Saturday, March 29, 2008

San Antonio Ghost Children - DEBUNKED

I really enjoyed this video about the ghost children of San Antonio who regularly move stalled cars across a railroad crossing.

I've been puzzling on this one and am wondering if the car really was rolling uphill or if this is one of those places where people have trouble telling. I know, that seems incredible, but apparently sometimes people think they are going uphill, when they are really going downhill. This seems even worse that not knowing your left hand from your right.

I would like to see a better test than the one in this video, which would be to go out to this road when it's raining, or fill a big cooler with water and go pour it on the road and see which way it flows. Water flows downhill, so if it flows toward the railroad tracks, the car was actually going downhill, and the locals are using the story of the children to get a bigger thrill out of their illusory experience.

If it flows away from the tracks, the car was being pushed by some unknown force, and that would be very interesting. If anyone from San Antonio has observed the direction of the water flow on this road or is willing to check out my theory, please let me know how it turns out!

San Antonio Ghost Children Debunked

Thanks to an alert Paranormal Surroundings forum member for finding and pointing out the facts on this one to yours truly. It turns out the bus accident cited in the video happened in UTAH, not TEXAS, and most of the road leading to this crossing is a downhill grade, with just the last bit going up. It is long enough that most cars build up enough oomph to get across the tracks. Click on the link to get the details from the North Texas Skeptics.

They used a lot of technical equipment to get the grade of the road figured out. I still think my plan would have worked, less technical, but water always runs downhill, so not high on numbers, but pretty reliable data, nevertheless.

So, whatever happened to responsible journalism? Are we reduced to "human interest" stories where journalists look for an "entertaining" story, rather than looking for the truth about one? Are more news channels going to suggest that they report and we decide, rather than they research and let us know what they uncover? I addressed this sad issue in my blog: The Truth, the Whole Truth, and the Relatively Real Truth.

I don't believe in multiple choice truth. Our news outlets shouldn't be excused for passing off fabrications as truths because the reporters and producers are too lazy to look below the surface for it.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Argumentum Ad Ignorantiam

The best class I took in college was a junior level writing course in which our instructor insisted that we study how to develop logical arguments, including how to recognize fallacies, or all the ways in which people argue things without real evidence to back up their positions. This also includes all the ways in which we are apt to fall for an argument if we aren't thinking clearly. It was a tough course, because we couldn't write about anything without finding evidence to support our positions, but it was eye-opening and mind-stretching, and I'm still grateful to my teacher for being such a hard-nose about it.

I'm a mature woman now, but I work with teenagers, and often remind myself that I had just as hard a time as many of them with the whole logical reasoning thing. We are not born with this skill. It does not come naturally to most of us. We are emotional creatures. We have to learn how to set our own desires and prejudices aside when seeking the truth of things.

I had forgotten about the argument from ignorance fallacy until I ran across mention of it recently.

Argument from ignorance
From Wikipedia
The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam ("appeal to ignorance") or argument by lack of imagination, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false or is only false because it has not been proven true.

The argument from personal incredulity, also known as argument from personal belief or argument from personal conviction, refers to an assertion that because one personally finds a premise unlikely or unbelievable, the premise can be assumed not to be true, or alternately that another preferred but unproven premise is true instead.

Both arguments commonly share this structure: a person regards the lack of evidence for one view as constituting proof that another view is true.

You see this viewpoint held by some posters on forums and websites devoted to the paranormal, but not by everyone. I have to emphasize that. There are intelligent people out there who are interested in looking for evidence of the existence of ghosts, either due to personal experience or out of intellectual curiosity. They may be called skeptics, because they insist that there be reproducible impartial evidence that will stand up to independent scrutiny. It's a much tougher stance to take than that of some, who sadly believe that everything they see is evidence of ghosts.

Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk may have come to represent the opposites, emotion and reason, but to say they cannot exist in harmony would be . . . illogical. There is no rule that says turning on your heart means you have to turn off your brain, so it is likewise, not necessary to turn off the logic circuit in your mind to believe in the possibility that ghosts exist.

Here is a list of the fallacies . . . My, my it's quite a list. If you've never had the opportunity to become familiar with them, I suggest going to the website listed at the bottom of the list. On the website, you can click on each one and learn more. Just reading the titles, may elicit a nod of understanding. You don't have to be Mr. Spock to come to a logical conclusion, as Captain Kirk often "proved."

