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Real Life Ghosts

by conn96
Tags: ghosts, life, real
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conn96
#1
May9-12, 07:17 PM
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Hi all,

Don't worry, I'm not one of those wackos trying to convince you ghosts exist. I don't even believe in spirits. What I do believe is that people are really experiencing real things, but I believe that there is a scientific explanation to it all. I'm not a physics wiz, so I'm hoping to get some knowledge from you guys. Is there any possible scientific cause to explain ghosts? By ghosts I mean apparitions, if you will, that appear in human form, and appear and disappear. Thanks, looking for a good SCIENTIFIC answer.
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256bits
#2
May9-12, 08:30 PM
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I can think of three:
1. Drug induced hallucinations.
2. Mental illness
3 Age related ie approaching death many more people see appartions of previously departed loved ones.
phinds
#3
May9-12, 08:34 PM
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I think you would have to examine case by case, and for folks who DO believe in ghosts that would be a waste of time since it's like religion. No rational explanation is likely to be meaningful to them.

Evo
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May9-12, 08:40 PM
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Real Life Ghosts

Quote Quote by 256bits View Post
I can think of three:
1. Drug induced hallucinations.
2. Mental illness
3 Age related ie approaching death many more people see appartions of previously departed loved ones.
It's also a fad. It's "cool" to see ghosts because of the reality tv shows.

The scientific answer is that there is no scientific evidence. Nada.
zoobyshoe
#5
May10-12, 02:00 AM
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Quote Quote by 256bits View Post
I can think of three:
1. Drug induced hallucinations.
2. Mental illness
3 Age related ie approaching death many more people see appartions of previously departed loved ones.
There are also several neurological conditions that cause illusions and outright hallucinations that could be construed as ghosts, depending on how they're interpreted.

For example: I haven't mentioned this one before, but there is a simple partial seizure whose only symptom is the strong feeling of a "presence".

I don't know much about it since I've only seen it mentioned in lists of simple partial seizures, but I surmise it works like this: when we know there is someone else in the room or house with us, we make a mental note of it and keep that knowledge running in the background. There is a dedicated circuit, in fact, that performs this task.

If that circuit starts to fire by itself hyper-synchronously, a person will be overwhelmed by the certainty there is someone in the room or house with them, even when there isn't, because they can so strongly "feel" a presence.

In addition to various kinds of seizures most people have never heard about, people with Migraines and Multiple Sclerosis are subject to all kinds of odd physical and emotional sensations that might get attributed to ghosts; cold spots, the sensation of being touched, that sort of thing.

There is also a phenomenon called "musical hallucinations" which most often happens to elderly people who are hard of hearing: they hallucinate the sound of music, so realistically that they often spend hours trying to track down the radio or TV they think is producing it. This is the sort of thing that might be attributed to ghosts.

Somewhat more indirectly, phantom limb phenomenon used to be supposed to be proof that we had a spirit that would survive the death of the physical body. If your physical arm was gone, but you could still feel it, was that not proof that you were experiencing your spiritual arm?
Ryan_m_b
#6
May10-12, 03:05 AM
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Someone who believes in ghosts or entertains them as a viable hypothesis is more likely to incorrectly attribute phenomenon to them e.g. movement in the corner of the eye is attributed to a "spirit" rather than an optical illusion. This is exacerbated when you put said people in an encouraging environment such as surrounded by TV crews and "ghosthunters".

Something else that is worth bearing in mind is confabulation. With repeated telling of an event, especially to people who are encouraging you or going a long with your conclusions it is easy for people to lay down false memories.
Chronos
#7
May10-12, 03:35 AM
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'Ghost Hunters' is a good example of the logic [or lack thereof] that relies on 'did you hear/see/feel/smell/taste that?' evidence. Hard to criticize those guys given they made a living off it.
Ivan Seeking
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May10-12, 08:06 AM
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As I've discussed here before, my wife and I had some very strange experiences for which, from my pov, I have never seen or heard a reasonable explanation, including those offered in this thread. To this day, some 25 years or so later, the experiences still haunt me [pun intended]. Neither of us have ever had any other similar experiences. They were unique to one apartment in Glendale, Ca. And the only thing I am certain of is that it wasn't our imaginations.

