Ghosts

Ghosts

September 9, 2019 100 By William Hollis


Vsauce I’m Jake and this…uh..this is my
sleeping wig. It’s kind of weird that you’re in my bedroom right now but I’m glad you
are because I’ve been hearing strange noises. Have you ever been laying in your bed and
heard the closet door creak open or footsteps on the floor above you…even though there
is nobody up there? Or that feeling that you are not alone…that someone or something
is hiding under your bed…maybe a spectre, phantom, or apparition, all commonly known
as ghosts. Ah, hello again. Ghosts have played a role
in fiction and real life for a very long time. In Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, written during
the 8th Century BC, ghosts were common place. In the 1st Century AD, the Roman Pliny the
Younger wrote a letter about a restless spirit that had rattling chains haunting his house.
During the Elizabethan Era, Demonology, the study of demons or demonic beliefs, was incredibly
popular. Shakespeare rose to prominence during this time and frequently used ghosts in his
plays like Macbeth, Richard III and Hamlet. This is only one of my many leather bound
books…Ladies. Believing in ghosts or spirits was much more
common back then. Even wanting to contact and communicate with them was normal and sometimes
it would turn…paranormal. Come with me. Seances became common in the mid 19th century.
They often happened privately in peoples’ homes – around a table like this and the lights
would be dimmed : you’d have the medium, a person who was able to link with the spirit
world and then there would be the sitters or spectators. It was an opportunity for the
living to reconnect with loved ones or hear wisdom from foreign ghosts. It was also a
form of entertainment. During a seance the table might spin, shake or levitate. It was
also used as a way for spirits to communicate by knocking on the table to let their presence
known. Mary Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s wife, held seances at the White House after the
death of their son and they were even attended by the President himself. There were also
high-profile non-believers. Harry Houdini spent a fair amount of time debunking mediums
by replicating their incredible feats – because he knew, in reality, they were just like him,
illusionists. The SPR or Society of Psychical Research was
founded in the United Kingdom in 1882 with the purpose of understanding paranormal and
psychic events and explaining them scientifically. There were other groups like the US variant
American Society of Psychical Research or my favorite, the frankly named Ghost Club.
What they ended up finding was a lot of fraud. Eva C was a medium who could materialize a
300 year old spirit named Bien Boa that turned out to just be a normal man wearing a beard
and cloak. Helen Duncan could produce ectoplasm, a physical representation of spiritual energy,
which in reality was cheesecloth and a rubber glove. Or there were the Davenport Brothers
who would be tied up in their “spirit cabinet” with instruments that the spirits would play
once the cabinet door was closed. During a show a magician tied a proper knot with their
ropes and once the door was closed, no instruments were played. For example Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator
of Sherlock Holmes, became interested in spiritualism after the deaths of his wife, son and a large
portion of his family in a short period of time. He was involved in the Society of Psychical
Research and in The Ghost Club. He even wrote a book called The History of Spiritualism.
Unlike some other authors however, Doyle didn’t continue writing books after his death. Man, I haven’t been up to the attic since
I was a kid. Oh wow V.C. Andrews. She is a New York Times Bestselling author whose first
and most well known novel, Flowers in the Attic, made her an overnight literary success.
She’s published over 70 books in the last 24 years alone…even though V.C. Andrews
has been dead for 28. She died in 1986 at the age of 63 and at the time had published
7 novels. During the pre-internet era, unless you had read about Andrews death you’d have
no real idea she wasn’t the one writing the books. But it’s not a ghost writing the books,
just a ghostwriter unlike Illinois State University where the books are supposedly haunted. Angie
Milner was the school’s first librarian and after her death she isn’t haunting the
library, instead she haunts the old books wherever they go. Then there are other haunted objects like
ghost ships with the famous flying dutchman, ghost trains like The St. Louis Light which
is a glowing orb that moves down a set of abandoned train tracks, and one of my favorites,
a german woman whose oven would speak to her in english whenever she opened its door. What
she thought was a ghost turned out to be a semiconductivity event – a gap between her
metal appliances that started picking up radio signals. So there are ghost objects, ghost clubs and
in some countries you can even have a ghost marriage but why is it that nobody ever sees
ghost dinosaurs or Deer: Ghost animals?) Did that deer head just talk? This house is making
me feel crazy but I’m not crazy Reflection: I don’t think you’re crazy, Jake. Thank
you, someone with some common sense! But I believe that there is a ghost in here right
now…and that ghost…is you No, no, no, wait wait just hear me out. In the 1940s biophysicist Dr. Paul Aebersold
discovered that in a year, 98% of all of our atoms are replaced – an atomic turnover. Not
only that but a lot of our cells are constantly changing – the cells in your stomach only
last 5 days before becoming new, becoming different. Your body sheds about 50 million skin cells a day and then new ones form – so it brings up the question…are
you still you…or are you a reproduction? Let’s say I have a hammer and after awhile
I replace the head and then a while later I replace the handle…is it the same hammer?
At what point is it no longer the same? Ah, the Theseus Paradox. If we are constantly
changing the atoms of our body, those basic elements that comprise us…are we still us?
Or are we just a memory of who we were, a recreation based on the idea of ourselves,
an imprint…a ghost of what we used to be…and as always, thanks for watching.