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Old 2nd September 2019, 12:22 PM   #1
eleanor
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Help me debunk this "paranormal" situations

Hello, I'm new here. I've recently started being more skeptical but every time I convince myself that ghosts don't exist, I remember lots of strange and inexplicable situations that happened to members of my family or something that I read, heard somewhere etc... So here are stories which I heard from people whom I trust and cannot find any rational, convinving explanation...

1) My parents were spending holiday in an old house where my father grew up. Now half of this house belongs to him, half to his sister, who was with her husband there at the time. One night my mom was woken up by a very intensive smell of perfume. She had an impression that someone spread the perfume in front of her nose. There was nobody in the room. She is sure she was awake, and then she couldn't fall asleep for a very long time, still feeling that intensive smell. The next day, she was quite scared and asked my aunt if someone who had lived there used perfume. The aunt told her that her father - my grandfather - had used to wear intensive perfume. Of course, my mom came up with an idea that he wanted to tell something, warn her. And guess what... My uncle, who stayed in this house in the same time, had stroke and died next day. Hallucinations and coincidence? Quite strange one, isn't it? And she was sure she was awake...

2) My mom, her sister and someone else were sitting in the kitchen. Suddenly, they heard how the front door open, footsteps in the corridor and knocking on the kitchen door. One of them opened the door, but there wasn't anyone. They checked outside, but still - no one and there wasn't any chance that someone hid or ran away. Later that day, they received an information that their uncle had died. Again... coincidence? And what was that knocking? I mean, 3 or more people heard that. And they were all sure that it was knoking.

3) My aunt used to have "prophetic" dreams. Every time she dreamt about somoene, this person would die in a short period of time. One situation was particullarly strange. After her father's death, she had a dream, in wich he told her hat he was lonely but in a month his friend XYZ would join him. She woke up scared and next day she told about it the rest of the family. They didn't believe her, because he was quite young and healthy. He died unexpectedly exactly a month after this dream.

4) My aunt was sitting in the living room, when she heard cutlery falling off the drainer into the sink. She recognized that sound since it used to happen quite often because the drainer was standing on an uneven tile. She went into the kitchen, but she realized that the cutlery didn't fall, it was on it's place. Soon after that she received a call - her mother had died.

There are more such stories, which give me chills. Every time I say my mom or my aunt that there must be rational explanation and I don't believe in this stuff, they tell me that I may be skeptical now, but when I experience it, I'll change my mind. But the thing is... it's really hard not to believe in this, even though I don't want to. Please, help me.

And one more "woo" thing. I used to attend a catholic, salesian high school. The teachers used to tell us lots of anecdotes from life of st. John Bosco, founder os Salesians. I also read a lot about him. There are many things from his biography which I find hard to explain, but one is particularly creepy. Here it is: He made a bet with his friend, that this one who dies first will inform the other one if he got into heaven. And this friend was first to die. After the funeral, when John Bosco and his roommates were sitting in their room, they all heard a horrible noise and then voice "Bosco, I'm saved. Bosco, I'm saved. Bosco, I'm saved." There were witnessess who heard that. Please, don't laugh at me. I know that for you it's insane to believe in this, but still... How to explain this? What if it's true? I'm kinda scared... And scared by many things which I heard in that school... When I heard such things I start thinking that something called "soul" may indeed exist, and I'll go to hell after I die...

PS. Sorry if my English isn't very good, I'm still learning it
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Old 2nd September 2019, 12:30 PM   #2
BStrong
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The instances you describe are examples of the "Friend-of-a-Friend" tradition of myth.

No need to refute anything - let the tellers of tales tell them. You are in no way obligated to believe them.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 12:41 PM   #3
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If this is an ongoing ability on the part of your family, then the thing to do is to start documenting now. All the previous reports, however impressive, are just anecdotes. Write, report, and preserve any seemingly precognitive events. Correlate that to what actually happens and you'll have a better idea if there is anything worth investigating.

