5 Reasons Skeptics Dismiss the Paranormal

Real Reasons for Ghostly Activity According to Skeptics & Science

Approx. reading time 7 minutes.

What skeptics say about ghosts is that they typically maintain that ghosts and paranormal events aren’t real. 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 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

According to some psychiatrists, ghost sightings are simply tricks of the imagination or are mistaken for something else. For example, the appearance and disappearance of spirits, or spirits walking through walls, are merely a brain malfunction. In other examples, it’s not surprising  that prescription and street drugs are blamed for people having paranormal events, and rightly so. No one truly knows what kind of side effects any drug can instigate. And let’s not forget the severe side effects that typically occur after an addict suddenly gives up alcohol. 

2. Waking Dreams

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, a New Jersey Sleep Specialist.

Adding to the pile, many experts postulate that waking dreams produce a sense of intrusion, feelings of dread, or the belief that one is witnessing ghosts. Curiously, this chilling phenomenon causes individuals to swear that something or someone of a supernatural nature is trying to choke them.

3. Geographical Anomalies

Surprisingly, numerous paranormal researchers believe that, in many instances, geological features can cause supernatural occurrences. 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.

Magnetic Fields

Similarly, Electromagnetic fields are known to trigger hallucinations, and 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 paranormal activity can alter magnetic fields and that a spirit uses the magnetic energy from an area to make its presence known.

Intriguingly, a recent British study suggested a possible link between magnetic fields and ghost sightings. A case in point is two famously haunted places: Hampton Court Palace in Surrey, England, and the South Bridge Vaults in Edinburgh, Scotland. Studies concluded that the magnetic fields’ variance was high in Hampton Court and the South Bridge Vaults. In addition, the study found that people rarely report experiencing ghosts or hauntings in areas with significantly lower magnetic fields. 

Sound Waves

Astonishingly, experiments have demonstrated that low-frequency sound waves, also called infrasound, might trigger  events that people typically associate with ghosts. For example, nervousness, discomfort, and the sense of an invisible presence in a room are common. 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 Warwick, England, School laboratory staff. 

Hidden Sinkholes 

As fantastic as it may seem, undiscovered sinkholes may be responsible for spooky stuff such as loud creaks, bangs, and pictures falling off walls. As fantastic as it may seem, undiscovered sinkholes may be responsible for spooky stuff such as loud creaks, bangs, and pictures falling off walls. A house shifting on its foundation may also cause muddy or cloudy water to appear in a residence, which may indicate a sinkhole. Imagine happily living in your home only to discover a sinkhole lies underneath. Of course, this is terrible news. There isn’t much one can do about a sinkhole except to be aware of it or simply move away. 

4. The Science of Pareidolia

Typically, we’re conditioned from a very early age to make sense of the daily external environment experienced by our very nature. As a result, we naturally learn pattern recognition, allowing us to understand the outside world. The scientific term for this response is pareidolia (par·ei·do·lia).

In 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.

Haunted Mirror Myrtles Plantation

Pareidolia and Haunted Objects

Considering this, science and some skeptics maintain that since people are so cognitively biased, they try to find meaningful arrangements in almost everything. Consider mirrors in old houses. Even more commonly, spectral faces and handprints are often pointed to as evidence of paranormal phenomena when they are merely random patterns that naturally form on the mirror over time. Take, for example, the touted haunted mirror at The Myrtles Plantation in Lafayette, Louisiana, which I’ve seen personally. However, on that day, the mirror revealed no ghosts in its reflection. 
Many visitors to the 200-year-old plantation claim to see handprints on the glass, sure that they belong to murdered victims of the original owners. Strange drip marks also run the mirror’s length, and no amount of cleaning will remove the marks. Even spookier, visitors claim to see figures in old-fashioned clothing reflected inside the mirror’s glass.
Is the infamous Myrtles Plantation mirror truly haunted? Or are people letting their imaginative pareidolia get the best of them? I’ve seen the mirror in person and had difficulty seeing handprints or anything else indicating haunted activity. So, you may need to look at it in just the right light.

5. 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 to 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 thoroughly investigating the home, a faulty furnace was behind the symptoms. After fixing the furnace, their symptoms immediately ceased.

In another case, reportedly after a woman took a shower, she became delirious after seeing a ghost. The real reason for the sighting? A workman determined that a newly installed gas water heater was leaking 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, a 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 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.”

The Ancestors Inn

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!

In conclusion:

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!

You may be interested in: Sceptics that Now believe in the Paranormal  ofteInterestingly, paranormal researchers believe that geological features cause ghostly events. 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.


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Carol Nicholson is thirty-five years a professional Psychic Medium and author of numerous Psychic and Spiritual courses since 2001.
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