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Science with Ghosts OR Religion with Ghosts

  1. Dec 1, 2003 #1
    What do you guys think about ghosts? The idea that ghosts exist is usually thought to be a by-product of some sort of supernatural event, such as the death of someone generating a disembodied spirit or soul. Something that is beyond death, but trapped between here (Earth) and there (Heaven or Hell). I consider myself to be a logical person that tries to use scientific reasoning to determine if something is true or not. I do not believe in the existence of a supernatural being (god); however, people very close to me and very credible (to me at least) claim they have seen a "ghost" on a number of occasions. Different people have claimed to see the same ghost at different times in the same location. There have been too many different situations to be explained by just one or two anomalies. These anomalies being some sort of strange lighting situation involving the configuration of shadows moving as someone walks through the room - something that can be explained with physical evidence. I ran out of explainations and I want to believe my friends, but I don't know what to think. Now, I know that just as someone needs faith to believe in God, I need to have faith to believe in a scientific explaination. My faith covers the gap between what can be verified as fact and what can not be explained using my system of beliefs. I guess my real question is, do you guys think that ghosts can be explained scientifically or would the belief in ghosts automatically generate a belief in a god?

    All thoughts are welcome, Jeremy.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2003 #2


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    Er... science isn't about faith. In these cases, you need objective evidence to tackle it, and to try to sort out factual occurances to subjective elaborations. Certainly, it help to know if the witnesses have been in communication with each other, and so passed on details of each to encourage the next to "sense" the same thing.

    Of course, there are dozens of attempts of explain ghosts without god, supposing they exist...

    There's the notion of "imprinted emotions" on the environment.
    There is the idea that certain magnetic fields can cause such experiences.
    There is even the hypothesis of alien visitation...
  4. Dec 1, 2003 #3
    Faith is usually reserved for religion and the belief in god. I feel that the concept of faith is believing in something that you cannot yet prove to be absolute fact. We can prove without doubt many things in science, we also have formed ideas such as the Big Bang theory that is based on things we can prove, things we cannot yet prove to be absolute fact. This is an example of faith in the Big Bang theory. To me, faith is the concept of bridging what you can prove with what you cannot prove yet. Anyway, do you FZ+, believe that ghosts or what appear to be ghosts are real? If so, is it a supernatural event or merely an event which may one day be explained scientifically.
  5. Dec 1, 2003 #4
    Hello Jeremy, and welcome to PF !

    How about the scientific method?

    The commonality between these things is that you yourself, in no instance whatsoever, can personally verify any of the claims.

    Why should YOU be the one having to explain something you never experienced and know nothing about ???
    Is scientific reasoning telling you to become a believer and take the word of your friends?
    Do you mean if ghosts can be explained away as curious phenomena, illusion, or trickery? Or do you mean is it possible for ghosts to be experimentally tested so as to have their existence verified and their substance identified?

    I don’t see why something as vague and undefined as ‘ghosts’ should necessarily imply the existence of a god(s).
  6. Dec 2, 2003 #5
    I have seen a ghost twice before. My wife saw it one of the times and without my prompting, she said, "Did you see that too?" and my dog which was sleeping in the next room reacted both times as well, whining when it appeared and stopping when it disappeared. So, I believe they exist.

    It would be difficult to prove that they exist scientifically. Even capturing an image on tape would require a way of testing the validity of the process and a proof of what it is not (trick of the eye, lens flare, glare from a hidden light source, doctored image.)

    The part that would probably make scientific proof impossible would be the inability of another person to reproduce results of any experiment.
  7. Dec 3, 2003 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    This is the one fringe subject with which I have had several direct and undeniable experiences. While living in Los Angeles, my wife and I experienced a haunting for about 1 year. We both experienced enough to convince me beyond any doubt that there is something real about ghosts - real enough to impose at least 50 LBs of force; and real enough to create intense but pleasant [in this case] odors. This is one big reason for my interest in the fringe. Once you’ve had a ghost, you’ll never go back. :wink:
  8. Dec 4, 2003 #7
    The trio of husband, wife, dog is strangely frequent in the accounts of ghost sightings I've read about.

    Quite level headed people report seeing what could be described as ghosts. I'm curious to know if you and your wife discussed what you saw in detail, and if your descriptions match.

    I would be interested in hearing what you saw.

  9. Dec 4, 2003 #8

    Doc Al

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    I think you're use of the term "faith" is way too broad. By this definition, my belief that the chair I'm sitting in won't collapse is just a matter of faith---since I can't be absolutely sure.

    I think the meaning of faith in the context of religion is very different. Faith in that context is closer to believing in something in spite of evidence against it, or lack of any evidence for it.
  10. Dec 4, 2003 #9
    What do you mean by "experiencing
    a haunting"? I'm always interested in hearing stories in which two people actually see the same aparition, which is much harder to explain than vaguer things. What is the story of the 50 lbs of force?