I don't think the word "ghost" has any clear meaning. It is a word used to describe a wide variety of claimed phenomena.
nitsuj
#9
May10-12, 09:48 AM
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While the brain is amazing (relatively) at taking in sensory inputs, analyzing sub-consciously, and provide a "reality" output, it's prone to interpretation errors.

For as long as the moon looks big when low in the horizon, I can't give much weight to a personal experience, group experience ect. None the less, I've read it here. Such experiences may as well have been real.

I believe in the belief of ghosts.
Ivan Seeking
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May10-12, 06:17 PM
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Quote Quote by nitsuj View Post
I can't give much weight to a personal experience, group experience ect.
Nope, a story is just a story. However, that position of intellectual solace no longer exists for me. And therein lies the rub. There is no evidence that anyone here has ever suggested [that I can remember] that would allow various related claims to be tested, because all such claimed events are transient and unpredictable in nature - not repeatable on demand [even if real]. So there is really no way to test these claims, and a story is just a story, unless the story is yours.

The only thing I can see on the horizon that might help resolve some of this is the ability to determine if a memory is real, and the story truthful, using advanced brain imaging technologies - advanced lie detection, if you will. In some cases, if the stories are real and truthful and this can be demonstrated with a valid test, then it would be far more difficult to dismiss the stories as flights of fancy, lies, etc. There are times when a story doesn't leave much room for doubt that a true mystery exists, if the story is true. If all such stories are lies, then it could be the next challenge for Randi to advertise.
nitsuj
#11
May11-12, 09:55 AM
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I agree with your first comment.

The second one; my memory of a Big moon low in the horizon is real, however misrepresented by my brain. the only thing not real is the moon being any bigger and or any closer.
Ryan_m_b
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May11-12, 10:28 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
Nope, a story is just a story. However, that position of intellectual solace no longer exists for me. And therein lies the rub. There is no evidence that anyone here has ever suggested [that I can remember] that would allow various related claims to be tested, because all such claimed events are transient and unpredictable in nature - not repeatable on demand [even if real]. So there is really no way to test these claims, and a story is just a story, unless the story is yours.
This isn't absolutely true though. You can learn and discover and come up with empirical explanations that beyond reasonable doubt are true. For example if several people independantly historically reported moving lights in the sky of certain colours, patterns etc and then later we discover the Northern Lights and how the work we could say that was almost certainly what they saw.
Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
The only thing I can see on the horizon that might help resolve some of this is the ability to determine if a memory is real, and the story truthful, using advanced brain imaging technologies - advanced lie detection, if you will. In some cases, if the stories are real and truthful and this can be demonstrated with a valid test, then it would be far more difficult to dismiss the stories as flights of fancy, lies, etc. There are times when a story doesn't leave much room for doubt that a true mystery exists, if the story is true. If all such stories are lies, then it could be the next challenge for Randi to advertise.
This may help tell if someone is lying but not if their memory is an accurate recording of events. Our brain both fills in the gaps and makes up memories all the time. Additionally I'm not convinced by this thought experiment that the outcomes would be so clear because the brain does not hold information in the way most people think, even whilst remembering something we are tricked into thinking we have a more complete memory than we do. To expand on that last point here's an excercise: think of any event that happened with friends/family, not recent and not special (i.e. not yesterday and not a wedding). Picture these people at this event, then try to remember what they are wearing. The vast majority of the time you will not be able to yet you still have a memory in which they are clothed as opposed to being a disembodied head. If you continue to persist with this memory you may be able to spot confabulation in real time as your brain fills in what they are wearing with generic clothes or clothes you have seen them wear on other equations.
Ivan Seeking
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May11-12, 03:46 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
This isn't absolutely true though. You can learn and discover and come up with empirical explanations that beyond reasonable doubt are true. For example if several people independantly historically reported moving lights in the sky of certain colours, patterns etc and then later we discover the Northern Lights and how the work we could say that was almost certainly what they saw.
The problem I generally see in this regard is that virtually no amount of anecdotal evidence is considered sufficient motivation for serious investigation. But I think the reason for that with topics like this is understandable. The biggest problem with any potential transient and elusive phenomenon is repeatability. Unless you can test something under laboratory conditions, which generally means either producing the phenomenon on demand, or at least knowing it should occur after some number of events, e.g. millions of collisions in a particle collider, it is difficult to justify serious consideration. Where does one even begin? And what benefit will be derived from the research? Who wants to pay for it? Even worse is the complication of perception. Where we have an apparent lack of any concievable, resonable explanation for a class of claims, and then the additional complication of cult and pop followings with their own theories and explanations, the topic gets tagged as crackpot. People tend to stop making the distinction between the evidence [be it purely anecdotal or a more complex mix], and the popular interpretations of the claims.

