Different Types Of ‘Ghost’

dream_decoder

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Like dark matter?
Absolutely, dark matter is the name we've given to something we don't yet understand.
We'll study it until we do understand it.
What we won't do is ascribe it to the supernatural until we know what it is...
 

dream_decoder

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I also think it's arrogant to assume, like some do, that things that defy scientific explanation don't exist or are figments of imagination.
That's because you'd rather believe than know.
You'd rather sit in the dark and create a scary story than turn the lights on and discover there's nothing there.
I'd like to turn the lights on and find there IS something there, not hold onto the belief that anything I don't yet understand is a ghost, or a an alien abduction, or any number of curious explanations, but the lack of evidence points to it being nothing...
 

PeteS

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That's because you'd rather believe than know.
You'd rather sit in the dark and create a scary story than turn the lights on and discover there's nothing there.
I'd like to turn the lights on and find there IS something there, not hold onto the belief that anything I don't yet understand is a ghost, or a an alien abduction, or any number of curious explanations, but the lack of evidence points to it being nothing...
Amazing how you can draw conclusions about what I do or don't believe.
 

escargot

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BBC Radio 4's Start The Week today -
(safe BBC link)
Rationality in an Irrational Age

The last bit is of interest here:

In his new book, Rationality, the experimental psychologist Steven Pinker argues that human beings have the power to think, act and behave rationally, if given the right tools to do so. He asks why rationality so often plays second fiddle to opinion, bias and prejudice. And he believes that in order to ensure our survival as a species we need to learn how to apply rational thought to our daily lives.

Our attitudes towards sexual desire may not always be regarded as rational. Amia Srinivasan is Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at Oxford University and in ‘The Right to Sex’ she considers this universal topic from a modern feminist perspective – a collision of pleasure, ethics and gender politics.

If physical relationships are often the result of irrational decisions, then the belief in ghosts takes the human scope for irrationality to a whole new level. In The First Ghosts: Most Ancient of Legacies, British Museum curator Irving Finkel goes right back to the beginning and shows how the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians believed in the spirit world and considers why this enduring belief in ghosts is something that spans diverse cultures and historical periods.

There's a podcast too with more discussion.
 

ChasFink

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Any scientist worth their salt knows that the ore they find out, the more there is to learn.
I presume this applies particularly to geologists, eh?
There's salt in that ore!

Anyway, a good scientist will not deny the very existence of unexplained phenomena, but will try to partially explain it - as well as it can be explained - by fitting it to what science does know. Sometimes that involves psychological factors. Sometimes it involves tweaking details that the scientist assumes the experiencer is mistaken about. But after a while a good scientist will admit the phenomenon doesn't fit in well with known science, and a very few very good scientists will start experiments to get a better explanation.
 

Naughty_Felid

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Absolutely, dark matter is the name we've given to something we don't yet understand.
We'll study it until we do understand it.
What we won't do is ascribe it to the supernatural until we know what it is...


The thing is "Ghosts" predate "Dark Matter" and was a concept way before science. We should be studying ghosts with the same intensity and level of funding as we study dark matter.

I can't really recall anyone here definitively explaining what a ghost is. What they are stating is that they have seen, heard, smelt, tasted, felt, something that cannot currently be explained.

Of course, there is continuing research into the neurological properties of a "hallucination" whichever form it takes but I would guess the financial backing of that research is minuscule compared to the funding for the quest for dark matter.

You seem to be disagreeing with your own argument. I don't think anyone here would not welcome further scientific research into the phenomenon that causes someone to experience a ghost.

Quite the opposite.
 

MorningAngel

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The thing is "Ghosts" predate "Dark Matter" and was a concept way before science. We should be studying ghosts with the same intensity and level of funding as we study dark matter.

I can't really recall anyone here definitively explaining what a ghost is. What they are stating is that they have seen, heard, smelt, tasted, felt, something that cannot currently be explained.

Of course, there is continuing research into the neurological properties of a "hallucination" whichever form it takes but I would guess the financial backing of that research is minuscule compared to the funding for the quest for dark matter.

You seem to be disagreeing with your own argument. I don't think anyone here would not welcome further scientific research into the phenomenon that causes someone to experience a ghost.

