Saturday, June 30, 2007

Most Haunted Marathon on Discovery

The Discovery Channel is seriously losing credibility with me.
I recognize that there are things that occur in this world that we can not explain. I realize there are phenomena which need explaining. I also realize that, as an atheist, I would rather find a logical, rational explanation for someones "haunting" than accept that it's truly a spirit from another realm. I can admit that. And, oddly, I'm a big fan of the show Ghost Hunters on SciFi because, well, it's on SciFi and I don't really expect much from a channel that is self named the Science FICTION network. I watch the Ghost Hunter's with a nod toward their purported "debunking" skills.

This show, "Most Haunted", however, is a horse of a different color. Examples:
1. If shit starts flying off the wall above your bed, do you:
a) Contact a contractor to find out if there's some shotty workmanship or wiring in the wall?
b) Contact a local historian to find out if the previous homeowner performed back-door abortions?
c) Round up the family and glare at them accusingly until someone fesses up to messing with you?
d) Break out the Quija board?

I choose a and c.

2. If you hear disembodied voices coming from your kitchen sink, do you:
a) Call a plumber and have everything evaluated?
b) Set a tape recorder by the sink and then play it at half-speed to see if you can make intelligible sentences from the creaks and groans?
c) Immediately cease and desist the disposal of spicy foods into the drain because your house is getting pissed?
d) Contact a "psychic" and bust out the Quija board.

I go for a....and I might do option b for shits and giggles.

3. You take pictures at the family reunion and find "orbs" in all your prints, do you:
a) Contact Montel because Sylvia Browne is on that like Donkey Kong?
b) Get enlargements and see who the orbs concentrate around so that you can buy a life insurance policy, asap?
c) Break out the Quija board?
d) CLEAN YOUR FUCKING CAMERA?

Seriously, people. If stuff starts flying off my bookshelves and out of my cabinets, I'm probably going to look up the CalTech website. If there's been no earthquakes, I'm going to look out my window and see if a semi-truck is driving by or a meteor has landed in the front lawn...maybe check under the house for an old mine shaft. The last thing I'm going to do is call a priest and bust out with a Quija board made by the same company that made Twister.

If my kid's doll starts talking when it's not supposed to, I'm going to rip the batteries out of that mo-fo faster than a cheetah on a wounded gazelle. If it's still talking,...? I have absolutely no problem burning it.

If my kid starts talking to people that aren't there and those things are telling my child to kill me- my kids going to a psych ward. At the very least, that kid is getting some psychotherapy and a Thorazine drip. I'm not contacting a shaman or a medium. If one of the possums starts speaking in ancient Zulu, I'm taking his/her PBS and National Geographic away, pronto. I might call a priest, but I guarantee you I'd be doing it to mess with the priest first-and-foremost. *ideas forming*

Basically- here's what I don't get. Why don't ghosts haunt atheists? Is it that we don't routinely nail crucifixes above our bed? Is the ghost just hanging out in the attic going, "Fuuudge. If they don't believe in God, they're most definitely not going to believe in me. DAMNIT!"? Is it because we're so cynical and skeptical that the ghost feels like the bar is just set too high? Like the entity is going to be sitting at a spirit bar, knocking back a bottle of gin going, "These people, oy! I did the hideous, sulfuric stench thing and she just kicked the dog out of the house and made everyone check their shoes." The ghost ends up in a support group.

27 comments:

BlackSun said...

Very funny post!

Fiery Temptress said...

This reminds me of an Eddie Murphy bit, from Delirious, I believe.

"How come white people don't leave the house when it's haunted? If black people show up at their brand new house and they are looking around and everything is lovely and a voice says get out they tip the f&ck out the door. Why do white people stay? LEAVE!!!"

Yes, I know, it's a wretched paraphrase.

Chris said...

I know exactly what you mean, PM. I hate, HATE, getting back from school or work, sitting down on the recliner ready to zone out with some nice educational TV...only to find it's another one of those "documentaries" pandering to the psuedoscience groupies.

To me, it's even worse than finding astrology books (among other kind of non-scientific books) in the local book stores science section, which got to me a couple days ago. At least there, I can just move onto the next book. I used to rely on Discovery and, to a smaller extent, TLC for the more watchable shows. Now, it's more hit and miss, slowly becoming more and more miss.

