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Things That Make You Go 'Hmmmm...'

catseye

Old lady trouser-smell with yesterday's knickers
Joined
Feb 1, 2010
Messages
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Location
York
Reading a lot of IHTM-like stories from various sites and I have realised that I've got a long 'automatically discount' list, and an almost equally long 'hmmmm (one raised eyebrow) list.

For example, I almost automatically discount any story that begins either 'I woke up and saw...' or 'I know I definitely wasn't asleep, because...', and the raised eyebrow is occasioned by anything that contains the words 'it is said', or 'I later found out that someone is supposed to have died there.'

I give the stories a once-over, because I'm aware that some perfectly plausible things happen on just waking or before falling asleep, and that it's possible that someone could experience something and only later find out that the place has a history, but so many of these seem to be either misunderstandings of hypnopompic or hypnogic or sleep paralysis experiences, or just people getting twitchy and then formulating some nebulous reason as to why. The stories of an underclass woman who is supposed to have 'got pregnant and committed suicide' to account for shapes and shadows also gets the raised eyebrow, as nobody ever seems to check (and such deaths are usually recorded).

Is it just me - am I getting too sceptical for my own good?
 
I'm with you @catseye and @maximus otter :group:

This place (and work outwith the forums, looking at you @DrPaulLee!) has given me sufficient data to mull over.

It's not that I don't believe them. They are "true" within their own limits. But my understanding of ghosts has evolved from disbelief and simultaneous shudders towards a paradigm of broad generalised weirdness which sometimes, just sometimes, intrudes into the dailyness of life.

And that is terrifying when I allow myself to dwell on it!
 
I'm with you @catseye and @maximus otter :group:

This place (and work outwith the forums, looking at you @DrPaulLee!) has given me sufficient data to mull over.

It's not that I don't believe them. They are "true" within their own limits. But my understanding of ghosts has evolved from disbelief and simultaneous shudders towards a paradigm of broad generalised weirdness which sometimes, just sometimes, intrudes into the dailyness of life.

And that is terrifying when I allow myself to dwell on it!
I believe that there are things out there, things we don't understand. Possibly ghosts, whatever they are, and other weirdnesses. But I just feel that so many people underestimate the power of the human brain to glitch, misremember, cherrypick facts and just be even weirder than the weird things.
 
I've seen and experienced all sorts of weirdness, as has Techy; although he's been more likely in the past to seek it out.

A problem is that it's hard to convey the experience. For example, when describing an earthquake-like occurrence a few years ago I had to set the scene which was my bedroom at sleepy-time... CLICK, off! goes @catseye.
But I wasn't asleep, I was settling down to listen to a podcast. Takes me a few minutes to assume the position. I was awake and alert, if relaxed. The 'quake was most likely from minor underground salt works.

I take most accounts of weirdness on'ere at face value. It's not the High Court, they don't have to prove anything.
 
On Reddit and Mumsnet threads the fictional tales always have far too much back story that is all about them, a narrative 'journey' that is intended to draw you in and get you increasingly spooked and finally a tidy conclusion usually linked to some invented folklore or person of local importance who died in horrible circumstances

Essentially, the tale is central to them and their life and not the actual paranormal encounter., it's a dead giveaway.

Add to the above any inflated claims about always being able to communicate with the 'other side', having Romany blood etc....
 
Reading a lot of IHTM-like stories from various sites and I have realised that I've got a long 'automatically discount' list, and an almost equally long 'hmmmm (one raised eyebrow) list.

For example, I almost automatically discount any story that begins either 'I woke up and saw...' or 'I know I definitely wasn't asleep, because...', and the raised eyebrow is occasioned by anything that contains the words 'it is said', or 'I later found out that someone is supposed to have died there.'

I give the stories a once-over, because I'm aware that some perfectly plausible things happen on just waking or before falling asleep, and that it's possible that someone could experience something and only later find out that the place has a history, but so many of these seem to be either misunderstandings of hypnopompic or hypnogic or sleep paralysis experiences, or just people getting twitchy and then formulating some nebulous reason as to why. The stories of an underclass woman who is supposed to have 'got pregnant and committed suicide' to account for shapes and shadows also gets the raised eyebrow, as nobody ever seems to check (and such deaths are usually recorded).

Is it just me - am I getting too sceptical for my own good?
You may have become a bit jaded. I think it's a little harsh to totally discount something because of a certain conjunction of words.
One of my friends 'woke up and saw' something once - I'm not going to call her a liar.
In my own case, I experienced something that could be described as a ghost - and... 'I later found out that someone is supposed to have died there'. You know I'm not full of lies and pointless boasts.
 
You are right Mythos, but I remain unapologetic about mentally dismissing any account that starts with "So .."
Isn't that nearly every sentence nowadays?

