Expert on ghosts and UFOs joins Euro Parliament

Head man: John Cleese as a ghost in the Harry Potter films.

The newest member of the European Parliament is an expert on aliens, man-apes, hauntings, sea-serpents, lake monsters, predictions and curses. Should we all learn more about the paranormal?

“England is a most beautiful kingdom,” wrote Rupert Matthews, “and a most haunted one.”

“Wherever you turn there are ghosts, phantoms or spectres,” he continued in his 2006 book A Ghosthunter’s Guide to England. “They crop up almost anywhere.”

Matthews is the author of over 170 books on the paranormal and other subjects. He is available to book for speaking engagements on topics such as “Your local ghosts” and “The yeti is real!” He is also the new Conservative MEP for the East Midlands.

Drafted in to replace Andrew Lewer, who was elected to the UK Parliament last month, pro-Brexit Matthews has been approved for the move to Brussels by Conservative head office.

Matthews is not alone in his views: a surprisingly large proportion of the population believe in apparitions and poltergeists.

Recent polls found that 42% of Americans and 52% of Britons believe in ghosts. And 28.5% of students at a US university reported having seen a ghost. There are over 10,000 “haunted” locations in Britain according to the UK tourist board.

Celebrities such as Matthew McConaughey, Miley Cyrus and Patrick Stewart all share a belief in ghosts. The latter told fellow cast members that he saw a ghost while on stage performing Waiting For Godot.

Even the Daily Mail, which derided Matthews as “wacky”, has published several stories about supposed ghosts appearing in photographs.

Perhaps we should not be asking how someone who openly espouses views such as Matthews has risen to such a position of power, but why it has taken so long. One could argue that people with a belief in the paranormal are severely under-represented.

What does science have to say about all this? The human brain is wired to anthropomorphise, or see human features in ordinary objects, and one study found that people with a higher propensity to do this are more likely to believe in ghosts.

People also tend to see ghosts at times when there is poor lighting, or they are waking up or falling asleep. In other words, when their senses are not at their best.

Still, this is not proof that ghosts are not real. Could they be?

That’s the spirit

No way, say scientists. There is no evidence to suggest they are. Believing in ghosts is an outdated superstition based on tricks of the light and mind. It is big business too — people pay good money to stay in “haunted” houses, and for books like that by Matthews.

Don’t be so sure, say others. There are many things science cannot explain. Lots of people believe in God, for example. There is no scientific theory that explains the mind and soul, and no one knows what happens after you die. With so many people reporting sightings, there must be something behind belief in ghosts.

You Decide

  1. Do you believe in ghosts?
  2. Where is the limit of what can be explained by science?

Activities

  1. Read the story of the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall in Become An Expert. In pairs, discuss whether you think any of it is true.
  2. Write your own ghost story from the point of view of a journalist who has to spend a night in a haunted house.

Some People Say...

“No ghost was ever seen by two pairs of eyes.”

— Thomas Carlyle

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Lots of people believe in and even say they have seen ghosts, but none have ever been observed under scientific conditions. Studies have found that people who believe in ghosts are more likely to see them.
What do we not know?
What happens when we die. Some people believe in an afterlife and some that we simply cease to be. There is much that science cannot currently explain, such as the nature of the mind and consciousness.

Word Watch

Pro-Brexit
Matthews once said that the EU could send troops onto the streets of London to stop Britain leaving.
Polls
The surveys were carried out by the respected Harris and YouGov polling agencies.
Matthew McConaughey
The Oscar-winner says that he shares his house with an apparition named Madame Blue, with whom he has become friends.
Waiting For Godot
A play by Samuel Beckett in which two characters await a man named Godot who never arrives.
Objects
Check out @FacesPics on Twitter if you do not know what we mean.
Waking up
Some people report seeing supernatural beings and not being able to move when they wake up. This is a symptom of sleep paralysis, where someone wakes up whilst still in a dream-like state.

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