Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why I don't believe

Paranomal romance is hot stuff in the publishing world (and I don't mean science fiction romance, although that genre has been unfortunately lumped into the paranormal category). While vampires and werewolves still seem to be the hottest, there are quite a few ghosts in the mix. For me, a ghost as hero or heroine will never be anything other than creepy, and by that I mean too creepy to overcome whatever warm & fuzzies the romance angle of the story is attempting to generate. But plenty of people evidently disagree.

I'm pretty sure you don't have to believe in ghosts to enjoy a ghostly romance, but the fact is that twenty-seven percent of Americans do believe in ghosts (disproportionately women and young people). The figure is even higher for Brits. I can't find a recent figure for Aussies (MCP says "Why don't you ask your spirit guide?") but I suspect it's in the same ballpark. It would take more than one blog post to list all the many things I don't believe in, but today I'm here to state that I don't believe in ghosts.

While I don't find stories of hauntings and the like remotely interesting, I do find it interesting to look into why people interpret certain very real personal experiences as "I see dead people."

This article by Richard Wiseman from New Humanist (UK) summarizes some research (oh nose! science!) explaining why people may have ghostly experiences. A brief excerpt:
In one study [researcher James Houran] took over a disused theatre that had absolutely no reputation for being haunted, and asked two groups of people to walk around it and report how they felt. Houran told one group that the theatre was associated with lots of ghostly activity and the other that the building was simply undergoing renovation. Those in the “this building is haunted” group reported weird sensations all over the place, while the other group experienced nothing unusual.
Blame psychological suggestion. Even I've been known to scare myself silly, alone in a dark house. Mind you, I always attributed the strange noises to someone trying to break in, which I think you'll agree is about a million times scarier than a bit of wandering ectoplasm.


Sharon S. said...

I'm in your camp on this one. Love ghostly mystery stories like our buddie Terri Garey over at the Supernatural Underground, but they are just stories....

USNessie said...

I prefer to believe in possibilities than in unfounded theories. It is true that human eyes will try to find human features in everyday objects. This is where we got the man in the moon, and Grandfather Mountain.

I believe there are aspects of our world that we do not yet understand. But I'd prefer to go on the record describing a strange circumstance as "paranormal" instead of labeling it a ghost, or intra-dimensional traveller, or time-wandering spy!

MCPlanck said...

Why are ghosts always wearing clothes? Where do they get them from, anyway?

Sam_Wiser said...

I got hooked on ghost romances after watching the movie Ghost. Cheezy, yeah, but I think it can be sexy too. 'Course it's hard to get a happy ever after, which is a problem with vamp stories too unless the obvious happens... vamp hero turns the human heroine so they can have an eternal happy ever after.

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