Sorry, I forgot to disengage 'grumpy old sod' mode.

I would be quite surprised if it wasn't the case that nearly everyone has some kind of 'I woke up and saw...' experience (I know I have). Most of them are probably nothing paranormal, and most people probably realise that is the case. But I wouldn't necessarily dismiss someone's experience out-of-hand just because it happens at night when they have just woken up or are in the process of doing so.

Of course, everything seems stranger in the dark of the middle of the night, and our ability to judge rationally is likely to be at a low ebb... or maybe that is how those things of the night have been getting away with it for so long....
 
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… I have realised that I've got a long 'automatically discount' list, and an almost equally long 'hmmmm (one raised eyebrow) list.

For example, I almost automatically discount any story that begins either 'I woke up and saw...' or 'I know I definitely wasn't asleep, because...', and the raised eyebrow is occasioned by anything that contains the words 'it is said', or...

There's a scene in an episode of Still Game, where a local dignitary's anodyne speech is punctuated by the observations of a kind of Ned version of the Greek chorus. At some point, when listening to or reading supposedly true ghost stories - especially those that make it on to podcasts which specialise in such stuff - my brain started making the same responses, in the same nasally Ned accent. This started as an almost unconscious mental thing, but when I found myself literally shouting the same responses across the room, in the appropriate accent, I knew it was time to stop listening to ‘true story’ ghost type podcasts.

It is said...

Naw it's naw.

I know I definitely wasn't asleep...

Aye, ye were.

Someone is supposed to have died there...

Naw, they didnae.

I woke up and saw...

Naw, ye didnae.

I’ve always been a bit psychic…

Naw ye havnae.

There was a demon..

Naw, there wasnae.

There was definitely no-one there when I took the photograph...

Aye, there was.


(I should point out that this should not be taken as evidence of a hardwired scepticism - but more the result of a lifetime of bitter disappointment.)
 
There's a scene in an episode of Still Game, where a local dignitary's anodyne speech is punctuated by the observations of a kind of Ned version of the Greek chorus. At some point, when listening to or reading supposedly true ghost stories - especially those that make it on to podcasts which specialise in such stuff - my brain started making the same responses, in the same nasally Ned accent...

Here we go:


I love a good ghost story, but unfortunately I have ruined it for myself - as an ethereal nasally Ned voice now punctuates almost every 'true' ghost story I ever listen to.
 
It's easy to sniff out the rubbish and yarns on'ere. For one thing, even the gentlest questioning will evoke aggressive or insulting replies.
We're sometimes advised to go and do some research or educate yourself! followed by radio silence. :chuckle:

Also, self-proclaimed experts in Ye Anciente Occulte get short shrift. I had dealings with such as a teenager and learned to dismiss them with ridicule.
Strangely, none of the promised demons ever turned up to punish my impertinence. :dunno:
 
I should point out that I don't automatically discount any story that begins in the pre-described way, only on those sites like Mumsnet etc. Well, mostly only on those sites. They seem to be filled with credulous people who've never even heard of sleep paralysis and don't want to listen to any kind of rational explanation - it's all 'well I KNOW it was the ghost of my granny's long dead sister/the person who died here/some random paranormal explanation', and they don't want to be told 'yeah, it's a hypnogogic hallucination, everyone gets those'.

I'm not switching off the second someone says my 'hmmmmm' words. I give the benefit of the doubt. Just usually not on those places!
 
Toby my neighbour who was in his mid 70's 3 doors down died suddenly on Saturday morning and every day before he died he would pass on his mobility scooter on his to and from te shops sometimes with a wave.
Yesterday I at around 5 I had a half an hour catnap and just drifted off yet like most afternoon lie downs I'm still half a wake just in a lovely relaxed state when I saw Toby pass on his Scooter so clear like it was my minds eye and then woke up out of that state....it was comforting.
 
Stories with too much details make me suspicious. Looks like the contributor has written a story and is testing it in those threads where there's supposed to be real stories. This is especially when they retell a story from someone, and not themselves.
 
I've had many a weird thing happen to me and I've seen a lot of spooky stuff that is hard to explain (at first sight), but I remain sceptical - judge each case on it's merits, after all. If all rational explanations fail to fit, then ...
I can understand when people try to recount an unsettling experience using linguistic 'shortcuts' or tropes. I tend to listen to the incident itself and what the witness actually experienced.
However certain ... inclusions act as a 'black mark' on my Scorecard of Belief:
Unnamed female domestic staff committing suicide due to unwanted pregnancy.
Unrequited love leading to suicide.
Nuns (usually) being immured for salacious crimes.
Cruel and violent landowner/squire.
Indian burial grounds (in America)*.
"Took this photo, but it was only when I got home/had it developed that I noticed ..."
"Someone told us that this used to be ..."

