Are ghosts real?

(Forgive me if this has been discussed. I’ve scanned the gazillions of topics and see nothing like this…)

Are ghosts fact or fiction?

What are they, if they are real? Actual spirits or globs of non-dissapating energy?

If it’s possible that they do exist, why hasn’t the scientific community studied it once and for all? Is it because no “true scientist” would “stoop” to studying the paranormal?

I basically don’t believe in them. But there are so many reasonable people who have had experiences that they couldn’t explain.
One friend of mine got caught in a riptide and SWEARS that a man helped her get to shore, but immediately dissapeared and witnesses saw nobody help her. Hallucinations while under physical stress?

My brother and his wife were on their honeymoon at some lodge in Banff, Canada. In thier room, they set a plate of cheesecake on top of their flat topped cooler. When they weren’t looking the plate fell off. So they thought they put the plate too close to the edge, and replaced it squarely on the cooler. It fell off again, of course when they weren’t looking. They put the cheesecake in the cooler and forgot about it. But in the lobby they saw something about the lodge’s “ghost”, “Molly” or something. They asked the front desk clerk about it, and the clerk told them that “molly” watches over the lodge as a promise to her husband on his deathbed ages ago. So she’s still lurking around, playing jokes on people. Lopsided floor boards?

Then a friend worked at a government office in Phoenix, and a full floor in the building was unoccupied and never used. She asked about it and was told it was haunted and no one wants to work on that floor. She dared to go to that floor and she says that “immediately” felt a chilling, evil presence that scared her to death. Power of suggestion?

What do you all think?

You know – after writing this whole thing, it occurred to me that we’re in the General Discussion area. This probably belonged in the Great Debates area, but I’ll leave it up to you as to whether you want to move the discussion there.

Fiction – at least until somebody shows otherwise.

Who says they haven’t? I know a person who has studied beliefs in ghosts and the like (not studying “ghosts” themselves, but the next best thing) and he has been published in a number of scientific and parapsychological journals. There are others who have studied the possible effects of electromagnetic fields on brain waves that might cause a person to think they had seen a ghost. I’m not sure that I buy his studies yet, but he is looking at it from a scientific viewpoint.

Just because a person can’t explain an experience doesn’t make it unexplainable.

Could be – there just isn’t enough information to know. Maybe there was a man who helped and then left – but witnesses didn’t notice. We just don’t know. But that doesn’t mean it was a ghost.

That’s certainly one explanation (and one that could be tested, incidentally). Again, there just isn’t enough information.

I had a guy call me once telling me that he knew his house was haunted. I asked why. He said that his keys kept moving around. He’d called the police and had them out because he thought somebody was breaking in and moving them around. The police didn’t find anything. So it must be a ghost. After all, he was certain he knew where he’d put his keys, and then they wouldn’t be there…

Again, this is something testable. Where does she work? You get that info for me and I will do my best to get somebody out there to check it out (at the very least, we can find out if indeed there is a floor that is not being used).

“The best medicine for misery is neither myth nor miracle, but naked truth.”
– Richard Walker, The Running Dogs of Loyalty: Honest Reflections on a Magical Zoo

Ghosts are not real. All the ones I have ever sen were semitransparent and you can put your hand right through them. Therefore they are not material or real. UFOs are real and aliens, all the ones I have seen.

I think ghosts are “real”. It all depends on how you define them. I don’t think they are “material”. They are specters, visions, as real as any idea that your mind manifests. If a ghost ever appears to you and warns you of some danger, you’d best take heed, because that’s advice that’s coming straight from a place in your mind that you can not otherwise access.

Next time you see a ghost, don’t reach for your camera, reach for a pen and paper!

Why? Are ghosts deaf? In that case Ill just sign to them.

To take notes, Handy.

I’d say in most instances, it’d be hard to determine if a supernatural occurance was honestly supernatural because it doesn’t repeat itself. During the Victorian era when seances were growing fashionable, a great number of people who claimed to be able to summon spirits were either debunked by scientists or else recanted later, explaining how they fooled the masses. But this is an occassion when you can test it - “Hey, go summon me up a ghost”. On the other hand, if your great aunt Millie’s wraith pushes you out of the way of a moving truck, it’s sort of hard to prove (or disprove) one way or the other.

“I guess it is possible for one person to make a difference, although most of the time they probably shouldn’t.”