Quite the opposite.
I think the trouble with studying ‘ghosts’ is that you don’t know when the phenomenon is going to happen.
 

dream_decoder

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I think the trouble with studying ‘ghosts’ is that you don’t know when the phenomenon is going to happen.
The trouble is we don't know if the things reported are even connected.
From experience I'd say 70% are fabricated/people elaborating on things they've heard and want to be true, and 29% are sincere but based on people not understanding/misinterpreting what they've seen.
I would make the second option 30% but need to leave room for the possibility that there is something incredible going on; even if there is currently no evidence to support that 1%.
 

dream_decoder

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The thing is "Ghosts" predate "Dark Matter" and was a concept way before science. We should be studying ghosts with the same intensity and level of funding as we study dark matter.

I can't really recall anyone here definitively explaining what a ghost is. What they are stating is that they have seen, heard, smelt, tasted, felt, something that cannot currently be explained.

Of course, there is continuing research into the neurological properties of a "hallucination" whichever form it takes but I would guess the financial backing of that research is minuscule compared to the funding for the quest for dark matter.

You seem to be disagreeing with your own argument. I don't think anyone here would not welcome further scientific research into the phenomenon that causes someone to experience a ghost.

Quite the opposite.
There's a flaw in your argument, you discuss 'ghosts' as though there is something to investigate when there is probably nothing but myth, legend and wishful thinking. People love their ghost stories, they nurture them and elaborate, the truth is mundane and people will cling onto their story even when a simple solution can be shown and replicated.

Dark Matter is a theory, an attempt to explain other observable events, if we find a better explanation, or realise our calculations are wrong it will be dropped and forgotten, but at least there is something we are able to study.

You admitted that there is no definition as to what a 'ghost' is, so what is there to study?

There are many things we see, taste, smell, hear or sense every single day that we can't explain, but that only means our knowledge is lacking. It takes a very unscientific and self-delusional leap to interpret the unknown as being a sign of a spiritual realm that we have no evidence for.
I understand that belief can be comforting to people, in the same way religion can be, but if we genuinely want to look for something to study then we need to start from a neutral point of view, and not fool ourselves before we have even started.
 

Naughty_Felid

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There's a flaw in your argument, you discuss 'ghosts' as though there is something to investigate when there is probably nothing but myth, legend and wishful thinking. People love their ghost stories, they nurture them and elaborate, the truth is mundane and people will cling onto their story even when a simple solution can be shown and replicated.

Dark Matter is a theory, an attempt to explain other observable events, if we find a better explanation, or realise our calculations are wrong it will be dropped and forgotten, but at least there is something we are able to study.

You admitted that there is no definition as to what a 'ghost' is, so what is there to study?

There are many things we see, taste, smell, hear or sense every single day that we can't explain, but that only means our knowledge is lacking. It takes a very unscientific and self-delusional leap to interpret the unknown as being a sign of a spiritual realm that we have no evidence for.
I understand that belief can be comforting to people, in the same way religion can be, but if we genuinely want to look for something to study then we need to start from a neutral point of view, and not fool ourselves before we have even started.
There is a perceptional event occurring when people experience a ghost. That is a fact. This isn't a myth, legend, or wishful thinking. I have not stated that I believe this experience to be a spirit, demon, angel, or whatever. It is a perceptual anomaly that as yet has not been fully explained for every event.

You are making way too many assumptions as to what people's experiences are and you are putting your spin on it, which is plainly unscientific. You applied your limited hypothesis but have gone no further.

"There are many things we see, taste, smell, hear or sense every single day that we can't explain, but that only means our knowledge is lacking."

Precisely, this is why you are not even listening to your own argument. Until we actually explore "ghosts" we are never going to understand what is going on.
 

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I wonder whether appearances of deceased relatives to some people in their last days of life are ghosts, visitors from an afterlife come to help their passing or just the imaginings of a dying brain?

I was sitting with my grandfather one day when he said Tom was standing near the window. I couldn't see or sense anything. I learned later that Tom was one of his brothers and had been killed in the first World War.
A few days before my grandmother died she told me her sister and brother in law had been standing at the foot of her bed in the night.