Technically, all these things might be true, but it crops up in paranormal accounts too often.
* The US is a pretty big place, so what are the odds of a nice new building being built on a native burial ground? Here in the UK, we're far smaller and we have our share of burial grounds (moved) and plague pits, but we manage to avoid building on the majority.
 
I've had many a weird thing happen to me and I've seen a lot of spooky stuff that is hard to explain (at first sight), but I remain sceptical - judge each case on it's merits, after all. If all rational explanations fail to fit, then ...
I can understand when people try to recount an unsettling experience using linguistic 'shortcuts' or tropes. I tend to listen to the incident itself and what the witness actually experienced.
However certain ... inclusions act as a 'black mark' on my Scorecard of Belief:
Unnamed female domestic staff committing suicide due to unwanted pregnancy.
Unrequited love leading to suicide.
Nuns (usually) being immured for salacious crimes.
Cruel and violent landowner/squire.
Indian burial grounds (in America)*.
"Took this photo, but it was only when I got home/had it developed that I noticed ..."
"Someone told us that this used to be ..."

Technically, all these things might be true, but it crops up in paranormal accounts too often.
* The US is a pretty big place, so what are the odds of a nice new building being built on a native burial ground? Here in the UK, we're far smaller and we have our share of burial grounds (moved) and plague pits, but we manage to avoid building on the majority.
I'll listen to/read any or all of the above and judge the story on its merits.
Or not judge at all, who am I? The world's top authority on the supernatural? :dunno:

Most of the time it doesn't matter. What the story tells us about the teller might be more important.

Accounts of hauntings concerning traumatic deaths might reflect a deeper concern with the issues under discussion. I am reminded of Sean Tudor's work on connecting contemporary ghost stories with folklore and mythology.

On a more personal level, ghost stories might ring more true for those who've experienced similar life events to those of, say, the unfortunate suicides.

While most of us haven't taken vows of celibacy and broken them, leading to punitive immurement, what young woman hasn't thought 'old on... and started worriedly counting the weeks? I've certainly been there. :nods:

Who among us has been so desperately in love that we truly believed we'd die without that person? Also me. :chuckle:

Stories of ghosts, like urban legends, are about us. In that respect they are all true.
 
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I've had many a weird thing happen to me and I've seen a lot of spooky stuff that is hard to explain (at first sight), but I remain sceptical - judge each case on it's merits, after all. If all rational explanations fail to fit, then ...
I can understand when people try to recount an unsettling experience using linguistic 'shortcuts' or tropes. I tend to listen to the incident itself and what the witness actually experienced.
However certain ... inclusions act as a 'black mark' on my Scorecard of Belief:
Unnamed female domestic staff committing suicide due to unwanted pregnancy.
Unrequited love leading to suicide.
Nuns (usually) being immured for salacious crimes.
Cruel and violent landowner/squire.
Indian burial grounds (in America)*.
"Took this photo, but it was only when I got home/had it developed that I noticed ..."
"Someone told us that this used to be ..."

Technically, all these things might be true, but it crops up in paranormal accounts too often.
* The US is a pretty big place, so what are the odds of a nice new building being built on a native burial ground? Here in the UK, we're far smaller and we have our share of burial grounds (moved) and plague pits, but we manage to avoid building on the majority.
Do not get me started again on the subject of nuns. (And that is not a sentence I ever thought I'd say or write).
 
Stories with too much details make me suspicious. Looks like the contributor has written a story and is testing it in those threads where there's supposed to be real stories. This is especially when they retell a story from someone, and not themselves.
I was thinking that sadly and some of the strories sound too good or bad to be true.
 
This is why I am more inclined to believe the very ordinary stories (of the sort we often find on here...), just an odd happening with no real follow up; no nice narrative that ties the story up with a big bow (saw a shadow move, subsequently found out 'it was said' that someone died on that very spot...)
 
I'm not switching off the second someone says my 'hmmmmm' words. I give the benefit of the doubt. Just usually not on those places!
Yes when clicking 'like' on your OP I'd taken you to mean in those circumstances as I've been posting with you long enough to know that you are not a hard line sceptic! In any case I very rarely bother to read any of those posts on the sites mentioned quite apart from the bother of getting in to see them I find it annoying that they are past the stage of interrogation. I much prefer reading of peoples experiences on here where they can be given a good going over and by and large the tellers are open to alternative suggestions.

When hearing of peoples experiences outwith this forum I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt. Often these stories are very important to people and it's not always been easy for them to share. So even if I can see an alternative explaination unless I knew them well enough to know they can take it I'd keep quiet. Besides I don't actually know if my thoughts/interpretation is any more valid that theirs ... so none of my business. In any case I am always more than happy to hear other peoples fortean stuff.

