Feb 16

Ad Lib

From a commercial for Proactiv:

“I put it on at night, and when I wake up in the morning, you don’t have acne any more.”

Now that’s some powerful medicine! This guy can use it and it heals someone else’s acne!

The idea that any English speaker would make such a mistake is discouraging. The fact that this is so common that it made it into a nationally (or even internationally) televised commercial is infuriating.

Language is one of the very few things that separates us from the beasts. We should take enough pride in ourselves to at least make the attempt to use it properly. To do any less exposes a lack of pride, a lack of any sense of self-worth, that is troubling, to say the least.

Our culture has become far too much based on an attitude of “whatever you do is right and good”. That is dangerous and destructive. There are, in fact, concrete rights and wrongs. This kind of slip-shod speaking is only a symptom of a much more wide-spread phenomenon.

Don’t you hope your airplane mechanic takes more pride in his or her work than this?

Feb 08

Spiritual Addiction

My wife and I share an addiction: we watch “Ghost Hunters” on SciFi religiously. If you’re not familiar with this show, it comes on Wednesday nights and features a group of ghost hunters (duh!).

This group is different from most of those haunting the airwaves these days. These guys (they call themselves TAPS for The Atlantic Paranormal Society) go into an investigation with a skeptical attitude and a lot of high-tech toys. They try to weed out anything that might be explainable by conventional means and see what’s left.

I like their attitude. I think that is the only way to investigate paranormal activity. Going in with the attitude that you’re going to believe everything you see and/or feel just leaves the door open to anybody with a lick of sense that might want to debunk your findings. Being skeptical is the only way to get close to the truth.

I am a firm believer in ghosts. I have witnessed a haunting, though never a full-bodied apparition. My brother lived in a haunted house for a while, and we sat up one night listening to footsteps going up and down the back stairs and a phantom rocking chair by the French doors upstairs. Yeah, I’m a believer.

When it comes to hard proof, however, there is no room for what you might have heard or seen, unless it is caught on tape or camera and cannot be explained by conventional means. What you see is not necessarily the reality you think it is.

TAPS has done some investigations that really stand out in this regard. In one, they caught some unidentified person trying to pull a fast one on them. Knowledgeable eyes reviewing the evidence in the cold light of skepticism caught the attempt and quickly threw out that “evidence”. In another, the noises the occupant of a house heard turned out to be their neighbors having…uh…fun.

On the other hand, they have caught some compelling evidence in favor of the paranormal. When they invesitigqted Eastern State Hospital in Washington State, they caught something on their infrared camera that looked suspiciously like a person where no person was.

In an investigation of a children’s store in California, they caught some EVPs that can only be called chilling. The store was supposedly haunted by a former long-time employee. I don’t remember her name now, but will call her Lila. One of the voices on the digital recorder said “there is no Lila here” in response to a team member’s request for a response from the ghost. Most chilling, though, was a very clear voice at one point saying “just leave us alone”. That made my blood run cold when I heard it. The most telling word was (and still is) “us”.

Other investigations have turned up other evidence of the paranormal, though the vast majority of them wind up with nothing. That’s OK with me. I realize that paranormal activity is, by definition, outside the normal view of reality and cannot always be made to perform on demand.

What are your views on paranormal phenomena? Do you want to believe? What evidence would it take for you to believe?