You See Ghosts If You Believe in Them

“You only see ghosts if you believe in them.”


The informant was made aware of this belief when she was about seven years old. This was one of several stories she was told by her cousins, who were eight and 12 at the time of the telling. They had passed this on to the informant because they were vouching for it’s validity, and because it had become popular in their school.

The informant lamented that this presented a Catch 22, because she was still developing her position on her belief/disbelief in ghosts, so she scared herself by imagining them bobbing towards her bed at night, forcing her to hide under the covers, (in a way, her this saying became a self-fulfilling prophecy for her). The saying that was meant to scare ended up serving that purpose by causing the informant to scare herself.

This is a good example of why ghost stories are so widely spread in a variety of cultures. Beliefs like this one weight the chances of ghosts as reality in favor of their existence by perpetuating that the consequences for believing otherwise are worse than those of believing mistakenly.