I just hope it doesn't get as bad as the Travel Channel. Does anybody else remember when they had travel shows, other than ones that feel like long infomercials, about Las Vegas or the endless stream of "most haunted" shows? It's been so long, the memory is starting to fade for me.

John said...

What does this have to do with atheism?

I see that you've given up trying to defend abortion.

Questions I have for you if you will dare respond to them -----
1 Do u feel responsible for taking people to hell with you?
2 You say that there are things you don't know about but you don't think god might be something your pathetic brain can't understand?
3 What if your kids are scared of ghosts and evil? Do you tell them that you don't believe in those things so they are being stupid like you tell believers they are stupid?

Jon said...

Hi John,

#3.

When I was little I was scared of sleeping in the dark at night. My dad would reassure me by telling me his 'special friends' were watching over me.
I didn't do anything for me other than making me wonder what these 'special friends' were and where they hung out.
If I'd had an atheist dad who would have explained to me there was no reason to be scared since there was absolutely no evidence of any supernatural event ever having occured, I think it really would have helped me sleep much better.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

John, John, John... who said that this blog had to be all about atheism?

Questions I have for you if you will dare respond to them -----
Is this some sort of Junior High School sleepover game to you? :) Are you double-dog daring me?

1 Do u feel responsible for taking people to hell with you?
It's kind of hard to take people to a non-existant location. Do you feel responsible for taking people to the land of Guilt; county Repression; city of Bigotry?
Furthermore, no one is reading this, or commenting, against their will. I've not bribed anyone to accompany me on this journey of the mind.

2 You say that there are things you don't know about but you don't think god might be something your pathetic brain can't understand?
The possibility exists. I've never denied that I'm not omniscient. I'm also not trying to con people out of ten percent of their annual income or telling them I have the answer to all of their problems. Fortunatey, the onus for proving YOUR God's existance doesn't fall upon me. Saddle up the ponies, John. Please provide your proof for God.
3 What if your kids are scared of ghosts and evil? Do you tell them that you don't believe in those things so they are being stupid like you tell believers they are stupid?
I never tell my children they are stupid. What kind of parent would do that?
When my children are afraid, I try to help them identify the root of their fear. Once we've identified the root, I help them break it down and address the anxiety or problem head on. We change what we can and accept what we cannot. I help them devise a coping strategy or provide them with information that debunks the fears that are unreal. It also helps to find ways to laugh at the absurdity of your fears - especially with children. Example: monsters under the bed. P#2 was afraid, for about a week, that there was a monster under his bed. So, we armed him with a flashlight and told him that IF he could catch a monster, the monster was contractually obligated to tell him a joke or dance. Of course, there are no monsters and this was a ruse to get him to tell us all of the funny things he could make the imaginary monster do. Possumdaddy and I then spent the night in his room, joking with him about making the monster do the Macarena and Chicken Dance. In rapid time, he was over his fear.

My possums can get spooked. And, when that happens, we -as a family- try to help them debunk whatever is spooking them OR validate their concerns and help them mitigate their fears. Keeping a child in constant fear is a horrible, horrible way to raise a child. Religions bank on the fact that theist parents were raised in environments where real threats were secondary to imaginary threats. In my opinion, that's child abuse. Allowing your children to fret about some version of hell is a waste of time and it's emotional blackmail/manipulation. I'd much rather spend that time educating my kids about the very real, and very threatening, hazards of the world.

Cogito said...

Nice post! It's amazing how much one's approach to life dictates what one perceives. I was so saddened when I read a post on a message board by a mother who was completely immersed in supernatural beliefs. She had herself worked up because there were ghosts in her house, but the sad part was she was scaring the hell out of her kids by inculcating the belief in them. I really hope it was just regular perception glitches/dreams/suggestibility, and not actual hallucinations on her part. I know if I clearly saw some ethereal being, my first stop would be the doctor's office!

As for helping your kids through fears, of course I wouldn't tell my child she's stupid (HELLO, Strawman!). I'd tell her that there's no such thing as monsters & ghosts. Seems much more effective than spewing about supernatural creatures who are warring for your soul all the time, then trying to make little kids not afraid of that stuff. No use saying "God will protect you" when mundane events make it obvious that he doesn't protect innocent little children at all.

