What is with all these Ghost shows on TV?

Some TV channels are obsessed with airing ghost shows. They are supposed to be reality based shows where the paranormal investigators come across strange things. Usually it is some quiet crack or thump that could be caused by anything, wind or pipes cracking etc. One of the most widely used gimmicks is “Did you hear that!?”

List of some shows: Ghost Mine, Haunted Hospitals, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal 911, Help! My House is Haunted, World’s Scariest Hauntings, Paranormal State, The Dead Files and My Worst Nightmare to name but a few. There are many more.

Sewer ghost creature

crapper2

In folklore, a ghost (sometimes known as an apparition, haunt, phantom, poltergeist, shade, specter or spectre, spirit, spook, and wraith) is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.

The belief in the existence of an afterlife, as well as manifestations of the spirits of the dead, is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to rest the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals rather than humans have also been recounted. They are believed to haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life. According to a 2009 study by the Pew Research Center, 18% of Americans say they have seen a ghost.

The overwhelming consensus of science is that ghosts do not exist. Their existence is impossible to falsify, and ghost hunting has been classified as pseudoscience. Despite centuries of investigation, there is no scientific evidence that any location is inhabited by spirits of the dead. Research has indicated that ghost sightings may be related to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Older reports linked carbon monoxide poisoning to ghost-like hallucinations.

ghosts_16.12.17_Castro

Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry wrote that there was no credible scientific evidence that any location was inhabited by spirits of the dead. Limitations of human perception and ordinary physical explanations can account for ghost sightings; for example, air pressure changes in a home causing doors to slam, humidity changes causing boards to creak, condensation in electrical connections causing intermittent behavior, or lights from a passing car reflected through a window at night. Pareidolia, an innate tendency to recognize patterns in random perceptions, is what some skeptics believe causes people to believe that they have ‘seen ghosts’. Reports of ghosts “seen out of the corner of the eye” may be accounted for by the sensitivity of human peripheral vision. According to Nickell, peripheral vision can easily mislead, especially late at night when the brain is tired and more likely to misinterpret sights and sounds. Nickell further states, “science cannot substantiate the existence of a ‘life energy’ that could survive death without dissipating or function at all without a brain… why would… clothes survive?'” He asks, if ghosts glide, then why do people claim to hear them with “heavy footfalls”? Nickell says that ghosts act the same way as “dreams, memories, and imaginings, because they too are mental creations. They are evidence – not of another world, but of this real and natural one.”

Benjamin Radford from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and author of the 2017 book Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits writes that “ghost hunting is the world’s most popular paranormal pursuit” yet, to date ghost hunters can’t agree on what a ghost is, or offer proof that they exist “it’s all speculation and guesswork”. He writes that it would be “useful and important to distinguish between types of spirits and apparitions. Until then it’s merely a parlor game distracting amateur ghost hunters from the task at hand.”

According to research in anomalistic psychology visions of ghosts may arise from hypnagogic hallucinations (“waking dreams” experienced in the transitional states to and from sleep). In a study of two experiments into alleged hauntings (Wiseman et al. 2003) came to the conclusion “that people consistently report unusual experiences in ‘haunted’ areas because of environmental factors, which may differ across locations.” Some of these factors included “the variance of local magnetic fields, size of location and lighting level stimuli of which witnesses may not be consciously aware”.

Some researchers, such as Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Canada, have speculated that changes in geomagnetic fields (created, e.g., by tectonic stresses in the Earth’s crust or solar activity) could stimulate the brain’s temporal lobes and produce many of the experiences associated with hauntings. Sound is thought to be another cause of supposed sightings. Richard Lord and Richard Wiseman have concluded that infrasound can cause humans to experience bizarre feelings in a room, such as anxiety, extreme sorrow, a feeling of being watched, or even the chills. Carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause changes in perception of the visual and auditory systems, was speculated upon as a possible explanation for haunted houses as early as 1921.

People who experience sleep paralysis often report seeing ghosts during their experiences. Neuroscientists Baland Jalal and V.S. Ramachandran have recently proposed neurological theories for why people hallucinate ghosts during sleep paralysis. Their theories emphasize the role of the parietal lobe and mirror neurons in triggering such ghostly hallucinations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s