Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ghosts Are Real...

...Except they aren't.

It's past 5:00 am when I begin to write this, which is far later than usual, so be prepared for anything...

So I've been hanging around the forums on Newgrounds for quite some time lately. Recently, I came across this thread. Now, I don't know whether it was a troll who was the OP (original poster, for those of you who were thinking "over powered" or "one piece") or not. It doesn't matter though. Many of you won't check out the link, but basically there's a guy who believes in ghosts, and claims to have been possessed by one. I made some replies on the forum, giving an explanation for what probably really happened to mr. OP, but I figured I might just write about the phenomenon of believing in Ghosts here too.

I know it was a long time since I made my previous post, but I have some excuses. Among other things, I've been on a slalom skiing trip to Vuokatti. I've also been playing SpeedRunners for unhealthy amounts of time. I also spent some time on reading "The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck", while listening to one of the only graphic novel soundtracks in existence (link will probably not work forever; copyright laws), on a CD I bought on the release date.
Mostly though, I've procrastinated. I did however partake in a music competition, and posted a compostition, inspired by an awesome artpiece.
I didn't even come close to winning though, but it was fun :D
(Album of 15 best entries: Bandcamp or YouTube, where all the amazing art is shown too).

Apart from that, I've made yet another infinite song.

Whew :/ Now that that's out of the way, we can return to ghosts.

So I did some research, and it seems as though a LOT of people believe in the existence of the paranormal.

Why do so many people believe that some of the dead still stick around on this little speck of the universe? Well, there are probably many reasons.

Some people simply believe it since they have heard convincing stories. People have always been fascinated by the very things that scare them. As I discussed in my previous post, many enjoy the thrill they get from being scared. There are seemingly endless amounts of horror movies out there, and more is coming all the time. From the moment we're born, we've heard ghost stories, read some books, seen movies. Seeing as it's such a huge part of our culture, it's no wonder that the question "are ghosts for real?" pop up in our heads every now and then.

However, one would think that the vast majority of adults would arrive at the answer "no" in a matter of milliseconds. That doesn't seem to be the case though. Some people are simply FULLY convinced that the souls of the dead walk among the living, which to me, is an absurd thought.

As cool as the theory is, I strongly believe that it's not true. I'm not saying I know with 100% certainty that there couldn't possibly exist such a thing as ghosts, but I've almost never seen anything that would indicate otherwise.
I think that many just enjoy the thought so much (knowingly or not) that they kinda wish ghosts were actually a real thing. Since no one alive knows what dying, or the potential afterlife feel like, it makes sense to want to want to discuss the topic with others. Some people also would want to think that dead relatives or beloved ones are still around them.

Those are all pretty normal people. Different religious beliefs also tend to make folks more susceptible to the possibility of ghosts existing. But these are people who've had no convincing experiences, which eliminate all doubts of the reality of the paranormal. There are even "scientists" that claim that these kinds of things are real, and even some relevant studies have been conducted!

What I want to take some time to discuss, are the extreme believers. There are people that are fully convinced they've had encounters with beings of darkness. I don't doubt that they've seen what they've seen, that they've heard what they've heard, and that they've felt what they've felt. I'll now tell you the funniest thing about this all!

Almost every single kind of these stories occur either when the person affected is lying in bed, under the influence of something, or has just experienced a lot of stress or sleep deprivation. Coincidence?

Quite obviously, not. Why alcohol or other drugs might make you hallucinate (including vision and/or other senses), is no mystery.

What's up with those other things though? Well, I'd say stress is pretty self explanatory too. Did you know that stress is probably the single most common trigger for mental diseases? Stress is responsible for a lot of other malice too. A lot of stress or sleep deprivation can cause you to hallucinate. And often, negative feelings don't result in happy hallucinations...

But even stripped from everything else, the fact of lying in bed is probably the most usual causer of naturally occurring hallucinations! Hallucinations are actually FAR MORE COMMON THAN YOU THINK. In fact - by definition - you've probably hallucinated this very day without realizing it. You've probably experienced pretty "strong" hallucinations sometime during your life too. You don't need to be sick in anyway at all in order to hallucinate.
Have you ever searched for you keys, in the location you thought you put them, but couldn't find them, only for it to later turn out that they were there the entire time after all!? Well, that is actually a naturally occurring "negative" hallucination (as opposed to "positive"), since you couldn't see the keys that were actually there. This phenomenon is actually not even caused by the blind spot in your eye (you're probably not one-eyed either...), but rather from your brain locking out the very thing it's trying to locate. Actually, every hallucination is both positive and negative, as you'd have to see what was under/behind the keys in order not to see the keys.

