A strange little event: I was cycling in lanes around Wargrave. As is often the case on a Monday, it was a quiet ride. Up ahead a way, I saw someone walking on the verge. I looked away, I looked up – and there was no-one there. In a few seconds I was up to where the person had seemed to be and there was no-one around. There was nowhere for them to have gone. They didn’t exist.

It’s quite easy to let your mind be spooked, if you let it drift that way. My brain’s interpretation of what my eyes had seen was wrong. It’s that simple. It was a trick of the light, the shape of branches in the hedgerow from that precise angle, in that light … whatever.

If you let your mind be spooked though, or if not spooked then if you’re willing to be convinced by the impossible (what you think you saw) despite the concrete, testable evidence (there was no-one there), then anything becomes believable. Anything.

And I suspect that, in one simple little event, is as good a demonstration as any of how religions and superstitions take hold. Add in a few commonsense edicts (don’t kill each other and likewise) and there you go.

I suspect the nub of the issue lies in a seemingly innate dislike of the unknown: we seem to prefer explanations, however unlikely, over uncertainty.