Scientific Evidence and Proof That Ghosts Exist
Ghosts and Ghost Hunters
Are ghosts real? People have been asking themselves this question for thousands of years. But despite widespread sightings and stories dating back over millennia, we still have no definitive proof that spirits actually exist.
Believers say the skeptics are blind to the evidence that’s right in front of them. Skeptics say any paranormal evidence likely has a rational explanation, and those who chase ghosts are fooling themselves.
Who is right, who is wrong, and where is the proof?
There has been a great deal of evidence collected over the past decade or so, and the majority of it comes from paranormal investigators.
These are people who spend time at an allegedly haunted site with an array of equipment they’re hoping will help them acknowledge or even communicate with spirits.
Many are available by appointment, and are happy to come out and help if you believe your house is haunted.
When paranormal investigators come to mind you may think of the movie Ghost Busters. A better example would be the team of parapsychologists from the movie Poltergeist. But, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past ten years, you can probably think of an even better example than that.
The show Ghost Hunters appeared in the fall of 2004. In the first few seasons they gathered some incredible pieces of evidence. Paranormal research organizations began to pop up around the country, and a new paranormal craze was born.
Ghost Adventures soon followed, debuting in 2007 with a documentary now called Ghost Adventures: The Beginning. This documentary features two of the most infamous pieces of paranormal evidence ever recorded: a full-body apparition following one of the investigators across a room, and a brick rising from the floor and flying away on its own.
Perhaps another half-dozen or so shows came along, each with its own take on paranormal investigation. Like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures, some of them seemed to collect very compelling evidence using some interesting ghost hunting gear.
But they all have one thing in common, and one big problem: They’re on television.
As much as we like to trust in the integrity of people who are passionate about their work, it’s just too darn hard to completely believe something we see on TV. It's nothing personal, but this alone makes us suspicious of anything these researchers find
Nevertheless, here’s a look at the types of evidence and semi-scientific proof some of these groups have collected.
Pictures of Ghosts
Photos of ghosts have been around about as long as photography itself. Even the ghost of Abraham Lincoln was known to photobomb his wife now and then. In recent years some fascinating photos have emerged from well-known haunted locations like Eastern State Penitentiary and Waverly Hill Sanatorium.
But examples of full-body apparition pictures are hard to come by, and many such as the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall, and even Lincoln, are thought to be faked.
In modern times it’s even tougher to distinguish faked photos from real.
The problem is, pretty much anyone with a computer can edit an image, and some people are so good at it that no one but another expert would know the difference.
So does this mean we totally discount photographic proof of the paranormal? Not necessarily, but it does mean we need to strictly consider the source, and the motivation, behind each picture.
Far more abundant than pictures of full-body or partial apparitions are photos of mists, fogs, dark shapes and orbs of light. Lighting conditions, atmospheric anomalies, dust, insects and even the condition of the camera itself can and does influence photos.
Sometimes it seems like paranormal researchers are seeing only what they want to when it comes to light smears in photos, or tiny orbs that can just as well be pieces of dust. Other times, they may be right to say that the appearance of a sudden mist has no reasonable explanation.
Unfortunately, from a scientific perspective there is very little to rely on when it comes to photos of ghosts, and far too many variables at work. For this reason, except in very unusual circumstances where there is zero possibility a photo has been tampered with either accidentally or purposely, and the apparition is very clear to the human eye, most ghost pictures can at best be considered a piece of the overall puzzle, and not real proof.
Video Evidence of the Paranormal
Digital video cameras, night vision and thermal imaging are all employed by researchers in order to catch ghosts in the act of being ghosts. Over the years, shows like the aforementioned Ghost Hunters (based around the activities of The Atlantic Paranormal Society) and Ghost Adventures (The Ghost Adventures Crew) have captured some amazing evidence.
Full-bodied apparitions, shadow people, objects moving on their own, and even the bizarre gremlin-like hooded spirit captured by Ghost Hunters at Eastern State Penitentiary are extremely compelling pieces of footage. But looking at it from a scientific perspective, there still isn’t much to hang our hats on.
Like photos, there are tremendous problems with the validation of any video evidence. Even though researchers do their best to debunk any natural explanations, errors can still occur. On the more nefarious side, video can be faked, altered and doctored, and YouTube is packed with home-made clips of alleged ghosts, created for the sole purpose of duping people and getting a chuckle.