Ad Hominem
Ad Hominem Tu Quoque
Appeal to Authority
Appeal to Belief
Appeal to Common Practice
Appeal to Consequences of a Belief
Appeal to Emotion
Appeal to Fear
Appeal to Flattery
Appeal to Novelty
Appeal to Pity
Appeal to Popularity
Appeal to Ridicule
Appeal to Spite
Appeal to Tradition
Begging the Question
Biased Sample
Burden of Proof
Circumstantial Ad Hominem
Confusing Cause and Effect
False Dilemma
Gambler's Fallacy
Genetic Fallacy
Guilt By Association
Hasty Generalization
Ignoring A Common Cause
Middle Ground
Misleading Vividness
Personal Attack
Poisoning the Well
Post Hoc
Questionable Cause
Red Herring
Relativist Fallacy
Slippery Slope
Special Pleading
Straw Man
Two Wrongs Make A Right

The Nizkor Project

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Truth About Vampires

•Do vampires really exist?
•Certainly! They are all around us. We're surrounded by vampires.
•No kidding.
•Is that one over there?
•No, not the teenage girl in black with the multiple piercings and black lipstick hiding behind her bangs making pouty faces. She may be a vampire wannabe. But no matter how much she wishes otherwise, she's just another case of teenage angst.
•What about that young man in the long black coat?
•No, he's just watched the Matrix a few too many times, although I wouldn't go near him. No telling what he has under that coat!

The vampires with the long fangs who suck blood are nothing to be afraid of. Generally, they only come out at Halloween in search of candy. Statistically speaking, it is impossible for them even to exist. According to physicist, Costas Efthimiou of the University of Central Florida, based on the way movies and books portray vampires, if they ever existed, they would have replaced humans in short order. Since vampire vic­tims become vampires themselves and launch their own blood-thirsty attacks on the helpless humans around them, their victims would have become vampires, and their victims' victims, and their victims' victims' victims, and the number of vampires would have grown quickly in a process known as geometric progression.

“If vampires truly feed with even a tiny fraction of the frequency that they are depicted to in the movies and folklore, then the human race would have been wiped out quite quickly after the first vampire ap­peared.”

Efthimiou supposed that the first vampire arose Jan. 1, 1600, around the beginning of a century during which some of the first important modern writings on vampires appeared. The researchers estimated the global population at that time, based on historical records, as 537 million.

Assuming that the vampire fed once a month and the victim turned into a vampire, there would be two vampires on Feb. 1, four the next month, and eight the month after that. All humans would be vam­pires with in 2½ years. “Humans can not survive under these conditions, even if our population were doubling each month,” which is well beyond human capacities, Efthimiou said.
Math vs. vampires: vampires lose

The vampires you really ought to be worrying about are the ones commonly disguised as family and friends.

That's right, they can suck the life right out of you and not leave a mark.

How do you spot them? The vampires among you expect you to do much for them, with them doing little in return. They are the friend who constantly needs you to do them a favor, but always manages to avoid being the helping hand you need in return. They are the teenagers who feel comfortable bringing home D's on their report cards and still expect you to do their laundry and clothe them head to toe in the latest baggy pants style with matching tennis shoes at a cost greater than anything you have in your closet. They are the mother, mother-in-law, husband, teenager, boss, co-worker or (fill in the blank) ____________ you will never be able to please.

These monsters only exist if we enable them. You are NOT, I say this emphatically, allowed to put a stake through their hearts, except metaphorically. Stop caving in to them. Recognize them for the energy sucking vampires they really are, and step back and find ways to cut them off from their energy source. They may curse you, but they will also stop treating you as a victim.

Why am I writing about vampires on Easter Sunday?

Bunnies. The Easter Bunny. Bunnicula. Vampire bunny gargoyles. And last, but not least: Cherub, the Vampire with Bunny Slippers.

(Oh dear, my link doesn't work any more. I think they've moved the show to itunes as a podcast, but when I went there, I got the message that it wasn't available in the U.S. (and I'm in Germany, so what do they know!). If anyone knows where to go to watch these episodes, do so, and let me know.)

It looks like you may be able to watch them here, and there's a good review, too, but I miss the old site. It was so nicely organized (sigh). I have only myself to blame for not keeping up with the show.

In the meantime, enjoy Episode 1 from Season Two. 

Cherub - Ain't No Mildly Irritating Fu from Stephen McCandless on Vimeo.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Chocolate bunnies all around!

Off with their heads!

For more about women and their fascination with vampires, click The Sexy Vampire.