    I bought a battery operated electric toothbrush about ten years ago. A few days later, when I was lying in bed at night, it suddenly turned on and ran for about five seconds, all by itself in the bathroom cabinet. This was darned weird, and I'm sure many people in my shoes would jump to the conclusion of "ghost". All I can say for sure is that I heard it run briefly.
  11. Dec 4, 2003 #10
    Well, here is a true story I will never forget.

    My dad an I were at our farm, out in the middle of nowhere. We were bulding a nice barn and when we were done, we had to build the door.

    So we built a very nice solid large door which would have taken several horses to break.

    Anyway, before we installed the door on the hinges my dad wanted to get a support beam for the inside end of the barn cause he thought it needed another one.

    So, we go out to the woods, about 50 yeards away to cut down a tree.
    We come back cause it started raining, we were not gone for 10 minutes.

    When we god back the door was shreaded to pieces, I mean real small pieces, like 6-8 inches long at most and was laying there in a pile.

    There was nobody else around and the dogs would have barked had anyone come buy, they are mean bastards.

    I thought about this for a long long time and still cannot understand what happned. I thogut, maybe lightening stuck it, but then how did the pieces get piled up imto a nioce pile.

    anyway, something unexplained happened and am still puzzled by it.

  12. Dec 4, 2003 #11


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    I remember at twelve years of age my mother and I stayed in a house she used to live in before she met my dad. It had been unrentable since she left. This was in Taiwan. That night, my mother and I woke up and heard sobbing and all the drawers in the next room were banging and closing ..... what a racket! My mom told me to ignore it since it was her old roomate who had died in that room violently from rabies 10 years ago! To this day, I don't know what to think. We both may have ingested something that night that wasn't Kosher...I don't know. Later, my dad, pretty much an agnostic, told me when he came to the same house 13 years before to take my mother away to their new house after the wedding, once in, and on leaving the doors became jammed (all of them) and he had to break a window in order for them to leave! Of course when my mother reminded him it had a ghost, he rolled his eys. (my mother is very superstitious and catholic)

    Once I remember as a green intern walking into room of a 50 year old man making a nice recovery from viral meningitis. I tried to sit on a chair next to him but he kept telling me I would be sitting on this pretty lady who was there to take him away. (Of course the conclusion that the meningitis had caused visual hallucinations or complex partial seizures came to mind.) When I got up to leave, he gasped snd slumped over in cardiac arrest. After coding him for 45 minutes, he was pronounced dead . (autopsy showed a massive pulmonary embolism.) What a freaky coincidence! (And I don't believe in angels or anything.)

    someday i believe we will come up with an explanation.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2003
  13. Dec 4, 2003 #12
    This is one of the strangest stories I've ever heard. It doesn't fit any paranormal category I've heard of since dogs traditionally bark at "ghosts" in the stories I've heard and read. My first thought was a bigfoot, but dogs traditionally go crazy in the presence of that beast as well.

    I can't think of anything that would have shredded it but then piled it up. Did he make the new door (to replace the shredded one) any differently (unshredable)?
  14. Dec 4, 2003 #13
    Nope, there was no old door to replace. We had built a brand new barn.

    Not really. Many dogs, they say are used to seeing ghosts that they just don't freak out any more.

    For example, my ex wife and I had 5 pomoranians, and once in a while they would chase something around the hous and wag their tail playfully while looking up at something as if looking at a person's face. Sometimes they would stop some 7 feet in front of an empty corner of the room and jump up and down as if wanting to play with whatever they were seeing. This happened at both our homes over 4 years.

    many times it would happen just before we got back from the Synagogue or on fryday evenings usually an hour or so wfter we lit the manora.

    I asked here a few months ago if they still do it and she said they still do at least 5-8 times a month and fridays is a regular for them now.

    I don't know what to make of it.

  15. Dec 4, 2003 #14
    Now I'm sidetracked by this info. Where on earth are you located, Israel? Australia? New Zealand? I don't think I have ever once met a Jewish farmer in the US. Also: Atheistworld? You gave up on religion?

    What I was asking before was did you guys make any special changes in the door you had to make to replace the one that got shredded?
  16. Dec 4, 2003 #15
    Nope, we made one identical.

    Oh, and the farm was just a place we lived to raise Kosher chickens for a certain setor of the religious Jewish community.

    Yes, I became an atheist many years ago, in fact it is the reason my ex and I divorced.

  17. Dec 4, 2003 #16
    I think I understand what happened now: on the first door you must have accidently used a parve hammer with dairy nails, so G-d decided to blast it to pieces.

    (I used to work at a kosher bakery - always had to keep parve and dairy separate).
  18. Dec 4, 2003 #17
    Hi Zooby,
    My wife and I had bought a house from a young couple who were very anxious to sell (the house was so cheap we couldn't insure it because the minimum insurance value was so much higher they thought we would burn it down.)

    The house was built by a glass factory to house workers and it was about 150 years old.

