Back Goldfinch looking backwards

Endnote 1 to Mind-Matter Argument 2

Even without witnesses, the Hamlet story becomes somewhat more believable if it does turn out that the king killed Hamlet’s father, the former king, as the reported ghost was said to have alleged, prior to anyone’s having had any idea of the murder. Of course, most of us would then suppose that Hamlet had had some secret knowledge of the murder prior to the putative ghost intervention. But if we found highly persuasive evidence that Hamlet could not possibly have known of the murder, we might be inclined to believe that something paranormal was going on. Maybe not a ghost, but some clairvoyance, perhaps?

And what if we find a second person with a similar tale? And then a third and a fourth? At first we might think it was a copy-cat sort of psychological event happening, but if we studied the four new witnesses, interviewed them and found them to be reliable witnesses not in contact with each other and so forth, would we have enough — four plus Hamlet — to believe that maybe there are ghosts? Plainly, how many would it take? We have our faith on the one hand that science has got everything physical figured out, and it says ghosts can’t be, and then on the other hand we have a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand witnesses? At some point we would all, I think, begin to believe there actually was this strange ghost phenomenon in which the ghost only appeared to one person, always under circumstances that prevented witnesses.

Then again, maybe not all. For there would always be those for whom the fact of ghosts would be some kind of deep psychological threat, so deep I imagine, that something about the way minds work would keep them from accepting it.