Dancing with Shadows

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the paranormal.  This is not (precisely) a Halloween frame of mind, but more that I had a book series hit me over the head unannounced.  Which is getting ridiculous as at last count I’m something like 5 books behind.

However, since I also feel like there’s something missing from Witch’s Daughter (the gentleman who just said, “yes, an ebook edition on my kindle” gets points for enthusiasm and has points deducted for impatience) it befits me to get more background.  I’ve been reading on myth and magic, but also on criptids and ghosts and that sort of thing.  Because double duty on two books/series.

BUT here’s the thing — reading about it, one can’t help consider, not just suggestibility but… How do I put this?  The effect of the human mind on the surroundings.

I’ve always found ghost hunters singularly foolhardy.  I grew up in a village and we had a healthy respect for the uncanny.  There was no avoiding that it was around and that if you went around believing in it it would just start uncanning all over the place like nobody’s business, and then where would you be?

What I mean is that things did happen for which there were no logical explanations and sometimes there weren’t even illogical ones.  You just took it that weird stuff happened and rolled with it.

What you didn’t do was going out to meet the stuff half way, look for it, or generally invite it to come around.  Because if you did that… well, there is a reason you don’t invite vampires (which don’t exist) into the house (metaphorically speaking.)  Because if you invite this stuff into your mind, things spin out of control.

Perhaps it is that the world is at least half narrativium and that reality has a bad tendency to try to accommodate what people think it is.  Oh, not in the big things.  I don’t think people can actually levitate the Denver Mint.  And I don’t think we can turn normal human beings into Homus Sovieticus.  (Or even homos sovieticus, which are like homos anywhere else, only with more hammer and sickle. Which are weird things to take into a bedroom.  Which is why the Soviet Union was gay-unfriendly [It is entirely possible this writer is low on coffee.  Bear with me.])

What I mean is that the human mind has a way of imprinting on surroundings, and a way (perhaps not yet figured out) to make other people who have had no contact with you see what isn’t there.  Trust me, I make a living by this, but I make it honestly.  I admit I’m lying.

What concerns me is not so much house where murder happened, and there’s haunts.  I mean, perhaps there’s an after image or something, some type of energy yet unplumbed that will explain this.

It’s more…

I was reading about this road in Ohio where it is said that a bus full of school kids had a crash and all onboard died, and multiple people see the ghost bus.  Only, of course, it never happened.  Or consider all the Cry Baby Bridges (I know, I know, the one near you is the real one.  I KNOW, but really, trust me) which can’t possibly be real cry baby bridges. And yet people see it/hear it.

Yes, some of this is expectation, but there is something else, something that attaches to places that people expect things to attach to.

There are dimensions to the human imagination that we don’t fully understand.

So consider where I am, even before this research (and I figured this is one of my problems with fantasy — exposing my neck too far to the things out there.  Again, I grew up in a village.  We respect the uncanny.  And sometimes even the canny.)

To be a really good writer, a fiction writer has to believe his own creation to an extent.  We have to weave it with the threads of verisimilitude and invest it with belief.  And in a way we’re trifling with the uncanny.  We’re making the imaginary real.  We’re stepping into that half light, dancing in that limnear world, enticing the uncanny in.

After a while writers get a little odd.  I’m one of the saner ones (Stop laughing.  I have a garum-loaded watergun) because I don’t see or hear my characters, except at the back of my mind, but let me tell you, I felt quite relieved when I heard that Rex Stout too knew what Nero Wolfe was doing even when he wasn’t writing him.

Because it seems crazy that you can answer questions about imaginary people without pausing to think.

But it is my job: to invite the imaginary, the non-existent, the … shadowy in, so I can make others believe in it for the space of a minute.

It’s a dangerous job.  It explains some of the crazier behavior in my field.

And it’s why it’s important to keep your logical mind sharp and grounded.  Because otherwise, the vampires will come in.

346 responses to “Dancing with Shadows

  1. c4c

  2. Sorry. Simply NOT a fan of fantasy fiction involving werewolves, vampires or zombies. I won’t waste my money on them.

    • Okay. (Shrug.) I’ve written some, but it’s not my usual fare. That’s not what I’m researching though.
      And if you haven’t read Larry Correia’s, you are missing out.

  3. Jeff Duntemann

    I saw a spook light in the butt end of Indiana corn country once, back in 1971, and it put on quite a show. No, I have no idea what it was, but as best I could tell it moved faster than the speed of sound in absolute silence. It’s called Moody’s Ghost, and there’s a lot about it on the Web. Carol and I visited the site in 2005 but saw nothing.

  4. It is helpful to think that everything we experience in day-to-day life is a work of imagination. It’s all story. Is the narrative structure we see in the universe impressed on us by a universe that has a narrative structure, or is the origin of the narrative the human mind? Why is it that when people think of something, they think of it in terms of its beginning, middle, and end?
    No, that doesn’t mean that you can wish for things and make them true.
    Another way to look at hings is that the scientific materialists are right in that the supernatural is a holdover from evolution — fear of the dark, the belief that a dead person is still with us, somehow — but that this is a human projection on supernatural occurrences that we can only understand with the mental tools we have. People have long noticed that the supposed “little green men” from outer space have a lot of similarities to the elves, leprechauns, brownies, etc. of mythology.

    • …except most of them seem to be “grey” these days…not “green.” Just getting ripe, maybe?

    • A favorite cosmogony of mine is that out of the seething caldron of potentia those spacetimes that have a consciousness in them somewhere to tickle their wavefunctions into collapsing are somehow special. In that they, you know, exist.
      Some may find this a tortured attempt to deny G*d and frame a metamaterialistic multiverse that doesn’t include Him. But where did that caldron come from?

      • If we truly have free will, then simply choosing to do something like picking up a stone (or leaving it be) is a supernatural occurrence. Action in the physical world (you can measure the energy involved in picking up a stone with high school physics), taking place without a physical cause. Choosing whether or not to pick up that stone is as supernatural as the appearance of a ghost in a ruined house, or the lights of your house turning off and on by themselves.
        pappad says that he does not like fantasy with werewolves, vampires, or zombies. If we have free will, even pappad is as supernatural as any werewolf, vampire, or zombies. Let us hope that pappad uses his supernatural powers for good, and not for evil!

        • Only if you define natural = material. I don’t think the mind (including will) — since it is a natural part of human beings — qualifies as supernatural, though I agree it is beyond matter / energy alone.

  5. Martin L. Shoemaker

    The best way to make the readers believe it is to make yourself believe it.

  6. (Stop laughing. I have a garum-loaded watergun)

    Sounds fishy to me.

  7. Given what we don’t understand about quantum physics, the idea that we cannot affect reality seems a bit presumptuous. Even more presumptuous is the idea our understanding of the universe is materially complete.

    Years ago, in Freshman Anthropology we discussed the fact of visitors to a particular Amazonian tribe, on sharing their hallucinogenic snuff experiencing the same types of visions as did the native users. Possibly it is a matter of the same brain centers being stimulated, possibly it is that the snuff effected similar changes in users. If it, for example, inflicted a slight shift of vision into the infrared it seems possible heat waves might become visible and interpreted as air spirits.

    SF writers have explored this concept many times, perhaps none more than Henry Kuttner in Mimsy Were the Borogroves, but ample evidence exists to suggest that interpretation of sensory stimuli is a learned activity, and if we learned a different manner of interpretation who knows what we might perceive?

    • Another possibility (or extension of that one). There are many things that are not ‘normally’ perceptible to humans. Quantum physics tries to study a lot of them (a lot of them are stubbornly resistant to study). It is possible that human minds interact with the universe on a subtle quantum level. What would it look like to see things on that kind of a level and how would a human interpret such things?

      To those of us of a religious persuasion… what would it be like to reliably, consistently see the spiritual (demons, angels, etc.) Would people who could do so ever open their mouths about it? (Probably not. That way lies those jackets that make you hug yourself, and most of us don’t like ourselves THAT much.)

      • And perhaps those who CAN see the spiritual also have a certain awareness and resistance that other people lack. In which case, it would be a lot better not to point out the uncanny, aside from the occasional vague hint, like in folktales “pretend to drop your thimble and take a look at his feet.” (Which in that particular story are cloven hoofs.”

        • I agree with this– TX Red.

        • Nothing wrong with hoofs, cloven or otherwise.

        • Who’d believe you if you got specific? Christians tend to lean towards the devil as an ‘out there’ kind of thing not a real practical menace. Pagans, by and large, don’t believe in what they’re doing until it shows up and tries to eat them.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Depends on the Christian, While I laugh at the “Devil Made Me Do It” line, listening to him (and you don’t always know it’s him talking) can be very dangerous.

            • I gather He rarely walks up and says:

              Please allow me to introduce myself
              I’m a man of wealth and taste
              I’ve been around for a long, long year
              Stole many a man’s soul and faith

              But it is possible I’ve been misinformed.

              As for “the Devil made me do it” — while it sounds better than “like a damned fool I let myself get talked into doing something stupid” it is a less accurate statement.

              • The Devil is a gentleman, and asks you down to stay
                At his little place at What’sitsname (it isn’t far away).
                They say the sport is splendid; there is always something new,
                And fairy scenes, and fearful feats that none but he can do;
                He can shoot the feathered cherubs if they fly on the estate,
                Or fish for Father Neptune with the mermaids for a bait;
                He scaled amid the staggering stars that precipice, the sky,
                And blew his trumpet above heaven, and got by mastery
                The starry crown of God Himself, and shoved it on the shelf;
                But the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t brag himself.

                O blind your eyes and break your heart and hack your hand away,
                And lose your love and shave your head; but do not go to stay
                At the little place in What’sitsname where folks are rich and clever;
                The golden and the goodly house, where things grow worse for ever;
                There are things you need not know of, though you live and die in vain,
                There are souls more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain;
                There is a game of April Fool that’s played behind its door,
                Where the fool remains for ever and the April comes no more,
                Where the splendour of the daylight grows drearier than the dark,
                And life droops like a vulture that once was such a lark:
                And that is the Blue Devil that once was the Blue Bird;
                For the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t keep his word.
                — G. K. Chesterton, The Aristocrat

            • I have met only a very tiny handful of Christians who would consider any action by the devil in the life of anyone they had met as a realistic possibility. I’ve met a somewhat larger percentage of pagans who will admit such things exist, but not that they are likely to be a problem to THEM.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Is tempting an action? [Smile]

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Have you read C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters?

