The Top Three Scientific Explanations for Ghost Sightings
From ghosts to ghouls, witches to wizards, Halloween is the one time of the year when people come together to celebrate everything supernatural. But beyond the fancy dress and trick or treating, belief in ghosts is actually relatively common – with 38% of people classifying themselves as believers and a similar number having actually reported seeing one.
The term “ghost” refers to the idea that the spirits of the dead – human and animal – influence the physical world. And the idea of a haunting can often include anything from a sensed presence, or objects moving, to spirit activity.
But in a world filled with science and reason, these “hauntings” can often boil down to a very simple explanation. So, with Halloween just around the corner, here are the top three scientific and psychological explanations for hauntings, spirits, spookiness and all things supernatural – although it should be noted that many important questions have yet to be resolved …
1. Because I told you so
Attempts to explain hauntings often draw upon psychological factors – such as suggestion – so being told a place is haunted is more likely to lead to ghostly goings-on.
One classic study saw participants visiting five main areas of a theatre before completing a questionnaire to assess their feelings and perceptions. Prior to the tour, one group was told the location was haunted, while the other group was informed that the building was under renovation. Unsurprisingly, participants that were told the place was haunted experienced more intense experiences – similar to those of paranormal happenings.
The Ghost of New Amsterdam Theatre. ( CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 )
Verbal suggestion has also been shown to increase paranormal perceptions – as shown in research on seance phenomena, paranormal key bending and psychic reading – especially when the suggestion is consistent with existing paranormal beliefs.
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But research in real-world settings has produced inconsistent results. A study in the supposedly haunted Hampton Court found that suggestion had no effect on participants’ expectations of experiencing unusual phenomena, or their tendency to attribute unusual phenomena to ghosts.
So, it is fair to say that the effects of suggestion vary depending upon a person’s beliefs. And of course, paranormal believers are prone to endorsing alleged paranormal phenomena – while sceptics will deny the existence of the paranormal.
2. Electromagnetic fields and spooky sounds
Other explanations draw on environmental factors, such as electromagnetic fields and infrasound. Canadian neuroscientist Michael Persinger demonstrated that the application of varying electromagnetic fields to the temporal lobes of the brain could produce haunting experiences – such as perception of a presence, a feeling of God or sensations of being touched. And it has been noted that areas most associated with hauntings – such as Hampton Court – do possess erratic magnetic fields.
Similarly, infrasound – audio frequency below the range of human hearing – is also thought to be able to explain such phenomena. Several studies have linked infrasound and bizarre sensations.
Recording an audio frequency. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )
In one example, contemporary pieces of live music were laced with infrasound and the audience were then asked to describe their reactions to the music. More unusual experiences were reported when infrasound was present – chills down the spine, feeling nervous, waves of fear and uneasy or sorrowful emotions.
3. Toxic hallucinations
“Supernatural” perceptions can also arise from reactions to toxic substances – such as carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and pesticide. It also been suggested that fungal hallucinations – caused by toxic mould – could stimulate haunting-related perceptions.
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Shane Rogers and his team from Clarkson University in the US observed similarities between paranormal experiences and the hallucinogenic effects of fungal spores. This may explain why ghost sightings often occur in older buildings with inadequate ventilation and poor air quality.
Are ghosts really just a toxic hallucination? ( public domain )
The notion is not new and experts have previously reported a similar effect associated with old books . They claim that mere exposure to toxic moulds can trigger significant mental or neurological symptoms, which create perceptions similar to those reported during haunting experiences.
Top image: Shadows. Photo Source: Public Domain
The article ‘ The top three scientific explanations for ghost sightings ’ by Neil Dagnall was originally published on The Conversation and has been republished under a Creative Commons license.
"Scientists" and high-priest professors are so pre-Hillary.
If one is doubtful… just go spend a few nights completely sober in an “End of life” Nursing Home. I have daughters who have worked in these type of facilities for a decade and a half now. Remaining Spirits are now just “Business as usual” and a common understanding for them both.
The Bible says do not contact spirits because they are the spirits of Demons who serve Satan. This is Pagan worship called witchcraft. Secular sciences are atheists and do not believe in the supernatural, so they say these are hallucinations by suggestion, or caused by altered states from drugs hypnosis etc.
See documentation in my book Part 2. At Amazon Books under Auldaney.
The truth is all three explanations are partially correct. If you believe something you are likely to jump to conclusions and interpret every tiny thing as a ghost, etc. like most of the ghost television programs who try to make you believe it it all a hoax. However, some are real, but they are not ghosts The Bible says no one returns after death, they go to Heaven waiting for their celestial bodies after the Rapture occurs on earth, or Hades to wait for judgement.
The real appearances of evil spirits is caused by electromagnetic fields produced by the earth at certain times mainly at solstices and equinoxes, along lay lines at Megalithic sites built by the Phoenicians and Naphilim giants all over the earth. This electric/magnetic field is used by invisible entities to materialize as electromagnetic holograms as dead people, aliens, faeries, gnomes, and UFOs. Sometimes they can use transmogrification to create solid objects out of this energy. Peyote and other drugs, hypnosis, and sex brings on altered states which open the mind to contact with Demonic Guide Spirits. These communicate by telepathy which can also produce hallucinations. Or they can levitate objects. And produce other paranormal phenomenon.
We are living in the last days before Jesus return, so Satan and his Fallen Angels, assisted by Demonic spirits, hybrid humans known as Nephilim, and chimera genetically altered organisms made of genes from humans and animals creating monsters. This is in preparation for the contact with aliens from space hoax that will be used to cover Satan's Invasion during the 7 year Tribulation period.
I have apparently participated in a haunting of ... me. When I was very young we lived in Germany [army brat] and when I was late 2 early 3 years old until we moved back to the US I had an imaginary friend who would tell me stories. When I was seen by a kiddy shrink, and he asked me about it and to describe the old man I gave the description of my long dead great grandfather, including the description of a moderately distinctive birthmark which I would have had no way to discover as the only extant picture of the gent was in Florida. When I got back to the US I wasn't as isolated as I was then surrounded by bunches of cousins to play with. Odd? Yes. Ghost? I would say something odd and unusual was going on, that could not be explained in any other manner. Do I believe in Ghost Hunters and other TV shows? Yes and no ... I preferred the early years when they didn't automatically claim everything was a ghost ... they had the nous to say nothing was going on. But I do know that there is something out there we can't always explain though lots can be explained away by the 3 explanations above.
" As far as proof of spiritual Apparritions being real, the scientific community has conducted thousands of experiments to confirm that demonic,angelic spirits In Fact " Do " Exsist and research concludes beyond any reasonable doubt that the spiritual realm is legitimate and viable due to scientific study,deduction ,fact finding , experimentation and protocol !!! As far as misguided results and incomplete data, we can only assetain that while science deduction technique has not failed to verify the absolute presence of spiritual beings _ inconclusive results haven't provided or proven what proffessional scientific researchers have known for centuries !!! So, dont believe the skepticism and blinded results given from idiosyncratic goofiness and blatant athiestic bonheads stuck on Ouija boards calling forth stupidity and prescribed to witlessness and useless clamor and strong delusional theoretical mindlessness ,for which they claim as Scientific reason !!!!