RAB Source Entry 2 – Iren

My research question is: Does the paranormal world exist?

        This topic interests me because growing up with Albanian folktales and superstitions has made the paranormal world super interesting to me. The stories and beliefs passed down through my family have created a curiosity about the supernatural. Growing up with Albanian superstitions was an intriguing experience. From the moment I was old enough to understand, tales of supernatural beings like the shtriga and bukur filled my imagination. Every action seemed to have a corresponding superstition: don’t whistle at night, avoid cutting your nails on Fridays, and never place bread upside down. These beliefs were woven into the fabric of daily life, shaping rituals and routines. While some may dismiss them as mere folklore, for me, they added a layer of mystery and tradition to my upbringing, connecting me to generations past and instilling a sense of reverence for the unseen forces believed to govern our world. The mix of folklore and superstitions has blurred the lines between what’s normal and what’s mysterious. Exploring the paranormal isn’t just scary; it’s like delving into a world filled with cultural stories and the excitement of things we can’t quite explain. My upbringing has given me a unique way of looking at the unknown, turning it into a fascinating journey rather than something to fear. I want to find out more about paranormal stories and how they may be influenced by culture or social media platforms. 

Source #2: “Op-Ed: Believe in ghost stories and visits from the dead? It’s more natural than you think” by Iris Berent

Part 1: MLA Citation

Berent , Iris. “Believe in Ghost Stories and Visits from the Dead? It’s More Natural than You Think.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 4 Dec. 2022, www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2022-12-04/op-ed-believe-in-ghosts.

Part 2: Summary

The op-ed “Believe in ghost stories and visits from the dead? It’s more natural than you think” by Iris Berent explores the widespread belief in ghost stories and visits from the deceased. Berent argues that these beliefs are not confined to fringe groups but are common across various cultures and societies throughout history. Rather than dismissing these beliefs as irrational or supernatural, Berent suggests that they can be understood through natural cognitive processes such as pattern recognition and the human tendency to seek meaning in ambiguous situations. She suggests that for many individuals, encounters with the supernatural provide a sense of connection to loved ones who have passed away or offer reassurance in the face of mortality. By recognizing the deeply ingrained nature of these beliefs and their role in providing comfort and meaning to individuals and communities, Berent encourages readers to approach discussions about the paranormal with empathy and understanding. Ultimately, the op-ed invites readers to engage with beliefs in ghost stories and visits from the dead not only as cultural phenomena but also as deeply personal and meaningful aspects of human experience.

Part 3: Rhetorical Analysis

In Iris Berent’s op-ed “Believe in ghost stories and visits from the dead? It’s more natural than you think,” the author employs a persuasive blend of ethos, logos, pathos, and rhetorical devices to challenge readers’ perceptions of supernatural beliefs. Berent’s primary audience is the general public. Berent establishes her credibility by being a professor of psychology at Northeastern University, leveraging ethos to gain readers’ trust. She then appeals to reason and logic (logos) by presenting insights from psychological research to support her argument that supernatural beliefs are rooted in natural cognitive processes. Furthermore, Berent taps into readers’ emotions (pathos) by highlighting the personal and emotional dimensions of these beliefs, emphasizing their role in providing comfort and connection to loved ones. Overall, her strategic use of rhetorical techniques effectively persuades readers to reconsider their views on beliefs in ghost stories and visits from the dead, urging them to adopt a more open-minded and empathetic stance towards those who hold such beliefs.

Part 4: Notable Quotables

  1. “As the days get darker and the evenings longer, ghost stories beckon.” (Berent, Iris)
  2. “Beliefs in the supernatural — in ghosts, spirits and the afterlife — are quite common across human societies, both large and small.” (Berent, Iris)
  3. “Our findings suggest that the illusion of the mind-body divide arises, in part, from mind-reading abilities.” (Berent, Iris)
  4. “Far from being the sole product of culture or religion, our tendency to view the mind as existing separately from the body seems to be ingrained in our psyches.” (Berent, Iris)
  5. “It is this dualist tendency that meddles with many aspects of our thinking and promotes our fascination with the spirits, demons and ghosts.” (Berent, Iris)

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