                • Not recently, but yes… Also the beginning of Peralandra and the end of the book of Daniel. Unfortunately people take it as nice alegory.

              • For what it’s worth, I’d think twice before I’d say what I think a demon can do– for fear of misleading someone with a truth they’re not ready for on one side, and the Saint Christopher effect on the other. (If they understand “the devil CAN actually do something” as “Christians are idiots that I can freely mock,” then what I say will actually be misleading them. And the Saint Christopher thing is…well, one legend, he served whoever he thought was strong. And I’d rather not hope that he sees the devil hide from church bells, y’know?)

                I already know that admitting that one believes in demonic possession will close some folks’ minds entirely. It’s sad, but it’s an is.

              • I have to wonder if you have met many Christians, with a statement like that.

                • Quite a few, actually. I AM a Christian. I was raised Presbyterian and have attended everything from Catholic through Baptist with some interesting off shoots into things like Russian Orthadox. Can’t give you a total number I’ve met though I can give you some of the church attendance numbers (and these were faithful not social churches, though I’ve been in a few of those, too.) And by and large ‘Spiritual Warfare’ is treated as a metaphor or theory not a reality as is any discussion of the demonic. The devil actively tempting people is treated as a ‘then’ thing not a now.

                  The vast majority of attempts to discuss it beyond that is met either with a ‘that was then this is now’ style answer. If specific examples are cited the most common reaction I’ve gotten has been the ‘well that may be what you think you saw’ or worse ‘If it’s real to you…’

                  I have a life time of experience with Christianity and Christians, and have a pretty substantial sample set.

                  • I’ve heard of Protestants who, faced with an actual prospect of demonic possession, sent the person off to the Catholics ’cause they’ve got the exorcists.

                    • So do protestants. And the Catholics were every bit as ‘nope not here not now’ as the protestants in my experience.

                    • We got rid of them in the Spirit of Vatican II.

                      *nodnodnodnod*

                    • “We got rid of them in the Spirit of Vatican II.”

                      The exorcists or the demons?

                      /ducks/

                    • They kept the ducks.

                      What they got rid of was the acknowledgement there are exorcists and demons.

                    • Both! They’re both so… Catholic-e and stuff. We’re supposed to be MODERN and stuff!

                      (slips in the sarcasm)

                    • I have read with my own eyes newspaper articles about exorcists at work. May take some digging, alas.

                    • If Bobby Jindal starts gaining serious traction during the presidential run you can be confident there will be much news of exorcism.

                      Googling his name and exorcism returns 51Kilohits.

                      Washington Post, NY Times, Mother Jones, Mediaite, HuffPo and IMDb feature prominently among the returns.

                    • The EWTN site, Catholic.com and the Catholic News Agency have had several of late– and didn’t the attempted exorcism of a Mexican area get on the normal news, too?

  8. I need all my fingers and toes just to count family members who’ve seen ghosts- I haven’t.

    And most of the people around here when it comes time to drill a well hire someone to witch it out for them. I know professional degreed licensed engineers who swear by witching as a way to find buried lines. You can buy dowsing rods right on Amazon http://www.amazon.com/C-Green-cgreendr-Copper-Dowsing/dp/B003115X5M The category they’re in is Industrial and Scientific….

    And I can tell you they don’t work for me. At all. Even when I know where the buried pipe is. Using the really nice ball bearing set the engineer had.

    • My dad was a surveyor. One time he brought a colleague over who used a pair of thin rods bent into right angles to locate the water line through our front yard, and found it. I watched him, and said “I see it, but I still don’t believe it”. Later, I worked with another one who also occasionally used the technique. I even tried it myself, but apparently I didn’t have the knack.

      • It works, I can’t explain how, but it is demonstrably provable that it works. And that it doesn’t work for everybody.

        • Grandpa preferred a willow fork, but he could use two bent rods as well.

        • Except, apparently, when done under controlled conditions in the presence of skeptics. http://www.scienceandreason.ca/pseudoscience/dowsing-for-fun-and-profit-a-test-of-a-1-million-claimant/
          One of many tests.

          • Your setting yourself up, Gospace.
            One night soon, you will awake in the middle of the night, go to the window, and see a haint prospecting with a dowsing stick, and water will spout up where the ghost touches the stick to the ground.
            The next day you will take a shovel out to the place where the ghost found water. You will think for a minute or two, then return the shovel to the shed, unused. Was it a dream, or wasn’t it? Sometimes it is better not to know.

          • Given some form of low-level quantum entanglement/awareness effects, the skeptics may be dousing – if you’ll pardon the expression – the dowsers….

            *shrug*

            I don’t know where I stand, but I’d seen a few things that were… not easily explained. (In one case a dream of reading a book – that had not been published yet, including knowing the contents of several pages)

            I also know that, despite being very comfortable in the woods at night, that there were places in New England woods that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, and stay well the heck away from.

            (As to what I was doing out at night – well – our summer camp had a unofficially allowed game of “sneak into the other patrols site and capture their guidon”)

          • http://archived.parapsych.org/sheep_goat_effect.htm

            Add to that the idea that it’s not only what the test subject thinks, deep down, but that what the people around him think – if we all can have some level of effect on our surroundings, then a group hostile to having positive results might well nullify any chances of getting them. And when it comes to this subject, it seems most of those people who call themselves skeptics aren’t in the “doubtful but interested and just want to know the truth” category but are actually hostile to the whole idea and very much want to prove that it is bunk.

            I am not indifferent, I would actually prefer a lot of this “our minds can affect our world, and we can also get information of it other ways than through our physical senses etc” to be true because that would make several other things more likely too, and for a bit more interesting universe. I don’t believe – as in “I’m sure this is they way it works” – one way or another, I do read a lot and have a few experiences of my own and some of it seems to make sense, but this is a VERY slippery subject so I doubt it can be proven anywhere in the near future even if it exists (it also may not exist). However I think there is enough that it definitely should be studied because these phenomena (if real) might just be one of those things where the cracks in our current theory of the world show, and looking deeper might just lead to some new breakthroughs (whether what people who now think something is happening now think of it is the right concept or not). And if they are not real they might still teach us something about how our own minds work.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              I believe C. S. Lewis said “There two mistakes one can make about the Devil. The first is to believe that the Devil doesn’t exist. The second is to be too interested in the Devil.”

              IMO that can apply to the “super-natural”.

              Being too interested in the super-natural can be (as Sarah said) like inviting a Vampire into your home.

              • George Hansen’s book The Trickster and the Paranormal does warn that people who either study paranormal phenomena or practice some sort of occult stuff themselves often seem to come to some sort of bad ends on the long run, or at least end up having all kinds of problems.

                • But it is an itch I can’t stop scratching, mainly because I have had a few experiences myself. I try to be careful though. The danger seems to go more with ‘obsessed’ than with ‘dabbles occasionally’. I hope.

                  • Don’t scratch it. One branch of the family had an interest in the occult during one of the paranormal crazes, and in pre-Civil War Virginia had quite a scare.

                • John Keel studied UFO’s and Fortean matters all his life, and he very emphatically discouraged young people from investigating UFO’s. He and Jacques Valee found that UFO phenomena overlapped heavily with what our ancestors called the fairies.

                  • Yes, I know of that too. But the big risk seems to go with obsessive, or turning it into a job. There also seem to be occultists and UFO or Fortean researchers who have seemed to manage a pretty normal, even good life (at least so far, most of the ones I know of are still living, and occasionally writing blogs or a book or two from time to time). But those are ones who haven’t turned it into a job but have kept it more of a hobby, and who don’t seem to have that obsession to find out all about it, to find the TRUTH. They are merely interested. When they have time from other pursuits, like normal jobs.

            • But to argue for that effect, you have to be able to prove the effect exists.
              Considering the availability of video recorders, it’s an easily tested proposition.
              Yet there remains no evidence supporting it. That I’m aware of, anyway.

            • BTW, for those of you who think that witching for buried pipes and wires isn’t a generally accepted, but rarely talked about, practice- go to your local water and sewer department and ask if they have dowsing rods. If they don’t have it as part of their official equipment, someone in the department will have a set in their locker or toolbox. Up here where I live, the three water and sewer departments I’ve dealt with have them.

              • I know a physicist who was taught in college buy his dept how to dowse for water. His whole class learned to do it. Then they were asked to explain how it worked. No one could. The professors didn’t know either… It was a lesson in humility.

                • Dowsing’s easy to explain — you just have to train yourself to see, however vaguely, through the … ummmm … 5th, 6th, 7th, yeah, see through the 7th dimension to where the water is.

                  Or is that through the 12th dimension? Geeze, it’s been so long …

            • I expect enough folk here have read Chalker’s Flux & Anchor books to consider the implications for our own reality. Perhaps we’ve anchored so much of our world that the flux is only around the far edges.

          • There is nothing supernatural about dowsing. The test you reference does prove that dowsing does not magically detect water, but that is all that it proves.

            Dowsing still works, and works well.
            Slowly walking with a dynamic equilibrium in your hands is a darned effective way to to detect very small changes in slope. Such as a buried trench. The soil you filled the trench in with compacts, and leaves it slightly lower than the surrounding area. It may well be too slight a difference to easily detect, especially if there’s ground cover, but when you step in that depression, your rods will cross.
            And yes, you can use this to detect where water is likely to be.

            • Huh. I’d never heard of it being used that way.

            • Actually there have been some very successful metal dowsers. I’m not sure that a trench would explain them 😉 And then there are the ones who use dowsing to find lost objects. (I sometimes use it when I lose a key or something else… and find it) This is normally a triangulation process … btw.

              • I’m not exactly sure what you’re talking about with respect to metal dowsing, but I covered pipes and cables pretty well.
                If you’re looking for ore, you’d be concerned about the structures underlaying the regolith. The mechanism I described can be as useful for that as for finding water.

                I know nothing about dowsing for lost items, but I strongly suspect it’s a lot more effective when it’s done by the person who lost the item in the first place.

