“Repost This Story or a Ghost Will,” Etc.

We’ve all seen them.  They’re like viruses floating through internet forums, comment boxes, and emails waiting for an unsuspecting individual to read the first few lines telling of the untimely demise of someone only to inevitably read the instructions that they should repost the message or be struck down by the angry spirit of the ghost.  The real question becomes not if these easily investigated and refuted stories themselves are hoaxes, but if information itself can be a direct link to a paranormal entity or phenomenon.

Fortunately, these emails and comments are often discovered to be nothing more than a chain of lies.  And if there’s any doubt that a story such as that involving Carmen Winstead, who was pushed down a sewer opening was a complete fabrication, one must only look at the numbers.  Say one person passes the story to the recommended 15 to avoid a supernaturally motivated death.  In this case let’s say those fifteen are the only “generation” of people to pass it on to 15 others each, but none of those pass the story on.  This would mean that 225 people, or approximately half of a fully loaded 747 worth of people would suddenly disappear or be found murdered by this mysterious phantom.  Seeing that there are thousands of these chain letters around the world, it’s easy to refute their contents.

But is it possible that information itself can be haunted?  After-all, what is a place to us other than a series of sensations experienced through the senses?  A haunted place to our minds is nothing more than a series of images, sounds, smells, and tactile sensations.  So is it possible that information patterns could themselves bring about a paranormal result?  Take the concept of religious rituals performed on every continent throughout history.  Each of them had specific ritual implements generated to create a specific effect, such as contact with another world.  Would a ritual taking place without the presence of conscious humans generate the intended results?  Or is the consciousness itself the thing that is changed through the ritual, itself only significant through a series of symbols intended to bring about a mental state.  If this is true, then there is a limited amount of stock we should put into any mental state in its relation to the paranormal.  Before you go to your inbox, however, let’s keep in mind that chain letters themselves are not the same as ancient rituals and have never been documented to generate anything more paranormal than the same apprehension we feel when we step on a crack on a sidewalk.  So if information is not the key, then it seems to be the mind itself that has an effect on the environment.

And there are images that are said to be haunted as well.  Not just the original paintings themselves, but copies of the paintings and even digital copies proliferated throughout the Internet.  If the old saying, a picture is worth a thousand words holds true, then is it possible an image would actually create a state of mind effectively that could generate a paranormal experience?  And if so, of what origin was the inspiration to paint it originally?