I've never knowingly seen a ghost of any variety. The nearest thing I can recall happened about 60 years ago when I saw, or imagined I saw, a large whitish or translucent dog . It was about 200 metres away and would have been the size of a small horse. The strange thing was that its legs were stretched out as though it was running , yet it moved like a cardboard cut-out and the legs remained in that position as it passed out of sight.
 

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If sightings are pareidolia or have other rational explanations then they aren't 'ghost' sightings.
Because somebody doesn't understand what they are seeing it doesn't mean it's automatically supernatural.

I'm not disregarding what people say, I'm analysing it, and it's at this point many people get uncooperative because they don't want an explanation, they want a story.

If people can see things but they can't be caught on camera then that implies it's in their head...

I want the truth, not self-deception.
The truth doesn't need me to make excuses for it, or dance around why there appears to be no evidence for something that probably doesn't exist.

Where is all of this amazing evidence that you so desperately want to believe?
It's all beginning to sound like the case for there being a god, and I don't do faith, I do science...
But what if ghosts aren't the spirits of the dead walking, but instead some kind of breaking through of a linked universe? We can discount the stories of 'nuns and monks and headless coachmen' because the human mind wants to make stories so seeing 'something' would cause a story to arise to account for the 'something'. But if that 'something' had another explanation that we just can't quite grasp yet (as in a bleeding trhough of another universe/timeline/reality) along with its own physics (can't be photographed or recorded because ...well, I'm not a physicist but I'm sure that there are good reasons why something may not register sufficiently to be captured. It's hard enough to take a photograph of a cat, and they are earth bound and corporeal), then it could very well exist, just not be what we think we are seeing.
 

escargot

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There's a flaw in your argument, you discuss 'ghosts' as though there is something to investigate when there is probably nothing but myth, legend and wishful thinking. People love their ghost stories, they nurture them and elaborate, the truth is mundane and people will cling onto their story even when a simple solution can be shown and replicated.
This is what we talk about on this board: not whether ghosts (or UFOs or Bigfoot etc) strictly exist but why people believe in them and what they think the various phenomena might be. That's the Fortean response.

Saying 'There are no ghosts!' 'It's all in people's heads!' and so on isn't Fortean.
 

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This is what we talk about on this board: not whether ghosts (or UFOs or Bigfoot etc) strictly exist but why people believe in them and what they think the various phenomena might be. That's the Fortean response.

Saying 'There are no ghosts!' 'It's all in people's heads!' and so on isn't Fortean.
Yep - one wonders why some join this forum.
 

PeteS

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Exactly. I mean, they're not going to change anyone's mind.
Unlikely as far as my beliefs are concerned, but then they are based on my experiences, which people who are much more intelligent than me and have experience in the Fortean field, have been unable to explain.

It's funny how some are able to pontificate on phenomenon that they have not experienced themselves.
 

escargot

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Unlikely as far as my beliefs are concerned, but then they are based on my experiences, which people who are much more intelligent than me and have experience in the Fortean field, have been unable to explain.

It's funny how some are able to pontificate on phenomenon that they have not experienced themselves.
When they do you get good old cognitive dissonance. Always fun to watch. :chuckle:
 

dream_decoder

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Unlikely as far as my beliefs are concerned, but then they are based on my experiences, which people who are much more intelligent than me and have experience in the Fortean field, have been unable to explain.

It's funny how some are able to pontificate on phenomenon that they have not experienced themselves.
Beliefs aren't facts.
Not being able to explain things means you can't explain them, yet you choose you ascribe them to the supernatural.
You're doing exactly what I described, and clinging onto the hope that you've witnessed something unusual.

I've experienced plenty of things that I couldn't initially explain, all of them proved to have mundane explanations.
I'd welcome any evidence that couldn't be explained, and warranted serious investigation if it existed, but it disappears in the cold light of day.

I've been alive, and on this forum, long enough to see that witnesses love to tell wild stories but clam up when you ask too many questions, and then they quietly disappear as well...
 

dream_decoder

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There is a perceptional event occurring when people experience a ghost. That is a fact. This isn't a myth, legend, or wishful thinking. I have not stated that I believe this experience to be a spirit, demon, angel, or whatever. It is a perceptual anomaly that as yet has not been fully explained for every event.