PapaBear stunned me in saying:

I’m not sure really where you’re getting this, but I’d like to quote from a book that I would almost never, under any other circumstances (except to criticize it) quote from. This is perhaps the only intelligent thing in the book, but it makes some sense here – just substitute the idea of hearing from a ghost instead of hearing it psychically:

“Certain types of schizophrenics also report hearing voices, and if you start hearing voices out of the blue, your first stop should be your doctor’s office. We also recommend that you make sure you’re truly hearing psychic information before acting on your premonitions. And whatever you do, don’t try anything dangerous because you think it’s based on your intuition!”

From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being Pyschic

“The best medicine for misery is neither myth nor miracle, but naked truth.”
– Richard Walker, The Running Dogs of Loyalty: Honest Reflections on a Magical Zoo

David - If you have never experienced a state of consciousness that defies rational explanation, you are either the most emotionally and pschologically sound human in history or you just have no imagination. Do you even dream? Not all insight is derived from purely rational thought.

" Not all insight is derived from rational thought". You’re right, only the parts worth having are derived from rational thought. What good is irrational thought? This sight is deeply rooted in an appreciation of rational thought, as Unca Cecil has stated [more or less] many times. I expected better from you, Papa Bear.

Nobody has more respect for rational thought than I do. However, gut instinct, emotional response, and reflex have all served me in good stead on several occasions. Some call it listening to your heart, others attribute that “inner voice” to God, or ghosts, or Elvis.

Until that voice starts telling me to wear aluminum foil on my head or stalk Phylis Diller, I’m going to pay attention.

PS - I think you are all taking me a little to literally.

PapaBear said:

Of course I dream. So what? Am I supposed to read some great master plan into my dreams? I don’t think so. As far as other states of consciousness that defy rational explanation – I can honestly say that I can’t think of any. Since I have quite a good imagination, thank you, I guess I must be psychologically sound. Good for me! :slight_smile:

Of course, the fact that you associate being psychologically sound with not having irrational states of consciousness makes me wonder how you associate those states with being a good thing. I admit I’m a bit confused at this point.

As Daniel already noted, only the parts worth having are. I’m sure gut instinct and emotional response have served you well, as you indicated your message back to him, but we’re talking about insight, not just a response. (For example, I don’t consider love to be an “insight,” so it wouldn’t fall into that category.) Gut instinct doesn’t really help with insight; emotional response, while necessary to some extent in making decisions, also doesn’t really help with insight, per se.

Maybe I am taking you a little too literally – can you straighten me out?

“The best medicine for misery is neither myth nor miracle, but naked truth.”
– Richard Walker, The Running Dogs of Loyalty: Honest Reflections on a Magical Zoo

I’m going to step out on a limb, here.

I believe in ghosts. Schizophrenia can be ruled out if two or more people experience the same thing at the same time. Optical illusion can probably be ruled out if the same spectre is sited in different locations or rooms. Suggestion is harder to rule out, because many “haunted” places are well publicized.

I have actually experienced poltergeists. When my husband and I were dating I used to hang out in his barracks room. One night, his roommate’s beer mug flew off of the speaker it was sitting on up a foot, over about three feet and landed upside down undamaged.

The speaker was not on, noone was sitting or standing near it and the window behind it was closed. None of the other cups and glasses next to it were moved. This is not the only example, just the hardest to explain.

I’m really doing a bad job of explaining myself. I’m trying to explain experiences that I have never really had to rationalize to anyone before.

Take the word “epiphany” and strip it of all Christian trappings and you may get an idea of what I am trying to convey. You might call it intuitive understanding. I hesitate to give specific examples because of their personal nature. This is one of my personal heresies as an Agnostic. Although I am not at all confident that there is a God, I do feel that I have a spiritual side. I have been struck with insight and inspiration from out of the blue on many occasions.

As for ghosts, I’ve had visions (while dreaming or meditating) of long dead aquantances and the advise they’ve given has never failed me. The mind has various ways of organizing, analyzing, and imparting information. I don’t understand how it works. It just does. Insight is all about looking at things in different ways. Not all those ways can be readily explained.

