Steal some brains while you're there, dude

The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 15 2008 11:52 AM

Steal some brains while you're there, dude

What's dumber? Robbing a house, or getting caught because a ghost wouldn't let you leave?

I'm guessing it's that second part. Even dumber, when they found him he was suffering dehydration. Or maybe he was already on the brink of it when he robbed the house, which is why he thought it was haunted. Beats me.

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Of course, we hear ghost stories all the time. As I (and lots of others, of course) have long been saying, there is no credible evidence of ghosts. None. Zip. Like with UFOs, if you want to convince me of this, I want real evidence. Not a blurry photo, or video of a spider crawling on a surveillance camera. Evidence.

Of course, it would also help if people like David Klinghoffer didn't apologize for belief in the supernatural. His opinion piece in the L.A. Times has some good points, but is way too credulous of the possibility of the paranormal. He dismissed brain-related effects explaining the belief in paranormal as too much like "just-so stories", and being unfalsifiable. Mr Klinghoffer, if you read this: there have been tests that show this effect to occur. Magnetic effects to the temporal lobe can induce all sorts of paranormal-like feelings. While this is not a sufficient explanation, it certainly is far more than a just-so story.

Anyway, I know stories like the one about the goofball burglar will continue on forever. As a rational person, I know that we will never be an entirely rational species. My hope is that we can minimize our irrationality... especially when it comes to our voters, our politicians, our editors, our writers, and anyone else in positions of power or the ability to communicate.

Tip o' the ectoplasmic residue to Massimo Pigliucci.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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