The notion of ghosts has been long debated, whether it’s the existence of Casper, Anne Boleyn’s lost spirit lurking, or your neighbor’s grandma visiting from the afterlife. Ghosts are remnants of the bodies of people that have died and are commonly discussed in folklore. Apparitions can range from a simple strange presence to the aura of a living being. Roughly half of all Americans believe in ghosts or life after death according to a website called Ghosts and Gravestones. Many within the population of believers have shared perceived experiences of the phenomenon, or share a strong belief life after death. In addition, many believers are also religious: numerous religions discuss life after death in one form or another. Hinduism and Buddhism believe in reincarnation, and Christianity, Islam, and Judaism believe that the soul is eternal and will continue to exist after death.
People believe in this idea because no one knows what happens after death and wants to believe that there is some form of life, and that maybe humans are able to visit their loved ones after passing on. According to the previously mentioned website, Ghosts and Gravestones,
“We seek explanations for what’s happening around us. It’s just the way the human brain is wired; we need to know why things occur or what’s causing something. And when it comes to inexplicable, mysterious happenings, the only logical explanation is often the presence of something supernatural.”
Information regarding ghosts can be found all over the Internet and on television. There are websites substantiating this belief, but most are reiterating that the idea is false.
The notion of ghosts has been around for thousands of years. One of the only websites I found on the origination of ghosts is Wikipedia, which says that stories of ghosts originated in early Mesopotamia and ancient Greece. Furthermore, ghosts were written into Homer’s the Odyssey and Iliad. In the Bible, Jesus was at first believed to be a ghost before convincing his followers that he rose from the dead. Furthermore, ghost stories circulated during the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, all throughout history until today. More people believe in ghosts in the modern day than they did in the past, with more and more people believing each year, along with the amount of evidence against ghosts increasing over time.
Ghosts are considered extraordinary because the idea of them is unable to be authenticated by science. There is no replicable experiment known that can validate a ghost’s presence; people coming back after death as spirits defies all scientific laws of nature. Besides hope, the belief of ghosts continues to live on through oral stories that are passed on from person to person. Those in favor of the existence of ghost are mostly believers because they cannot attribute their experiences to normal circumstances. The belief is solely built on personal experience with the help of religious beliefs (life after death, reincarnation, etc.) to explain what happens in the afterlife. According to HowStuffWorks, “the evidence for ghosts is all around us, but only living beings with a certain sensitivity can feel their presence.” In addition, the website states that technology is not yet advanced enough to create physical proof. According to some quantum physicists, “we still do not fully understand the interaction of the human mind and external matter at the quantum level” (HowStuffWorks). Moreover, ghosts may not be dead humans but merely humans from other points in time.
On the other hand, those against the premise of ghosts are more backed by science than those in favor. Benjamin Radford, Live Science Contributor, claims that the stories of ghosts switch between being able to walk through walls but still be able to move them, and that these contradicting ideas go against the laws of physics. Furthermore, he claims that if these spirits were truly lost and had unfinished business, then mediums would be able to help them in a multitude of ways (solve their murders, identify killers). Those who claim to have evidence like ghost hunters use pseudoscience to demonstrate their claims: electromagnetic field meters, cameras, thermometers, and other equipment are used to detect any changes in energy. The change in energy is automatically assumed to be the presence of a supernatural being. Jumping to the conclusion that any change in the atmosphere is due to paranormal causes is logically incorrect; people misinterpret the results due to confirmation bias, only looking for evidence that strengthens their beliefs in ghosts.
All in all, the notion of ghosts is one that has originated and survived over a long period of time. A large percentage of the world’s population believes in ghosts in one form or another, whether it’s life after death or the eternal existence of human energy. Many of these believers claim to have personal experiences with ghosts, while others only believe because of their religion or hope. There is conflicting evidence to whether ghosts exist, as the premises backing them is controversial and up for debate. Perhaps advances in technology over time will give us a final answer or ghosts will make contact with the public themselves.
Ghost. (2019, February 07). Retrieved February 10, 2019 from
Ghosts & Gravestones. (2018). Why Do People Believe in Ghosts? Retrieved February 5, 2019, from https://www.ghostsandgravestones.com/believe-in-ghosts
Radford, B. (2017, May 17). Are Ghosts Real? – Evidence Has Not Materialized. Retrieved February 9, 2019, from https://www.livescience.com/26697-are-ghosts-real.html
Stuff Media. (2019). Stuff They Don’t Want You To Know: Ghosts: The Evidence. Retrieved February 11, 2019, from https://www.stufftheydontwantyoutoknow.com/videos/ghosts- part-3-evidence-video.htm