Torchwood: The Ghost Machine and the Ghost in the Machine

The third episode of the first season of Torchwood is “Ghost Machine,” which focuses on an alien device that allows a person to experience the powerful emotions connected with a particular place and what people have experienced there.

I had been meaning to blog about the episode for several days, and felt compelled to finally do so today because something similar appeared in Google Reader, not in connection with Torchwood or some other sci-fi show, but claims of real life experiences of encounters with “echoes” of the dead, reported by CNN.

I know some people who are seriously skeptical individuals, not religious in any conventional sense, yet who have had experiences of “ghosts” that they cannot account for and yet are persuaded happened.

I also happen to know someone who is mistakenly identified as a ghost in a book on haunted places in New Jersey, but that’s a different matter.

My original idea was to reflect on the episode’s message, that we cannot do anything later on that will undo the trauma or the injustice of some things that happened in the past and which left emotional scars. This provides a good opportunity to reflect on notions of afterlife and rewards or punishments in it, and whether such concepts really do anything to address or negate the reality of injustice in the world we live in.

But perhaps it would be more interesting to ask instead, or as well, whether those who read this blog – some of whom are more skeptical than others, some of whom believe in the supernatural and some of whom do not – what you think of the CNN article I linked to, and whether and to what extent even those whose worldview is firmly grounded in the latest science need to leave room for some things that might traditionally be categorized as supernatural, spiritual or “ghostly.”

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  • Gary

    Personally, I do not believe it. I would say their option “Another theory says it’s all a trick of the brain — that people in mourning unconsciously produce apparitions to console themselves after losing a loved one” seems to be the case. How can you tell a dream from reality, it you’re under tremendous stress or emotion conflict? I’d say more likely a dream-state gets forced upon our awake-state under extreme stress. Delusions. Why do we even dream? But there is no substance to dreams.

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