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Weird Is Often An Intangible Thing

Some questions in life have no easy answers. If a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to witness it, does it make a sound? How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man? What is the sound of one hand clapping? These famous imponderables pale next to some of the things we've run into, no matter how hard we think about it, we just can't understand how ancient Romans, Vikings, and medieval knights managed to find their way here - yet in states as far west as Oklahoma and Minnesota, there's evidence that they may have.


The Body/Mind Connection
Medical science is only beginning to understand the ways in which the mind influences the body. The placebo effect, for example, demonstrates that people can at times cause a relief in medical symptoms or suffering by believing the cures to be effective - whether they actually are or not. Using processes only poorly understood, the body's ability to heal itself is far more amazing than anything modern medicine could create.
Psychic powers and ESP
Psychic powers and extra-sensory perception (ESP) rank among the top ten unexplained phenomena if for no other reason than that belief in them is so widespread. Many people believe that intuition (see #3) is a form of psychic power, a way of accessing arcane or special knowledge about the world or the future. Researchers have tested people who claim to have psychic powers, though the results under controlled scientific conditions have so far been negative or ambiguous. Some have argued that psychic powers cannot be tested, or for some reason diminish in the presence of skeptics or scientists. If this is true, science will never be able to prove or disprove the existence of psychic powers.
Near-Death Experiences and Life After Death
People who were once near death have sometimes reported various mystical experiences (such as going into a tunnel and emerging in a light, being reunited with loved ones, a sense of peace, etc.) that may suggest an existence beyond the grave. While such experiences are profound, no one has returned with proof or verifiable information from "beyond the grave." Skeptics suggest that the experiences are explainable as natural and predictable hallucinations of a traumatized brain, yet there is no way to know with certainty what causes near-death experiences, or if they truly are visions of "the other side."
There is no doubt that UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) exist - many people see things in the skies that they cannot identify, ranging from aircraft to meteors. Whether or not any of those objects and lights are alien spacecraft is another matter entirely; given the fantastic distances and effort involved in just getting to Earth from across the universe, such a scenario seems unlikely. Still, while careful investigation has revealed known causes for most sighting reports, some UFO incidents will always remain unexplained.
Deja vu
Deja vu is a French phrase meaning 'already seen,' referring to the distinct, puzzling, and mysterious feeling of having experienced a specific set of circumstances before. A woman might walk into a building, for example, in a foreign country she'd never visited, and sense that the setting is eerily and intimately familiar. Some attribute deja vu to psychic experiences or unbidden glimpses of previous lives. As with intuition (see #3), research into ,human psychology can offer more naturalistic explanations, but ultimately the cause and nature of the phenomenon itself remains a mystery.
From the Shakespeare play "MacBeth" to the NBC show "Medium," spirits of the dead have long made an appearance in our culture and folklore. Many people have reported seeing apparitions of both shadowy strangers and departed loved ones. Though definitive proof for the existence of ghosts remains elusive, sincere eyewitnesses continue to report seeing, photographing, and even communicating with ghosts. Ghost investigators hope to one day prove that the dead can contact the living, providing a final answer to the mystery.
Mysterious Disappearances
People disappear for various reasons. Most are runaways, some succumb to accident, a few are abducted or killed, but most are eventually found. Not so with the truly mysterious disappearances. From the crew of the Marie Celeste to Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, and Natalee Holloway, some people seem to have vanished without a trace. When missing persons are found, it is always through police work, confession, or accident never by 'psychic detectives'). But when the evidence is lacking and leads are lost, even police and forensic science can't always solve the crime.
Whether we call it gut feelings, a 'sixth sense,' or something else, we have all experienced intuition at one time or another. Of course, gut feelings are often wrong (how many times during aircraft turbulence have you been sure your plane was going down?), but they do seem to be right much of the time. Psychologists note that people subconsciously pick up information about the world around us, leading us to seemingly sense or know information without knowing exactly how or why we know it. But cases of intuition are difficult to prove or study, and psychology may only be part of the answer.
For decades, large, hairy, manlike beasts called Bigfoot have occasionally been reported by eyewitnesses across America. Despite the thousands of Bigfoot that must exist for a breeding population, not a single body has been found. Not one has been killed by a hunter, struck dead by a speeding car, or even died of natural causes. In the absence of hard evidence like teeth or bones, support comes down to eyewitness sightings and ambiguous photos and films. Since it is logically impossible to prove a universal negative, science will never be able to prove that creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster do not exist, and it is possible that these mysterious beasts lurk far from prying eyes.
The Taos Hum
Some residents and visitors in the small city of Taos, New Mexico, have for years been annoyed and puzzled by a mysterious and faint low-frequency hum in the desert air. Oddly, only about 2 percent of Taos residents report hearing the sound. Some believe it is caused by unusual acoustics; others suspect mass hysteria or some secret, sinister purpose. Whether described as a whir, hum, or buzz and whether psychological, natural, or supernatural no one has yet been able to locate the sound's origin.

