Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Ghost or Spirit?

There is a current trend attempting to differentiate 'ghost' from 'spirit'.

Why?

It seems to be at least partly based on the idea that 'ghost' has become a Hollywood term, and serious investigators should no longer use it. So, even the paranormal is not immune to the Orwellian newspeak of the politically correct brain-cell-sharing crowd.

To paraphrase Shakespeare: A corpse by any other name is just as dead.

Some are now using 'ghost' to refer to visible spectres, and 'spirit' for invisible ones. Well guess what? They're all invisible most of the time. Some are visible some of the time, and not necessarily to everyone at once. So if I see someone, and you don't, what term do we use? Ghirit? Spost? Oh, I really shouldn't give these people ideas.

Ghosts are dead people. Spirits are dead people. They are the same thing, and always have been. Stop arguing over semantics and concentrate on looking for proof that there are dead people among us. Changing the terminology does not constitute proof, it does not imply a 'better scientific approach', and it will not affect a sceptic's view of the paranormal. If you want to mess around with words and definitions, become a politician.

This kind of nonsense achieves nothing more than further division of paranormal groups into 'we're right, you're wrong' cliques. Sceptics love this, because if we don't agree amongst ourselves then they don't have to fight us all. A sceptic can pick on one clique and all the other cliques will side with him against the 'heretics in our midst'.

Paranormal investigation is already more subdivided than Christianity. We have no idea which clique is right, because nobody has absolute proof of an afterlife. It must be obvious that such proof is more likely to be found if paranormal groups work as a coherent team rather than competitive sects.

There are some methods of investigation I don't agree with, such as the use of infrared thermometers and motion sensors, and the reliance on overly sensitive EMF meters. I don't believe the orbs photographed by digital cameras are real. I will, however, look at evidence that could prove me wrong. So far I haven't seen any but I'll still look. I have, for example, recently changed my mind about the use of digital cameras (but not about orbs).

Stop playing with words. Concentrate on your work. That might get us somewhere.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

At the risk of stirring the pot...

I thought a ghost was an earthbound spirit as opposed to a spirit that is not earthbound - an occasional visitor, if you will. And yes, I have believed this since childhood - long before the TV show 'Ghost Whisperer' which defines the terms similarly.

Romulus Crowe said...

I opened the pot with the intention of stirring ;)
That's what pots are for.

I've seen definitions such as
ghost= 'replay' type phenomena,
spirit= actual dead person capable of interaction.

I've seen folk claim that the term 'ghost' is disrespectful, that it conjures images of sheet-covered Hollywood spooks, that nobody will take you seriously if you say 'ghost'. Personally, I will find the term 'entity' insulting when I'm dead. I hope I have the ability to throw heavy objects.

I've been a sceptic. One of the hardest, and for a long time. I can tell you that it doesn't matter a damn whether you say ghost, spirit, spectre, disembodied astral soul-like entity or whatever ultraspecific term you want to use.

No hard-nosed sceptic is going to take it seriously. Ever. Not until you can slam down evidence on the table that no sceptic can find even the tiniest hole in.

When these people say 'you won't be taken seriously', they mean that any paranormal group who doesn't agree with their own made-up definitions of spiritual heirarchy must be wrong.

There might indeed be a spiritual heirarchy. I don't know, and neither does anyone alive. Whether there are ranks, and names for those ranks, we don't know.

The point I wanted to make is that these 'I'm right, you're wrong' cliques are just stupid. All they achieve is division between paranormal groups. The result is that any group finding a shred of evidence has to contend not only with the sceptics, but with ridicule from other paranormal groups. 'We can't possibly endorse the work of someone who doesn't use [insert gadget] or who refers to the corporeally-challenged as [insert term]'.

I just think we'd all progress a hell of a lot faster if we stop arguing amongst ourselves. Especially over pointless things like which names are right.

Anonymous said...

Where did this come from? Is this about something I said? Well, pfffft :P on you. (wink)

I'll stir the pot further and say I have a tendency to agree with anonymous. Poltergeists and some ghosts scare the crap out of me. I get the cold chills, the hair standing up, and the sudden urge to run away. Others, however, give me a feeling of warmth like the first warm day in spring, and a sense of love, comfort, and protection.

Now that I've said that, maybe you're right, Rom. Maybe it's not where they reside, but who they were before they died. I really believe we maintain our personalities after we're gone. Maybe that's what we think of as different?

Romulus Crowe said...

No, it's not directed at anyone in particular - and certainly not you (you've taken enough abuse from other quarters recently).

I think you've misread - it's not about good and bad, but whether there is any merit in differentiating terms like 'ghost' and 'spirit', and whether it's worth people getting quite so rigid in their definitions.

Just something I've noticed emerging lately.

I don't dispute definitions such as 'good' or 'bad' or terms like 'poltergeist', which refers to a specific kind of haunting.

It's this attempt to define indefinable terms that's bugging me. Ghost, spirit, spectre, spook, whatever, are generic terms. Some investigators will say 'ghost', others will say 'spirit', others prefer (shudder) 'entity'. They all refer to the same thing.

Poltergeist is a specific term for a haunting, generally malicious, which includes telekinesis. There are other specific terms for particular forms of haunting, but the ghost-spirit-etc all refer to dead people. Terms like nisse, merrow, yunwi djunsti, golab or harab-serapel, and many others, do not.

Whether they're good or bad, dead people are still ghosts/spirits or whatever term you want to use.

Most ghosts would prefer us to use their names.

heyjude said...

I always thought, if I actually thought about it, that ghost referred to the earthbound emanations fro a deceased who is still earthbound for some reason and it wouldn't become a spirit until released to move on to its final destination - direction depending on whether angelic spirit or evil spirit.
But what do I know - never been in any of those realms myself so haven't seen the rule book!

Anonymous said...

You amaze me with the little insights that just don't occur to me (or most people, apparently), like just calling them by their names. You mean their earthly names, right? It seems so obvious, but we all overlook it. I really enjoyed those insights in your book!

Y'all, if you haven't read Rom's book, you really should!

Oh, and Rom, my favorite TV show begins its new season tonight (Medium). I know how you feel about psychics, but it's not like that. And this one is going to be similar to the subject of my novel, so I'm not missing it! Wish you were in the States, so you could see it, too.

Romulus Crowe said...

I think that show is on some satellite channels in the UK, although we're probably a series or two behind you. I'll look out for it.

Jude - we don't even know if there is a rule book, never mind what it says!

heyjude said...

too true.

no tv for me so I'll have to rely on what you two say about that show.

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