How to put agency detection into overdrive

An amusing article in the New York Times today describes the allegedly haunted Copper Queen Hotel in Arizona. Guests are encouraged to record their encounters with the supernatural in a journal at the front desk. These records have made it into a book (so they must be true!), and the hotel was featured in an episode of the embarrassingly awful TV series “Ghost Hunters”. In case you have never watched it, it consists of a group of ultra-superstitious “investigators” trying to scare each other silly by interpreting the presence of ghosts from meaningless blips on fancy-looking electronic gadgetry, all of which takes place in the dead of night, because obviously that’s the only time of day that spirits and ghosts can be detected.

Back to the hotel, though: our hair-trigger tendency to detect agency in everything we see is highlighted by the following list of “paranormal” experiences listed by the guests, as reported in the NYT article:

Others wrote of hearing whispers, of the remote control for the television not working or of a cellphone battery mysteriously losing power. A child wrote of losing her stuffed animal only to have it mysteriously reappear later.

How terribly spooky.


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