I had the feeling at one time that I was having precognitive dreams. Events would occur that seemed to have been pre-figured in dreams I recalled. I started keeping a dream diary, writing down what I could recall from dreams immediately on waking. It had the interesting effect that I started recalling much more of my dreams. I learned two things from this process: First, I did not have precognition, I had just been interpreting and adding detail to my recollection of my dreams. And, second, I was better off not remembering dreams.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 07:38 PM   #4
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Here's one thing you should understand before we proceed. None of us here will be able to give you a satisfactory explanation for any of these events. Not with any certainty. We weren't there, we don't have all the information and we have no way to categorically say that this is the explanation for what happened.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind with stories like these. First, memory is not perfect. The plasticity of memory has been demonstrated time and time again. The older the memory, the less accurate it is. That is indisputable and guaranteed. So details about events that you think you remember may be inaccurate. Memories of dreams, being already constructed in our minds, are particularly unreliable.

Second, it is in the nature of the storytelling process that a story will change with each repeat. Again, the older the story, the more will have been modified. The change will probably be subtle each time, but over time tiny changes will build on each other, and significant details can be modified in the retelling.

Stories about remarkable coincidences, particularly those which involve dreams and death, have a demonstrated tendency to be magnified both in the memories of those involved and subsequent retellings of the story. You mention that any time your aunt dreamt about someone, they died. That probably isn't the case. It may have happened once or twice by coincidence, and then the story was magnified in subsequent retellings to every time. How many times did your aunt dream about another person? That's impossible to know, but it seems to me that it would be many. I know I have very few dreams that don't include other people, and very few of them have died. Your aunt will remember the times it did happen, and not take into account all the times she dreamed about someone who didn't die.

Third, there are many different things that could cause the effects you describe. Most of them didn't, but one of them might. One thing that comes immediately to my mind is this: there are species of fragrant flower that bloom at night. One such is the night-flowering jasmine, Nyctanthes arbor-tristis. If such plants were extant in the area, it would be entirely possible to wake up in the middle of the night surrounded by an unfamilar smell, which might be identified as perfume. Without context, people tend to be pretty bad at identifying smells.

Now, your first response to this information will be "no, that wasn't it" and that's fine. It probably wasn't. I mention it to demonstrate that there may be explanations for phenomena that you haven't previously considered. What other explanations might there be? The range of potential explanations for unexplained phenomena is, usually, huge. You can and probably will spend all day thinking of possible explanations and saying "no, that wasn't it" and there will still be alternatives that you haven't thought of. At no point is it possible to say "okay, I've ruled out all explanations other than psychic abilities".

Such anecdotes as you report can be unsettling, certainly. But one thing that we are pretty sure of is this: no-one has ever satisfactorily demonstrated the existence of ghosts or telepathy or clairvoyance or prophecy. So whatever happened in those cases, it almost certainly wasn't paranormal. Every one of those stories you relate has a normal, mundane explanation, and that can be very comforting.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 08:06 PM   #5
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Nothing wrong with a good set of family ghost stories as long as nobody insists they're proof of anything.

I'll go down your list:

1: Phantom smells happen for many reasons, in this case the person was trying to fall asleep yet insists they were awake at the time. The fact is they were somewhere in between.

2: My guess is that this story has been compressed with much trivial detail omitted. It is possible for two people to hear common sounds and make assumptions, and one to talk another into thinking they heard the same thing. The only reason either remembers this story is because someone died the next day and they've made an association.

3: Another event attached to a death and back-engineered.

4: She heard something that sounded like falling cutlery. Sound can travel long distances under the right conditions, and also distorts. Again, the person has attached an unrelated event to a death.
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Old 2nd September 2019, 09:44 PM   #6
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Confirmation bias. The people involved probably forgot about all the times when they smelt something, heard a sound, something fell off a shelf etc... and someone didn't die.

You are reading significance into these things after the fact.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 08:29 AM   #7
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Four different anecdotal stories that you want us to debunk? It would be easier if you picked one, then gave us as much detail as you could about that one incident.
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Old 3rd September 2019, 10:06 AM   #8
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Eleanor,

Welcome. I'll add my two cents.

First of all, many of us have been where you are. We were familiar with lots and lots of stories of paranormal activity, and they came from trusted sources either personally known to us or reputable historic or cultural sources. We read articles in magazines that had what appeared to be great documentation. All the evidence pointed to a belief that paranormal activity was quite real. So, how did we get from there to our current state of die-hard non-believers?

