Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Arr, matey

Yesterday, we had an elderly gentleman in Spain who is building a spaceship to go to a planet that doesn't exist, and he should have known it doesn't exist because he's the one who made it up.  Today, we have: a woman in Ireland who married the ghost of a pirate, but now she's unhappy with him and wants a divorce.

The woman's name is Amanda Teague, and she lives in Drogheda, County Louth.  Teague gave up on romance -- at least the flesh-and-blood kind -- last year, and decided she might have better luck in the spirit world.  So she fell in love with the ghost of a Haitian pirate who was executed three hundred years ago, and married him this past January.

The pirate's name was Jack Sparrow.  Because of course it was.

"It is the perfect kind of relationship for me," Teague told reporters.  "There are a lot of people out there who don’t know about spiritual relationships, but it could be right for them --  I want to get the message out there."

In 2018 she wrote a book about her experience being married to a ghost.  It's called A Life You Will Remember, and is available on Amazon, where it has gotten two reviews, one five-star and one one-star.  The one-star one called it "bad fanfiction you can't put down."

She didn't just jump into the relationship without careful consideration.  "I told him I wasn’t really cool with having casual sex with a spirit and I wanted us to make a proper commitment to each other," she told reporters.  "I wanted the big traditional wedding with the white dress. It was very important to me."

So that's what they did.

The happy, um, couple

But less that a year later, the marriage was on the rocks.  The relationship wasn't successful, Teague-Sparrow says, and she wants to get a divorce.  "So I feel it’s time to let everyone know that my marriage is over," she said, in an interview in the Irish Post.  "I will explain all in due course but for now all I want to say is be VERY careful when dabbling in spirituality, it’s not something to mess with."

The article in the Irish Post seems to take Jack's side of things.  "The split is another blow for Jack," writes Gerard Donaghy, "after he was purportedly executed for thieving on the high seas in the 1700s."

You'd think he'd be over that by now, given that it happened three-hundred-odd years ago, although I'd expect being hanged is a trauma that would kind of stick with you.

What is unclear is how she'll get him to sign the divorce papers.  Or maybe they won't have to go through the official hassle, because the wedding was performed by a shaman in a boat off the coast of Ireland, so it's not certain what, if anything, Irish law would have to say about it.  Chances are they could go their separate ways and no one would blink an eye, since nobody seems to be able to see Jack except for Teague-Sparrow herself.

Anyhow, that's our dip in the deep end for today.  I wish her luck with being single again, and I hope Jack can find a nice location to haunt, perhaps accompanied by a lady ghost, since a relationship with a live human didn't work out so well.  So thanks to the loyal reader who sent me the link.  I didn't really need anything to lower my opinion of the human race further, but I know you meant well.


One of the best books I've read recently is Alan Weisman's The World Without Us.  I wouldn't say it's cheerful, however.  But what Weisman does is to look at what would happen if the human race was to disappear -- how long it would take for our creations to break down, for nature to reassert itself, for the damage we've done to be healed.

The book is full of eye-openers.  First, his prediction is that within 24 hours of the power going out, the New York Subways would fill with water -- once the pumps go out, they'd become underwater caves.  Not long thereafter, the water would eat away at the underpinnings of the roads, and roads would start caving in, before long returning Manhattan to what it was before the Europeans arrived, a swampy island crisscrossed by rivers.  Farms, including the huge industrial farms of the Midwest, would be equally quick; cultivated varieties of wheat and corn would, Weisman says, last only three or four years before being replaced by hardier species, and the land would gradually return to nature (albeit changed by the introduction of highly competitive exotic species that were introduced by us, accidentally or deliberately).

Other places, however, would not rebound quickly.  Or ever.  Nuclear reactor sites would become uninhabitable for enough time that they might as well be considered a permanent loss.  Sites contaminated by heavy metals and non-biodegradable poisons (like dioxins) also would be, although with these there's the possibility of organisms evolving to tolerate, or even break down, the toxins.  (No such hope with radioactivity, unfortunately.)

But despite the dark parts it's a good read, and puts into perspective the effect we've had on the Earth -- and makes even more urgent the case that we need to put the brakes on environmental damage before something really does take our species out for good.

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