                • I’ve dowsed for lost items for others. I don’t do it often though. 😉 But the metal dowsers are usually the kind that go out into places where there are very few structures and people.

              • I’ve seen a sort of recommended setup for that. It starts with a weighted string (pendulum) and paper. And then the operator/subject thinks “YES” and marks the sort of motion of ‘yes’ on the paper (front-back swing? side-to-side? circular? which way?) and repeats with “NO” and some other simple things, then asks the question. The idea is that this taps into ‘unconscious memory’ and you tell yourself where the lost item is, if in a roundabout manner. Now, if someone else lost it, then it fails – or gets spooky, assuming the party isn’t there to be ‘read’ by the operator, ala Clever Hans.

                • Yes – my great-grandfather was a dowser and also used the pendulum. He showed my mother, who showed me. It seems to follow a certain line of the family.

          • We knew of the practice, and I remember one bending some scrap wire just to be doing something, holding the short end loosely in my had, and it rotating parallel to a hog wire fence. My dad joked that I’d found some treasure, and we tinkered with it a little at school, and it seemed to find a pipe, but I didn’t really believe it.

            Then one day at work we needed to find a water line, because it would be kind of bad if we hit it with a trencher, and someone bent some copper wire, loosely held the short ends until they crossed, and said “Here it is.” I said “Bull” and he put them in my hands and said “You try it.” And they crossed at the same place.

            An engineer at work had seen it done by using glass soft drink bottles as handles to get low friction, and I tinkered around with it. It seemed to work, closing over denser objects and swinging open over voids, and paralleling overhead power lines.So I thought it had something to do with fluctuations in the earth’s magnetic field: walking along sets up a weak induced current, and with the rods unbalanced, it allows a weak force to make them swing.

            One day two of us had to mark out the grounding grid in a substation. I’d brought a metal detector, which proved useless because of all the interference within the substation. So we took some copper wire, make a couple of “L” shapes, and, since we didn’t have soft drink bottles, cut two short lengths of copper pipe for handles. And here we go: I’d walk along until they crossed, turned at 90 degrees, backed up, and where they crossed the second time we marked with a pin flag.

            Did I mention I was walking around holding two bare conductors while surrounded by 7,200 volts? No? Oh, well.

            By the end of the day we had a perfect grid laid out, as if we’d used a tape measure. We patted ourselves on the back and went home.

            Next day the construction crew comes out. And there was nothing beneath our pin flags. Nothing. Other guy went with them and got a bit angry when the crew laughed at us, and he bent some copper wires, put them in their hands, and had them try it. They closed over the same places.

            Some years later we had to locate an underground cable we’d just put in, and the O&E manager told me to take a company truck on the way home and put pin flags where we filled in the trench. Unfortunately, traffic and landscaping had wiped out all signs of where we’d trenched, and I bent a couple of pin flags and started walking along, then imagined myself in a courtroom:

            “Now Mr. Cheek: You mean to tell the court that you thought two bent wires could detect an underground cable?”

            “Well, um, I, um . . .”

            I tossed the wired into the tool box and went home. Next day I told the O&E manager that I couldn’t determine the trenching path, and he sent out a service man with a locator. On my way home I glanced at the yard. His marking flags were where my bent wires had crossed.

            Make of it what you will.

          • Hard to get much more controlled than “I only have enough money to drill once,” or have a better safety than “they have lived in the same valley for years, have been doing it for years, and have never been wrong” or have a better control test than “then normal scientific methods required multiple drills to get water.”

            For years, the scientific folks assured everyone that coyote/dog hybrids couldn’t exist– until DNA testing forced them to admit that there was a problem with their attempts to recreate the situation. (I’d guess female coyote in heat and really tough dog, based on actually paying attention to the stories I heard about when dog-colored coyotes would show up.)

            Ditto with bobcats and housecats.

            I know that horses can tell different colors of cows apart– my mom nearly died when her horse first met a white calf– and that cows can likewise ‘see color’ well enough to only sniff calves the same color as their calves. My dad had a dog that, as best we could tell, was able to tell the color of eartags apart. (that’s the one most likely to POSSIBLY be explained by a mix of responding to humans and having a memory for what pair of cattle went together, plus responding to the cow…but there’d have to be a LOT of colliding things.)

            Basically, when someone whose lifestyle is strongly impacted by a thing says that it works but they don’t know how, and people who don’t depend on it say it works but they don’t know how an can’t do it, but people who insist it can’t work set up conditions and can’t repeat it– I’m guessing that they accidentally broke something in setting up the test conditions.

            To disprove it, they’d have to get the described results– and then show how they’re wrong. Not be unable to reproduce the results.

            • Black and white vision indicates color by contrast and other factors. Directors used to carry devices that let them “see” what a scene would look like in black and white.

              • That’s what I thought, too– but if that’s so, then they wouldn’t be able to tell the black-with-red-highlights from the simply black, or the light gray from the tan. (Tested via black and white photography.)

                Possible solution: they don’t see color the same way, or they don’t respond to color the same way.

                • BobtheRegisterredFool

                  Color vision is trickier than it looks. We’ve put a lot of effort into trying to get computers to see the same colors that we do.

                  If the frequency another animal is most sensitive to is not one we are, they may notice differences that we don’t.

                  That said, given the challenges in sorting out human vision, I wouldn’t be surprised if we simply haven’t put in the work to get these other animals nailed down.

            • “Hard to get much more controlled than “I only have enough money to drill once,” or have a better safety than “they have lived in the same valley for years, have been doing it for years, and have never been wrong” or have a better control test than “then normal scientific methods required multiple drills to get water.” ”

              Yes. I would never drill a well without having it witched.

            • “For years, the scientific folks assured everyone that coyote/dog hybrids couldn’t exist– until DNA testing forced them to admit that there was a problem with their attempts to recreate the situation. (I’d guess female coyote in heat and really tough dog, based on actually paying attention to the stories I heard about when dog-colored coyotes would show up.)”

              Actually knew a guy who had one as a pet, and there were others out of that litter that other people had. In that case it was a female dog, (sheep dog, actually, talk about sleeping with the enemy 😉 ) bred by a coyote. I believe I have read that male coyotes are only fertile for two or three months out of the year, so the dog would have to come in heat at the right time of the year.

              Also, scientists claim (still) that coyotes and wolves cannot interbreed, even though there is plenty of DNA evidence of Eastern coyotes having wolf DNA as well as dog DNA.

        • Two possibilities:

          1. The water table being everywhere, you will hit it if you drill deeply enough
          2. The dowser has learned subconsciously to pick up on landscape features that indicate high water table.

          • Landscape features only affect surface water, which is not what you are looking for when drilling a well. This a common fallacy, that even some well drillers fall for, but surface land features don’t affect the underground aquifers that most modern wells are drilled to. Most wells are actually cased, to prevent ground water from entering them, because it is the most likely to become polluted or otherwise unsafe to drink.

      • Same way with my dad, though minus the not believing it; he had some cousins who dowse with any two sticks. Said it just felt different.

        His mom also use to read tea leaves for a lark…until she realized how very, very accurate the silly things she was making up were.

        • Back about 20 years ago, the gaming group I was with decided to have the DM do Tarot readings on the group members. Everyone else’s was mostly accurate for them; mine was 100 percent accurate…. for my favorite AD&D character. Completely wrong for me.

          It was at that point that I decided Professor Tolkien may have been onto something with the whole “Man as sub-Creator” idea in “On Fairy Stories.”

    • my grandfather was a very good water witch. Told dad he’d get good water from the well location he was going to use, but it would plug the point every 7 years, and every 7 years, the point had to be pulled and cleaned out. We hand dug a basement and after we moved the owners put the well there, and like grandpa said, the point hit gravel.
      As for ghosts, the only one I have seen was my sister’s much beloved cat, who ran about their house for several years. It was odd, Dad and I thought she was loopy when she admitted she was seeing him, then we were the two first other than her to see him (always a fleeting glance as he sneaked from the living room to the dining room) then my Nephew and my other sister, and my Mom then saw him. My brother-in-law saw him a few times as well. I guess eventually his energy left the house, as it had been some time since his last sighting that they finally moved out, and my parents moved in.

      • Why is it never “every six years.”? It always seems to be every year, or every third year, or seventh, or thirteenth year. No one writes stories about the “sixth son of a sixth son.”

        • good question. I only know that Grandpa was right. I might be wrong on the years though. I do recall helping in my low teens or just before … 12 maybe 13 or so.

        • 3, 5, 7, 13 seem to be structures in the brain. We used to talk about this in English Lit. When you want to write a strong paper– it needs to have three or five points. Four never works. In some cultures four is the number of death.

          • Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
            Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
            Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
            One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
            In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

            • From what I remember of number symbolism– nothing magic, it’s just a way of conveying information– you can make “compound words” by doing combinations of the numbers. Not adding, but multiplying– the way you teach a kid to visualize multiplying, 2X4 is |||| and ||||.

              So 9 (three threes) is… like saying “3 to the Nth.”

              The other numbers you have to know what they’re used for before you can tell what it’s saying. I’m only vaguely familiar with the Christian (which is basically just Jewish) number symbols, and that’s very vague, beyond obvious things like one is solitary, two is kind of tug-of-war, three is in stable balance (think about how many legs a stool NEEDS) thing.

              • Twelves and 40s are obviously important also.

                • Because those are what beer comes in?

                  • twelve tribes and forty days. I’ve been told that 12 is an important number for merchants because of its many factors.

                    • The 12 inch foot works as you can divide and subdivide readily, and in multiple ways. A decadal (decimal) system might be simpler in multiplication, but in genuine mechanical (as in, you get the compass out and…) division, it’s not very good, but 12 is, if not ideal, at least more suitable.

                • I’ve always blamed the six-fingered mutant Babylonian astrologers for base-12 (dozen, gross, myriad), base-60 (second, minute) and their lovely combination into hours. It’s insane and it just will not go away.

                  • It isn’t that they were six-fingered — they counted the knuckles of the four fingers of one hand … IIRC, thumb, wrist, elbow and other arm were used to track iterations of the knuckles, but I forget exactly how it progresses.

                    Myself, Fred Pohl taught me to use fingers and thumbs for binary counting.

