I think this is clickbait

Asking this simple question out loud could boost your chances of speaking to the dead, say experts, according to the Manchester Evening News. I marveled at that headline. It’s very impressive. It stirs up so many questions that I had to actually read the article. Who are these “experts” at speaking to the dead? (It doesn’t name any.) Do the dead ever answer? (No.) And mostly, what is the magic question? I’ll spare you the need to waste a click on them.

They explained: “You might consider talking to the spirit world whilst you’re investigating, encouraging the ghost to reveal its presence.

“Try to ask questions such as, ‘What is your name?’, instead of saying, ‘Is there anyone there?’ A lot of people might make this mistake.

“By asking ‘What is your name?’ you’re acting as though you know the spirits are there and this will increase your chances of making contact.”

The “they” referenced above are not dead people — if they were I might consider them credible — but instead, are flacks for a TV channel called “Really” that is putting on a week of shows about the paranormal.

I’m not impressed with their choice of a question. I’ve found shouting, “Your fly is unzipped” is far more effective at getting the dead to react.

(via Ally Fogg)


  1. Owlmirror says

    OooooOOOOooooOMy name is BlooOooody Mary OooooOoooooO

    Say my name three times, and I will appear!

    I once said “PZ Myers” three times, and an octopus fell on my head. I mean, on my ectoplasm.

    YoOooooOoou’ll get yooOoouoOoors, PZ. Just yoOooou wait.

  2. Larry says

    I believe it. It will boost your chances by eleventy-bazillion percent over your current odds of communication with dead people.

  3. says

    “By asking ‘What is your name?’ you’re acting as though you know the spirits are there and this will increase your chances of making contact.”

    Since “contact” is likely a result of self-delusion, I totally believe that acting as if the spirits are there will increase your chances. This is basically the equivalent of “toss out any remnant of skeptical thinking and you’ll be more likely to fool yourself.” I completely agree.

  4. Dark Jaguar says

    These article titles are common these days. In ad banner form, it would also have a picture of a ouiji board (luigi board?) with a random red circle around a single letter.

  5. The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says

    I thought some kind of instrument was required:

    Ah, here! A horn of sin­gu­lar qual­ity. When thrust into the mouth of a corpse, it stim­u­lates the ut­ter­ance of twenty final words. In­serted into the ca­daver’s ear it al­lows the trans­mis­sion of in­for­ma­tion into the life­less brain….

    –Jack Vance, The Eyes of the Overworld

  6. blf says

    After many spirits and other drinks (beer, vin, …) the mildly deranged penguin has been known to not talk to imaginary things.

  7. archangelospumoni says

    As long as somebody can speak to ghosts, maybe ask who will win the Breeders Cup Classic and next year’s Kentucky Derby.
    I could use that information.

  8. cartomancer says

    Communication with the dead is easy, as long as you don’t expect it to be more than one-way. A lot of people regret not being able to talk to dead people, but thanks to a technology known as “the written word” it is perfectly possible to get to grips with what some of them had to say. Perhaps if people did a little bit more of that they wouldn’t feel so much need to talk to ghosts.

    Bloggers, on the other hand, are available for pestering 24/7!

  9. Larry says

    I could use that information

    Sillly rabbit, ghosts don’t foretell the future, like in that silly Dickens story. Ghosts can only speak about the past, back when they walked the earth. Everyone knows this. Now, if you want to know who won last year’s derby, you just need to contact the right spirit. Try calling it by name.

  10. weylguy says

    Damn! And all my years of conjuring up the dead were wasted because I was asking the wrong question all along!

  11. Rich Woods says

    I keep asking the Lich King his name but he never answers, because he knows that if I should learn his name I will gain power over him. For that self-same reason he never shows me his face, or indeed appears to me at all. But I know he’s there, listening, just listening.

    Is it Hallowe’en yet? Are we doing stories again?

  12. Crip Dyke, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says


    I talk to myself all the time. I’m dead, but I’m in the “not fully dead yet” stage – does that count?

    Ooooh! Look who knows so much! Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there’s usually only one thing you can do.

  13. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    I find a good question to ask to confirm you’re talking to the dead is “Hey… are you dead?” If they answer yes, you’re getting somewhere.

  14. says

    That’s actually a good point. Most of the people who’ve died probably wouldn’t understand what we’re saying at all. Maybe that’s why they’re not answering.

  15. monad says

    It seems like an okay bet. “Spirit” means the same thing as “spook”, right? And pretty much all spooks know not to answer “is anyone there?”, but might trip up if you ask their name. Sure, a capable one wouldn’t, but a capable spook wouldn’t have planted a microphone that goes both ways anyway.

  16. WhiteHatLurker says

    “What’s your name?” Really?

    Hmmm. Obvious other questions:
    Who’s your daddy?
    Is he rich, is he rich like me?

  17. says

    If you really believe there’s an afterlife, then there are a whole bunch of questions which are likely to have you talking with dead people:

    Should we run away from that angry bear?
    You’ll tell me if I’m getting close to the edge, right?
    It’s not a problem if I drank some of this cleaning fluid, is it?
    Do you think I should use this house paint on my skin for my Halloween costume?
    What would happen if I injected all of this insulin at once?

  18. Chakat Firepaw says

    Speaking to the dead is really easy and you can do it with a 100% success rate if you follow these two simple steps:

    Step 1 – Find a dead body, (a good place to do this is a graveyard, for some reason people get annoyed when you wander into a morgue).
    Step 2 – Say something to them.

    There you go, you have now spoken to the dead. If the dead answer back, check for pranksters and possibly consider a psychological assessment.