This post originally appeared on my account at Bubblews. Things have been kind of weird over there and I’m concerned about things getting even weirder. So I’m reposting this on my own blog just in case they turn weirdness factor up to an 11.
Many people in the atheist community are surprised when I tell them I believe ghosts exist. I think it’s because these people confuse atheism with skepticism. Atheism is a non-belief in deities while skepticism is a mode of thinking that precludes a belief in certain thing without evidence. An atheist says, “I don’t believe god(s) exists because of x,y,z reasons.” A skeptic says, “I don’t believe in x, y, z unless you can show me proof of x, y, z.”
You can be an atheist without being a skeptic and you can be a skeptic without being an atheist. The two are not conjoined. Having said that, most atheists are skeptics and I suppose it’s only natural for them to assume that, as a fellow atheist, I’m just as skeptical about everything as they are. For the most part I am.
However, my belief in the existence of ghosts is one that persists despite the sketchy evidence for them. Many ghost claims can be attributed to natural phenomena. For example, infrasound, which is low-frequency sound, can make the eyes vibrate slightly and lead to visual hallucinations. If a person is predisposed to believing in ghosts, then he or she may attribute those hallucinations to supernatural causes when really it’s just your brain playing tricks on you.