You are making way too many assumptions as to what people's experiences are and you are putting your spin on it, which is plainly unscientific. You applied your limited hypothesis but have gone no further.

"There are many things we see, taste, smell, hear or sense every single day that we can't explain, but that only means our knowledge is lacking."

Precisely, this is why you are not even listening to your own argument. Until we actually explore "ghosts" we are never going to understand what is going on.
What do you mean by 'experience a ghost'?
How do you jump from 'can't explain' to 'must be a ghost'?
If you can't explain then you can't explain, you don't get to make stuff up and hope no-one notices.

I've spoken with enough people to know that many cling onto the hope that they've witnessed the supernatural, and don't want to know what actually happened.

I don't have a hypothesis, anymore than an atheist has a religion, I've been looking for evidence that doesn't seem to exist.
If you know any different then I'd be glad to hear it.

Just because you can't initially explain something it doesn't automatically become a supernatural event.
I understand people want to believe and they feel uncomfortable when questioned too much but that's how we move forward, we don't start with what we'd like the answer to be and use smoke and mirrors to avoid any tricky questions...
 

EnolaGaia

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I wonder whether appearances of deceased relatives to some people in their last days of life are ghosts, visitors from an afterlife come to help their passing or just the imaginings of a dying brain? ...
It's difficult to tell the difference - particularly nowadays when dying folks are increasingly of advanced age, under emotional duress if they're cognizant of their situation, in strange surroundings (e.g., hospital or hospice), and / or under the influence of palliative drugs.

It's been my observation that conscious patients in their final days become withdrawn and reflective, as if quietly reviewing the life they're about to leave. It would therefore be no surprise (given the conditions noted above) to consider they were essentially open-eyed-(day?)dreaming in a manner featuring long-lost friends and relatives. This would be essentially indistinguishable from 'actual' visitation by persons from the dying patient's past.

On the other hand, I've sat with dying loved ones who had visions that were pretty obviously random hallucinations. One example would be the night my grandfather stared at a place beside the foot of his bed with a sour look on his face. When I asked what was the matter, he said something like, "That harness is all wrong. That's not the way a harness is supposed to fit on a mule. It's no good ..." I ended up standing at the spot where he was focusing and miming the removal and re-fitting of an invisible mule's harness under his direction until he settled down, said it had been satisfactorily fitted, and thanked me for the help.

The last night I spent sitting with my mother before she died I looked up to see her gripping her hospital sheets defensively in front of her face and looking frightened. She was staring in my direction, but seemed to be zeroed in on the wall above and behind me. When I asked what was disturbing her she said it was the giant spider on the wall. I rolled up a magazine and asked her to direct me to the place where the spider was, saying my tired eyes weren't focusing too well. Once she guided me to the spider's location I whacked the (empty, of course) wall as hard as I could. When I turned back to assure her I'd taken care of the problem I was surprised to see her shooting me the look of a very disappointed mother, flashing the unmistakable unspoken message "You idiot - you can't simply smash my imaginary giant spiders." Nonetheless, her rolling her eyes at my folly broke the tension and allowed her to drift off into morphine-laden sleep.

Neither of them ever mentioned seeing any departed loved ones. I didn't see the mule, and I didn't see the spider. Maybe both were 'there' and I simply couldn't perceive them. In any case, neither seemed to fit the typical characterization of a 'ghost'.
 

Naughty_Felid

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What do you mean by 'experience a ghost'?
How do you jump from 'can't explain' to 'must be a ghost'?
If you can't explain then you can't explain, you don't get to make stuff up and hope no-one notices.


I've spoken with enough people to know that many cling onto the hope that they've witnessed the supernatural, and don't want to know what actually happened.

I don't have a hypothesis, anymore than an atheist has a religion, I've been looking for evidence that doesn't seem to exist.
If you know any different then I'd be glad to hear it.

