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Debunking The Paranormal

You wake up in the middle of the night. You look at the clock and its 3am in the morning.  But next to the clock you think you saw something, or someone. You tell yourself it is all in your mind and hide under the covers, praying you will fall asleep within a few seconds. You repeatedly convince yourself it’s all in your head, but one part of you believes that there is someone still standing there.

Last week at work a girl asked me about a short story I as writing where the character would wake up at 2:30am every night. She remarked that 2:30am was 30 minutes before the Witching Hour. Curious to know what that was I went home and did some research.

Supposedly, Witching hour is the darkest hour of the night (literally) and is when witches, demons and ghosts are at their most powerful. Being someone who is deathly fearful of anything remotely paranormal, and who grabs onto any facts that may prove paranormal beings to be fake or of the mind, I looked towards psychology.

I found that the reason we believe in paranormal beings is because our brains are wired to do so. As humans we seek answers to everything that happens to us or around us, sometimes forcing or making up answers when really there isn’t any. It is all about our thirst to put a label on the ambiguous things we encounter in life. So it is not surprising that we see these paranormal beings under ambiguous circumstances like when we are just about to fall asleep, or wake up in the middle of the night or in dim/low lighting. Further, we tend to see these paranormal beings in situations that warrant their sightings such as a ‘haunted house’, in a dark alley way or the corner of your bedroom. Basically we see them because we are ‘looking’ for them.

Typically, our sleep cycle loops in four stages. The first one being Non-REM Sleep and the fourth being REM sleep. Non-REM Sleep is the stage between wakefulness and sleep, translating into the moments right before we are about to sleep or as soon as we wake up in the middle of the night. It is during these times that we report seeing ghosts. Given our brain is in-between consciousness and unconsciousness we often mistake what we see and hear and label it as a paranormal sighting when really we are just tired.

As humans we can hear sounds that go as low as 20Hertz and as high as 20,000Hertz. Anything below the 20Hertz threshold is not detectable by the human ear. Yet these sounds exist and we can feel them in the form of vibrations. These vibrations are most commonly felt in our stomachs, causing an uneasy feeling and even a sense of panic given the correct circumstances and surroundings. Hence when we find ourselves in a creepy house or quiet place with machinery, we get the feeling that there is something there, when really, it is just sound.

Whether or not there are actual things as ghosts and demons, I do not know. But for now I would like to believe that it is all in my head and that science is the answer.



About Srestha Mazumder

Srestha Mazumder
A coffee and cupcake enthusiast who dreams of being a published writer, but is currently stuck in her final year studying psychology. A little too obsessed with planning and colour coding every element of life and is waiting for the day I can send my manuscript to Penguin publishers.

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