This is a pretty non-extreme example, but hopefully you got the point. I know I mentioned this in one of my posts about hypnosis too (which is actually a real thing [scientifically proven several, several times], although seemingly more scepticism is directed towards it than at the existence of ghosts o.O).

Anywho... Back to bed.

I've mentioned this before too, but most "paranormal" phenomena occur while people are about to fall asleep (hypnagocic), or are about to wake up (hypnopompic).
Often upon these two things happening, one may experience sleep paralysis. Basically, you're paralyzed when you're sleeping, to prevent you from acting upon your dreams (sleep walkers tend to have an issue with this). However, if the paralysis happens when you are semi-awake, you might experience the scariest events of your life. Your brain isn't functioning normally, and at the same time, your body might try to explain why you can't move (or otherwise bug you with odd sounds or scary figures)! A lot has already been written about this topic, which you'll see if you check out the link I added in the beginning of this paragraph.
Another similar phenomenon is night terror - pavor nocturnus.
Speaking of sleep paralysis, I once mentioned a blog post written by someone that had experienced it. Well, that same blogger has recently made another post, discussing a completely different subject.

So as you can imagine, not all people are educated in this area of psychology, which causes them to draw other conclusions when they see the shadowy figures surrounding their bed and/or laying on top of them. Many people hallucinate about wild animals or just about anything scary you could imagine, but the strange thing is that a huge lot of the people see "the shadow people". Don't believe any of the scary stories based around them though, as they are but projections of the mind. If you're interested, you can actually play a good flash game that's based around them! There's a sequel too, but if you're interested I'm sure you'll manage to find it yourself.

So basically, all the people who have seen ghosts have either misinterpreted something, or hallucinated, or simply have false memories. Heard about them? Basically, every time your brain remembers something, the synapses in the same part of the brain where the memory is stored start working again, which will affect the memory every time. It's fully possible to use inception, this way (the planting of a false idea I mean, not through dreams). There are people who are fully convinced they've seen dinosaurs, without necessarily being "crazy".
You don't actually see the world the way it actually is, but only the way your brain interprets it. Makes you wonder what's real and what's not, doesn't it? Think about it. Ever had some old memories, you've remembered so many times that you're not really sure exactly what happened anymore? The order of events may be mixed up, and some memories can be just plain false. Don't lie too much either! If you do that, it's actually not impossible to start believing some of your own lies XD
Seriously though, I'm not joking... It is. It's scary, isn't it? Not being able to differentiate between reality and fiction.

Back to hallucinations. Don't underestimate how realistic they can feel. All the emotions you feel while hallucinating will only make them feel as real as reality, or maybe even more real?

Anyhow, the entire point of this post is that ghosts most likely do not exist. Photos and videos claiming to have captured them are simply fake or something explainable as well, and have always been. What do you think? Are ghosts for real?

Please, I'd love to hear any scary stories that you have from your personal life! They don't have to be scary either, just relating to the subject. Feel free to comment away ;)

IN OTHER NEWS. Ludum Dare 29 had its start exactly 2 hours and 20 minutes ago. I'm entering this time around. There are two different competitions; make a game yourself, from scartch, in 48 hours + some other restrictions (compo). The other one: 72 hours, teams allowed, not necessarily entirely from scratch, and so on (jam).

The theme that was just released is "Beneath the Surface". The game has to relate to the theme somehow. Seeing as one doesn't get much time, the games become pretty minimalistic. I have this simple idea already which I will expand upon after some sleep (personally, I'm joining the jam).
Here's a two minute skiss:

Basically, the mechanics will be similar to that of the SHIFT games.
Probably, one will be able to alternate between the white and the black ball, if I manage to figure out how to "program" this with Stencyl. You'll move to the side, and have to complete puzzles that become more and more difficult. Also, there might be some dialogue, some music made by me, and such.
This is far from the most original idea, but what do you think? Should I do something else? Please be quick in replying, as time's running out...

Well, since the clock is soon determined to show 6:30, I ought to get some shut-eye.
Have fun...

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