Just because you can't initially explain something it doesn't automatically become a supernatural event.
I understand people want to believe and they feel uncomfortable when questioned too much but that's how we move forward, we don't start with what we'd like the answer to be and use smoke and mirrors to avoid any tricky questions...
"How do you jump from 'can't explain' to 'must be a ghost'?
If you can't explain then you can't explain, you don't get to make stuff up and hope no-one notices."

no idea where you made that leap.

"ghost" because it's easier to write than "perceptual anomaly". Cuse you know it's in the thread.

I've also spoken to enough people. You go on about "clinging" most people I know who have experienced a "ghost" (see my earlier sentence), just shrug and say "I've no idea what happened". You seem fixated on the fact the everyone is some sort of believer in the supernatural - they aren't.

You need to get off assuming everyone who has experienced a ghost thinks it is a supernatural event because it fits with your skeptic narrative. Most have no idea and if you've spoken to enough you'd know what.
 
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PeteS

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Beliefs aren't facts.
Not being able to explain things means you can't explain them, yet you choose you ascribe them to the supernatural.
You're doing exactly what I described, and clinging onto the hope that you've witnessed something unusual.

I've experienced plenty of things that I couldn't initially explain, all of them proved to have mundane explanations.
I'd welcome any evidence that couldn't be explained, and warranted serious investigation if it existed, but it disappears in the cold light of day.

I've been alive, and on this forum, long enough to see that witnesses love to tell wild stories but clam up when you ask too many questions, and then they quietly disappear as well...
Again I find it funny that you are able to pontificate on my experiences when you don't know me, probably the most cynical person alive. I find this type of "yes it is, no it isn't" discussion fruitless. I've certainly no intention of disappearing either, but will from this discussion. Your antagonistic approach is tedious.
 

pandacracker

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On the other hand, I've sat with dying loved ones who had visions that were pretty obviously random hallucinations. One example would be the night my grandfather stared at a place beside the foot of his bed with a sour look on his face. When I asked what was the matter, he said something like, "That harness is all wrong. That's not the way a harness is supposed to fit on a mule. It's no good ..." I ended up standing at the spot where he was focusing and miming the removal and re-fitting of an invisible mule's harness under his direction until he settled down, said it had been satisfactorily fitted, and thanked me for the help.

Thanks for the anecdotes @EnolaGaia. The above section made me go a bit teary :oldm:
 

Erinaceus

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On the other hand, I've sat with dying loved ones who had visions that were pretty obviously random hallucinations. One example would be the night my grandfather stared at a place beside the foot of his bed with a sour look on his face. When I asked what was the matter, he said something like, "That harness is all wrong. That's not the way a harness is supposed to fit on a mule. It's no good ..." I ended up standing at the spot where he was focusing and miming the removal and re-fitting of an invisible mule's harness under his direction until he settled down, said it had been satisfactorily fitted, and thanked me for the help.

The last night I spent sitting with my mother before she died I looked up to see her gripping her hospital sheets defensively in front of her face and looking frightened. She was staring in my direction, but seemed to be zeroed in on the wall above and behind me. When I asked what was disturbing her she said it was the giant spider on the wall. I rolled up a magazine and asked her to direct me to the place where the spider was, saying my tired eyes weren't focusing too well. Once she guided me to the spider's location I whacked the (empty, of course) wall as hard as I could. When I turned back to assure her I'd taken care of the problem I was surprised to see her shooting me the look of a very disappointed mother, flashing the unmistakable unspoken message "You idiot - you can't simply smash my imaginary giant spiders." Nonetheless, her rolling her eyes at my folly broke the tension and allowed her to drift off into morphine-laden sleep.

Neither of them ever mentioned seeing any departed loved ones. I didn't see the mule, and I didn't see the spider. Maybe both were 'there' and I simply couldn't perceive them. In any case, neither seemed to fit the typical characterization of a 'ghost'.
My grandmother had an UTI shortly before she was finally confined to bed and hallucinated insects running over the carpet. I had to smack them with the back of the coal shovel and then sweep them into it to throw on the fire! She was also convinced we had had a visitor and they were refusing to go home so I had to go through a charade of opening the front door to see them out and then bolting it so they couldn't come back. Obviously it was the infection causing this and it had cleared up before she 'saw' her sister in the night.
 
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