Ghosts, paranormal visitors
Ghosts, paranormal visitors
Why I became interested in ghosts
Talked to students at Hastings Community College
Surprised at how literal they were about ghosts, wondered why
More recently Reason Omaha debunked ghost hunter evidence for local TV
Interest in ghosts
Part of traditional culture
Most universal paranormal phenomenon
~ 1500 haunted houses in U.S. (entertainment)
Ghost tourism - pamphlets in motels
Ghost hunting - busineses devoted to this
Way to communicate with departed (psychics)
Who hunts ghosts?
Young people
People who watch Ghost Hunters on TV
Not scientists
What do you need for ghost hunting?
Flashlight, spare batteries
First aid kit
Notebook, pens pencils
Jackets, appropriate clothes
More advanced
EMF Meter - detects magnetic fields which attract spirits
EVP listener - Converts magnetic signals to sound
"Electronic voice phenomenon"
Portable motion sensor
Digital remote thermometer
Deluxe carrying case
Video equipment
Night vision
Geiger counter
Smudging supplies (incense)
Crystals, stones
General tips (329K on Google)
Familiarize yourself with the area in daylight.
Look for no trespassing signs.
Make sure you bring your ID.
Never go alone.
Investigate the history of the locale.
More tips
Keep an open mind, negative feelings may drive spirits away
No whispering, it can taint recording results.
Don't wear perfume, cologne or anything with a noticeable scent.
Never tease, threaten or dare an unseen entity
Use religious relics & symbols as a protection
Be scientific, strive to prove the existence of ghosts and the afterlife.
Expect results
Where do you find ghosts?
Schools - Schools and former school sites may have psychic energies & imprints of past emotional events.
Theaters - Actors have run the gamut of human emotions; many interesting hauntings attached to theaters.
Churches - There's a long history of the faithful returning to their home church.
Hotels/Motels/Boarding houses - Dark dealing & highly emotional events took place in these rooms.
Haunted places
Mostly in the East
Kemper Arena in Kansas City MO (Owen Hart, Blue Blazer, 1999)
The Lemp Mansion in St. Louis MO
The Polish Museum of America in Chicago IL
The Villisca axe murders house in Villisca IA (1912)
White House
Problems with places and methods
Maximize suggestibility, emotions and gullibility
Encourage interpreting ambiguities as ghosts
No tests of specific hypotheses
Irreproducible results
With Bigfoot you know what you're looking for
History of ghosts
Spirits of the ancestors survive (often worshipped)
Spiritualism - late 19th century, psychics today
Convey wisdom of past into the present
Fore tribe in New Guinea ate ancestors' brains - got kuru
Relic of mind, body dualism
Mind-body dualism
A common sense view
We can see physical body, but not "spiritual, mental" aspects
Physical death is obvious, but mental-spiritual death isn't
Could mental (spiritual) aspects survive physical death?
Possession and exorcism consistent with this view
We now know basic mechanisms of the brain
Brain (thought, memory) operate by ion pumps, neurotransmitters
Brain content therefore dies with body
What are ghosts made of?
Composed of a misty, airy, or subtle material
In medieval times, the souls of the dead, or demons
Problems with ghost composition
Animating spirit - relic of dualism
Prescientific perspective
From chemistry substances are solids, liquids or gases
If substance would have to be a gas
Fluids take the shape of their containers, don't form shapes on their own
Why do we see ghosts?
Intuitively think mind-body dualism
Wishful thinking, suggestibility
Emotional involvement
We overdetect patterns
Brain fills in missing (desired) details
How does info get from the human body?
Voice, writing
Broadcast by mouth, hand
Received by eyes, ears
Languages must be learned
Doesn't get out through thought or "psychic energy"
No mechanism to broadcast thought
No mechanism to store thoughts in space
No mechanism to receive thoughts
Unconscious processes likely vary among individuals
Disembodied info
Sound waves, electrical energy dissipate
In space info disperses quickly (sky writing)
Even if info could be stored in space, no way to detect it
We experience emotions of the past, not the actual past
Anecdotal evidence of ghosts
Not reliable
Be especially wary of "believer" testimonials
No plausible way to physically construct a ghost
Reality of ghosts rests on mind body dualism
Ghosts reflect emotional experiences within our brains
Museums are good places to experience emotions of the past
Contents of our brain die with us
We pass into the future by writings, recordings, photos, memories
Ghosts are good social entertainment
Why ghosts attract humans?
Engaging stories
Way to engage with past events
Convey sense of danger (excitement)
Better wary of false dangers than oblivious of true dangers
Instinctively react with fear to potential dangers
Organizations that promote ghosts
Society for Psychical Research, 49 Marloes Road, Kensington, London, 1882
American Society for Psychical Research, Inc., 5 West 73rd Street, New York 10023, 1885