Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
In our world, when you can’t produce something in a laboratory, that is, when you can’t produce it on demand and have to rely on eyewitness reports as your sole evidence, it’s not really considered scientific evidence. With the subject of ghosts and hauntings, dismissing this type of report is carried to absurd lengths as the sheer numbers of these types of paranormal event that are reported by people boggles the mind.
As Michael Schmicker notes in his book Best Evidence:
Ghosts are a universal phenomenon, seen again and again and again without end by people of every culture, every religion and every country on earth. They have been reported for thousands of year by people from every economic strata; every educational strata; and every social strata. They have been seen by kings and peasants, hamburger-flippers and nuclear scientists, aborigines and bank presidents, doctors and laborers, by famous people and by average citizens, by men and women and children of every age and sex.
It is very likely that as you are reading this someone, somewhere is experiencing a ghost sighting. Taken individually, one can cast doubt on these accounts, but as a group the sheer number of sightings is its own kind of statistical certainty. Indeed if you get on any on-line forum where people are comfortable relating their experiences you will easily get a dozen accounts of ghost encounters. It has always been like that. The first collection of ghost cases was published in: . . .wait for it . . .1573. (Ghostes and Spirites Walking by Nyght). You can find accounts of ghosts in the literature of every written language on earth.
From a scientific standpoint, this is enough evidence. Because ghosts are experienced in every economic, cultural and social strata on earth there is simply no psychological profile that is going to fit all these people and therefore no psychological explanation will be able to account for all of these paranormal experiences. In 1886 the Society for Psychical Research investigated this phenomena and easily collected over 700 credible cases. To them as well it was not the quality of the cases but the overwhelming number of them, which impressed them as to the reality of ghosts.
And this is hardly the end of it. Almost as soon as cameras were in the hands of large numbers of people and people could take their own pictures ghosts started appearing in pictures; people have heard them on telephones and recorded them on tape. There are literally thousands of photographs that have passed muster and have images on them unexplainable in any other way. Dave Oester, of the International Ghost Hunters Society has collected over 9,000 images and teaches classes in how to distinguish an image of a ghost from a mere artifact such as dust, bugs and camera straps.) According to Dave Oester, about 99% of submissions he receives are only artifacts caught on film and not ghosts. He offers a brief explanation of the difference in this article on ghost orbs vs. dust orbs.
You can find ghost videos easily on the web and they have even been caught by TV film crews. If you look at the evidence as a whole, the idea that ghosts don’t exist in some way is simply laughable. They exist. The only question is what in the heck are they?
For that answer, we go back to quantum physics where we find the observation problem. What is the observation effect and what is collapsing probabilities? It cannot be something that within our normal reality because all of what we take for real is affected by the observation effect. The only thing left is consciousness. What this means is that consciousness is a property of the universe, not a magic trick of evolution. As has been demonstrated in so many ways, it has an effect on the reality we perceive and can operate independently of the reality we know. As such, a human being is not merely a body with brain, but a a consciousness with a body; a consciousness that does not need the body to exist. There is nothing to stop that consciousness-without-a-body from staying among us in the form of a ghost.
One of the conclusions that can be reached from this is that since consciousness is fundamental to the universe, everything must be alive. (explained in more detail here.) That means that areas and objects can have memories and sometimes these are memories that people can see; -otherwise known as hauntings.- While this theory might seem bizarre, it has the advantage of fitting the facts without being convoluted (such as using a parallel dimensions explanation) or requiring physics to be different from what it is. Given that the Holographic Universe theory is gaining ground, I don’t think that this is that far out there.
Ghosts and hauntings are a demonstration that there is far more to consciousness than what we have previously believed. I think that if the scientific community can get over their heebee jeebee’s and just look at this subject that way, it can provide us with clues to mysteries of physics that we cannot access any other way.