For some fun ghost-busting, check out Joe Nickell's work. He's got some great stories of finding normal explanations for "hauntings." Also, there's a neat story about a guy discovering that the "haunting" of a lab was due to extremely low frequency sound from a broken ventilation fan! (It's here ) Very cool.

Psychodiva said...

The 'best' docmentary I saw I was one about the DaVinci Code which was supposedly debunking the book while at the same time using the christian bible in comparison- using as a basis the bible as truth!

well- I managed to laugh and rant my way through that one and also shout at the TV a lot- its a great way of letting off steam lol

and are your stalkers getting less intelligent?

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I feel strangely compelled to comment, as if something were drawing me to type. You're up to your voodoo tricks again Miss PM.

Betsy said...

When I was a little girl, I was afraid of the dark. My room was an open space at the top of the stairs and my brothers would crawl up at night, making shadows with the nightlight my dad insisted on leaving on, and making spooky sounds. I was freaked on a regular basis. So, even though our church taught against them, I started imagining my "guardian angel" standing at the foot of my bed keeping watch over me. This worked until I realized it was all in my head. Plus it got kind of creepy the older I got! The imagination is a powerful thing; just as my fears were imaginary, so was my protection.

I agree with possummamma - focus on real threats and teach kids to deal with them. My son occasionally claims he's afraid of the monsters in the dark (Monsters Inc. really didn't help with that!) and I simply remind him that monsters aren't real; they are just pretend. That's all it takes.

Betsy said...

And, oh, yeah. PM isn't taking me to hell with her; I decided to go there myself before I found this site.

Saurian200 said...

John,

What does this have to do with atheism?

This is Possummoma's personal blog. It isn't limited to just topics about atheism, but to any topic she wants to talk about.

I see that you've given up trying to defend abortion.

That was several days ago. She has moved on to a new topic now. That's how blogs work. YOu don't spend all of your time on one discussion but move on to new ones in a day or two.

Questions I have for you if you will dare respond to them -----

You DARE her? Are you five years old or something? Possummomma regularly answers questions posed to her bey people in the comments sections so why do expect her not to answer yours?

1 Do u feel responsible for taking people to hell with you?

What is it with believer and the near sexual fetish they have for Hell? It never fails. When a believer gets into a discussion with an atheist, the believer invariably threatens the atheist with hell.

If the only thing you can do to support your beliefs is make threats, then your beliefs are utterly worthless.

2 You say that there are things you don't know about but you don't think god might be something your pathetic brain can't understand?

Possummomma, just like every other atheist I have ever met, does indeed recognize the possibility that a god exists.

There is a difference between saying, "I have no reason to believe in god." and, "No god can possibly exist. Atheists do recognize the possibility that a god COULD exist.

However, just because something COULD exist is not sufficient reson for believing that something DOES exist.

3 What if your kids are scared of ghosts and evil? Do you tell them that you don't believe in those things so they are being stupid like you tell believers they are stupid?

Are you really trying to say that you can;t tell the difference between a small child being scared of the dark and a network that bills itself a scientific doing marathons of shows on psudoscientific nonsense like hauntings?

Do you really expect anyone to treat those to situations as he same? If yes, why would you suggest something so ridiculous? If no, then why did you ask?

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Cogito,
That was a neat link! I love that the guy figured out "the haunting" by bringing in his epee' (I think that's how it's spelled?). The explanation makes total sense, too. Very, very cool.

Betsy
Your brother and my brother must've went to the same school of little sister scaring. :) Mine used to make scary noises through our shared heating vent and common wall.

When I was a kid, I had an incident that I still can't explain. But, even though it was spooky as hell, it would be wrong to label it paranormal. I don't know what it was and every explanation I've had, I was able to show that that wasn't it. So...since I no longer have access to the home and you can't turn back time, it's just going to remain an unsolved mystery of my childhood. :)

Donna's Daughter said...

P. Momma, I have been reading your blog for a few days now and I have really enjoyed myself, so thank you. You seem comfortable with Mormon terminology and you have mentioned a couple of times a visit to a Mormon temple. Did I miss an entry with this story? If I did please, someone, tell me where it is. If not, I would love to hear the story.

Atheist in a mini van. said...

You seem comfortable with Mormon terminology and you have mentioned a couple of times a visit to a Mormon temple. Did I miss an entry with this story? If I did please, someone, tell me where it is. If not, I would love to hear the story.