                  • So, is a myriad 12x12x12 or 144×144?

      • My great-grandfather was a water witch– very good at it too… at least the stories say he was. I remember meeting him a few days before his death when I was five.

        • Grandpa K died when I was 4 going on 5.
          My biggest memory of him was his grumbles when changing a tire after grandma got a flat.

          • I am grateful that I met my Ggrandpa… I actually knew my ggrandma on my father’s side. She was a tough bird. 😉

            • I had both my grandmothers well into adulthood. My biological maternal grandfather died when mom was 8 or so, but her step dad was always Grandpa Tony. He is the only Grandpa I had as I grew up.I had two Ggrandma’s on mom’s side growing up, and I vaguely remember Ggrandpa Castle (also a step dad to Grandma Bev on mom’s side). and when Great Gran DuRoy died (104 or maybe more), my cousin’s Great Gran was told and she said “I remember the day she was born” and went into detail (she Really remembered) like she was bathing in a No. 5 wash tub, what kind of clouds were out that day,and who rode up to announce the birth, etc.

              • I just lost most of my grandparents (not the greats) in the last few years– they reached about 82 or so and then died (which is actually young when compared with some members of the family.. 😉

                • My grandMOTHERS and great-grandMOTHERS lived well into their 90’s. My grandFATHERS and great-grandFATHERS died fairly young–in their 60’s for the most part. I never knew ANY of my great-grandfathers. They all died before I was born. One grandfather died when I was one month old and the other when I was 14.

  9. King James I (England) and VI (Scotland) was a great believer in spirits and witches. He was supposedly convinced that a certain person had occult powers when this person whispered to him “what had passed between the King and his wife on their wedding night.” It’s easy to make fun of James for believing this — after all, whatever thing she had whispered to him might have been seen or overheard by a servant or spy — but while James had “issues” (he preferred the company of handsome young men to women), he was no fool. It’s all very strange.

    • Conmen routinely say that the easiest people to trick are the smart people. Sometimes even the shrewd people.

      • I used to work at a very large hospital. They had a committee that existed to warn doctors about scams, and to help them out when they got suckered in anyway.

        It was that big of a problem…

        I call it the “expert effect.” Someone has expertise in some field and is in a position of authority; therefore, they feel they’re an expert in everything, and since they have authority nobody will tell them when they’re wrong.

        Some people have described a similar “Hollywood star” syndrome…

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          In the book “Too Many Ghosts”, a scientist is fooled by some faked ghosts but an engineer (who had stage magic knowledge) wasn’t fooled.

  10. Patrick Chester

    The title makes me think of Mr. Morden.

  11. As for Stout knowing what Nero Wolfe was up to, most of what we (think) we know of any other person, even parents, siblings, spouse and offspring, is merely a mental model we’ve constructed based on observed actions, interpreted according to our expectations.

    Constructing a “friend” from the inside out does not seem materially different than from the outside in.

    • The house of William B. Gibson, who wrote the Shadow novels, is haunted, but not by Gibson but rather by The Shadow, slouch hat cape and all.

  12. You do not have to dig too deeply to find that Tolkien and other Inklings were influenced by British Idealism:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_idealism

  13. …except we tend to construct our imaginary friends as being perfect–which none of our REAL friends are.

    • My imaginary friends aren’t perfect. Some are very far from it.

      • Imaginary friends tend to be more consistent than actual ones. They also tend to behave more according to rational incentives than do actual people.

      • If my imaginary friends were perfect, they wouldn’t be hassling me over the money I owe them.

        I told you, you’ll get it next payday.

      • This – and I had an imaginary friend up to puberty… Then I lost her. I think because I took on a lot of responsibilities that are unusual nowadays for a young girl of that age.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Maybe she suspected that you wanted her to help out. [Very Big Kidding Grin]

        • An old acquaintance of mind mentioned thaat she still checks in with her childhood imaginary friends from time to time because she wouldn’t want them to think she’d forgotten them.

          Now my writer’s mind is going to extrapolate Foster’s Home For Imaginary Friends into some version of mythical Facebook.

      • I don’t have any imaginary friends. Or if I did, the Voices ran them off long ago.

        The Voices contribute nothing useful, other than knowing that anything they advise is probably a bad idea. It wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t *argue* all the time. Especially the one apparently named “Alvin…”

  14. I was skimming through what I thought was a book about legends associated with the Holy Grail (you can guess what year this was). Turns out it was a book of legends, with guided meditations based on some neo-pagan interpretations of the grail. As I started reading the first meditation, I got a VERY strong feeling that I really, really should not do that. I decided I didn’t care to find out WHY I shouldn’t let my mind go there, and stuck with the legends, skipping the meditations. Given what runs in the maternal line in my family, yeah, no thanks, I don’t care to let down my defenses.

    • (Nods) There’s stuff I don’t mess around with, and will warn anyone I know off of trying if they mention it around me. Anything involving alternate spiritualities is on that list.
      Yeah, sure, 99% of the time nothing bad’s going to happen. It’s that 1% that’ll melt your mind and break your soul

    • worried about ending up in the castle Anthrax?

    • Yeah, there are quite a few neo-pagans who have NO idea what they’re messing with and are very surprised when things End Badly ™.

      • Oh yes. I watched that happen and it scared the spit out of me. I managed to shoo some innocents out of the way before they caught on that something really, really unhappy was in the process of starting. It resolved without major problems, for certain definitions of major, but that individual has had problems ever since.

        There’s a reason I stay away from the Tarot, ouija boards, and any other kind of divination tools. The flashes I get on my own are more than enough, thanks.

        • Some things just should not be messed with. And ignorance is a frail shield.

        • I’ve got a loose story in which one character — not a heroine — keeps reading the Tarot. The cards are always right, but she always reads ’em wrong.

          • Shades of Clytemnestra!

            • I would suggest you meant to say Cassandra, but who would believe me?

              Clytemnestra (daughter of Leda, sister of Helen — can’t tell your Greeks without a scorecard!) was the wife and murderess of Agamemnon*. This put their kids in quite a pickle, caught between the Scylla of avenging their sire’s murder and the Charybdis of honoring their mother.

              Cassandra arrived from Troy with Agamemnon as his mistress/concubine and foresaw the murder of her lover and herself.

              Orestes, at the urging of his sister Electra (and under orders from Apollo), eventually resolved the matter by matricide, the killing of one’s mother by smothering her with a mattress. He was then pursued by the Erinyes (Furies) who punish all violations of family piety, which results in Athena ordering a trial, by which he is acquitted, or so we are told by the Greek tailor, Eumenides.

              *Agamemnon was Clytemnestra’s second husband, the first being King Tantalus. according to another famous Greek tailor, Euripides. It is strongly recommended one avoid taking Greek royalty as models of the successful family; stick to the Italians for that.

              • Don’t forget that part of the reason she wanted to kill her husband is that he sacrificed their daughter so he could win the war to get her half-sister back. In poking around enough to figure out if I was confusing, found that some of the stories have him tricking his wife into bringing their daughter so that he can slaughter her….

                • And according to yet another telling of it, Iphigenia (as priest of Artemis) saves her brother Orestes, so apparently not “sacrificed” to Artemis as earlier versions had it.

                  And to think people complain about Marvel’s X-Men having confusing continuity!

              • Alright, it gets worse…..
                http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/houseofatreus/a/houseofatreus.htm
                Now I remember why I didn’t like the unsanitized Greek myths. It makes soaps look simple and rational.

                • Well what do you expect, when you consider staring at a pile of guts as a rational way to make a decision on what to do?

                  • I find that if I want an SJW’s opinion on anything, reading it from their entrails makes the most sense.

            • Nah, Cassandra always knew what she was foreseeing, it was other people who didn’t believe. Mine doesn’t tell anyone and is always wrong, chiefly because she reads herself into the most prominent character in the reading.

      • This – and I have seen it, especially ones who want easy power.

      • I have actually seen neo-pagans maintaining that since they don’t believe in devils, they are just fine.

        I ask if they think a woman is fine picking up random strangers in bars if she doesn’t believe there are such things as serial killers.

    • “I got a VERY strong feeling that I really, really should not do that. I decided I didn’t care to find out WHY I shouldn’t let my mind go there, and stuck with the legends, skipping the meditations.”

      I think, given my knowledge of neurology and so forth, that it is entirely possible for such a thing as an information attack to exist. Propaganda, or even entire philosophies such as Communism and Islamism fall under this broad umbrella of an idea. As do nut-cults.

      A normal kid that studies SJW-ism can become an anti-social fruit-loop. Happens all the time. Information attack against Western civilization.

      Therefore I think its not impossible to do yourself an injury by doing meditations from weird old books written by weird people with really questionable goals. Minds are machinery, they can be damaged.

    • Other advice from my three years running a New Age bookstore: do not mess around with the planchette, not with homemade planchette or with the OuiJa board. Do not wear supernatural symbols bought in New Age stores except those blessed by priests of some JudeaoChristian church (in the most sinister sense, you don’t know where they’ve been). For the love of God don’t try to hypnotize anyone, not in a UFO investigation or while doing past life regression (which is light hypnosis that can turn into deep hypnosis without warning.)

      • Game designer Ken Hite tells a story about walking by a display labeled ‘Good Luck Astrological Amulets’ at a little pagan/occult convention, manned by two distracted fellows of swarthy complexion. When he and his friend looked closer, the ‘Good Luck Astrological Amulets’ had little fake-runic names clearly spelling out, in English, names like ‘Asmodeus’ and ‘Glazyalabolus’ and ‘Focalore’ – the demon names from The Lesser Key Of Solomon that you see stolen for use in role-playing game supplements (which is how he recognized them).
        They also had, along with the signs and sigils copied out of the same book. So they were essentially demon-summoning amulets. Which led to a several-hour riff of,

        “Gee, my house burned down and my wife left me and my dog got the mange.. just got hit with a $2000 bill for my car. imagine how bad it would be if I wasn’t wearing this Good Luck Astrological Amulet!”

  15. sanfordbegley

    I have had close encounters with a number of ghosts and demons. Well I’ve been told I have. Supposedly the pop right out of existence the moment I cross the threshold. It’s hard to believe in spooks when they are spooked by you.