My chief dislike are hard line sceptics that need to show off how clever they are. I've not noticed anyone of that nature on here but encounter them IRL ... boring and unkind and who knows quite possibly ignorant to boot!
 
This is why I am more inclined to believe the very ordinary stories (of the sort we often find on here...), just an odd happening with no real follow up; no nice narrative that ties the story up with a big bow (saw a shadow move, subsequently found out 'it was said' that someone died on that very spot...)
It can work though.
Someone on'ere described a situation where faces were seen looking through a solid upstairs wall. Turned out, the house had once been used as a dancing school and there'd been an internal window for people to watch from.
No murders or other unpleasantness, just a touch of the old Stone Tape.
 
I'm currently watching a lot of 'True Ghost Stories' on YouTube. If I hear one more 'it is believed that...' I may not be able to 'hmmmmm' hard enough. Does nobody actually do any research?
I think that for the less analytically-minded, telling spooky 'true' stories (or bigging up some slightly odd occurence) is just a bit of fun. I guess it must be tempting to do so, as it's not like anyone can actually disprove what they're claiming. You might dispute it, but they can just stick to their story. They "know what they saw" (as "Uncanny" might phrase it).

I'm not saying everyone does that, mind, as I do keep an open mind.
 
I think that for the less analytically-minded, telling spooky 'true' stories (or bigging up some slightly odd occurence) is just a bit of fun. I guess it must be tempting to do so, as it's not like anyone can actually disprove what they're claiming. You might dispute it, but they can just stick to their story. They "know what they saw" (as "Uncanny" might phrase it).

I'm not saying everyone does that, mind, as I do keep an open mind.
I really do try to keep an open mind. I do. I am lately just hearing so many things that are making me think 'oh come on,' that it started to make me wonder whether it was me, being overly sceptical, which was why I started this thread. But I think there's an increasing desire to be the centre of attention, maybe driven by social media, and so the telling of what might be a slightly mysterious tale worthy of our 'minor strangeness' thread becomes over inflated to give it a narrative and make it a proper story.
 
I really do try to keep an open mind. I do. I am lately just hearing so many things that are making me think 'oh come on,' that it started to make me wonder whether it was me, being overly sceptical, which was why I started this thread. But I think there's an increasing desire to be the centre of attention, maybe driven by social media, and so the telling of what might be a slightly mysterious tale worthy of our 'minor strangeness' thread becomes over inflated to give it a narrative and make it a proper story.

You seem to be at precisely the same stage I reached several years ago.

It actually worried me a little that I was becoming overly hardened to a subject about which I had always been quite open minded. But while listening to one particular podcast I actually had a kind of little epiphany (although, actually, it was based on a very simple and really quite obvious concept): that it would not mean that I no longer had an open mind in regard to the thing we call ghosts, simply because I didn't believe these bullshit stories.

In this particular context, the idea that the issue is a conflict between 'sceptic' and 'believer' is, I think, a false dichotomy.
 
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You seem to be at precisely the same stage I reached several years ago.

It actually worried me a little that I was becoming overly hardened to a subject about which I had always been quite open minded. But while listening to one particular podcast I actually had a kind of little epiphany (although, actually, it was based on a very simple and really quite obvious concept): That it would not mean that I no longer had an open mind in the regard to thing we call ghosts, simply because I didn't believe these bullshit stories.

In this particular context, the idea that the issue is a conflict between 'sceptic' and 'believer' is, I think, a false dichotomy.
Forteana has suffered grievously from the bullshit merchants, increasingly so since the internet 2.0, photoshop, Apps and now AI. Is there any other field of human interest that has attracted so many hoaxers and deluded individuals? Teenagers taking photos of 'flying saucers' stuck onto glass, blatantly fictional ghost stories told as fact, blurred images of house cats presented as evidence of ABCs, Bigfoot lives in my garden, etc etc. No wonder there are so many affirmed unbelievers out there. A good friend of mine who was well educated, travelled, fascinated by nature, Roman and Neolithic history etc and yet steadfastly refused to even contemplate the paranormal being anything other than cranks, nutters and hoaxes.
 
Forteana has suffered grievously from the bullshit merchants, increasingly so since the internet 2.0, photoshop, Apps and now AI. Is there any other field of human interest that has attracted so many hoaxers and deluded individuals? Teenagers taking photos of 'flying saucers' stuck onto glass, blatantly fictional ghost stories told as fact, blurred images of house cats presented as evidence of ABCs, Bigfoot lives in my garden, etc etc. No wonder there are so many affirmed unbelievers out there. A good friend of mine who was well educated, travelled, fascinated by nature, Roman and Neolithic history etc and yet steadfastly refused to even contemplate the paranormal being anything other than cranks, nutters and hoaxes.
Re: Your friend. If the paranormal didn't exist we wouldn't and couldn't be discussing it.
 
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