I personally have not had any encounter with what I would say was a ghost. Any kind of unusual expierence I have had was easily explained. (shadows, light play off my glasses, someone playing a trick) Although a few friends of mine would swear to ghosts. If a ghost can be defined as the spirit of a deceased person, and if you believe in life after death, it does not sound too hard to believe. I read somewhere that the ghost of Abraham Lincoln haunts the White House, I wonder if Bill has seen him?

dawnbird said:

Precisely. The guy I know, who I mentioned did a number of studies on this type of phenomenon, found a definite link between believing a place to be haunted and seeing things that make you think it’s haunted. His co-author on a number of papers did some studies in an old theater with different groups of people. For half the people, he took them in and just told them the theater was undergoing construction. They didn’t think much of it. For the other half, he told them it was haunted, etc., and they heard and saw things that corresponded with this belief. (FYI, the theater had no known history of anybody believing it to be haunted.) In another study, they had a couple write down every “odd” occurrence in a dorm room (a fairly new building – no weird deaths or anything in it previously). At first there was nothing, but as time went on, they found more and more things, which reinforced their belief it might be haunted, which meant they found more and more things, which… The title they gave that paper was something like, “Diary of a decidedly unhaunted house.”

Is it hard to explain? From the way you described it, it certainly is. I don’t doubt that is the way you remember it, but sometimes our memories tend to skew things a bit. Even without that problem, I certainly can’t sit here at my computer and say, “Aha! I know it was caused by X.” There just isn’t enough information. But just because of this, that doesn’t automatically mean it was caused by some supernatural being.

“The best medicine for misery is neither myth nor miracle, but naked truth.”
– Richard Walker, The Running Dogs of Loyalty: Honest Reflections on a Magical Zoo

PapaBear said:

Ok, I’m glad it’s not me. :wink:

Well, as indicated before, I really cannot think of anything in my life to compare to it. Have there been times when something has become clear (or clearer) to me? Yes, but that was usually preceded by my thinking about it for quite some time beforehand, so I would consider it a rational outcome, not an epiphany.

I don’t meditate, so I can’t really respond much to that. As far as dreaming, well, I’ve certainly had “visions” in dreams, but when I woke up I knew they were dreams. Also, more often than not, I can barely remember the specifics of what happens in my dreams, let alone a particular piece of advice.

I do agree with your comment about the mind having various ways of organizing information, but then you lose me again, I’m afraid.

“The best medicine for misery is neither myth nor miracle, but naked truth.”
– Richard Walker, The Running Dogs of Loyalty: Honest Reflections on a Magical Zoo

OK, PapaBear, here I am, busting in to make a fool of myself for you. I’m with you all the way, mostly.

I’ve experienced ghosts. My beloved Grandmother has saved me from death, and fixed heartache, and made my life a better place. Each time, there’s been a magic to it, though I know that it’s easily explained. Either she really is watching me and loving me, or she left enough of herself to me that I can bring up the memory of her love to save myself. Let’s see? Hm… I’ll take the ghost, because I find it more comforting.

So, am I schizo? No. Do I really believe that a disembodied spirit is touching me? I’ll get back to you. Do I want to continue to have the option of believing something that brings me such comfort? You better believe it. It would be cruel to “prove” to me beyond doubt that there is no ghost of my grandmother watching me.

If indeed the explanation is that my time with my late grandmother left me with all the tools I need to comfort myself in extremity, then I’ve got a part of me that is damn smart about emotions and wish I could find it at any other time.

Also, my intuition tells me that it exists because I can do certain types of calculations so quickly and without conscious effort that I think I’ve leapt to the conclusion. In fact, after a while, you get a feel for certain types of information and can safely skip the conscious steps of calculating it all. Does that make sense?

I do not believe in ghosts, but I don’t think you have to be totally nuts to see them either. I believe that paranormal occurances happen because people expect or want them to happen. When an average person is told that a certain building or room is haunted, I believe that they will enter the area with the expectation of paranormal activity. If anything somewhat out of the ordinary happens, they will most definately attribute it to “ghosts”.
In a similar area, when a loved one dies, many close relatives and friends of the person claim to have some kind of posthumous communication with them. I believe this is the minds way of tying up loose ends and making death a bit easier to understand and accept.

“Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true” -Albert Einstein

mle said:

This gets into a discussion several of us had over in the Great Debates area (I think it was The Great God Debate, if you want to go check it out) – how can you tell yourself to believe something because you find it comforting? I know I can’t do that. I think what I think because I think it – I can’t just tell myself what to think.

Would it? Why would it be cruel to show you the truth (if it could ever actually be proven, of course)? Do you disagree with my current signature line?

“The best medicine for misery is neither myth nor miracle, but naked truth.”
– Richard Walker, The Running Dogs of Loyalty: Honest Reflections on a Magical Zoo