But at least video offers some perspective, which is lacking in still photography. With a video we can see not only the apparition, but what happened before and after the spirit appeared, and also hear any sounds associated with the activity. Really good paranormal investigators will have several cameras set up, along with different audio equipment, so we can also know what was going on elsewhere.
So what do we make of the heaps of video evidence collected by these paranormal investigation shows? Maybe these guys really are capturing footage of actual apparitions, and if that’s the case then this video has to be considered some of the most earth-shattering evidence of the paranormal ever uncovered.
At worst, we’ve all been duped by television producers who are only looking to put out an interesting show with little regard to the integrity of the investigators or the field of paranormal research.
EVPs and Voices from Beyond
EVP stands for electronic voice phenomenon. In a nutshell, EVPs are allegedly recordings of words and phrases spoken by spirits, often not heard by the human ear at the time of capture. Some researchers use white noise to give the spirits a little help.
Finally some science! To understand one theory of why this works, consider the application of white noise when used for sleep purposes. Because white noise is sound produced on a wide array of frequencies, the sounds that may interrupt your sleep get all muddled up in the white noise and become indiscernible.
For spirits it supposedly works the opposite way: Ghostly voices aren’t heard by the human ear because they are indiscernible from the many other frequencies and sounds in the environment, and the mind can’t pick them out. White noise therefore serves as a kind of filter. Only when the evidence is reviewed will the voice be evident, and often with the help of computer equipment and very careful analysis.
Many researchers are moving away from white noise and simply relying on digital recorders, which seem to get the job done all on their own. Spirits are apparently willing to talk to us, if we only listen.
We’re still handcuffed by the possibility of tampering and errors, but EVPs are among the most widely reported pieces of evidence. They’re particularly compelling when words and phrases relate directly to questions asked, or when the voice references someone in the room.
There are a few other interesting methods of drawing out words from beyond such as the Ghost Box, which is simply a modified radio set to rapidly scan through channels thus creating a kind of white noise, or at least background noise, that spirits might communicate through.
Devices like the Ghost Box provide a medium for communication between the living and the spirit world. While most effective in the hands of an expert, anyone can use one to capture evidence of paranormal activity in their own home. However, the very fact that it’s a radio receiver means we don’t have to guess too much when it comes to possible errors with a piece of equipment like this.
The Ovilus is another fascinating piece of technology. This hand-held device takes readings from the surrounding environment and coverts the numbers into words. While the manufacturers of Ovilus make no such claim, many prominent paranormal investigators have used the device to allegedly communicate with the dead. Even though some the results we’ve seen on TV are compelling, at best we can put this in the category of “Huh?”
Electromagnetic Field (EMF) Theory and other Energy Anomalies
Time for more science, sort of! Humans, like all living creatures, emit weak electromagnetic fields. As we surely remember from our Physics 101 class, energy can’t be created or destroyed but only converted from one form to another. So what happens to our bioelectrical energy when we die? Some people theorize it forms the makeup of what we call the human spirit. (Others say the energy simply decays into the environment.)
Therefore, something like an EMF detector, or gauss meter, would be effective for locating human spirits. Gauss meters are devices used by electricians and scientists for measuring magnetic fields.
But there are a few problems with this idea. For one thing, an EMF spike indicates a stronger field than we’d generally expect to see produced by a living organism. But many researchers theorize that human spirits draw energy from the surrounding environment, and even from batteries in devices like flashlights. This, apparently, accounts for strong, localized sources of energy that might very well be spirits.
But even paranormal researchers are quick to point out that electromagnetic fields alone are not an indicator of activity, and there can be any number of real-world explanations. In fact, high electromagnetic fields in a home, originating from the buildings electrical wiring for example, might even contribute to feelings of fear and paranoia, leading someone to erroneously believe their house is haunted.
Unusual thermal readings are another indicator of supernatural activity. Investigators use instruments like thermal imaging cameras to seek out anomalous readings that are hotter or cooler than the surrounding environment, and hopefully those readings are in the shape of a person! Of course heat implies energy, which a spirits possess itself or has drawn from the environment.
Do people live on after death as some form of energy? Are ghosts capable of communicating with us? Have researchers really documented spirit entities in the forms of video and photographs? Or, have we all been duped by unscrupulous television producers and networks just out to make a buck?
The evidence is compelling, but certainly inconclusive. Maybe someday a researcher will come up with indisputable proof of ghosts, but until that day we can, at best, only speculate.
Of course, if you’ve had your own paranormal experiences you already know the truth. Please take a moment to tell your story in the comments section below. Do you have reason to believe ghosts really exist? Tell us why!