They are known as “ghost passengers.”
After the 2011 Japanese tsunami, cab drivers reported picking up seemingly normal passengers who would disappear before getting to their destination.
This paranormal instance is one of many that UF students will explore in Erin Prophet’s class, “Religion and the Paranormal,” which will be offered for the first time in the Spring.
The class will look at different perspectives about paranormal experiences, including ghosts, UFOs, and hauntings, both historically and in modern-day society, said Prophet, a UF religion visiting assistant professor. The class will be 3 credit hours.
“This class can be helpful to help people contextualize their own experiences,” she said. “Many people have had some type of unusual experience or know someone who has.”
There are two course codes for the class, REL2930 and REL3938, but both will meet at the same time. The 3000-level course is being offered for students who need to fulfill a writing requirement, Prophet said.
Students will read and compare paranormal accounts and look at the perspectives of historians, anthropologists, sociologists and psychologists. Students will also read and discuss research done by Princeton University and Duke University and study government UFO and psychic-ability research programs.
“We will not be conducting séances,” Prophet said while laughing.
Prophet said she has not experienced any skepticism from the religion department about her paranormal class.
“It’s our job to look at the strange and unusual activity,” she said.
As for students who might be skeptical, Prophet said to come with an open mind as college is the perfect time for students to expand their horizons.
“You will not have any particular point of view pushed upon you,” she said. “I’m simply trying to expose people to the range of phenomena and explanations.”
Stevens Borowsky, a 34-year-old UF philosophy and religion senior, took Prophet’s class “Cults and New Religious Movements” last Spring. While he can’t take her upcoming class, he said students of all academic backgrounds should sign up.
He said that studying religion and the paranormal teaches people about perspectives that differ from their own.
“Regardless if you’re in business or economics or politics, at the most basic level, you’re operating around people’s beliefs relative to your own,” he said. “Things that seem completely psychotic to you might be normal to someone else.”
A video is played in the medieval Frankenstein Castle about 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Frankfurt, Germany Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. The Medieval Frankenstein Castle has become a favorite haunt for Germans celebrating Halloween, a tradition that’s become increasingly popular in continental Europe in recent years. The crumbling castle, located about 35 kilometers (22 miles) south of Frankfurt, has been staging spooky festivals since 1977 featuring monsters, gore and spine-chilling live shows. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)