Oh, DD...I have several "saved drafts" of this tale. I've started writing it many, many times. The problem I keep running into is that everyone in the story is still alive and some are still in the LDS Church. I've tried changing names and what-not (in the drafts I've written), but it just never seems to convey the shock and weirdness I felt that day. Plus, if I name dates/years and locations, I *know* that a certain person who was integral in the obtaining of a recommend could be nailed. They're still a friend and, though I completely disagree with their choice of religion, I would never want them to be hurt. So...I'm working on it. I just need to be creative or post a disclaimer that says something like "names, dates, and locations, may have been changed." :)

Chakolate said...

We're not only unhauntable, we're blind as well. When was the last time *you* saw Jeezus etched in your toast?

Chakolate said...

When my play grandson was afraid to go to sleep because there were monsters there, I told him a long story all about how monsters are really wicked inside the dream, but once you wake up, you get out of the dream and the monster has to stay in it. So in your dream, flap your hands really hard, and you'll wake up. The dream with shrivel up and die and take the monster with it.

He did, and it did. :-)

That, combined with the observation that he never had any cuts or scratches or bruises on him from the monsters in his dreams, made him be rather contemptuous of those monsters.

Carter-Ann said...

excellent blog!

Mrs. Nosnhoj said...

Okay, I'm not a theist of any kind. I've got a teenage daughter who has reported odd happenings since she hit puberty. She never was too distressed by them so I have always just listened. I never tried to explain away her experience - she didn't need logical explanations, she just wanted me to listen. I also never told her that I didn't believe her. All those years I thought she had an overactive imagination.

Then one day we were in the kitchen having a normal conversation when a harmless, rubber coaster hit the wall right next to her. It was just as she described it. We both bust out laughing.

Now, we were both facing the direction of the wall it hit so did not see where it came from. I will never know the logical explanation. I'm just glad I actually witnessed at least half of what she had been explaining to me. And I'm glad we didn't react with hysterics but hysteria (the laughing kind!)

Change of subject, I also have a 5 yr old son who has no idea what God is. It just seemed too creepy to explain. He already is afraid of all kinds of things he can't see. He can decide for himself later what he wants to believe.

Stan said...

When things fly off the wall, you don't have to come directly to our web site. You can get the earthquake notice emailed to you. Just go to http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqcenter/ens and sign up. You can choose your own notification areas and magnitude thresholds.

Berlzebub said...

John @ #3:

Since a few others, including P-Momma, have taken apart your argument, I'm going to indulge myself, and do it the way I've always wanted to.

What does this have to do with atheism?

Not really much of anything. We atheists believe that it bruises Xian egos when we talk bad about things other than them. Thanks for helping us keep our faith.

I see that you've given up trying to defend abortion.

We don't have to. I'm sure that women come through blogs like this and see comments like yours. Then they think "Would my child grow up to be that stupid?" Then, they go out and buy a Plan B pill, or visit a OB/GYN it make sure that doesn't happen. I hope your very happy that you're doing more to support Pro-Choice than the Supreme Court did with Roe vs. Wade.

Questions I have for you if you will dare respond to them -----

Well, a few commenters here have, including P-Momma, and so will I. But I'm going to ask you a few questions, too, and I double dog dare you to answer mine. Of course, I realize you're probably a troll, and won't bother coming back to do anything of the sort. You probably went to church, on Sunday, to brag about putting an atheist in their place. However, we won't get into that, unless you have the balls to come back.

1 Do u feel responsible for taking people to hell with you?

Of course I do. Anytime a make a trip to hell I feel responsible for those I cram into the minivan with me. However, it doesn't happen often, and I usually take my daughter. You know, those cheap items are great when you feel compelled to by the token gift for that person you hardly know, or don't really like.

Now, for my question:
1) If God had an inferiority complex (i.e. didn't believe in himself), would he be considered an atheist?

2 You say that there are things you don't know about but you don't think god might be something your pathetic brain can't understand?

And your pathetic brain can? I'll tell you what, define God, and don't give me that "all seeing, all knowing" crap. Xians can't even make their own mind up about their imaginary friend. One minute he's omnipotent, and the next he's undefinable. If you can't explain him, don't expect us to care.

Now, for my next question:
2) From what I remember, from the ages of about 12 to 30, there's no record of Jesus' life. So, according to the Creationist contesting of the fossil record, does this mean Jesus didn't exist?

