The Best Ghost Stories
Introduction: The Fascination Of The Ghost Story
By Arthur B. Reeve
What is the fascination we feel for the mystery of the ghost story?
Is it of the same nature as the fascination which we feel for the mystery of the detective
Of the latter fascination, the late Paul Armstrong used to say that it was because we are
all as full of crime as Sing Sing—only we don't dare.
Thus, may I ask, are we not fascinated by the ghost story because, no matter what may be
the scientific or skeptical bent of our minds, in our inmost souls, secretly perhaps, we are
as full of superstition as an obeah man—only we don't let it loose?
Who shall say that he is able to fling off lightly the inheritance of countless ages of
superstition? Is there not a streak of superstition in us all? We laugh at the voodoo
worshiper—then create our own hoodooes, our pet obsessions.
It has been said that man is incurably religious, that if all religions were blotted out, man
would create a new religion.
Man is incurably fascinated by the mysterious. If all the ghost stories of the ages were
blotted out, man would invent new ones.
For, do we not all stand in awe of that which we cannot explain, of that which, if it be not
in our own experience, is certainly recorded in the experience of others, of that of which
we know and can know nothing?
Skeptical though one may be of the occult, he must needs be interested in things that
others believe to be objective—that certainly are subjectively very real to them.
The ghost story is not born of science, nor even of super-science, whatever that may be. It
is not of science at all. It is of another sphere, despite all that the psychic researchers have
tried to demonstrate.
There are in life two sorts of people who, for want of a better classification, I may call the
psychic and the non-psychic. If I ask the psychic to close his eyes and I say to him,
"Horse," he immediately visualizes a horse. The other, non-psychic, does not. I rather
incline to believe that it is the former class who see ghosts, or rather some of them. The
latter do not—though they share interest in them.