Okay, I just have to post this. I learned about it from Julie Beischel via one of her Facebook posts.
It seems that Scientific American's go-to skeptic Michael Shermer had an unusual experience - one that profoundly shook him.
Though I suggest you read Shermer's entire post (which isn't long), I'll excerpt a few passages:
Often I am asked if I have ever encountered something that I could not explain ... anomalous and mystifying events that suggest the existence of the paranormal or supernatural. My answer is: yes, now I have.
The event took place on June 25, 2014. On that day I married Jennifer Graf, from Köln, Germany. She had been raised by her mom; her grandfather, Walter, was the closest father figure she had growing up, but he died when she was 16 ... His 1978 Philips 070 transistor radio arrived safely [from Germany], so I set out to bring it back to life after decades of muteness. I put in new batteries and opened it up to see if there were any loose connections to solder. I even tried “percussive maintenance,” said to work on such devices—smacking it sharply against a hard surface. Silence. We gave up and put it at the back of a desk drawer in our bedroom.
You can probably guess what happened on the couple's wedding day ...
Jennifer ... wished her grandfather were there to give her away. She whispered that she wanted to say something to me alone, so we excused ourselves to the back of the house where we could hear music playing in the bedroom ...
“That can't be what I think it is, can it?” she said. She opened the desk drawer and pulled out her grandfather's transistor radio, out of which a romantic love song wafted. We sat in stunned silence for minutes. “My grandfather is here with us,” Jennifer said, tearfully. “I'm not alone.”
Shortly thereafter we returned to our guests with the radio playing as I recounted the backstory. My daughter, Devin, who came out of her bedroom just before the ceremony began, added, “I heard the music coming from your room just as you were about to start.” The odd thing is that we were there getting ready just minutes before that time, sans music.
Later that night we fell asleep to the sound of classical music emanating from Walter's radio. Fittingly, it stopped working the next day and has remained silent ever since.
To his great credit, Shermer does not reflexively dismiss the episode.
I have to admit, it rocked me back on my heels and shook my skepticism to its core as well. I savored the experience more than the explanation.
The emotional interpretations of such anomalous events grant them significance regardless of their causal account. And if we are to take seriously the scientific credo to keep an open mind and remain agnostic when the evidence is indecisive or the riddle unsolved, we should not shut the doors of perception when they may be opened to us to marvel in the mysterious.
Naturally, some skeptics in the comments thread immediately announce that their hackles were raised by the post, and especially the last lines (quoted above). One scold writes:
I was embarrassed to read your concluding paragraph. What are we to keep an open mind about? That Jennifer's dead grandfather maybe fixed the radio? Did he even know how to fix radios? Wouldn't there be an easier way for the dead to communicate with the living? It would be mildly interesting to have an electronics expert determine exactly what is wrong with the radio.
Others gibe that Shermer's feelings for his wife have clouded his mind. Apparently love and reason don't mix. These comments remind me of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory.
But at least one person has an intelligent response:
I am a skeptic, and a subscriber to Skeptic Magazine. Other than minor frustration with some political biases on Shermer's part that sometimes have crept into his writing in the past, I have been a huge fan for 20 years. This article really intrigued me. I am surprised and impressed that Shermer wrote it, perhaps knowing that some fellow skeptics and his fans may be annoyed. I would have been annoyed 10+ years ago, and am a little embarrassed to report that I also had a remarkable and unexplained thing happen to me and three witnesses about ten years ago in Santa Barbara. If someone else had shared with me a story similar to what happened to me, I would NEVER believe it, even today. Not ever. So....... I just don't know what to say, other than our world is full of mystery, and skepticism is an appropriate response to our world, as long as we are humble and honest about all that we do not understand.