    • They do the same for me and for my husband. It’s great fun, actually.
      Nothing quite like the look on your friends’ faces when you come up the stairs and they say “The dorm ghost was right here until you came in!” and they all look shocked. (Actually, the dorm ghost wouldn’t appear to any of the Bible study members. Kinda interesting.)

    • A team of psychic investigators from the All Girl Paranormal Society of Colorado Springs (no joke) spent a few hours here in Bargain Book Warehouse after Drew and John told them about things they have seen. They said they photographed and videotaped a few faces and such. I can’t say, I seem to have been born with psychic protection, I’m a wet blanket for this stuff. If I’d stayed to witness, there wouldn’t have been anything happening to witness.

      • They were surprised that Booker and Pages, the cats, had no reaction to any of this. I wasn’t, I’ve never seen a cat react at all to supernatural stuff people were experiencing.

      • That is GOOD.

        I’m still freaked out by the one even slightly “odd” thing that I had happen– a funky not-a-dream vision of a bunch of guys at Great Lakes boot camp, must’ve been August ’01. It had way more details (and was more normal) than my dreams ever have–I could see the shafts of sunlight through the windows– and I could feel the sunlight, and smell the dust. So much detail that I could tell it would’ve have to have been the other end of the year, because of the angle of the sun.

        Just guys standing there, ready for inspection in old PT gear.

        Of course the female barracks use to be male ones– they were well before the serious integration. But nothing interesting happened, and it hasn’t faded like dreams always do.

        Scared the girl on watch, because she couldn’t figure out why I was sitting up in my rack and not responding to anything until she grabbed my hand.

        • That’s one thing that to me distinguished both “visions” that I’d seen – the utter normalcy and a level of detail (readable text, etc..) and concreteness that were missing in ordinary dreams. On both occasions I woke up “WTF was that?” as there was nothing in my current life that would lead to that moment – and months later, they came to pass.

    • Wow, the supernatural version(?) of the “mechanic effect” as I’ve taken to call it: When the person who can diagnose and likely fix the problems appears, the problem goes away. From, “When the mechanic gets in the car, the noise goes away.”

      • sanfordbegley

        As a scientific instrument repair tech I also get the mechanic effect. Sometimes a professor asks me to come over and lay hands on a machine or baby sit an important run

        • Same thing when I was doing computer support for a hospital. Pharmacy had a printer that kept acting up, until I walked in the room. Every time. Finally I went over to it and said, “Knock it off.” Didn’t get a call back about that printer the until I stopped working there 2 years later.

          • I come from a family of programmers. Back when I lived with my parents, merely threatening to go get dad was sufficient to cause recalcitrant computers to start behaving again. When I brought up my theory that the Singularity has already occurred while visiting him a few years back, he told me to shush. lol 😉

            • My husband has that effect too. When I had a computer that kept going belly up and broke on me taking most of a novel, Dan came home and I was kicking the heck out of it. He said “Don’t kick your cpu. those are delicate machines,” etc. etc. I go to the kitchen. After a while I hear him cursing. I come into my office, he’s kicking the computer. I said “Those are delicate machines” He said “Yeah, you have to know where to kick them.” It worked, too.

              • I would take a spare computer and disassemble it with a sledge hammer in front of the problem computer.

                You gotta let them know that you are not reluctant to murder.

                • Slightly OT

                  In the 90’s Steve Jackson Games re-issued the card game Illuminati as a collectable card game, sortof like Magic: The Gathering.

                  Frankly – loved it. Still have enough cards on tap to easily set up a 4-way game.

                  A secondary “expansion” book of strategies and alternate game rules was published.

                  One option was to bring TWO decks. Put the second on the table next to your play area. Explain to everyone that the deck was there to observer and learn from watching you play your main deck.

                  Comment on play and strategy to the “side” deck as you play the game.

                  If you lose the game, tell the “side” deck to watch and learn, and tear up the cards from your main deck while saying something like “That is what happens when you fail me”

      • The singing frog problem

      • Heisen-bugs are the opposite of the demo-field. The former only happen when the programmer is not there; the latter only occurs when non-programmers are present and “it worked 5 minutes ago!”

  16. My grandma was a pow-wow lady. She did herbal stuff but basically she didn’t hold with hexing. She was smart.

  17. “What I mean is that things did happen for which there were no logical explanations and sometimes there weren’t even illogical ones.”

    What’s illogical about the explanation that something’s a ghost? What logical fallacy does it commit? Undistributed middle? Argumentum ad misericordiam? Genetic fallacy?

    I realize the usage is wide-spread, but really, where does the illogic reside?

    (And while I’m at it, Spock was far more illogical than McCoy or Kirk.

    • Some of the more interesting discussions on mythology and the supernatural revolve around the fact the stories and the creatures in them operate according to rules. Weird, crazy rules, but rules just the same. The dead had to appear and drink the blood and milk Odysseus poured into the “ell-square pitkin.” Persephone ate a few pomegranate seeds in Hades and so she had to spend part of each year in the underworld. Surely a non-scientific people could have a better explanation for the changing of the seasons. They saw the sun appear lower in the sky each winter, just as we do, but they never laid eyes on Persephone.

    • Apparently the logic is that adopted about in the 16th-17th century, in which the canon was adopted that it was only useful to study the material world, which could be reliably and repeatedly observed by anyone in a controlled fashion, sometimes with the aid of instruments. Everything else was discounted as either fraud or superstition, and enormous progress in observing the material world resulted.

      However, suppose there really are things that can be perceived by the human mind, but don’t interact with material instruments. Suppose also that different minds have different sensitivities. Scientific rationality and methods are of severely limited use in investigating those kinds of things. Unfortunately, in that realm, the problem of deciding what could be real and what is superstition or fraud remains unsolved, (although the results of the 19th century and later investigations of spiritualism suggest that once money gets involved, the percentage of fraudulent exploitation of superstition is practically indistinguishable from 100%).
      Personally, I prefer to stay in the light.

      • Confutus, I think that the broad acceptance of the idea that there is no metaphysics is about a hundred years old. Before that, philosophers thought of the natural world as something apart, and lesser than, the human world. It took something like a science of the mind before philosophers were willing to accept that the mind was part of the natural world and could be studied like any other part of the natural world.
        One of the most biting criticisms of the modernist philosophers is that they aren’t philosophers at all — they believe that they already had the answer, and are trying to shoehorn all philosophy into a “man as a material, biological being” narrative.

      • “However, suppose there really are things that can be perceived by the human mind, but don’t interact with material instruments. Suppose also that different minds have different sensitivities. Scientific rationality and methods are of severely limited use in investigating those kinds of things.”

        Disagree. Your mind is a -thing- which exists in the Real World (TM). Therefore anything which affects it is also a thing, and also resides in the real world.

        X-rays were invisible and didn’t interact with material instruments. Until they did. Rationality is the -only- tool we have to investigate those kinds of things.

        IMHO, some of the best magic stories involve the application of the scientific method to magic phenomena. Figuring out what the love potion is actually -doing- to the princess is a riot, I love stuff like that. Then the evil wizard gets to eat hot plasma, delivered by a… well, you’ll have to wait for that, it’s stuck.

        • I’m not convinced that the human mind exists solely in the realm of ordinary matter. There is certainly an interaction, but I don’t accept a reductionist approach. X-rays did exist and interact with ordinary matter…but not in ways that the human eye can detect. It requires other instrumentation to detect them. Neutrinos exist and can be detected… but their interactions with ordinary matter are so rare that it requires special instrumentation to detect. Those examples should instead give us a sense of caution. What other things may exist that we not presently know how to detect, measure, or observe?

          • I agree with this– Confutus. What I try to say, but have a hard time articulating …

            • It’s, “We need to find the right detector to know what’s going on.” The classic bit being the one about entering a dark room with a flashlight to search for a cat. The big assumption there is that the flashlight will help in finding the cat, if there is one. This is simple case as we know the dark room exists, and we know cats exist, and experience tells us flashlights will illuminate cats.

              Now, were we looking for a unicorn in the dark, it gets a bit more involved.

      • But that’s not logic, but premises. Logic can run on all sorts of premises. Many logicians delight in insanely counterfactual premises, about babies and managing crocodiles for instance.

        • Strictly speaking, logic is useless for examining “absolute” truth. The best it can do is to establish “relative truth”, that is, Conclusion is at least as true as Premises.

    • I wasn’t talking about ghosts, but things that you really couldn’t explain by any logic.

  18. I have posted signs announcing “This is a Vampire-Free Zone”, and “This is a Zombie-Free Zone”, and “No Haunts/Ghosts/Goblins Allowed on these premises.” It’s working so far…

  19. It’s tempting to say that it’s the thinking about it that creates it– but too many folks have been slapped by something they didn’t even think about.

    Inviting vampires in, indeed.

    • Within occult practitioners the idea seems to be that if you do something, or even just think something (especially if you think of it a lot), you become more visible to the denizens of other planes so some sort of contact becomes more likely. However even when you don’t you aren’t invisible to them so they might do something anyway. Kind of the difference between those who are shouting/jumping up and down/wearing something bright red in a crowd when most of the others are dressed in grey and just standing there quietly.

      • And here I combine two sentences again: within the circles of occult practitioners + with occult practitioners. Been doing that a lot lately. Should see my WIP (or better not. Hope I can eliminate most of those on the rewrites. Fingers faster than brain, lately, I write before I have decided exactly how I am going to say something).

      • Makes sense, at least as a metaphor– would also explain the whole ‘names of power’ thing…and why they’ll run away from the right Name, properly applied.

      • This reminds me of the “bright light of protection” that many pagan groups teach each other. I found through some experiences that it just makes you tasty to the other side. The more bright light– the more darkness you attract. It’s better to find a bushel.

        • I have never had any really scary experiences, mildly unsettling has so far been the worst, most of the stuff that has happened to me is something like seeing a very specific scene on a dream, then seeing that same scene on a television program when I turned the TV on later by mistake to a channel I had never looked at before which was playing a kid’s cartoon program when I was looking for news (I kept a dream diary for a few years during the 90’s after reading an old book called An Experiment with Time, by some aeronautical engineer named J. W. Dunne and published 1927, and noticed a few other experiences like that, dreaming of something random and not important that I then saw the next day, or sometimes a day or two later, but that was the “NO WAY!” incidence because that damn scene had been repeated so very clearly and down to specifics in the dream).

