Paranormal: The darling of editors and reporters

The last resort in a slow news month is the paranormal. Such tales draw high readership and are generally harmless.

Newspaper editors love Bigfoot, UFOs, curses, Nessy, ghosts and all their cousins.

The latest case is that of the police station in Siquirres, Limón, where officers were reported to be frightened by a dwarf ghost. El Diario Extra, a publication not known for critical thought, had the story Monday. Some police officers were taking photos inside the station and one showed a shadow. This generated the recollection of all kinds of unusual events there, said the newspaper.

Costa Rica is famous the world over for the stone spheres found in the Diques region. Archeologist think they have reasonable ideas of why they were made by local crafts persons before the Spanish arrival. But tons of newsprint and large amounts of electrons have been expended to characterize the spheres as the works of space aliens, Atlanteans or others.

Stone spheres notwithstanding, Costa Rica seems to support a more traditional type of paranormal characters. There is the El Cadejo, the phantom dog that hunts drunks, the oxcart without oxen that warns against sacrilege and other colonial phantoms.

Then there is the more modern phenomenon of unidentified flying objects. One is said to have been photographed in 1971 flying into Lago Coto on the northeast side of Lake Arenal. That photo is well known in UFO circles.

Ghosts make good copy as well as television footage. The high season for spooks is around Halloween, but an active poltergeist will send camera operators scrambling at any time of the year.

Costa Rica even has an organization that investigates such events. The group has found cases to study in Cartago, Heredia, San José de la Montaña, Zapote, Guadalupe, Coronado, San Ramón and Desamparados. Usually the case involves a family that is troubled by unexplained events.

In one case, the paranormal investigators concluded that the home was constructed near an earthquake fault.

In nearly all cases, when all the facts are known, the mysterious becomes the mundane. For example, the police officer in Siquirres might have a smudge on his camera lens.

Yet, if one believes in traditional Christianity, as do many Costa Ricans, the individual also must believe in Satan and all his demonic followers. Consequently the population is well disposed to accept paranormal explanations

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