This may help tell if someone is lying but not if their memory is an accurate recording of events. Our brain both fills in the gaps and makes up memories all the time. Additionally I'm not convinced by this thought experiment that the outcomes would be so clear because the brain does not hold information in the way most people think, even whilst remembering something we are tricked into thinking we have a more complete memory than we do. To expand on that last point here's an excercise: think of any event that happened with friends/family, not recent and not special (i.e. not yesterday and not a wedding). Picture these people at this event, then try to remember what they are wearing. The vast majority of the time you will not be able to yet you still have a memory in which they are clothed as opposed to being a disembodied head. If you continue to persist with this memory you may be able to spot confabulation in real time as your brain fills in what they are wearing with generic clothes or clothes you have seen them wear on other equations.
As I understand it, some of the latest technologies allow or will allow one to determine if a memory is real. I would have to do some digging to confirm this but I am almost certain I have seen this discussed before: The recall of real memories has identifiable characteristics, as opposed to something like a dream, or a lie. At the least we should be able to determine with high confidence if the person believes it to be true. At that point, if a claim could be verified through the truthful recall of numerous witnesses, it would be difficult to dismiss the claim as entirely bogus.

Simple errors in perception are not always likely or even reasonably possible. In some cases the claim is fairly clear cut; if truthful, we have a real mystery on our hands.
Ryan_m_b
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May12-12, 05:04 AM
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Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
The problem I generally see in this regard is that virtually no amount of anecdotal evidence is considered sufficient motivation for serious investigation. But I think the reason for that with topics like this is understandable. The biggest problem with any potential transient and elusive phenomenon is repeatability. Unless you can test something under laboratory conditions, which generally means either producing the phenomenon on demand, or at least knowing it should occur after some number of events, e.g. millions of collisions in a particle collider, it is difficult to justify serious consideration. Where does one even begin? And what benefit will be derived from the research? Who wants to pay for it? Even worse is the complication of perception. Where we have an apparent lack of any concievable, resonable explanation for a class of claims, and then the additional complication of cult and pop followings with their own theories and explanations, the topic gets tagged as crackpot. People tend to stop making the distinction between the evidence [be it purely anecdotal or a more complex mix], and the popular interpretations of the claims.
Anecdotes are reports of observation, deciding whether or not to investigate (and at what level) them is a process whereby the likelihood of truthfulness, the perceived chance of repeatability, the cost and the potential pay off are all taken into account.
Quote Quote by Ivan Seeking View Post
As I understand it, some of the latest technologies allow or will allow one to determine if a memory is real. I would have to do some digging to confirm this but I am almost certain I have seen this discussed before: The recall of real memories has identifiable characteristics, as opposed to something like a dream, or a lie. At the least we should be able to determine with high confidence if the person believes it to be true. At that point, if a claim could be verified through the truthful recall of numerous witnesses, it would be difficult to dismiss the claim as entirely bogus.

Simple errors in perception are not always likely or even reasonably possible. In some cases the claim is fairly clear cut; if truthful, we have a real mystery on our hands.
fMRI machines have been use experimentally to tell if someone is lying by looking at the comparison of activity between areas of the brain involved in memory and those involved in imagination. I've yet to see any research that shows a method of telling if a memory is fake. It's not like your brain stores real memories on one area and fake in another.
scottbekerham
#15
May12-12, 05:40 AM
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Well , I think that real unknown entities might exist and may be called ghosts . May be there are dark matter planets and life or may be creatures that inhabits other dimensions but I do believe that most people who claim an experience with ghosts are either mentally ill , liers or there is a scientific explanation for what happened to them .
Mindscrape
#16
May12-12, 08:03 AM
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See, the problem with people simply dismissing paranormal claims and telling someone, "you experienced something in which you were deceived but there's a scientific method that will say how you were deceived," is that the scientific method hasn't done anything itself. As scientists, we tend to have the problem of claiming that if there isn't a scientific explanation then the phenomena doesn't exist, and then when there is an answer we giddily claim, "that's explained by such and such, science has all the answers." This is the exact wrong approach, and, in my opinion, the way to being a bad scientist.

