Friday, 9 December 2016

Are you gay? If so, apparently there’s good chance you are possessed by a ghost

An article appeared in Pink News (primary focus of interest fairly obvious) on 7th December highlighting an article on a website run by the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF) which asserts that an overwhelming reason for homosexuality is possession by a ghost.  This is not a good thing as it has a deleterious effect on the possessed person’s ‘capacity’.  The SSRF article in question is ‘Symptoms of Ghost Affecting or Possessing a Person’ and it includes figures to back up the argument.  It seems ‘about 30% of the world’s population is possessed by ghosts.’  Only 5% of homosexuality is accounted for by hormonal changes; 10% is psychological, such as a gay encounter that was pleasurable; and a whopping 85% originates in ‘spiritual causes’, largely meaning ghosts.  Ghosts, it should be added, encompass a variety of phenomena, not just the expected discarnate spirits: ‘demons, devils, negative energies, etc.’.  The spiritual perspective is Hindu.

Unfortunately most people don’t realise they have been infected as only saints, characterised by being above the (scale undefined) ‘70% spiritual level’, or those possessing an ‘advanced sixth sense’, can tell.  That leaves a huge number of people possessed by ghosts while unaware of their position.  There are ways to diagnose it, but the symptoms listed are wide-ranging, often vague, and easily confused with other ailments, presumably why ghosts can get away behaving in this outrageous manner with impunity.  When it comes to sex, things get complicated.  Possession by a ghost can lead either to an increase or a decrease in the sexual drive, so that isn’t much help in assessment.  There are however differences according to whether one is possessed by a ghost of the same of a different sex:

‘If a female ghost possesses a woman, it attracts other male ghosts either directly or through the medium of other males possessed by male ghosts. Such women do not feel the need for getting into a formal relationship with the opposite sex like getting married. They come up with some excuse or the other to avoid such relationships.’

So a woman who is single and not in a relationship is a bad sign.  Oddly there is nothing about the effect a male ghost has when inside a man.  Presumably they remain confirmed bachelors.  It gets really interesting when it comes to cross-sex possession.  The main reason behind men being gay is that they are possessed by female ghosts, and the female ghosts are attracted to living men.  Conversely some women are occupied by male ghosts and they are consequently attracted to females.  The ghost’s consciousness is stronger than the living person’s and can control it in the desired direction.

This of course presupposes the ghosts are heterosexual.  Would a male gay ghost inside a woman be attracted to men, and a female gay ghost inside a man be attracted to females, thus from the outside looking exactly like a non-ghost heterosexual situation?  What about bisexuals; is that the result of a bisexual ghost, or one with a low libido unable to exert full control over the host?  Later on there is a reference to ghosts inside married couples, leading to disharmony, but no mention of the differential effect of the ghost’s sex.  Women should either be spinsters or lesbians according to whether they have a female or male ghost in them so there is some faulty logic somewhere.  The good news is that this deplorable situation can be combated by practices such as hypnotherapy, chanting and focusing energy flows.  In this way ‘homosexual tendencies and desires’ can be overcome, though it’s unclear what happens to the invading entity when the homosexual is freed.

So what about these findings from a body with science and research in its name, do they bear scrutiny?  The first thing to say is that offensiveness or peculiarity of a claim does not automatically render it invalid.  One may have a gut feeling about its plausibility, but guts are not reliable indicators; it’s the evidence that counts.  So what is the evidence?  Unsurprisingly, there does not seem to be any.  The methodology has not been included to allow others to follow the process.  As far as I can tell the statistics have been plucked out of the air, perhaps arrived at by a process of meditating and concluding ‘that feels about right’.  If determining the presence of a possessing ghost is so difficult I’m baffled as to how one could conduct any kind of survey that would give an accurate figure, assuming of course the idea of ghosts possessing the living is valid (leaving aside occasional cases where spirits were said to overshadow the living in the psychical research literature).  The data collection, if it exists, should be released immediately to allow independent parties to assess it.

Further, there is a page on the SSRF website which is essentially homophobic, referring to gay parades as becoming more ‘gruesome’ (i.e. flamboyant), gay pride a form of egotism, and homosexuality a sign of society in decline: ‘Indulging in homosexual activity or supporting it invites sin’.  Russian attitudes to gay marches are cited with approval, a stance offensive to anyone keen to uphold liberal values.  The result of all this gayness, we are warned, will be an increase in unhappiness.  (The counter-argument is that if you want to see people having a huge amount of fun you could do worse than witness a gay pride march.)  The suspicion arises that the information presented by the SSRF stems from prejudice, not scientific research.

Following the Pink News article, Hayley Stevens wrote an article for her blog criticising the SSRF.  What was surprising was how, when links were posted on the Society for Psychical Research’s Facebook page, hostility was directed at Pink News and Stevens – not to mention the SPR’s Facebook administrator (OK, me) – rather than at the SSRF.  Some of it seems to have been because there was actually support for the SSRF’s claim, with resentment at seeing it criticised, though the support was not overtly specified.  Others obviously didn’t bother to read beyond the headlines and assumed it was Pink News and Stevens who were saying gay people were possessed by ghosts (it was generally difficult to disentangle whether comments along the lines of ‘this is crap’ referred to the SSRF’s claim or to the coverage by Pink News and Stevens).  There may have been New Age discomfort that an eastern religion could display bigotry.  One or two commenters were firmly of the belief that ‘yeah, demons’.  Possibly others felt such unsavoury matter should not be given an airing whatever the slant.  There was little calm consideration of what should correctly be called the ‘Spiritual’ Pseudoscience Research Foundation’s unsupported statements, which was somewhat depressing.