3 What if your kids are scared of ghosts and evil? Do you tell them that you don't believe in those things so they are being stupid like you tell believers they are stupid?

For cryin' out loud!! Are you completely stupid, or is it only a hobby you practice on a keyboard? What is this fixation with children that you Xians have? I guess teaching a child to think for themselves, and make their own decisions is a bad thing to you. We do not put "the fear of God" in our children, like you do. We explain to them that there are things that will scare them that are only their imagination, and things that should scare them that are real. In the first set is the Boogy Man, Ghosts, Clowns (okay, they aren't imaginary, but P-Momma will understand), and other things that can't truly hurt us. In the second set are rapists, murderers, "fire and brimstone" fundamentalist xians, and that three day old burrito that I ate, yesterday.

If I ever shook hands with someone who could walk through walls I might believe in ghosts, but more likely I'd get myself a medical and psychological evaluation.

As for evil I assume you're talking about the seemingly universal definition of someone of chronic ammoral behavior. In which case, it does exist. There have been many evil people to exist, from a few salespeople to dictators. So, yes, I will be telling my daughter to watch out for "evil" people. However, she won't be using a 4000+ year old book to define evil.

Now, for my question:
3) If your son were to hit you, would you have him put to death, or would you only kill him if he curses you?

Now, I eagerly await your answer to my questions, if you have the guts to.

Vincent said...

"If my kid's doll starts talking when it's not supposed to, I'm going to rip the batteries out of that mo-fo faster than a cheetah on a wounded gazelle. If it's still talking,...? I have absolutely no problem burning it. "

You should. I've always heard that burning plastic releases really nasty stuff in the air you should not be breathing.
Plus, you probably paid good money for that doll and should get a refund, which you probably can't get if you burn it.

Oh, and epee is spelled right, but the story said it was a foil. I suspect he might not have found his "ghost" if he'd had an epee. Maybe a saber, but an epee is heavier, with a structural v-shaped cross section and might not have started vibrating noticably. (Epee fencers call foils "wires" or "toothpicks" and those who use them are "wire weenies").


I really think after reading this that you would enjoy the Skeptic's Guide to the Universe.
Skeptics are debunkers of all things occult and pseudoscientific.
The Skeptics Guide is fun and funny.
http://www.theskepticsguide.org/

Riker said...

"...sitting at a spirit bar..."

Intentional or not, that was a delicious pun ;-)

Great post, PM!

Mrs Nosnhoj said...

C'mon, Stan, I live in New England.

Is there a Large Truck Converging With Pothole Monitoring website?

Oh, I probably would have heard that.

It didn't fly off the wall, it hit the wall.

And as I said I don't care from whence it came.

Ooops, I just realized you are only to provide a helpful link and not disinvite me from the site.

Sorry, should never type before I finish my first cup of coffee.

AlisonM said...

You know, I've had a number of "unexplainable" events in my life. It would be kind of cool if there really were ghosts, but even if there aren't, telling the stories without them is kind of dull. In retrospect, I've been able to eliminate a few of them as being by-products of an overactive imagination, so I don't tell those stories anymore. I'm much more discerning now about what is actually "unexplainable" now, too, and will watch these shows with the kids and explain some of the more laughable credulousness. A recent episode of Ghost Hunters had everyone in a tizzy because a toy started making noise by itself. Well, duh. It was piled in a bag with a bunch of other toys. We had toys in a toybox when the kids were younger, and the toys turning on by themselves was a regular occurrence - some had sensitive on/off buttons that would get pushed on by shifting toys, and some would get a little wonky as the batteries died down. The more they focused on this as paranormal activity, the more ridiculous it became. Yeah, maybe there's something going on that hasn't been explained yet, but it's never going to be explained or verfied by someone who thinks that every little thing is coming from beyond the grave.

Girdag said...

Occasionally, it becomes more disturbing once you know the explanation. When I was a kid, I used to think a tribe of little people lived in the roof, because I could hear them at night. Now I know it's an assortment of rats and mice, I do find it a little more awkward to get to sleep when I hear the footsteps.

Saurian200 said...

P-Momma,

Since someone brought up your aboirtion post in this comment thread I figure this is a good place to share this.

Snopes.com has finally weighed in on the "Give me a whole lotta money or I'll have an abortion. I swear I'll do it/" story. according to them it's all bull.

Here's the article.