Weird is often an intangible thing, hard to describe, something that gives you a feeling that you can't quite put your finger on. Sometimes it is just something so absurd and ridiculous that all you can do is laugh about it. Other times, though, it is something so disturbing that it makes you uncomfortable and ill at ease.

Weird is the mystery of the unknown and unexplainable. It's that little unanticipated chill that gives you goose bumps, the unfamiliar sound emanating from the shadows that pricks up your ears. It is the tingle that runs up and down your spine when you find yourself in a dark and possibly dangerous situation or place.

The more weirdness you discover, the more you realize how much more is out there yet to be found. Sometimes it can all be a little overwhelming, and ask, Will wonders never cease? The best answer we can offer is this: While we remain alive, open-minded, curious, and inquisitive there is no reason why they ever should.

There are probably no places weirder than abandoned sites. Whether they are vacant houses, forgotten amusement parks, or decommissioned military installations, abandoned places possess an aura that is both foreboding and inspiring. A person wandering through these sites often has a melancholy sense of loss.

Stepping into a strange world others once inhabited is a very weird sensation. Who lived here? Why did they leave, and where did they go? These are the questions that come to you while walking through these forsaken monuments of rotting wood and broken glass. There usually aren't many clues: maybe some furniture, perhaps some clothes in the closets, and, if you are really lucky, old books or family photographs.

If a place is left abandoned long enough, it will almost always become the subject of local mythology. Stories spring up about what might have taken place there to cause the occupants to flee. Abandoned houses inspire legends of gruesome murders that occurred there and the tormented souls that still linger behind. Such tales are all the more poignant if the abandon site has a history as a site of human suffering, such as an insane asylum.

There is no denying that people will conjure up all manner of fantastic stories and project them into places that have been left to rot. But have the stories sprung forth from our overactive imaginations, or is there really something weird go on behind some of forlorn fa├žades?

Mysteries surround us. You don't have to go to some remote or not easily accessible place on our planet to experience anything from the merely unusual to the positively perplexing. Strictly speaking, some of the things we call mysteries are not; they have been more or less explained.

Still, such things as the Paluxy tracks, the Nazca lines, skyquakes, and wheels of light are undeniably odd. All of them have given rise to extravagant speculations that have become an inescapable part of the folklore of our time.

Other things - things whose existence seems hard to deny, though deniers have labored long to cast them into the outer darkness of respectability - defy just about any imaginable understanding of what is possible in the world. There may be no greater enigma on Earth than the entombment of animals within rocks. As a nineteenth-century observer put it, acceptance of such a phenomenon would render geology and biology "a mass of nonsense." Hyperbole, surely. Yet it is true that neither of these eminently useful disciplines so far has done much to shed light on a recurring and well-documented riddle of nature.

Teleportation, if it could be proved to exist, would also present a profound challenge to our understanding of the world. The evidence for its occurrence, though thin and anecdotal, is just enough to hint at mind-boggling possibility while falling well short of giving solid evidence.

Nonetheless, at the fringes, peculiar experiential claims about instantaneous transportation from one place to another are made - and are worth noting, at the least, for their curiosity value and perhaps for hinting at an unknown dimension of nature.

Mysteries are not called mysteries because they are simple. Mysteries can drive the would-be puzzle solver to distraction, confusion, frustration, or worse. They deny us the satisfaction of sure resolution. They mock our deep-rooted conviction that once we have accumulated a critical mass of evidence, the answers will surely follow. But as we have seen, many mysteries only grow more convoluted the more we know their details.

In that sense - and also, of course, in the sense that it is better to know the truth than to be taken in by falsehood - it is a relief to untangle mysteries that are certainly, or nearly certainly, not what they appear to be. With these you can demonstrate pretty conclusively (though not always easily) that somebody made it up or that someone badly misunderstood it, transforming an ordinary thing into an extraordinary thing. We are not speaking of exaggerated, disputed, or simplistic debunking claims that assert conclusiveness without being able to demonstrate it. There are too many of those out there as it is.

Pseudomysteries - tall tales that, although they masquerade as hidden truths or deep enigmas, have been laid to rest to the satisfaction of reasonable observers. That doesn't mean, of course, that they're no longer out there. All you need to do is turn on your television set or look at the headline of the tabloid on the supermarket rack to learn that some things are just too outlandish or too colorful or just too much fun to die.

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