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This morning, at 5:53 AM, the door of the bedroom I was sleeping in opened on its own. It gave off a continuous creak as it slowly moved from its fully closed position to a mostly opened one. I happened to already be awake, so I was able to open my eyes fully and watch the process take place from start to finish. Before I finish the story, I’ll segue into into some side information so as to speak to ghosts and unnatural observations.
Elliott O’ Donnell (1872-1965), was of Irish descent and English birth. He became an actor, an author, and would be well described in today’s terms as a, “ghost hunter.” He was accomplished in authoring numerous titles that involved the supernatural. His bibliography included a combination of both fiction and, according to O’ Donnell, non-fiction. He possessed a multi-dimensional talent about him and was successful with his different exploits. Much of his writing survives into print in the current day.
As early as age five, O’Donnell believed that he saw a ghostly figure. Additionally, in recounting his days as a college student, O’ Donnell said that he encountered an apparition of some sort in his dormitory room. As the story is recounted, the dark silhouette became malevolent and attempted to do harm to the eyewitness of O’ Donnell. These two stories were trumpeted events in O’ Donnell’s recited history, and he maintained the truth of the other preternaturally themed accounts that were included in his works of non-fiction designation.
A quick psychological assessment of O’ Donnell’s timeline might suggest a predisposition to belief if he first saw a ghost at such a young age. Also, the question could be raised if he were fantasy prone to some degree if this event happened so early in his life and carried into an interest that he held onto his entire life. Or, if he simply had an enjoyment for the subject matter, he may have been able to take his communicational skills as an actor and writer and turn them into vehicles for making a living in a manner he enjoyed. But, unless there is some historical opinion of which I’m not aware, I would not suggest doubting that O’ Donnell had an underlying belief that was sincere. Most of all, let me assure the reader that I am not throwing O’ Donnell underneath the bus, here. My intent is quite the opposite. I am using his example, to instead, hold my own self accountable.
If one has read my last blog entry, they will quickly see that in addition to trying to throw in some educational information, the piece also contains a portion of idealized writing. It goes beyond mere communication of certain relevant concepts when considering paranormal phenomena and their reduction. Present within its terminating remarks are expressions of the ideal, the sentimental, and the dramatic. The piece is not only informative, but by design, it is also heightened in grandiosity, even though it too is steeped in sincerity.
I make the comparison between O’ Donnell and myself so I can highlight the importance of my awareness. I’m not saying that O’ Donnell was not aware of how to carry on a dialogue about the empirical versus the assumed. And, I have no problem with him being sincere in his belief. Rather, I am simply trying to call emphasis to my commitment to hold myself to an objective standard on the matter of ghosts. As outlandish as a paranormal proposition may seem to me, I still think that the most appropriate reaction is to test it, of course, if it has not already been tested before by reliable experimenters. Even then, I’m often willing to go back and enjoy the occasional retest. O’ Donell would have been convinced that something otherworldly could potentially haunt a hallway in an antebellum home. In my comments in posts prior, I have never meant to state my opinions as strongly as would have been O’ Donnell’s. My greater focus simply lies in acknowledging that there are multitudinous claims in conjunction with a property I have been able to visit in a firsthand fashion, and I would like to see them brought to bear. I would simply love to have the time and access to come to some more definitive conclusions about the property. These conclusions should not be bolstered by any predilicitions. Instead, they should be arrived at only through objective evidence.
An idealized form of writing is NOT investigation, whether it is written by me or anyone else. An audience should hold my feet to the fire as quickly as anyone. The standards of investigation I cling to are independent of any suspicions held one way or the other about ghosts. There should be no allowance of any fantasy or confabulated application that distorts what actually occurs at a location that is of haunted repute.
The environment of significance needs to have an understood baseline. There needs to be adequate time for observing a property and arriving at reliable reports which offer a valid synopsis on why a property has been interpreted in the way that it has. Or, even better when possible, a direct explanation of why certain phenomena have been reported is the ultimate win. Controls that eliminate interference with this interpretive data are also consequential for getting at the most reliable answers. Just because I dreamily write a comparison of investigation to a chess match is not submitted to the exclusion of investigative protocol. And, the act of public recording in a blog does not imply the inference of hoped for dramatic escalation. By and large, my last blog entry is simply a journaling effort as much as it is an informational effort. The delineation is here so made.
However, what can take place at this juncture is to consider haunted hallways and doors. We can take simpler examples to make good points. What me must not do is fall into the trap of using more elementary examples and then applying them to all anomalies with a broad sweeping brush as an answer-all approach.
If one takes the examples of Ockham’s razor and the proposition of anecdotal evidence, we can briefly speak to two key aspects of the discussion of ghosts. Yes, if we get into Ockham’s razor, parsimony, and eyewitness claims, we can consider our methodology, as well as any additional attempted testing we may choose to add, if it really can be added at all.
It is important to get the science process rolling with Ockham in a way that prevents the razor from negligently being used too prematurely to announce an assumed leading cause of agency. This part of the puzzle is why it is so important to have the time to properly study an environment. If efforts are suspended too early, it may be assumed that the most simple explanation HAS been isolated and locked in. But, what if, in fact, there were an additional variable or two that needed consideration? What I can say is that in the case of my door this morning, I did not need any additional investigation time. In the case of the hallway that I wrote of yesterday, I need quite a lot more time. I cannot immediately invoke Ockham on the hallway at this point and then tell you, “well this has to be the explanation.” At this stage, the waters are still murky. We cannot assume the most simple explanation without having the right explanation as possible candidate. We need time to arrive at what explanation, in concordance with Ockham, that answer may be.
And, in regard to anecdotal evidence, how far is it to be taken? In the case of my door from this morning, there is none to consider. But, when speaking about my mysterious hallway, there is quite a lot to sort through. Yes, there are limitations to eyewitness testimony, and it has to be treated with those constraints in mind. At the same time, some of this testimony can be beneficial to aiding the forensic side of a deconstruction. I once knew of a person who made an incredible identification based on something they had seen on a different day, in a totally different setting, and that required an impressive recall of detailed recognition. And, in the case of the eyewitnesses I have talked to about my hallway of interest, there is no question that they have registered something at differing times. The question is not whether or not something has been seen. The question has now shifted over to asking what has been perceived? The consideration of anecdotal evidence does not automatically mean that a ghost is implied. Taking into account these recitations, rather, may be significant in contributing to an explanation as to what really lies at the heart of the explanation. For anyone who wants to believe, the invitation will always be there. The trick is to resist that beckoning if and when the data is gapped or errant. I have not taken the bait. I continue to wait patiently, yet enthusiastically, to have another chance to observe.
And, in order to complete my story from my opening paragraph, I will now explain. There are simple reasons for knowing why the door opened all by itself. Right above the room is a central heating unit in the attic. When it is running full throttle while beginning to warm up the home at the start of the day, it sends out quite a lot of vibration. The waves travel the two by four beams inside the walls, the drywall, the door frame, and the door itself. Furthermore, the door is slightly out of line. If one conducts tests with it, even after locking the door knob, a push from the outside with only slight force will ensure that the locked door opens. In this case, Ockham quickly wins. There is no reason to suspect any other causes for the door opening by itself. And, because of this high degree of certainty, there are no anecdotal tales in pursuit that perhaps a ghost entered my room at 6 o’ clock in the morning. We have our suspects accounted for already. However, the hallway down the road is a different matter, and is a more complex challenge.
An opening door has been the simpler Back for the day.
My hope is that a storied hallway will avail itself and be the push Forth someday that I have longed for in terms of explanation.