Monday, February 23, 2009

The Rational Ghost

TPS friend Joab Corey presented his paper The Rational Ghost: Using Basic Economic Principles to Explain Ghost Behavior which he presented at the 2009 Morgantown Paranormal Conference. In it, Joab demonstrates why he is one of the best educators of economic principles in the country. Full paper here. Abstract:
If ghosts do indeed exist then there would still be no need to fear them, at least not any more than any living entity. If ghosts are rational economic actors then ghosts would have no incentive to severely disturb the living population as it is likely that the costs to the ghost of killing an individual outweigh the benefits.When a ghost kills an individual then that individual could then conceivably turn into a ghost and, as a ghost, annoy its phantom killer for an even longer time period than if left alive. A ghost would be much better off being annoyed by a living entity for the comparably short period of time of that person’s lifespan rather then to kill that individual and, by doing so, inducing that person to seek retribution in the afterlife. This paper provides research to show that ghosts are indeed rational actors and, as such, refrain from the practice of killing living entities. The paper concludes by discussing the impact that this result could have on the housing market.
The paper is chalk-full of interesting literature reviews:
For example, according to Sheppard (2008), European folklore reveals that ghosts are most attracted to travelers because they are usually traveling alone and do not have a support system such as family and friends nearby.
[...]
According to paranormal expert Susan Sheppard, “Many speculate the reason spirits come across as orbs (circular shapes) is that circles are the easiest way for energies to assume physical shape” (Sheppard, pg. 110). This is saying that when ghosts do choose to manifest themselves, they tend to do so in the easiest or least costly way possible. This provides evidence that ghosts are acting with some concept of a cost-benefit analysis dictating their behavior.

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