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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

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 malfunction of the brain. In other examples, it’s not surprising  that prescription and street drugs and 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 DTs that typically occur after a person gives up alcohol.
 

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, 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.

Magnetic Fields

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.

 In a recent British study, evidence suggests a possible link between magnetic fields and ghost sightings. A case in point, 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 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. 

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. A house shifting may also cause muddy or cloudy water to appear in a residence, 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. 

3. Pareidolia 

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

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. 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 for myself. 
 
Visitors at 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 seeing figures in old-fashioned clothing lurking inside the mirror’s warped 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 the glass was haunted. Perhaps you need to look at it in just the right light.
haunted-mirror
Myrtles Plantation Haunted Mirror

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.”

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!

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Author, Carol Nicholson, Ph.D.
Author, Carol Nicholson, Ph.D.

Carol Nicholson is thirty-five years a professional Psychic Medium and author of numerous Psychic and Spiritual courses since 2001. Subscribe for more posts like this, get a FREE Psychic-Medium Starter eGuide, and notification of fantastic coupon deals.

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