I can't speak for anyone else, and I'm sure our stories are all somewhat different, but I will bet that my story has a lot in common with some of the other stories. So, I'll share mine, and see what you can take from it.

I grew up Christian (Roman Catholic, specifically), and did not seriously question my faith during the first couple of decades of my life. With that came a belief in miraculous activity, and also I might add a belief in supernatural influence that was not "miraculous" because it came from Satan and his minions. I also grew up in the 70s, when scientific knowledge was expanding, but also a time when there was a huge push to understand phenomena that had been reported, but not understood or widely accepted. This was the era when the acronym ESP started to be used a lot, and ESP and "psychic researchers" were all the rage. Mr. Spock came from a race where they had developed their mental powers, and many of the aliens encountered on Star Trek had psychic or other non-physical abilities, harnessing the power of their minds.

I gave up Christianity some time around age 21, but that left me wondering about all those miracles reported. The most "logical" explanation was that the miracles attributed to belief in Christ were probably just aspects of psychic powers inherent in every mind. Christianity was a way to channel those powers, but there were other ways as well. I was in with a bunch of neo-pagan friends at the time who reinforced those tentative beliefs that were replacing my rejected Christian ideas.

And I decided to look into it. I read. I studied. I talked. I even experimented, trying to move pendulums with my mind. (Well, the books said that was a good way to start, and who was I to argue with book publishers.) As I read more, I stumbled on The Skeptical Inquirer, and it had lots of accounts of events that could "only" be explained as paranormal, but in the pages of Skeptical Inquirer, there were other explanations, often accompanied by lots of information that hadn't been present in the magazine accounts I read.

Meanwhile, my pagan friends would recount stories of their magical interactions, and there I could see first hand how selective they were in their observations. One night I was riding with a fellow, and we were stopped at a light, and I was thinking, "This is a long light." When it turned green, he asked, "Did you notice how short that light was?", and explained that he had changed it with his mind. On matters of much greater and sometimes lesser significance, I could see cases where my perception and theirs just didn't match up, and where memories of events had been clearly altered to fit their beliefs.

Meanwhile, the pendulums didn't move. So, I set out to determine the Truth about the powers of the mind, but everywhere I turned I encountered sincerely held beliefs that could be demonstrated to be simply false. People would tell me about predictions that they had made that came true, but the impressive ones were always things I heard about after they became true. These same people would make predictions about things in the future, but those didn't seem to come true very often. All over the world, people of faith said their faith could make them work miracles, but they were all different faiths, and the "proof" was always pretty shaky. And, of course, there were some obvious con men (Uri Gellar et. al.) who had fervent followers, and yet it was obvious they were doing parlor tricks.

In short, I looked into things deeply, and paid attention to details, and found that the stories of paranormal activity sometimes could not be confirmed, and sometimes could be actively disproven, and yet the lack of evidence or even the counter-evidence was routinely dismissed by believers. There were no accounts of psychic phenomena that I could confirm, and a whole lot that I could disprove. Eventually, I concluded that all such accounts were bogus.

So, I would encourage you to do a similar investigation. Keep an open mind. Maybe you will reach a different conclusion. In the case of your aunt's anecdotes, are there any times when she predicts things that didn't happen? In the case of the hard to explain predictions, did you hear about them before the predicted event, or after? Are they similar to other stories you heard from other people, but whom you don't trust for some reason? If that's the case, what makes the people you know more trustworthy? Do they tend to be very stable, reasonable, people, or are they prone to flights of fancy in other parts of their life? (Aside, don't confuse reasonable with "nice" or "good".)