          But I have also had this feeling, my whole life, that I am in some way protected from those dangerous parts. Who knows.

          • I wish – my late-hubby protected me for a long time. (He had some natural protections). So far I have been okay– but then I received assurances in my dreams about three months after his death that I would still be protected. I don’t care what the doctors say about “hag-ridden” being sleep paralysis… I have had too many of those experiences especially before I married my late-hubby.

  20. ” There was no avoiding that it was around and that if you went around believing in it it would just start uncanning all over the place like nobody’s business, and then where would you be?”

    Knee deep in vegetables?

  21. That is one thing I don’t blame the Russians for, I would be unfriendly to gays waving around sickles and hammers, too.

  22. Let’s say the average person weighs 60 kilos. That’s 60,000 grams, and Avagadro’s number is six-point-something times 10 to the twenty-third (scratches back of envelope). That means a person is made up of about 3.6 x 10^29 atoms. Holy cow! That’s more than ten billion billion billion atoms! There are only a few hundred billion galaxies in the universe. Atoms are timeless. Age is not one of the features of atoms that we can measure. What is it about atoms that when you put 10^28 or so of them together, they can think and model the universe around them? And they make up a mortal being?

    • egad, I’ve not weighed 60 Kilos since before middle school.
      Lately I been just under 100.

      • In that, you contain more multitudes than most other people. Bonus multitudes! Rockin’

      • 60 kilos would be just over 130 pounds, right? That might be the average weight for an American woman, but it certainly isn’t the average weight for an American man, or for an average American for that matter.

        • I graduate high school at 100 kg. And that was when I was still running several miles a week.

          • Look, who is telling this story?
            Damn kids.

            • You also need to divide by the median atomic number, which would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 10. 😉

          • I was about 75-77 kilos at graduation. Rode a bicycle everywhere, and raced BMX. Then I moved to New Orleans and gained weight even though I was still riding more than ever (some was muscle though) and wavered about 180 pounds until I started working as a delivery driver, then another 5 to 10 pounds piled on, then I became a salesman for the same company.
            Yeah.
            I once weighed 250 pounds and then got bigger, but never looked at a scale.
            I got back down to 180 once, but I was on the “I maxed out my credit cards and no longer have money for food” diet. I disrecommend this diet.

            • I was doing all right and staying at a steady 200lbs until I moved to Minnesota. I gained 30 freaking pounds living in that cornfield of a place and kept gaining after I left.

              There’s something going on. Even the teenage high-school cheerleaders were fat in that town. -Everybody- was fat, and there were of course the morbidly obese 350+++ ones waddling about as well. Many of them.

              Fighting my way back down past 230lbs is an ongoing project. A stupid project, but it has to be done. If I get back under 225 I’ll call it good. Can’t be going around with a gut forever. Its unseemly on a man.

        • I’m 111 kg. I’ve gained weight since I broke my shoulders.

        • *sniffle* I wish I weighed 130….

        • In defense of over-fattened Americans everywhere: it is not our fault! It is a corpo-government conspiracy to ready us for harvest by aliens! When they come, everyone swallow a live grenade. We’ll defeat them as ghosts in their faster-than-light cooking pots!

          Hmmm. I might have jumped off Ancient Alien cliff and dived into the shallow end of Destination Truth pond. Was it Bigfoot that stomped on me afterward, for good measure? Cause that’d be typical for Bigfoot.

          • It’s actually beginning to look like the whole Food Pyramid / low fat thing is simply a formula for producing fat people.

            • Well – we recently changed it to a distribution that was less empty calories and more nutrient (protein, minerals) dense food, after decades of empty calories being promoted as a staple, and “fat” being promoted as bad.

          • I’m not over-fattened. In fact at 6′ and 165-170 (pounds not that metric garbage) I am on the light end for around here. And am running just a shade under 10% body fat. I graduated high school at 142 (I know the exact weight, because the week I graduated I broke the school curls weight record for the 140 weight class, and weighed in after class 1 1/2 pounds to heavy to make the 140 weight class.) And was running considerably less body fat, then. My metabolism is finally slowing down, and I will probably (hopefully) never see >150 again. I have gotten down to 150 or less a couple of winters a few years back, when I wasn’t eating enough calories to keep up with my activity levels in cold weather. But just the last year or two, I have been able to maintain weight while eating less, it used to be in the winter time, in order to not loose weight I would have to eat at least ten thousand calories a day, and a good eight thousand in the summer. My high school pictures don’t look bad (quit snickering, they don’t make me look starved) but if I get down to 150 now, I look like a strung out crank addict with hollow cheeks and sunken eyes. But while I was pretty much at my full height when I graduated, I gained about a half an inch in height, and broadened considerably in the shoulders after I graduated.

      • richardmcenroe

        “Do I contradict myself? Then I contradict myself. I am large; I contain multitudes.” — Emerson

        • One of my favorite chapters of the Bible is Mark chapter 5. Because it is so outlandish.
          “And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains:
          because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him.
          And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones.
          But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, and cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not.
          For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.
          And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many.
          And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country.
          Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding.
          And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them.
          And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea.”
          In The Merchant of Venice, Shakespeare has the Jew Shylock refer to this story both as an insult to Christians and as a reason why he (Shylock) wants to keep his distance from Christians (he will not dine with them). Modern scholars sometimes point to this exchange in A Merchant of Venice as an argument in favor of Shakespeare’s tolerance. Shakespeare was explaining, as best he could, why Jews kept themselves from the company of Christians other than in business (there were no Jews in Shakespearian England, at least not legally).
          There is an interesting contrast between Christ sending the unclean spirits into the unclean animals, and Acts 10, where peter has a vision that basically tells him that there are no unclean animals: “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.”
          And of course the words Mark gives of the mad man to Christ, “What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?”, are a mirror of the words, Christ spoke to Mary just before the first miracle at Cana, where He turned water to wine: “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.”
          Sorry I’ve gone on so long. I love literature.

  23. My husband’s people have a saying: “If you’re going to dine with the gods, bring a long-handled spoon,” is how he translates it.

    Kind of interesting how every group out there throughout history has had some sort of supernatural thing going on. Leads one to believe there’s something there, whatever it may be.

  24. Here’s my take on the supernatural: First off, it’s important to recognize that evolution doesn’t deal with “perfect,” it deals with “good enough” and “better than the other guy.” Granted, a few hundred million years of “better than the other guy” can get you pretty close to perfect, see sharks and cockroaches.

    Secondly, our brains seem to be wired to do two things really well: recognize patterns and perform ballistic calculations.

    It’s the pattern recognition that leads to the uncanny. Our brains are constantly taking the information they receive about the world around them and fitting them into patterns (door, cat, siren, TV, etc.) but every once in a while – see above about evolution and perfect – there’s an error. Information gets dropped or just isn’t available. That causes the brain to send out an error message and a request for more information, what we interpret as the uncanny sensation and the adrenaline jolt that usually accompanies it. Of course, once you start looking for the supernatural your brain creates a pattern template for it and it becomes much easier to fit sensory data into it. Do it long enough and you’ll have trouble using the normal world pattern templates.

    And of course story tellers are capable of keeping multiple patterns – not just the templates – going in their head in addition to the real one. In fact, schizophrenics might just be people who cannot keep the real pattern and the fictional ones separate.

    • The problem with evolution, Jeff Gauch, is that it cannot be escaped. Thinking that evolution can be escaped is another survival characteristic. Imagining that there is this thing called evolution that can be examined and critiqued from outside evolution — from the POV of reason — has no validity, other than as a survival characteristic.

      • “Imagining that there is this thing called evolution that can be examined and critiqued from outside evolution — from the POV of reason — has no validity, other than as a survival characteristic.”

        Disagree. Reason, capital R, is one of the tools that Human beings have to examine their evolutionary neurology and rise above it, to do things that the merely animal cannot do.

        Pattern recognition is a great example. Neurology has discovered there’s a particular area of the brain that notices faces. We can see a face in a cloud, in leaves, in carpeting.

        Certain anti-depressants sometimes stimulate this area, and when they do the person starts seeing faces in -everything-, all the time. This can be disturbing, unless you know -why- the faces are there. When you know why, it goes from disturbing to mildly entertaining.

        The application of Reason is a powerful thing.

        • My better half doesn’t like wood doors or floors with really visible grain. She sees faces and shapes in the grain. Scary ones.

        • I have sort of the opposite, I suppose. Unless I see someone often or they really stand out, I tend to not recall names & faces very well. “I’m great with names and faces; I forget everybody.” or “Take it as a compliment. It’s jerks that stand out as memorable.” (Not just them, but the idea gets across.) It actually weirds me out some when someone recognizes me as I usually am wondering who it is that’s talking to me, as I genuinely have no idea who that person is.

      • Actually, we’ve largely stopped evolving. As a species we now control our environment and our reproduction choices are made of the basis of traits that are largely non-genetic. And we’re on the cusp of being able to edit our genetic code directly*. The idea of evolution through natural selection just doesn’t apply to us anymore.

        *Whether or not that is a good thing is irrelevant, history has shown that as soon as something is possible, some jackass starts doing it.

        • I disagree about evolution having stopped. We’re right in the middle of a change in the environment. Just because we make our environment doesn’t mean it doesn’t change us.

          _Now_ the people with the greatest reproductive success fall into three broad categories. Inner city poor with poor school performance and lacking a steady male presence in the home. The very devout. Illegal immigrants who place little value on education.

          The subcultures barely maintaining their numbers are the middle class-that-wants-their-kids-to-go-to-college. The unemployed/underemployed who won’t have kids they can’t afford.

          The only bright spot is the SJWs drastic shortfall in births.

          But what sort of people are we going to be, in three or four more generations? And what happens when the environment changes?

          Oh, you were talking about drastic physical changes? Like the survival of people with lousy eyesight? Seriously crooked teeth? And lots of more serious problems, who now prosper and have children? Yeah, we’re still changing to fit an environment that changed just a few generations ago.

