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January 17, 2006


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It isn't uncommon for one person's word to be the basis for a belief that someone is dead. It happens on death certificates all the time, and also happens frequently when someone dies in the course of some traumatic event like an industrial accident, ship wreck or military engagement, where retrieval of a body may be impossible. Many of the World Trade Center death certificates had that kind of basis, or sometimes even a more circumstantial one -- he left for work, his office was in the WTC, he would have been there by such and such a time in the ordinary course, I haven't seem him since.

What is uncommon in U.S. culture is for that one person to be someone other than the person who prepared the death certificate or was the principal informant for the person filling out the death certificate. It is also uncommon for hospital officials not to directly inform a family in U.S. culture. But, in some small village in India, I wouldn't be at all surprised if this were customary. The tradition of having government certificates to document vital statistics like births and deaths isn't all that terribly old, even in the developed world, and prior to then notations made by family members on the inside cover of a family bible based on similar evidence, or church records of baptisms and funerals, were the gold standards in Christendom.

The "proof he is not a ghost" part, of course, is funny, since, of course, he himself is the proof.

Between this ghost story, the lumberjack, and those dolphin nutbars mentioned on Hokum-Balderdash (you need to update the links on the left, btw, Skeptico), I'm beginning to wonder if someone's website is magically uploading LSD into my brain to make me hallucinate these posts.

People aren't really that stupid... are they?

Or it could be that I've just ODed on Internet-spread idiotry, and need to pace myself.

Come on, that's easy. Everyone knows that Ghosts can walk through walls and fly around and create magnetic fields and stuff. Tell the guy to walk into the wall if he goes through, he's a ghost if not, he's just using his ghost powers to mimic a living being and he's a ghost.

Scary. Who ya gonna call?

Oops. Seems it was The Second Sight where I read the dolphin thingy.

If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade.

There has to be all kinds of advantages to being a ghost. Endorsements. Tax avoidance. Discounts at participating Red Lobsters. If you ever wanted to be on Letterman, this is a first-class ticket! Use your imagination!

The perils of nonsensical conversations...

1. "How do we tell if he's a ghost?"
2. "How much does a ghost weight?"
1. "Less than a duck."
2. "So we have to catch a duck."
1. "Right."
2. "Then weigh it."
1. "Right."
2. "Then we weigh the ghost man and see if he weighs less than the duck."
1. "Right."
2. "Then if he does, we eat him."
1. "Uhh...
2. "What?"

Sounds like a lot of fun to me. I'd just walk into people's houses and take stuff. "What are you going to do, I'm a ghost! Ha ha, suckers."

"What are you going to do, I'm a ghost! Ha ha, suckers."

I have a feeling it'd involve rice-pelting, weird-smelling incense, and a guy shouting "The pasta of the FSM compels you!"

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