As for your specific anecdotes, there are all sorts of possible explanations, but it's hard to know exactly which one fits with all the information. There's no way you can provide us with enough detail to be sure which one is correct.
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Old 4th September 2019, 07:20 AM   #9
eleanor
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Originally Posted by Axxman300 View Post
Nothing wrong with a good set of family ghost stories as long as nobody insists they're proof of anything.
The trouble is, my family insists that they're proof of an afterlife, existence of a soul and that Christianity is true. They are convinced, that when someone dies, they give a "sign" - as in those situations. I found out that it's not an uncommon belief, many people associate this signs with request for a prayer (in order to get out of the purgatory). And I must admit that it's hard not to believe them since sometimes paranormal explanation seems more rational.
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Old 4th September 2019, 11:11 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by eleanor View Post
The trouble is, my family insists that they're proof of an afterlife, existence of a soul and that Christianity is true. They are convinced, that when someone dies, they give a "sign" - as in those situations. I found out that it's not an uncommon belief, many people associate this signs with request for a prayer (in order to get out of the purgatory). And I must admit that it's hard not to believe them since sometimes paranormal explanation seems more rational.
How so?
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Old 4th September 2019, 11:14 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by eleanor View Post
Hello, I'm new here. I've recently started being more skeptical but every time I convince myself that ghosts don't exist, I remember lots of strange and inexplicable situations that happened to members of my family or something that I read, heard somewhere etc...
Here's a tip about that: just because you can't explain it doesn't mean that any old explanation is correct by default. "I don't know" is a perfectly good answer.

And here's a complimentary second tip: when something seems more likely, or fits with your worldview or beliefs, or just feels right, you should doubt it even more, because those are where your ability to think rationally is most impaired.

Quote:
And I must admit that it's hard not to believe them since sometimes paranormal explanation seems more rational.
Here's the thing, though, using magic or the impossible to explain something you don't understand is NOT rational. It's intellectually lazy (and it's not an insult. We all have that tendency.)
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Old 30th December 2019, 02:24 PM   #12
eleanor
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Thank you all for your answers. I'm sorry I haven't replied earlier, but I've been really busy at the uni.

You're right, I should've given you more details. Situation which is the hardest to explain is second one. I've talked about it with my family for a very long time, and here's what I learned (apart from the fact that they all are convinced that it was a ghost and nothing seems to change their mind:

It was about 11 am. Old house, one floor, attic and cellar. 2 rooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. Big, heavy and creaky front door which lead to a corridor. The floor was also very creaky. Outside the house a big yard and a fence with a gate. No houses near, since the village is quite small and few people live there. No animals. It was a cold, snowy winter.
4 people were sitting in the kitchen and talking, one was in another room. Suddenly they heard the front door open, 5 footsteps and then knocking to the kitchen door. They didn't hear footsteps leading back and closing of the front door. And it couldn't be unheard because as I mentiond the floor as well as the door were very creaky and old. And the knocking was so loud and characteristic that even the person who was in another room came to ask who it was. Apparently no one. There wasn't anyone behind the door. They checked in the cellar and attic. No one outside and they'd see a person through the window if someone was there. What's more, there wasn't any footprints on the snow nor wet marks on the floor. And the front door was closed. They found it very strange at first because they couldn't find any explanation to this. But later that day they got to know that one uncle died around 11 am, so it was exactly when this strange situation occured. They assumed that it must've been a ghost - this uncle, when died, wanted to say goodbye by knocking to this door. And it is a common belief in my family and generaly in Poland, that when someone dies they want to inform the family through some paranormal way. I must say that now I don't have a good explanation of this event and I don't feel good about it. I know that "I don't know" is OK, but I feel a big discomfort and a bit of fear that my family's right. Which isn't anything rational, I'm aware of that, but still...

When it comes to first situation, I assumed it could've been hypnagogic hallucinations, but of course my mom doesn't agree with that. And I must admit that the coincidence was very strange.

Third one: I still don't have an explanation for this "prophetic" dream where there was an exact date of death of someone. I mean, she didn't lie because she told about this straight after the dream and then no one believed her. And boom, she was right. The only thing possible here is a coincidence. But it seems that these strange coincidences happen very often in my family.
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Old 30th December 2019, 02:44 PM   #13
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Between third-party accounts, the limits of human memory, pareidolia, and confirmation bias, I don't think any of these anecdotes are sufficiently "bunked" to be worth debunking.
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Old 30th December 2019, 02:49 PM   #14
eleanor
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Yeah, I see your point of view, but when 5 people claim that they experienced something extraordinary what they remember very well because it scared them to death, it's really hard to keep being skeptical, in my case at least :/
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Old 30th December 2019, 03:07 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by eleanor View Post
Yeah, I see your point of view, but when 5 people claim that they experienced something extraordinary what they remember very well because it scared them to death, it's really hard to keep being skeptical, in my case at least :/
Five people? As far as I can tell, it's down to your mom and her sister. Maybe they just like to tell these kinds of stories? If a few family members have a history of telling ghost stories, the stories don't become any more likely to be true just because there's a lot of them.

