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 Supernatural Beliefs take Toll on Tsunami Victims
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/17/2005 :  20:58:06  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
As traumatic as the recent tsunami has been for the local population, many now confront a new fear: ghosts.
quote:
Traditional beliefs and spooky gossip are fueling ghost stories along the Asian coastlines where thousands were swept away. In Indonesia, a student saw a shadowy human shape enter a house, only to find the door locked and no one around. Villagers in Sri Lanka hear cries for help from the ocean. Ghost sightings are the talk of the town in the beach resorts of southern Thailand, where some 5,300 people are listed as dead a third of them foreigners and 3,144 others are missing. In Phuket, Wiwat said he dreads working at night now, and he keeps away from the beaches.
As sad and traumatic the tsunami itself must have been for these survivors, I think this additional unnecessary distress illustrates once again how harmful and damaging superstition and belief in the paranormal can be. People are living in fear of their own homes, the dark, and their beaches; they are living in fear of encountering boogeymen--and all of their fears reenforced by their cultural and religious beliefs.

The really sad part is that these "ghost" stories aren't really all that compelling. One consists only of a figure "fading into shadow"--something even corporeal figures are apt to do--and the "voices of the dead calling from the sea" phenomenon, which is most likely simply an auditory hallucination heard by those who replay the disaster in their minds again and again. The ocean, besides being the cause of the destruction, also provides a suitable level of white noise to allow the brain to play sensory tricks. Indeed, this is somewhat backed up by a statement in the article, "They say the voices are heard the loudest close to the sea," said the Rev. Clement Annadas, a Roman Catholic priest." Basically, the closer you get to the rushing surf, the more likely you will be tricked into hearing something that isn't there.

Of course, not everyone there believes in such nonsense, but unfortunately, and if they are a business owner especially, they are forced to allay the unfounded fears of believers.
quote:
Pairoj Chaiwat, manager of a department store in Phuket where 33 bodies were recovered from its basement supermarket, said he doesn't believe in ghosts, but the building's owners had Buddhist monks honor the dead there so neighborhood people won't be afraid to come once the store reopens.
I've no idea what a ritualistic cleansing costs, but I'm guessing it isn't free, at the very least involving donations of some kind. So now people have to spend money on rebuilding costs and the cost of "laying troubled souls to rest." Unbelievable.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie

Edited by - H. Humbert on 01/17/2005 21:32:45

woolytoad
Skeptic Friend

313 Posts

Posted - 01/18/2005 :  00:05:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send woolytoad a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. HumbertChaiwat, manager of a department store in Phuket where 33 bodies were recovered from its basement supermarket, said he doesn't believe in ghosts, but the building's owners had Buddhist monks honor the dead there so neighborhood people won't be afraid to come once the store reopens.
I've no idea what a ritualistic cleansing costs, but I'm guessing it isn't free, at the very least involving donations of some kind. So now people have to spend money on rebuilding costs and the cost of "laying troubled souls to rest." Unbelievable.[/quote]

I'm not sure how much of an additional burden this is. If my whole family got killed one day and I was the only survivor, atheist or religious, I wouldn't be in good shape for sometime. I'm pretty sure no one would be. I think this may be a case of religion being a good thing. If these rituals help put people at ease, go for it. The cost is probably minimal (I doubt buddhist monks go around trying to rip people off) and the peace of mind is more than worth it for these people.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/18/2005 :  00:25:02   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by woolytoad
I'm not sure how much of an additional burden this is. If my whole family got killed one day and I was the only survivor, atheist or religious, I wouldn't be in good shape for sometime. I'm pretty sure no one would be. I think this may be a case of religion being a good thing. If these rituals help put people at ease, go for it. The cost is probably minimal (I doubt buddhist monks go around trying to rip people off) and the peace of mind is more than worth it for these people.


Yes, but the point is, why is the idea that the ghosts of your dead relatives would haunt you if you didn't perform this ritual encouraged? It isn't the money spent, it's the fact that it's spent in order to dispell a manufactured fear. Wouldn't a far better solution to easing concerns about ghosts be to not validate them in the first place?

I frankly disagree that this is a case of religious or supernatural beliefs being a good thing. Basically people have to go through a horrendous emotional ordeal twice: once to bury the body, and again to appease their "ghost." It is adding an unnecessary stress to an already stressful and emotionally draining time.

Paranormal beliefs are the cause of this trauma. I find little good in the fact that yet more paranormal beliefs can be used to mollify it.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 01/18/2005 00:37:23
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woolytoad
Skeptic Friend

313 Posts

Posted - 01/18/2005 :  03:48:59   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send woolytoad a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by H. Humbert]
Yes, but the point is, why is the idea that the ghosts of your dead relatives would haunt you if you didn't perform this ritual encouraged? It isn't the money spent, it's the fact that it's spent in order to dispell a manufactured fear. Wouldn't a far better solution to easing concerns about ghosts be to not validate them in the first place?


Well, I was thinking that these people already believe in the supernatural. Hence there's not much to be done at the moment to convince them otherwise ... Of course if this is being used as a way to perpetuate religion, then that's wrong. But I'm not sure that that's what happening.
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 01/18/2005 :  04:07:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by woolytoad
Well, I was thinking that these people already believe in the supernatural. Hence there's not much to be done at the moment to convince them otherwise ... Of course if this is being used as a way to perpetuate religion, then that's wrong. But I'm not sure that that's what happening.

No, you are right. These people already believe in ghosts. But that's my main point, that the belief itself is a cause of distress. You say it's wrong to perpetuate the cycle, but where do you draw the line? How do you break the cycle? I don't think you do it by waving some incense sticks and and telling people that "Your house is clean."


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
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