          • You assume there is a genetic component to culture. That assumption is slightly unfounded. And while the global environment is changing, the environment in which we live and reproduce – the environment that matters from an evolutionary standpoint – is become more and more uniform and constant.

            Now cultures do evolve, but it’s Lamarckian rather than Darwinian, so reproductive success isn’t as important as how well different cultures can “convert” new people. That’s why the Progressive takeover of the educational establishment is both dangerous and promising. It’s dangerous because it means that almost everyone gets fed Prog propaganda as they’re growing up, to the point that it underwrites the basic assumptions most make about the world. It’s promising because it’s an admission on the part of the Progs that they cannot win in a competition of ideas, that they only path they have to success is total control of the information stream. They’ve lost that, so they are in deep trouble.

            • The culture _is_ the environment. The people most suited to it, who have the most reproductive success are increasing the percentage of their “genes suited to the new environment” in the population.

              The problem is that the environment is unstable and prone to change as soon as any genes that influence their bearer toward stable family relationships and raising highly educated children with a work ethic drop below the level that can sustain the nonworkers, or pay the illegals.

              You may argue that those qualities are nurture, not nature. We’ll see, won’t we?

        • richardmcenroe

          “But…yours…is the…superior…intellect…” *gurgle*

  25. My sister worked in a wilderness therapy program—the kind of one where hard-core addict kids are taken to the middle of the Utah wilderness and overcome their addictions by learning wilderness survival skills (or living wilderness survival, since they are completely cut off from civilization for the duration of the program). She saw some things out there that she doesn’t talk about much, like skinwalkers. It’s not a good idea to talk about skinwalkers.

  26. My time-traveling detective has been talking to me at work, making me watch parts of my life from the outside and imposing…things over it. There’s nothing quite like trying to ignore the voices in your head while helping customers. The fact that I spent my lunch break taking dictation rather than eating makes me a little concerned at how badly this story wants to be told.

    • *pats shoulder in sympathy* I’ve had Count Eszterházy and Catherine Mary Zolnerovich alternating plots in the mornings. I’ve GOT to get a bunch of writing done this next week or so.

  27. Christopher M. Chupik

    I’m surprised the Usual Suspects haven’t had a couch-fainting fit over your punning use of the word “homo”. It’s exactly the sort of thing they usually lose their minds over.

    • “Alleged” minds. It has not yet been scientifically proven that SJWs are cognizant, thinking beings.A crappy algorithm running on a PC could generate most of what they do.

  28. I don’t think I buy into subjective reality. What I do buy into is suggestibility, which is how misdirection and other aspects of illusion works. You can prime the mind to interpret stimuli in certain ways. I saw this spiral out of control once after a graveyard was vandalized and some though markings on local tombstones were occult symbols. When it turned out the owner of a monument company was just minutes away and some of us went to see him, a surprising number didn’t. As to the markings, they turned out to be oxidation of steel particles embedded in the stone as a result of carving.

    On the other hand, considering stories I’ve heard where a “haint” was something to scare folks away from a still (that episode of Andy Griffith had some factual roots), not investigating might be wise, Then there was a great uncle who carried his shooting iron with him when he did some ghost busting over a century ago, not because he thought lead was effective against ectoplasm, but because he thought someone was trying to scare an old widow.

    I got a kick out of those ghost hunter shows because they prime the viewer to look at phenomena in a certain way. Then it turned out that the cat was watching, too, and started to freak over creaks at night. The interesting thing to me is how phenomena gets labeled a “haint.” For instance, one of my grandmother’s grew up beside what some thought was a haunted house, but the light that would come up around it never upset them because they considered it just a light and not a spook. The stories to explain these phenomena sometimes get very interesting.

    I’m not dismissing all of what I call “weird stuff: as explainable by the mundane, even though we might have gotten our house at a good price because the previous two owners committed suicide, one within the the house; there was at lease one suspicious death in the house; and the seller died soon afterward, and it doesn’t bother us. My family has seen some “weird stuff” but they didn’t think it was weird; it just was. And when I’ve encountered “weird stuff” of the ghost hunter variety, I never thought of the supernatural until much later, and it didn’t stop me from trying to find out what it was.

    I will mention there’s something to the fear of seeking out certain phenomena as an experience, which makes sense if there is something behind them causing some of it.

    BTW, I know that religion is a forbidden topic, but while we’re talking about dark weird stuff, I need to mention some of the other variety:

    Our first child ended up in a neonatal unit hundreds of miles from my wife, who had a difficult delivery. In those moments when I could be alone and didn’t need to be strong, I silently prayed some specific questions to God. Some days later we received a post card in the mail from a woman we’d never met, who went to church in a different denomination in a different county, and on that post card was the answer to every one of those questions. Every one.

    A couple of years ago, after my wife had a minor medical test and I was home with her, the phone rang from aunt who wanted us to contact the family because one of her grandsons had been bitten by a coral snake. This I did, and after my mother-in-law arrived and I went in to work, my cell phone run and I pulled over. It was my aunt, giving a status report and thanking me for calling the family. The kicker? She didn’t know I was home or on my way to work. Those numbers happened to be the first ones she dialed to reach me.

    A truck driver uncle missed a tornado by minutes. Realizing, from the damage, it would probably make the news, he stopped and phoned his wife to let her know he was okay. When he hung up he noticed people were giving him odd looks. The truck stop owner wanted to know who he was talking to, and when he said “My wife,” the truck stop owner said it was impossible because the tornado had torn down the phone lines. He picked up the phone, and discovered it had no dial tone.

    • Religion is not, i think, a “forbidden” topic. it is simply a topic that tends to degenerate into doctrinal disputes, often by those with little actual knowledge of the doctrines they discuss. Anecdotal experience which does not open the theological theatres is generally okay. Broader discussions which get into unresolvable by facts zones are to be avoided.

      It is “more heat than light” religious discussions which we are encouraged to eschew.

    • It’s theology that tends to lead to heated arguments, accusations of various and sundry, and stuff that’s better kept to other venues. Religion per se, or personal experiences, or even answering specific questions (“Is there a patron saint of writers?” “Yes, but he started leaving his phone off the hook after the latest Big 5 contract shenanigans”) is pretty much OK. Dissing religion, or lack of religion, ain’t OK.

    • When John Keel did the investigations that resulted in the book “The Mothman Prophecies” (please disregard the movie) the only thing supernatural or weird he experienced personally was a telephone that worked with no connecting line (1967, no wireless phones.) Otherwise the case may have been some extreme form of mass hysteria. Could a telephone work with no connection in the heavy electrical field around a tornado?

      • Well light bulbs can – but as for phones– I just don’t know…

      • I was thinking of the Carrington Effect, but the static electricity in the air was powering the telegraph, not allowing the signal to travel without wires.

      • I think for some definition of “work”, it might be possible.
        A stray current could ring the bell, I suppose.
        Hearing voices over the phone, on the other hand…
        Well, people hear voices in random noise because the human brain is hard-wired to match patterns.
        Now, if the pattern I extract from random noise sounds like six numbers, and those are the winning numbers for the next Powerball drawing, I’ll sit up and take notice.

  29. ” but let me tell you, I felt quite relieved when I heard that Rex Stout too knew what Nero Wolfe was doing even when he wasn’t writing him.”

    Thank God. I thought I was going bonkers for a while, all these characters bothering me with their concerns and needs. Having never written a whole book before, just snippets, the experience of having these people rattling around doing things was somewhat disturbing.

    Almost none of that made it to the book, but it sure happened. Going to the store for milk is not fun to read about, even when it’s a badass character doing it.

  30. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I mentioned this in Sarah’s Diner (on Facebook) and thought it worth repeating.

    Slightly “Off Topic” but I read Greg Keyes’ “Chosen of the Changeling” (“The Waterborn” and “The Blackgod”).

    I thought it should be required reading for anybody who wants to live in a world where gods (and lesser godlings) are active.

    Humans had to be very careful to not “offend” even the lesser powers as even the lesser powers could kill humans or worse.

    So do humans really want to gain the attention of the super-natural? In our world, they may not have power over the material world, but they may be able to mess with our minds.

    • I have felt, for some time, that there is an aspect of the Shinto religion(s) that amounts to “placate the Gods, in the hopes that they will leave us alone”.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I suspect most “pagan” religions amount to that.

        Of course, it’s been mentioned that neo-pagans are rarely concerned about placating the Gods.

  31. I’ve had too much I can’t explain happen to me to doubt there are things in this world I can’t explain. No doubt we’ll all find out eventually…

  32. The uncanny exists.
    But many people are much too eager to embrace it. In fact, they can quickly become very disturbing.

    A little story…
    Back when I was in college, one of the major fundraisers my fraternity did for charity was a haunted house. We went all out in the fashion you’d expect a house full of engineering majors to.
    So, of course we needed a gimmick to separate the groups so we could reset the gadgets and get people back to their hiding holes. We decided that a fortune teller would fill the bill nicely. I volunteered for the role by being the last to shout “Not it!”
    We’d get a group of about 10 in the room, I’d get a couple of them up to the table, and tell their fortune. The gag was that I’d get them sucked up to the table, and when I got the “ready” signal, I’d tap my confederate under the table, and he’d reach his monsterized hand through a trap door in the top of the table, and blindly try to grab somebody.
    It turns out that telling fortunes is easy. The vast majority of people will tell you right upfront what they hope or fear to hear. Just twist it a bit, and feed it back to them. For the few who don’t, death, disease, dismemberment, and isolation are nigh universal fears. Stick with them, and it’s hard to go wrong.
    But by far the scariest thing in that house, were all the people who came up to me afterwards, with desire glowing in their eyes and beseeching me to share my “wisdom” with them.

    • The vast majority of people will tell you right upfront what they hope or fear to hear. Just twist it a bit, and feed it back to them. For the few who don’t, death, disease, dismemberment, and isolation are nigh universal fears. Stick with them, and it’s hard to go wrong.
      But by far the scariest thing in that house, were all the people who came up to me afterwards, with desire glowing in their eyes and beseeching me to share my “wisdom” with them.

      I’d never thought of it this way before, but something about the way you put that triggered a thought.
      You were paying attention to them. Even if it was just to set up a scare, you were really paying attention to them.
      That feeds something in a person. It isn’t love, but it does as a substitute.