Also, fear and memory aren't actually correlated.

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Old 30th December 2019, 03:18 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Five people? As far as I can tell, it's down to your mom and her sister. Maybe they just like to tell these kinds of stories? If a few family members have a history of telling ghost stories, the stories don't become any more likely to be true just because there's a lot of them.

Also, fear and memory aren't actually correlated.
My mom and her sister are the ones who I have contact with everyday so we talked about it more often. But another 3, also my mom's sisters, confirm this version. Well, no, it's not that they like telling these kind of things, they just told me what happened and I argue with them that it wasn't paranormal. But I'm not entirely convinced myself. And a few members experienced it at the same time and they all remember it the same way. It's not that they heard that their friend's cousin's boyfriend saw something, it's my closest family so I don't think they added sth to the story.
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Old 30th December 2019, 03:28 PM   #17
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I think there are too many things happening to make sense of it.

First of all, if the people had certain beliefs before the events, they may well have made more of them. The old adage that to a hammer everything looks like a nail might apply here. If you expect to hear footsteps, the sounds you hear will be footsteps. If when poorly stacked cutlery falls within the basket, you presume it must have fallen out, you hear it falling out.

Second, many fairly strange occurrences can happen without a strange cause, and if you're disinclined to look deep you may never figure them out. Sometimes you never will. But if you are satisfied that that noise is a footstep, you'll never look hard anyway.

Third, where more than one person is involved, objectivity disappears as soon as they compare notes. What we heard or saw, and what someone else interprets, become mixed and can never be un-mixed. That can apply to real things as well as to imagined ones, but suggestion is too powerful to ignore.

Fourth, prophesies can never be well evaluated until you know not only the amount of knowledge a person has, but how many wrong ones go unreported.

There will always be coincidences and some of them can be uncanny. Your horoscope will be wrong for decades, but every once in a blue moon it will be spot on, and that's the one you'll remember. Your chances of winning the lottery are negligible, but every week or so someone wins it, and to them it's a big deal, the one they'll always remember.

You'll never be able either to determine what really happened, or to disabuse others of their notions at this point.

I live in a creaky old farmhouse, and if I were so inclined I'd hear ghosts and floor walkers and doors all the time. The wind can catch a door, blow it open and then shut again. Floors creak, beams adjust with a bang, slates play tunes like a xylophone, boots fall off of shelves, ducts pop, pots readjust themselves in the drying rack, and at night, tiny mice become giant creatures, the hollow ceilings curling courts.
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Old 30th December 2019, 05:28 PM   #18
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There are many people who have a romanticized idea of having so-called paranormal powers. They are people who thrive on feeling they are somehow "special" if they have "abilities". They are also the people who exaggerate their experiences.
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Old 31st December 2019, 04:30 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by eleanor View Post
My mom and her sister are the ones who I have contact with everyday so we talked about it more often. But another 3, also my mom's sisters, confirm this version. Well, no, it's not that they like telling these kind of things, they just told me what happened and I argue with them that it wasn't paranormal. But I'm not entirely convinced myself. And a few members experienced it at the same time and they all remember it the same way. It's not that they heard that their friend's cousin's boyfriend saw something, it's my closest family so I don't think they added sth to the story.
Our memories aren't stored as raw sense data, what we retain is filtered through our perception and biases and saved in that form. Moreover, there is evidence that we it's stored in symbolic form that we reconstruct when we recall the event and resave based on that reconstructed version meaning that certain details either right or wrong become deeply entrenched parts of the narrative and actually part of the narrative, if a group of people talk amoung themselves about a shared experience they will synchronise their accounts and can incorporate incorrect details into their memory of events based on other people's accounts. In addition when you argue with your mother and sister, it's human nature for them to embellish the story to counter your disbelief and this too will become part of their memory for the same reason. Human memories are incredibly malleable which is why things like interviewing witnesses separately and getting details written down asap are so important when witness testimony is being relied on. (Just to be clear I'm not suggesting deliberate lies or animosity on any part here, just the way that memories and storytelling work in the human species)
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Old 31st December 2019, 06:16 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by eleanor View Post
The trouble is, my family insists that they're proof of an afterlife, existence of a soul and that Christianity is true. They are convinced, that when someone dies, they give a "sign" - as in those situations. I found out that it's not an uncommon belief, many people associate this signs with request for a prayer (in order to get out of the purgatory). And I must admit that it's hard not to believe them since sometimes paranormal explanation seems more rational.
Let's step back for a moment and assume the first two assumptions are true-that they are proof of an afterlife and the existence of a soul. How can you then make the leap that Christianity is true? Unless the ghost who visited you was Jesus Christ himself, that should tell you right there that your family are indeed leaning on confirmation bias. They took an event/events, and they tell the stories in such a way to make them fit with the view of the world they adhere to.