Read the 2009 Easter Vampire Blog Only a Vampire Can Love You Forever.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Don't call them Ghosts

The Spirit Children of Fontaine Manse:
A True Story

I read this book about four years ago. I was attracted by the title and the cover image of the child looking out of the window along with its being a true story.

Kathleen McConnell falls in love with the Louisville, Kentucky house known as the Fontaine Manse as a 19 year old. She often sees it while riding by on the city bus and frequently sees a child looking out of the window. She dreams of living, not just in any house, but of living in that house.

Many times I saw a little girl standing at the upstairs window. She always waved as the bus went by and I'd put the palm of my hand flat against the window. I knew she couldn't see me that far away, but I'd made the gesture to return her wave.

Eight years later, in 1971, married with children and a baby on the way, she and her husband buy the old house, which has been languishing on the market for years, at a bargain price. Shortly after moving in, she realizes that they are not alone and that she must make peace with the spirits of the house if they are to live together safely. She wisely begins to communicate respectfully to the spirits and gradually learns more about them, starting with the fact that there are three and they are all children.

As they come to know and trust her, they help her out by hiding her husband's gun which he keeps under the mattress (and which she is afraid her children might find) and watching out for baby Duncan, playing with him to keep him entertained and once even saving his life. While she is never able to ascertain the exact identities of the spirits, she is able to draw some conclusions about how they died and why they are still in her home. After becoming very ill and having a Near Death Experience, she is even able to see them.

There she was–the same little girl I had seen years ago. She was standing at the front window of Duncan's nursery, holding the rag doll from the old toy box in the attic, silently saying, "It's me, it's me . . . "

Kathleen McConnell is not a professional writer, but she tells a clear, coherent tale, and it is the story itself that is compelling and heart wrenching. I have to admit I sometimes skimmed over the details of her daily household routine to get to the action sequences.

After five years, the family sold the house, but before moving, Kathleen was finally ready and able to help her young spirits find resolution and peace. It may seem to the reader that she takes a long time to get to this point, but she was living in a different time, and information about how to help wayward spirits was not as readily available then as now. She also did not feel comfortable talking about her experiences with her children and her husband, her children because she did not want to scare them, her husband because he seemed skeptical. It was only after she wrote the book that her children admitted that each had his or her own story to tell about the ghost children of Fontaine Manse.

To learn more about this book and read an interview by the author, click on the link under this title.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Unfinished Business

I'm reading a very good book about reincarnation. I've been aware of reincarnation since I first read about Bridey Murphy in the 1980's. While the case of Bridey Murphy remains unproven, there have been many cases since her, and much research done in this area.

This research has found that most people do not remember lives as famous people, but as ordinary ones. The statistical percentage of people who have been regressed and taken through multiple lifetimes through out history match the statistical probabilities. Dr. Wambach (Living Past Lives) found that subjects reported lives split evenly between the two sexes (50.3% male and 49.7% female) across all time periods. Also, the spread of rich, poor, and middle class matched the percentages for the time periods described. You can read more about this book by clicking the title of this post.

There are interesting parallels between the reasons why some people spontaneously remember a past life or feel the need to visit a psychotherapist and experience hypnotic regression to help them deal with problems they have as a result of past lives and why some spirits linger on our plane as ghosts.

Researchers who have studied the narratives of people who have been regressed back to prior lives have found that the moment of death is critically important in whether they transition smoothly from one plane of existence to the next and whether they carry emotional baggage into their next life. The trauma of a painful death or one that caught the person by surprise may manifest in the next life as an irrational fear or avoidance of particular situation associated with the death. They may even experience physical ailments that disappear after they are regressed and allowed to remember their death. Some find comfort in completing unfinished business, such as saying goodbye to their loved ones or telling someone they are sorry for past wrongs. For these people, memory of the past brings healing.

But, these are the ones who, although surprised by death or suffering through a painful death, have moved on and are dealing with the issues of a new life, with its opportunities for growth and development. They, at least, are moving forward. Ghosts, on the other hand, are also frequently found to have been surprised by death, suffered a painful, perhaps brutal death, or have unfinished business that they will now never complete. But, they are not moving forward. They are stuck in place, out of phase with their lives then and life now. I find it sad that there are so many spirits who have lingered for many years unable or unwilling to move on.

There is, of course, no simple cure for this, but if you go on a ghost tour or investigation, keep in mind that the spirits you seek were once living, breathing personalities such as yourself and remember to keep the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And if you get the chance to help one of them pass over, I hope you will take it.

FYI: The photo is of my dad who died last April (07), and the flooding river is the mighty Missouri during the great flood of 1993.