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What Do We Know (or Think We Know) About Ghosts?

What Do We Know (or Think We Know) About Ghosts? 1

Loyd Auerbach, MS

 

Possibilities we consider, and models we work with…

 Do people only “see” ghosts?

No.  They hear, feel and smell as well, often in combinations (seeing and hearing, feeling and hearing, etc.).

A ghostly figure can be:
a real person
a haunting (an “imprint” of people; a “recording” of sorts)
an apparition of the dead
an apparition of the living
a psychic perception
a trick of memory
a trick of perception
a blur brought on by infra-sound
an image caused by phantoms of the brain

 A ghostly sound can be:
a real sound
a haunting (an “imprint” of people; a “recording” of sorts)
an apparition of the dead
an apparition of the living
a psychic perception
a trick of memory
a trick of perception
an auditory hallucination caused by phantoms of the brain

 A ghostly smell can be:
a real smell
a haunting (an “imprint” of people; a “recording” of sorts)
an apparition of the dead
an apparition of the living
a psychic perception
a trick of memory
a trick of perception
an olfactory hallucination caused by phantoms of the brain

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 A feeling of a presence or being touched by a ghost can be:
a misinterpretation of something going on in the body
a haunting (an “imprint” of people; a “recording” of sorts)
an apparition of the dead
an apparition of the living
a psychic perception
a trick of memory
a trick of perception
a kinesthetic hallucination caused by phantoms of the brain

 “Cold spots” and temperature drops, contrary to popular folklore, are not common with the presence of ghosts or in hauntings. The physical measurements of local temperature over the past 130+ years in investigations has yielded very few cases where an apparition or haunting was being experienced and the temperature has dropped. In fact, there have been some where the temperature rose a bit (though that could also be explained by the presence of too many investigators/bodies).

 People have experienced “cold chills” when also experiencing/perceiving a ghost or haunting, even though there was no measurable change in temperature in the room/location. That is attributed to either a psychic perception or a psychological perception resulting from otherwise experiencing something out of the ordinary.

 Why do some people become ghosts and not others?
Psychological need or desire (or fear of death, of what’s next) or denial (of death/dying)
Emotional drive to “stick around”
Appropriate environmental conditions (still under investigation)
Something related to spiritual/divine design????? (No way to know)

 What about hauntings?  How common?
If everything “records” info through time, there are haunts everywhere.

If environmental conditions need to be right for the signal to be recorded, there may be fewer haunts than we expect.

Environmental conditions ought to affect when and whether a signal is:
recorded “loud” (often meaning with lots of emotion at the time)
replayed “loud”

Psychic perceptions of the individual ought to affect when and how a person perceives haunting info

Environmental conditions and psychic perceptions together likely affect how and when a person experiences place memory/haunting phenomena

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 What’s a typical ghost look like?
Generally Solid, almost always 3 dimensional, and always clothed (at least in our culture).

Hauntings may only provide part of a “picture” of a past person/event

Both apparitions and hauntings might only be processed/perceived partially by the witnesses. On occasion, this means sometimes people will see out of focus or even shadowy figures.

Apparitions often look better (younger and even sometimes healthier) than the person was at the time of death.  This appears to have to do with “self-image,” or how that consciousness that is the ghost thinks of himself or herself

Sometimes apparitions are seen from the top of the head down to mid calf or even just the knees.

Try this:  Close your eyes and picture yourself for about 10 seconds;

Note:  Don’t read any further until you’ve done that

Now recall what you visualized.

Do you remember the clothing you had on?  Interestingly, very, very few people in Western society would picture themselves in the nude.  Interestingly, ghosts are always “seen” with clothes on.

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Do you remember what shoes you were wearing?  Were your feet even part of the visualization?  Probably not.  Again, this is interesting because occasionally ghosts are not “seen” all way down to their feet, which follows along with how we visualize ourselves.

 
Apparitions and hauntings are not seen with the eyes, heard with the ears, felt with the body or smelled with the nose.  In fact, it appears that the signal from the apparition and haunting is sent directly to some perceptual center of the brain or directly into our Consciousness, and added to the input from our senses.

It’s important to remember that ALL perception resides in the brain’s (or mind’s) information processes.  Data comes in from the senses.  Our minds/brains can add additional info to that data, or take data out or reshuffle it, so that what we perceive is not exactly what is really there.

So, additional information can be added to the mix from the senses and processed as sensory input.  Our eyes don’t see the ghost, but our mind does.  Our ears don’t hear him, but the mind does.  And so on…

Ghosts are typically not seen as orbs of light, as in the photos.  Generally, any visually perceived floating lights are looked at for other, perhaps unusual, explanations (such as ball lightning or earth-lights), mainly because there is no other apparitional experience/perceptions.

Most photos of “ghosts” on the Internet are actually photos of globe shaped orbs of light.  If these orbs are related to ghosts, they are more likely some effect the ghost has on the film or digital media than anything like a reflection (since cameras capture images from reflected light) of a ghostly form. Just like the camera captures images of reflected light bouncing off living people and other physical objects – which is how our eyes see as well.

However, with rare exception the orbs are reflections of the flash off some reflective, semi-reflective or even barely reflective (like a wet leaf or wood) surface or dust particle that does not even have to be in the frame of the image – just needs to be in range of the flash to provide a reflection back to the lens, or dust or insects in the air too close to the lens to see through the viewfinder.

Most of the photos now being identified by many as “ectoplasm” – apparent unusual white mists or even white smoky streaks and shapes – do not fit the original application of the term ectoplasm (spirit matter, usually extruded from the body of a spirit medium, and usually greenish and glowing). Again, they are taken with rarely any other apparitional experience/perceptions.

Most such photos are much more likely flash reflections of water/humidity in the air, or even the flash reflecting off moisture from the breath of the photographer (or other nearby investigator), especially when the external temperature is cool enough for the breath to be condensed (as it seeing your breath in the cold).

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If an apparition/discarnate entity were involved, they are more likely some effect the ghost has on the film or digital media than anything like a reflection (since cameras capture images from reflected light) of a ghostly form. Just like the camera captures images of reflected light bouncing off living people and other physical objects.
For more information, see Loyd Auerbach’s books:

The Ghost Detectives’ Guide to Haunted San Francisco, by Loyd Auerbach & Annette Martin, 2011.

A Paranormal Casebook: Ghost Hunting in the New Millennium, 2005

Hauntings & Poltergeists: A Ghost Hunter’s Guide, 2004

 Ghost Hunting: How to Investigate the Paranormal, 2004

 ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook, 1986 (out of print, but a PDF version is available from Loyd Auerbach – email [email protected])

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