Next time they say something like, "It's proof of Christianity", ask them the following:

-Is it the eastern or western version?
-Which branch? Catholicism, Protestantism, Eastern Orthodoxy, Anglicanism, Oriental Orthodoxy, or Assyrians?
-Out of those, which of the 60 or so denominations are we referring to?

Saying it's "Christianity" is a bit like someone saying they have "a cure for cancer." There's a ton of different types of cancer, and they won't all have the same cure.
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Old 5th January 2020, 09:52 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by eleanor View Post
My mom and her sister are the ones who I have contact with everyday so we talked about it more often. But another 3, also my mom's sisters, confirm this version. Well, no, it's not that they like telling these kind of things, they just told me what happened and I argue with them that it wasn't paranormal. But I'm not entirely convinced myself. And a few members experienced it at the same time and they all remember it the same way. It's not that they heard that their friend's cousin's boyfriend saw something, it's my closest family so I don't think they added sth to the story.
See this is the memory thing happening. They have told each other and other people these things many times, and their stories have become correlated, so each absolutely remembers it in the same way. But I absolutely guarantee that it did not happen the way they remember it. Because memory doesn't work the way most people think it does.
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Old 5th January 2020, 11:34 PM   #22
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Even if the memories aren't shared, when we tell them we tend to make stories out of them, and the stories become the memories.

When I was little, we did a lot of traveling and saw many interesting things, living in France for a year, and although I was very young I remembered a lot of the experience, and greatly enjoyed recollecting it, since it was quite exciting to be touring in Europe not long after WWII. But at some point a few years later, when I was something around 8 or 10, I recall suddenly realizing that once I'd remembered something once, I was ever after remembering the stories. It was a flash of insight that has stayed with me and helped me, I think, to remain skeptical. We can try to stay honest and true and accurate, but there's no getting around the fact that we risk losing detail and adding our own ideas to a memory every time it's replicated. We cannot remember every moment of our lives. We pick out things that seem to have the most meaning for us. The very act of deciding what to remember and how to tell it is selective.
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Old 5th January 2020, 11:44 PM   #23
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That's right - memory is less like a recording that you play back, and more like a story that you retell yourself.
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Old 6th January 2020, 02:49 AM   #24
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The great philosopher and unnatural scientist Pratchett summed it up well in renaming us Pan Narrans, the story telling ape.
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Old 6th January 2020, 04:14 PM   #25
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@ eleanor

I will tell you a ghost story:

One day when the family were gathered after the death of the patriarch he appeared before all of them.


"Hello" he said "Here I am come to talk with you and tell you things are just fine in the world beyond death."

"Wow" said a grandson "Hello granddad and great to see you."

"Hi Pop" said a daughter "You look great and much younger than you were alive."

"That's the way things are in this world" said the ghost. "You are in your prime."*

And so on and so on. .........



Now have you ever heard a story a story like that Eleanor?

No, of course not. All we get are stories of fleeting glimpses, doors shutting, things falling, whiffs of perfume, and so on. So why is that so?