    The first time I saw the ghost, I was laying on my side in bed, not quite asleep, but with my eyes closed and heard the dog start to whine. I opened my eyes and saw an old woman kneeling beside the bed staring at me.

    We lived about a mile from an asylum at the time and the image before me was so real I thought an old woman had escaped and gotten into our house. I didn't know what to do. I was frozen in place, I didn't want to alarm the woman and she just seemed to be staring at me.

    Eventually she just started to rise up and I saw she had no lower body just mist where her hips to her feet should have been. She floated up over the bed and disappeared into the ceiling above the bed. As soon as she vanished the dog stopped whining.

    My wife did not see it this time and I didn't want to creep her out, so I didn't say anything. But a few weeks later I saw it again. Again, the dog whined then it appeared, it floated up over the bed and disappeared. This time my wife had seen it also and she asked me if I had seen it. I said yes, but didn't tell her what I saw. I asked her to describe what she saw and she said , the upper body of an old woman but the bottom part was just bubbles.

    The bubbles is the only thing we disagreed on. I thought it ws more of a mist.

    We both agreed that she didn't mean any harm and we both thought it was cool to have seen what we thought was a real ghost.

    Oh, one other thing, after we bought the house, we found about 6 Quiji boards in the attic, but none of the little triangle things.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2003
  19. Dec 4, 2003 #18


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    I can answer that for you Zooby, since I am Ivan's wife.
    We moved into a top floor apartment in Glendale, CA back in the '80's. Shortly after we moved in, we started noticing quite strong oders of a very sweet, flowery perfume - nothing like any scents that I use. They would come and go very quickly - just kind of wafted along. We thought that maybe we were getting cross ventilation from one apartment to another, so we didn't think too much about it.
    A short time later, Ivan had to leave for a week to care for his mother after back surgery. I went to bed one night and was lying there reading and waiting for Ivan to phone home. I was lying on my stomach with my book propped up against the headboard, and I smelled the perfumy odor waft past me. Suddenly, I felt a distinct depression on the bed next to my feet and then the rocking motion of the waterbed. Even though it did not FEEL like one of the cats jumping onto the bed (they were both crashed out on the couch in the living room), I assumed that's what it was. When no cat walked up to nudge me, I turned my head toward the foot to see which cat it was. As I was turning my head, I felt the 'depression' leave and the bed rocked again - but there wasn't anything there! I just stared for a minute and then got up and went into the living room. Both cats were exactly where they had been when I went to bed earlier. Just then, Ivan called. (the phone spooked me pretty good, at that point! ) I related the whole story to him and then he said "You're not going to believe this. I didn't tell you because I didn't want to freak you out. Last week when you were on-call and got called in (I work at a hospital), the EXACT SAME THING happened to me." (I'm assuming this, then, is the 50# force he was speaking of.)
    When he came home from his mom's, he went and talked to the apartment manager. She told him that all units had independent heating and ducting systems, so we couldn't be getting any other apartment's air venting into our system, so that didn't explain the perfumy odor. She also told him that an elderly lady had died in our apartment several years before and that other tenents since then have experienced and reported similar things.
    'She' (we figured no GUY ghost would be caught DEAD :wink: wearing THAT flowery a perfume!) was never a malevolent ghost, and while the 'bed-sitting' incidents never again occurred, I always got a serious case of goose-bumps everytime I smelled her perfume waft by me. These continued until we moved a year later.
  20. Dec 4, 2003 #19
    I'm wondering if you think in retrospect their motive was to dump a haunted house on an unsuspecting buyer?
    Just for fun, ask her about it today and see if she still remembers it as you do.
    Must have been some wild ouija board parties in that house. Did you find these before or after you saw the apparition?

  21. Dec 4, 2003 #20

    The smells of perfume (Ivan knows what I'm going to say here without being psychic) lead me directly to think of simple partial seizures. Most often people smell really foul things but nice smells are also reported (as are just inappropriate smells: one woman was frequently visited by the annoyingly strong smell of lettuce).

    Likewise the feeling of someone sitting at the foot of the bed, often with a visual component, is reported in various sleep disorders.

    The problem in explaining your experiences this way, though, is obvious: even when two diagnosed epileptics live in the same home they don't both have the same seizure symptoms in such detail.
    Why would two people who are presumably not epileptic both suddenly start having the same kind of simple partial seizure and sleep disorder?

    If I propose the house was toxic in some way I'd be hard pressed to name a poison that would induce exactly the same hallucinations in two separate people. If you both had smells but they were different smells, and you both had essentially different experiences of feeling weight on the bed, a toxin would be plausible. But that isn't the case here.

    It would be nice to be able to interview everyone else who had experiences who lived there. It would also be nice to go to the place with someone who knows alot of ard science about electric fields like Ambitwistor and see what could be arranged to monitor the fields in and around that building. I'm thinking the Persinger effect.

    Anyway, you too are a really "cute" couple. It's going to take me a while to get over that.
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