senses working overtime

7/20/04

Tonight we watched the unthinkably twee “mockumentary” called The Buried Secret of M. Night Shyamalan, which was made bearable only by the presence of Ilana Levine, who offers an oasis of quality in any misbegotten production. The show did ask an interesting question at one point, however: “Which are you more inclined to believe in, ghosts – or aliens among us?”

To, me the question was sort of like asking if the tooth fairy or Santa Claus seemed more realistic (my answer: tooth fairy), but Tessa and I spent the better part of an hour formulating an answer.

I had to say that my head would answer “aliens,” because it wouldn’t require a complete paradigm shift in the afterlife. My heart, however, would answer “ghosts,” because of long-held mysticisms and all those stories everyone else has about plates and jewelry being rearranged while you sleep.

Here’s the thing about aliens. You’d have to be a pigheaded, grotesquely-exceptionalist moron not to believe there are other self-aware, sentient races of creatures out in space. Where it gets hard is believing they’ve come here, and have elaborately avoided detection. First, they’d have to have a reason to stay undetected (which seems counterintuitive given the distance they’d traveled) and the means to do so. Not impossible, mind you, but stunningly unlikely.

But ghosts are another matter. If we’re talking about the clich

0 thoughts on “senses working overtime

  1. Piglet

    Valid reasoning, up to a point.
    But the ghost of the chimp MD—, now HE cares about the vicissitudes of this petty world, and knows about righting wrongs.
    Disbelieve it at your peril.

    Reply
  2. Andy

    Doesn’t the first law of thermodynamics say that energy can neither be created or destroyed? Could the arguement be made that a person contains energy? If so, what happens to that energy when the person dies? Does it become a ghost?
    Or, maybe I should put the crack pipe down.

    Reply
  3. Emily

    But if ghosts (or energy forces) can rearrange dishes just to creep us out, why couldn’t they grab the butcher knife while they’re in the kitchen?

    Reply
  4. sean patrick

    To go a little bit further on the issue of aliens, Bill Bryson’s Short History of Nearly Everything goes a long way in explaining how complete and utterly impossible it would be for us to get out of our solar system and reach another star, so I am not so worried about them visiting us.

    Reply
  5. Mom

    Yes, Sean, but think if they DID and if they came to IOWA and have landed, say, just east of Pella.. I can hear the transmission back to the mother planet now.
    August 2075
    “Earth planet very hot. Earth creatures here suffering and leaking liquid from skin. And skin growing darker each rotation, especially when they linger in what they call cornfield, where they rip the corn children from the green creatures that live there. Hottest during middle of what they call “day”. Perhaps earth star beginning to go Nova. Very hot. ”
    November 2075
    “Wait… Earth Planet very cold. . . ”

    Reply
  6. Bud

    I haven’t read that book, but I seem to recall it would take our fastest “spaceship” something like 80,000 years to reach the Alpha Centauri system, right? And that would assume we managed somehow to work out about a dozen other currently-insurmountable technical hurdles.
    On the other hand… wasn’t *flying* generally considered technically impossible even 150 years ago? Not to mention manned spaceflight. It seems at least *possible* that some advanced civilization, somewhere in the cosmos could have figured out something to make it possible.
    And couldn’t they have learned, from bitter experience, not to announce their presence to primitives like us too loudly before sussing things out?
    The beauty of aliens and ghosts (and religions, for that matter) is that you can make a strong case for their unliklihood–but you can’t actually disprove them.
    Lots of stunningly unlikely things do turn out to be true.
    I want to believe, dammit! Although I don’t, quite. But I don’t necessarily disbelieve, either.
    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy”

    Reply

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