I think the correct stance is to be agnostic. Until science actually has an explanation for the various paranormal activities that haven't been explained, claiming they don't exist is just as faith based as claiming they do exist, which is the wrong approach. I agree, there are phonies and fakes who've invented personalities and/or stories that make it easy to discredit the whole thing. Still, the consensus on this thread seems to be that all paranormal activity can be explained by fakes, brain errors, or ignorance of physical phenomena. This is like saying all mechanics are governed by Newtonian mechanics, and if you see something that's not it's either electrodynamics or just your brain playing tricks on you -- but by the way, we can't fully explain these brain tricks.
Ivan Seeking
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May12-12, 11:33 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Anecdotes are reports of observation, deciding whether or not to investigate (and at what level) them is a process whereby the likelihood of truthfulness, the perceived chance of repeatability, the cost and the potential pay off are all taken into account.
Could you provide a few examples of where this has happened. I don't see it. I don't think it happens. It seems to me that claims shown to be true, like the legend of the Milky Sea, and rogue waves, are only validated inadvertantly. What I have seen, for example, is that I spent a good part of 8 years repeatedly trying to make the simple distinction between "UFO" and "ET", still most people tend to view those concepts as "crackpot" and the same. In fact, consider that the very notion of ghosts and UFOs are considered crackpot BECAUSE people automatically fail to make the distinction between the claimed observations, and the interpretations. The subjects get tagged crackpot based on sloppy logic and ignorance of the facts, and for the most part, that the end of it. And I can certainly show plenty of evidence for that right here in this forum.

That UFOs get tagged as a crackpot subject is the easiest example. How can a claimed observation without any interpretation be "crackpot"? It might be a lie, and if not, it's an observation. The crackpottery lies in the interpretations, the amateur investigations, and the accompanying cult "theories", but not in simple observations. So why is the subject - the volumes of accounts and evidence, much of which comes from the government itself [!] - considered "crackpot".

fMRI machines have been use experimentally to tell if someone is lying by looking at the comparison of activity between areas of the brain involved in memory and those involved in imagination. I've yet to see any research that shows a method of telling if a memory is fake. It's not like your brain stores real memories on one area and fake in another.
I'll have to see if I can find something. The essential point was that I thought they are learning to make this distinction.., but I'm not sure what I saw now as it was some time ago.

Nonetheless, reliable lie detection could be used effectively in some cases. For example, I would love to see Travis Walton and his crew subject to an irrefutable lie detector test.

I would gladly submit to an irrefutable lie detector test in regards to our own experiences in Glendale. [Late Edit: Consider that my public and standing challenge to James Randi. ]
Ivan Seeking
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May12-12, 04:56 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
Anecdotes are reports of observation, deciding whether or not to investigate (and at what level) them is a process whereby the likelihood of truthfulness, the perceived chance of repeatability, the cost and the potential pay off are all taken into account.
One more point that comes to mind. "The likelihood of truthfulness" is a completely subjective interpretation based on expectations. This is not a scientific measure. The concept has little value within the context of potentially dramatic and inexplicable phenomena. Or put another way, if the claim is beyond my comfort zone, I ain't buying it. This is human nature. There have been a number of times that even after our experiences in Glendale, I would hear a ghost story and think "yeah right", and then realize that my story would sound very much the same to someone else. My story is true but that guy is full of it! What an odd reaction, eh?

If a claim is simply "unbelievable", if it doesn't seem to pass the truth test because it sounds too outrageous to believe, then it seems to me that if verfied, it is likely to be a significant discovery. This suggests to me that the most interesting mysteries are the most likely to be discarded as nonsense, even if they're genuine.


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