Ghosts in the Attic

Our beliefs and assumptions about our world are frequently more important than the reality that exists around us. Take ghosts in the attic as an example.

If I were to assume there were ghosts in my attic and I am afraid of those ghosts then I will never go in my attic. This can control all aspects of my life while at home. I am always aware that they are there in the attic, that I must stay out, that I cannot have access to the possessions stored there. I am in a constant mild state of fear that grows stronger and stronger the closer to the attic door I come. I am profoundly controlled by my belief in the ghosts and to all intents and purposes it matters not whether they indeed exist or not. Regardless, I am in their thrall. Regardless, I cannot go into the attic.

It is said that the fear of something is tremendously difficult to overcome. The reason behind that, as is true with the ghosts, is that the avoidance tends to be intrinsically rewarding enough to keep the fear intact. The avoidance is conditioned proof since the further away from the feared thing we are the better we feel.

Also of interest are people’s assumptions and how they act on them in other areas, religion being one easy example.


We have our little agendas in life along with our assumptions. The opposite of the ghosts in the attic scenario can be used to explain how people perceive what is happening in the world. Suppose that we believe in God, and that we assume this God acts to reward and punish. A person who we don’t approve of is struck and killed by lightning so we assume that god struck him dead out of vengeance. A person we do admire gets struck and killed by lightning so we are certain that god loves this person and He is now calling them to enjoy the reward in heaven which they so richly deserve. The real fun for me is in thinking that some people did like the same person that other people did not, and their projection onto the exact same event can differ wildly.

In both instances above a person was struck and killed by lightning. In both instances above we applied our beliefs — our agenda — to settle in our own minds a nice tidy interpretation which we take as fact and which we embrace as meaning.

The more you learn about something the more you realize how little you know about it. No one really knows much of anything and yet we are all filled with beliefs and assumptions. We know things. We all live in our own little fantasy realms which we superimpose on the world around us. Our behavior and thoughts and emotions can be drastically controlled by figments conditioned into our heads.

So much more at peace those people seem to be who try to not assume or want anything and who instead react to events spontaneously. While that can indeed be more reality based I sometimes wonder whether being that way is actually better or more fun.

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