  33. I think that it’s at the edges of things that reality gets malleable. And if you go poking around the edges too long, you may wander away into a world where what you are looking for exists. And such a world is likely to chew you up and spit you out. Maybe some of the people who are completely convinced of something idiotic (like “Kennedy was assassinated by the CIA” or “Bush ordered the Towers blown up”) went looking for proof of what they were sure was true, and made their way through the shadows to a place where it WAS true. And if they have gotten back, they haven’t come all the way.

    • I’ve walked the shadows and the shadows have walked me.

    • One of the arguments against the paranormal lying at the edges of things, rather than in the center of things, is that if we live in a purely mechanistic universe, the experience of the supernatural — seeing a ghost, for example — is simply another state of the human mind caused by the mechanical firing of synapses in the brain. The otherworldly experience is not otherworldly at all. In other words, the human brain works exactly the same when experiencing the normal and the paranormal. The brain does not have a paranormal state when it experiences the paranormal.
      I didn’t explain that very well, did I?

      • Most of the people I know who think that A) we live in a purely mechanistic universe AND B) we understand the mechanisms have taken “science” as their religion. They aren’t Scientists, they are True Believers, and they get really shrill when you point out the holes in the fabric.

        We know something about how the brain works. We have some broad ideas, all subject to change, about how the MIND works. What we know about how the brain affects the mind and vice versa could be inscribed on the head of a pin. With a cold chisel.

        • Watch a Science Believer confronted with a Flat Earther. People who should know better can get trapped in their own arguments.

          “Logic is a little tweeting bird chirping in a meadow. Logic is a wreath of pretty flowers which smell bad.”

          Logic is a power tool, and like any power tool it can bite back if you don’t know how to use it.

    • Actually, it’s just a combination of pride and stubbornness. Here’s an example:

      On a trip we had made a rest stop, and back on the road heard a roar for all the world like a car at highway speed in low gear. I looked at the dashboard, saw the tach was normal, but still checked the transmission indicator. We were in drive, and out the side mirror I saw a truck with mud tires. The roar was from the truck.

      About that time a passenger asks if I had it in low gear. I explain I thought so, too, but checked and it was the tires on the truck to our side. A few minutes later the passenger insists the car is in low gear. I again explain it’s the truck to our side.

      We reach our destination, and before I put it into park, the passenger asks me to move the gear shift over one. Being in Drive, that put it in neutral. I did and raised the motor to show that it wasn’t in gear. At that point the passenger said “You moved it over too far.”

      That’s really how conspiracy theories work.

    • it has been proven that Kennedy was not killed by the CIA. (he’s dead ain’t he). now, the mob … not so sure.

      • One of the two most anti-communist presidents we ever had was assassinated by a card-carrying communist.
        One who had met with the KGB official in charge of political assassinations the week before.
        .
        Fortunately, the press was there to explain how it was really all the fault of conservative republicans.
        .
        There was a conspiracy, all right. And neither the CIA nor the mafia were involved.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          That guy from a communist secret service over at PJ Media says that the Soviets were partly behind that media effort.

      • Yes, why would you believe that the Earth was regularly being visited by LGM in spacecraft, but not believe in ghosts? The evidence for both is hearsay.

    • Yes, this, the edges. That’s what I meant by the limnear dark.

  34. There are some of us who are cracked at birth, I think. I’ve wondered why I saw and felt things since I could talk. (24 hours of labor –my head had been at the opening for hours before doc intervened… supposedly if fully natural birth, I could have died there.) Anyway– I do things to ground myself into reality.
    (I have also seen what happens to normal people who become too much into ghost hunting or other uncanny activities). My foot in the other world, is also, why I need a few days off after I finish a book, especially when I am too much into the book.
    Yes, I am weird. I don’t talk much about it in reality.

  35. Christopher M. Chupik

    The last few Octobers I’ve been watching classic horror movies. Mostly the old Universal movies, via their Legacy collections. Also I’ve been watching the Roger Corman Poe movies with Vincent Price and stuff like Black Sunday, by Mario Bava.

    • If you haven’t yet run across them, Val Lewton’s work remains top notch. (The Seventh Victim is especially relevant to today’s discussion.)

      Also check out Night of the Demon/Curse of the Demon (the name changes depending on whether you get the British or American cinematic cut. The one from 1957, evidently the name has been used a couple of times since). It’s one of the best ever–right up until executive meddling demanded that the audience must see the monster. It’s a laughable 10 seconds that nearly ruins 2 hours of build. (Hmm. Wonder if some fan on the interwebs recut it?)

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        I have seen some Val Lewton. It’s good, though sometimes a bit too intellectual. Sometimes you want to *see* the monster, dang it!

  36. I have not discounted the “unexplained” since high school. in the 11 and 1grade I had an English teacher who was a white witch. ( I do not remember if she called her self that, or if we, her students did)
    Advance Placement class … to give an example … one student went to take the state wide calculus exam … he had never taken calculus. (please note while I was in this class, and others. I was at the lower end of the scale)
    We were not dumb. in the 1970’s we distrusted authority.
    So she taught us English, and if we were able to complete our work before the bell as a treat we were allowed to break out the table. the table sat in plain view, against the wall. we (the students) would drag into the middle of the room, eight people (two per side) would place their hands ON TOP of the table, palms down, fingers spread, thumbs touching, small finger of each hand touching the person on either side. and we focused. and after a small amount of time the table would rise off the floor.
    let me repeat this … THE TABLE WAS NOT TOUCHING THE FLOOR …
    in front of 20+ other students. the only constant was the teacher was in the room. sometimes at the table, sometimes not.
    we were not dumb kids. we looked for the trick. the table was not hooked to wires (I moved the table, myself more than once, since I sat close to it anyway) no magnets in the floor, it was not put in the exact same every time. every ones hands were on top of the table. we checked. and yet the table cleared the floor, EVERY TIME!
    this was done over a period of two years (more really, this was just my experience), done randomly (we never knew when we would finish up early) an happen to our class somewhere around 10 to 15 times. and it has occurred to other classes. (she would do this to the ninth grades to scare the crap out of them, so they would not misbehave the rest of the year.
    so when I see something I can not explain, I look for a reason, I try to find the trick, I may disbelieve, but in the back of my mind is the table that always cleared the floor.
    she also taught us water dowsing but I sucked at that. others didn’t

  37. Reality Observer

    Boy, did this topic bring out a lot of discussion.

    Like Sarah, I am doing quite a bit of studying of the occult these days – except that mine are called “quantum physics” and “cosmology” by their practitioners.

    Do much of that, and you start being afraid to put your drink down on a table – it might not really be there. (Or the cold soda is really a million degree plasma…)

    • Yea – I have read a lot of quantum physics before my illness and chemotherapy. I once told my late-hubby that it read just like a Carlos Castaneda. lol

  38. Just a thought – When other this and thats were discovered after the basic atom structure (electrons, neutrons, protons), my late hubby began to believe that our scientists were creating structures by first finding it in the math and then constructing an hypothesis. When they would find these things, he wondered if they had shaped them instead of found them. (My late-hubby was a genius with electronics and mathematics… at least in my view point… I am workmanlike… but he was a creative in those fields).

    Funny I got to this point through my experiences— in that we shape our own horrors. I couldn’t nay-say him even though he was looking at science. It was too coincidental to him.

    • All evidence of the nature of the physical world comes through the senses, sight, hearing, small, taste, and touch. If you grind wood or metal into the tiniest pieces you can, it is still wood or metal. The little pieces have the characteristics of the large pieces. Sawdust is still recognizably wood. Iron filings are still recognizably iron. When you get into the world of atoms, though, it’s not like that. Atoms are smaller than the shortest wavelength of light our vision can detect. Atoms don’t look like anything. They do not have a visual aspect. They do have a spatial aspect, but it involves probability. An atom doesn’t cast an image–read the fine print on the so-called pictures of atoms you may have seen in textbooks or the popular press.
      And it’s even trickier than that. You may think we have a means of our senses detecting molecular structure. Our senses of taste and smell can detect the shape and structure of an amazingly small number of some molecules. But we don’t directly experience those, either. A sensor in the nose may detect an alcohol called putrescine given off by rotten meat, but the signal the putrescine sensing nerve ending in our nose sends to the brain is no different than the signal the optic nerve might send to the brain. It’s just an electrical potential. We sense it as putrescine because of the part of the brain the sensor nerve is tied to. If we were wired a bit differently, putrescine would smell like rose oil.

      • When we were learning electronics (in the Navy) there was a big button on the wall that said “I believe.” When we asked why it worked like that, the instructors would tell us to push the “I believe” button. We had to take a lot of stuff on faith. 😉 Some of us are wired differently.

    • Somewhere I read a description of God and the Angels looking down on the crew powering up a particle accelerator. God was saying, “All those in favor of granting them a new particle, raise a wing.”

  39. Related to the “getting attention” and “not getting attention” thing– anybody remember the “A wind in the door” series?

    And the chant that the old Irish lady teaches for protection?

    It’s a form of Saint Patrick’s Breastplate– one of the celtic groups my mom listened to had a verison that just belted “I bind unto myself this day/the strong name of the Trinity/ by invocation of the same/ the Three in One and One in Three. Christ before me/ Christ behind me/ Christ above me/ Christ below me/ Christ beside me/ Christ within me/ Christ to comfort and save me.” I’m scared of the dark, and that helped.

    Note: is NOT magic. It’s asking someone who’s offered to help for Him to help you.

    Another form:

  40. Obviously this is the month when the uncannery powers up to full capacity.

  41. FYI, things are getting busy here– so I’ll probably be MIA for a week or two.

    Math. It is hard. Apparently.

  42. Well…that was VERY entertaining…and I wish that all of you who hinted at untold stories would tell them!

    • Some stories are best left untold, save to select people who need to hear them.
      Given the hinted contents and events, I suspect most of the untold stories are in that category.

  43. Since there was a bit of interest and I’m not going to have all-day contact while I’m working on it, here’s a couple of things I found while I was researching that exorcism article I’m working on:
    http://www.crisismagazine.com/2003/the-dark-backward-demons-in-the-real-world-2