The ghosts seem to have the ability to make noise and scent, move objects, and give fleeting glimpses, but not a full blown presentation. Don't you wonder about this perhaps?


* Curtesy of Scorpion from another thread who has a boundless knowledge of such things.
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Old 6th January 2020, 04:31 PM   #26
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I've never seem 'boundless' used as a euphemism before.
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Old 6th January 2020, 04:51 PM   #27
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I know, it's really annoying that those ghosts can toss books around and make lights go on and off but they can't even turn off the coffee pot.
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Old 6th January 2020, 05:04 PM   #28
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Thinking about family ghost stories always reminds me of a game I played as a child. It was called Telegraph. Several kids sat in a circle. The leader whispered a secret to the person on the left, and each person was to repeat in a whisper the same secret around the circle.

Finally, the last person was to stand up and repeat the secret. It was never the way it had started. It had been embellished, changed, more dramatic. And I believe that this is similar to family ghost stories as they are told again and again.
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Old 6th January 2020, 05:34 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
Thinking about family ghost stories always reminds me of a game I played as a child. It was called Telegraph. Several kids sat in a circle. The leader whispered a secret to the person on the left, and each person was to repeat in a whisper the same secret around the circle.

Finally, the last person was to stand up and repeat the secret. It was never the way it had started. It had been embellished, changed, more dramatic. And I believe that this is similar to family ghost stories as they are told again and again.
Exactly. This happens to your own memories too. They're told and retold over and over in your mind until your own personal mind-game of Telegraph happens.
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Old 6th January 2020, 06:51 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by wasapi View Post
Thinking about family ghost stories always reminds me of a game I played as a child. It was called Telegraph. Several kids sat in a circle. The leader whispered a secret to the person on the left, and each person was to repeat in a whisper the same secret around the circle.

Finally, the last person was to stand up and repeat the secret. It was never the way it had started. It had been embellished, changed, more dramatic. And I believe that this is similar to family ghost stories as they are told again and again.
Geez, you must be ancient. By the time I was a kid we called it "telephone."
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Old 6th January 2020, 07:04 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Geez, you must be ancient. By the time I was a kid we called it "telephone."

My friends and I called it "beating on hollow logs with sticks."
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Old 6th January 2020, 07:12 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Geez, you must be ancient. By the time I was a kid we called it "telephone."
I've heard it called both, interchangably. But I'm definitely ancient.
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Old 6th January 2020, 08:06 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
I've heard it called both, interchangably. But I'm definitely ancient.
Not as ancient as me Grasshopper...

... we called it Chinese whispers.
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Old 6th January 2020, 08:08 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by novaphile View Post
Not as ancient as me Grasshopper...

... we called it Chinese whispers.
That's what it was when I was a kid.
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Old 6th January 2020, 08:28 PM   #35
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Fish story.

Well, an eel story actually. When I was in high school I was fishing in a lake in northern Maine one fine summer day. I hooked a big one! It took a bit to get it into the boat and to my astonishment, it wasn't a fish but an eel. I didn't know about the life cycles of eels then so was mighty surprised. Well, I took it back to our cabin and cleaned (not easy!) and cooked it. In the following years I would often tell my eel story and to this day have a memory of it being about five feet long. But about ten years ago I was going through some old photographs and found one my dad had taken of me holding the eel. Well, you know the end of the story. The eel was about 18 inches at most.
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Old 6th January 2020, 09:59 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by arthwollipot View Post
That's right - memory is less like a recording that you play back, and more like a story that you retell yourself.
That's an incredibly eloquent way of summarizing the discussion. thank you.
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Old 6th January 2020, 10:29 PM   #37
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I have many personal ghost stories. But the fact that I experienced them first-hand doesn't make them real, or proof. It means things happened which I either perceived wrong or simply do not understand. This look a long time to except, but today I am aware that there are things I don't understand and thus the true explanation is out of my intellectual grasp.

And remembering things wrong is common, a fact I'm reminded of ever time I have to re-watch security camera footage where details are different than the ones in my head.
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Old 6th January 2020, 10:39 PM   #38
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Post 1: Here's a strange thing I found that I'm trying to debunk.

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