This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.


← Ghost seance goes wrong

cynicaloptimistrealist's Avatar Jump to comment 5 by cynicaloptimistrealist

To the OP, I think you need to explain to your concerned colleague that the children were performing a script. She is obviously extremely superstitious and resonably dismissing her fears point by point may diffuse the confrontation. Go ahead and make the film, make it known that it is a scripted ghost story. There should be no reason for anyone to object. The fact is that the children contributed to this story, the children had no issue with it, I presume you didn't wake up in the middle of the night to find your lawn populated by villagers carrying flaming torches while angrily waving pitchforks, so there's no need to worry. The parents haven't complained and I am sure their children have told them about the project as something like this would be quite exciting for them, so you're dealing with one parent who has either misunderstood the course of events or is living in the dark ages. Either way, it sounds like you have the support of your other colleagues.

To Aguazul, I had to read your post several times to be sure that I wasn't misunderstanding your point, then I started searching for the punch line, but I found none. Having spent time traveling around different villages in China (officially atheist apart from the religion that is the CCP but in reality very superstitious) and Taiwan, I do agree that the further you travel from large population centres the stranger beliefs become. However, reality for the witches, traditional healers and psychics I encountered was a reality revealed by the previous generation, not one of them innovated, tested new ideas or techniques, so the knowledge they claim to represent never expands. I've watched people throwing bones on the floor to predict the outcome of my journey (that's the equivalent of me drawing a card from a deck and deciding to stay in bed if I draw anything less than a 10), had a guy study my finger and tell me that I drink too much (I drink about 6 times a year at most) and was warned not to spend the night in an old un-populated village because of "screaming ghosts" who turned out cats in the heat of passion (that did scare me - a screaming beast with 4 reflective eyes is enough to make anyone jump). I am not a scientist, but I have a curiousity about almost everything and I understand that the more I learn about something the more I realise how little I know about it. Traditional believers are much more "arrogant" in their certaintity that the events around them occur at the caprice of spirits or gods, agreeable results appear when rituals were performed correctly, unfortunate results where rituals were not observed to the letter or some taboo was broken. To illustrate my point, I spent some time with a Paiwan tribe (a people I have tremendous respect for) in southern Taiwan after a devestating typhoon during which great parts of jungle covered mountains collapsed into the valleys below. Many older people blamed the government for diverting part of a river, thus angering the spirits.

Filip is not unleashing an unknown experiment on his students, they are performing a script just like the ones you see in many horror movies, tv shows and books - if you have data that suggests that actors in horror movies and authors of ghost stories are less fortunate than the average person because they mess with "dark powers" that they cannot control or understand, I would love to see it. Chemistry teachers demonstrating experiments to students are demonstrating tried and tested experiments which are only new to the students, in a way that's exactly what Filip is doing in his media studies class by asking his students to write and film a ghost story which is also a tried and tested media topic.

Probably my opinion doesn't sit well with atheists here, though -- sorry -- but I'm out here in the field, and not all of reality fits our current Western-scientific view of the world.

The first part of this sentence is correct, no need to apologise we all have different views. The second part leads me to wonder which field you're in, is it per chance the one filled with those white stemmed pointy brown capped mushrooms that people seem to eat raw? The "current Western-scientific view of the world" constantly grows and adapts, it is never satisfied with leaving things alone because they are poorly understood.

Tue, 15 May 2012 21:21:17 UTC | #941695