Real Reasons for Ghostly Activity According to Skeptics & Science
Approximate reading time 7 minutes.
It’s not surprising what skeptics say about ghosts, as they usually do their darndest to prove that ghosts and paranormal events don’t actually exist. The reasons given are numerous and cover a wide range of explanations. The same goes for the scientific community, whose overall opinion is that there is zero provable evidence that spirits walk the earth. Therefore, they offer four primary theories of why people might claim they’ve had a ghostly encounter. The explanations are as follows:
1. Psychological Factors
Some Sociologists claim that waking dreams are often behind perceived paranormal events. Science has a name for waking dreams, and that’s sleep paralysis. “Sleep paralysis can happen in the twilight state of entering or leaving the sleep state. During sleep paralysis, people can’t talk, scream or do anything,” says Dr. Priyanka Yadav, New Jersey Sleep Specialist.
Adding to the pile, it’s been postulated that waking dreams can produce a sense of intrusion, feelings of dread, or the belief that one is witnessing ghosts. Curiously, this chilling phenomenon is sometimes accompanied by individuals who swear that something or someone supernatural is trying to choke them.
2. Geographical Anomalies
Paranormal researchers believe that in many cases, supernatural occurrences are caused by geological features. As a result, geographic locations under or near a dwelling, such as limestone deposits, magnetite, quartz, and magnetic fields, may very well explain supernatural events.
Similarly, Electromagnetic fields are known to trigger hallucinations, and that a high EMF reading can cause feelings of unease and feeling watched. Some have dubbed this “the fear cage” factor.
In contrast, a few paranormal researchers believe that that paranormal activity can actually alter magnetic fields, and that a spirit uses the magnetic energy from an area to make its presence known.
Astonishingly, experiments conducted have demonstrated that low-frequency sound waves, also called infrasound, might cause events that people typically associate with ghosts. For example, feelings of nervousness and discomfort and the sense of an invisible presence in a room are common. Adding to this, many experts, including paranormal researchers, don’t realize that sound waves cause the human eyes to vibrate, causing people see things that aren’t there.
In an article, The Ghost in the Machine, by Vic Tandy and Dr. Tony Lawrence, the authors cited infrasound as the real cause of apparitions scaring the staff in the Warwick, England, School laboratory.
We’re conditioned from a very early age to make sense out of the daily external environment experienced by our very nature. As a result, we naturally learn pattern recognition, which allows us to make sense of the outside world. The scientific term for this response is pareidolia (par·ei·do·lia).
Point of fact, the human brain is wired to recognize faces, which could explain why humans pick out meaningful shapes in random patterns. The term “matrixing” was coined by the TV series, Ghost Hunters. Matrixing describes the phenomenon of seeing faces in mirrors, paintings, etc.
Pareidolia and Haunted Things
4. Pipes, Electrical Wiring, Air Conditioning, and Heating Units
With the advent of popular ghost shows on TV or YouTube, more and more people are more apt to contact paranormal groups to investigate hauntings. Yet, upon a cursory examination of a home or business, paranormal investigators have frequently found that old pipes, electrical wiring, and heating or air conditioning units are the cause behind suspected paranormal activity. And it’s no secret for paranormal investigators that old plumbing can often account for spooky banging noises.
Moreover, faulty electrical wiring can cause lights that mysteriously turn on and off and explode light bulbs. And finally, air conditioning and heating units frequently act up, which causes strange sounds or cold spots in particular areas.
A Faulty Furnace?
Recently, the American Journal of Ophthalmology published a case study involving a couple who moved into a house and promptly began experiencing a series of auditory and visual hallucinations. These included strange footsteps, shadowy figures, and other spooky anomalies. Upon a thorough investigation of the home, it was determined that their symptoms were actually caused by a faulty furnace. After fixing the furnace, their symptoms disappeared.
In another case, reportedly after a woman took a shower, she became delirious after seeing a ghost. The real reason for the sighting? It was discovered that a new gas water heater improperly installed was filling her house with carbon monoxide. It’s known that carbon monoxide poisoning can incur hallucinations as well as dangerously life-threatening.
The Ghost Hunter Who Doesn’t Believe in Ghosts
Joe Nickell, self-proclaimed ghost hunter, magician, and dabbler in chemistry, has been debunking ghosts and other paranormal claims for four decades. He holds a Ph.D. in literary investigation and folklore and is the author of over thirty books. The books focus on the truth behind religious artifacts, the paranormal, and unexplained mysteries.
In his book, The Science of Ghosts (2012), Nickell alludes to the human propensity to exaggerate or invent supernatural events. As a Folklorist, his favorite thing is to cite the legends where a tragic figure haunts a castle, lighthouse, or old mansion. Joe then goes on to say that most tales of this ilk have no factual basis for the specter ever having existed in the first place or the events supposed to have befallen them. Nickell goes on to say, “All it takes is a creepy legend and the power of suggestion for people to start seeing ghosts.”
One of Joe Nickell’s many investigations concerned the Ancestors Inn at the Bassett House in Liverpool, New York. While there, Nickell was called in by the new owners. The old house had been remodeled by Mary and Dan Weidman, turning it into bed and breakfast. The seeming ghost phenomena began with Mary during the two-month period when the Weidman’s were getting their new business ready.
After Mary finished her work, each day she turned off the lights and left the building. On more than one occasion, looking back at the bedroom window, believed to be the original owner’s bedroom, the light was on again. Now, Mary was getting nervous. Dan Weidman, an electrical engineer, fiddled with the errant lamp. After a few experiments, he discovered the culprit was the refrigerator in the hallway conveniently placed for guests to get cold drinks. Dan found that when the fridge kicked on, it also turned on the lamp. Little did he know it, but Dan had just done his first paranormal investigation!
Although scientists, skeptics, and the occasional scoffer absolutely refute the existence of ghosts or paranormal activity, enough credible witnesses might have something else to say. Queens, a prime minister, an American President, and celebrities are on record as claiming they’ve experienced a haunting. And God help us if these people are crazy!
If you think that you’ve seen something paranormal, you may not be hallucinatory, drug-addled, or sitting on a highly charged magnetic field. Instead, the chances are you saw precisely what you thought you saw — a ghost!