where I live are coyotes.Tracey, I think it's good to keep an open mind, even though I mostly don't believe this stuff.

  4. I'm totally skeptical about all of these things (despite having weird ghost-related experiences as a child). To me they just show how imaginative the human mind is. And yes, they are great fun to read and write about, so they're also good inspiration for us too. Long live the imagination!

  5. I'm a believer. I definitely felt my brother's spirit, about four months after he passed away. I was almost 7 months pregnant, and napping in the room he died in. I woke up, startled – something was shaking the bed, and I could smell a faint drift of sandalwood, the scent he preferred. When I went out to talk to the rest of the family, they swore we hadn't had an earthquake…so yeah, count me in on the believer side.Plus, I'm with Catie. I've walked into left-over emotions…*shiver*. Great post, Julie!

  6. I've had many experiences similar to Catie's that have made me a believer. I think individuals who are very intuitive tend to be more susceptible and open to spiritual experiences. I don't see ghosts but I do sense subtle energies, both good and bad. I have had visions of angels and demons and believe that there are spiritual planes of existence beyond this one. As for legends and fairy tales, I reserve judgment. Just because I haven't seen it, doesn't mean it isn't there.

  7. I'm a definite believer in ghosts. I've had several experiences not just as a child but as an adult. I think PJ is right. There are those that are more intuitive than others. The house next to mine (which is also in the family) is definitely haunted. Too many strange things have happened there with too many people having experienced it and no not just my crazy family. LOLI want to believe in Nessie. :-)I don't know if there are any ETs out there but I think it's pretty presumptuous for us to believe we're the only living beings in all the glorious space out there.I also believe in angels and demons and a spiritual plane of existence. My guardian angel has at times had her hands full. πŸ˜‰

  8. Hi Julie! I love hoping this stuff is true but nothing has ever happened to me – I wish! I guess I'm like an agnostic when it comes to the paranormal and such. It just might be true, but I don't know.Patti

  9. What a fun post, Julie! I'm one of those people firmly in the middle; I maintain a certain skepticism about things like this, but I'm willing to be convinced! As a matter of fact, I love investigative reports on these sorts of things. Sometimes, the history or the clever ways in which people try to extract evidence are just fascinating. I love listening to both sides of the stories, the ones trying to prove them and the ones trying to debunk them. My soft spots are definitely ghosts and el chupacabra. I remember waking up in the middle of the night to these horrible inhuman sounds of something prowling outside my house in Michigan, and jokingly called it the Northern Chupacabra. It was the creepiest sound I ever heard, but I found out later that it's what a cougar sounds like.Not the Norther Chupacabra, but the fact that there was a cougar hanging out in my yard is pretty scary, too!I've had one experience that I might consider to possibly be paranormal, but I think it was more the over-active imagination of a twelve year old than anything else. Still, I can't stop devouring shows on the paranormal and strange; I'm almost running out of them on Netflix and I don't know what I'll do when there are no more! They're just fun and fascinating and kind of a little inspiring sometimes, too.Again, great post, Julie! It made for a good read and now I want to go find another great ghost debunking documentary!

  10. Great piece, Julie! I'm an intrigued skeptic. I love it for story purposes, and ghost-themed TV specials can be interesting, but do I believe? No.

  11. Julie, this is an amazing post. (Thank you for mentioning me. πŸ™‚ )Am I a believer? Going into my Gettysburg trip, I was a skeptic. During my trip, I was a skeptic with an open mind. Closer to the end, I was looking for ways to debunk some of our experiences but now, months later as I review our 'evidence', I'm a believer. Problem is, I'm not sure what I believe in! Are ghosts lost souls? Are they intelligent? Or is ghostly activity simply a heavy emotional imprint in time? I wish I could answer those questions. For me, evidence of a ghost would have to include several things – not simply an high EMF reading (which you're right doesn't prove paranormal activity), but also visual, audio or emotional responses.In Gettysburg we had all of those – sometimes independently and sometimes all at once. Because of all that, I have no choice but to believe. The others, like Nessie, aliens, Bigfoot and el Chupacabra? I'm open to the possibility of all. We've yet to discover all species on land or in our oceans, not to mention in the still unexplored vastness of space. Everything is possible and I welcome any 'evidence' with a healthy combination of skepticism and intrigue. Loved this post.

  12. Thanks to everyone for stopping by! I love hearing what everyone thinks about these tales. It also makes me want to go on one of those ghost tours.L.S. – I just have to say…cougar? Really? How amazing.

  13. I’ve never really thought about this until now, and I have to go with believer. I had originally thought I’d be a skeptic, but I can’t rule out that ghosts don’t exist, that aliens haven’t entered our solar system, or that legends such as the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot aren’t real.

    I also kinda believe in Urban Legends….isn’t it better to believe things like this are true, instead of having a heart attack when we do indeed learn they are real? I don’t know.

    I believe.

    1. I like that attitude of “no shockers.” That’s always the issue in horror movies, isn’t it? “Oh, I didn’t know that vicious ghosts with hatchets were hiding in that deserted house.”

      Believer also sounds more optimistic than skeptic. Thanks for stopping by!

  14. I’m not sure if they’re real or not. All I know is they sure make for great stories! πŸ˜€ Cool post! You put a ton of thought into them! Love it!

  15. I’m definitely a skeptic. Four years ago, I would have sworn that paranormal and demonic activity was real, but that was from years of indoctrination in a cult-like environment and home.

    I’m a “give me the facts, and just the facts” type of gal, now. πŸ™‚

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