Monday, April 30, 2007

Ghosts in the Library

Recently, the student-run newspaper of the university which I attend, The Western Front, ran a story reporting on the alleged existance of a ghost on the second floor of the school library. A link to the story can be found here.

Obviously, someone with a blog entitled "Jeremy the Skeptic" would find something wrong with a news story such as this. And indeed I did. Here's a letter I sent to the editor of the paper.

To the Editor,

I was deeply disappointed to find as a feature story in the April 27, 2007 issue of The Western Front an unsubstantiated report that a ghost inhabits the microform of the Wilson Library. Providing first hand accounts of “cold spots” and electrical disturbances simply does not provide any evidence for the claim that the spirit of a deceased librarian is currently occupying the building for which she is named. Just because a place feels “creepy” does not mean anything supernatural is going on. I found it particularly amusing that the president of “Advanced Ghost Hunters of Seattle-Tacoma” was contacted as if to provide an air of legitimacy to a story which would otherwise be a mediocre camp fire tale. I am hard pressed to come up with a reason why a representative from the “Society for Sensible Explanations,” also based in Seattle, was not also contacted to provide an alternative, and possibly more sensible, explanation.

Before I read this story, I had held the Front in generally high regard; I found the opinion pieces particularly fascinating. However, with the printing of a story such as “The Ghost of Wilson Library” I now retain the same amount of esteem for the Front as I do for The AS Review which, thanks to the Review’s recent uncritical look at “extra sensory perception,” is not very much. I sincerely hope that the next time an opportunity to report on anything having to do with the supernatural presents itself, the staff of the Front will gaze upon it with a more skeptical eye.

Jeremy Schwartz

I will post any response I get. Here's hoping it's a good one.

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