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Ghosts real?


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If I go there must I read the 18,000 posts? Or can I just go on and smack you around a little?

I understand that we cant hijack the thread, but just let me know if you feel like losing an argument. ;)



That is nowhere near to being the focal point of my thoughts. I wanted Santa Claus to be real, yet I acknowledge he's not. My wants do not override my knowledge. But thanks for your politeness.

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If I go there must I read the 18,000 posts?

Well, it's only 56 posts, a tiny 3-page thread. If you're seeing 18,000 posts when clicking that link, that might help to explain why you also believe in ghosts. ;)



Let's try to keep this thread on topic, though. It's about "ghosts," and the challenge has been put forth to demonstrate existence in a consistent and replicable manner. (though, I do appreciate your good natured attidude. cheers).

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I think some of my are being discussed here. The starting point for any experiment is to define what you are seeking and to derive a hypothesis that is testable.


What is a ghost? How can a ghost be differentiated from other phenomena?


Let me give an example. Suppose that a definition for ghost is a clanking chain sound in an empty room. The question now is how to determine that the sounds of clanking chains originate in the empty room and are in fact now recorded sounds being replayed.


So the experiment might hypothesize that ghosts exists. An experiment is set up to detect the ghosts in an empty room where they are purported to occur.


I do not buy into the notion that ghosts have to be cooperative. Lots of experiments can be done with uncooperative events such as detecting monopoles. Do they exist? Is there a definition of a monopole? How can a monopole be differentiated from other phenomena? A 'snare' is built and we wait. No idea if the monopole is going to show up.


People who believe in ghosts claim that there are places where the ghosts frequent. The places are called haunts. If I were trying to detect something elusive I'd head to a haunt.

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Firstly I'm wondering if there is some miscommunication.


It has occurred to me that "repeatable" may have two meanings.

1. Produce the effect on demand.

2. Anybody using the same equipment would observe the effect.


I've been operating under the assumption that option 1 was meant, hence my insistence that the co-operation of the entity was needed. However, if option 2 was meant, then co-operation is unnecessary and I withdraw the stipulation.


On that basis, and again using the Royal Theatre as an example, I would suggest as a first experiment;


At least 2 pairs of cameras focussed on the area that the "usher" is most often claimed to appear. One camera in each pair is for visible light and the other is IR. Assuming a positive result, as in the "usher" caught on camera on a number of occasions, I think that would suffice to show the effect is probably real. It should also be repeatable by anyone using similar equipment.


iNow, would that type of experiment satisfy your needs in the first instance?

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JohnB: I think I misunderstood your earlier post - I thought you were saying there's no point trying to find out if ghosts exist because they won't cooperate and that's why any experiments will fail. I see now that you're saying that particular approach will fail, and I think your suggested experiment is sound enough.


So why hasn't a reasoned and patient approach been followed? Because both sides of the debate want a quick fix. The believers want to find the "one" that proves their case once and for all, they lack the patience for the long term meticulous checking and testing.


Or, perhaps the believers don't really want proof. Perhaps they're afraid that if they carried out the long term, meticulous experiments you suggest they'd find nothing. If they did carry them out and found nothing, what do you think their conclusion would be? Would they concede that there's no evidence to support the claim that ghosts exist?


The sceptics likewise are in a hurry. They will instantly assume that because a photo of a transparent figure could be achieved by double exposure, then that's what it is. It is far easier to believe that everybody else is a fool or cheat than to doubt their own deeply held beliefs. Hence even if the believers took the time to make meticulous readings, the sceptics would not take the time to actually look at them.


There are people like that. But say you carried out your experiment and something consistently showed up on the tapes. I'm sure you could find a scientist somewhere who would be willing to review them. The reason it hasn't happened yet is because, as you point out, no-one has conducted the initial experiment. If the believers won't do it, why hasn't a sceptic? I guess because they have better things to do with their time.

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At least 2 pairs of cameras focussed on the area that the "usher" is most often claimed to appear. One camera in each pair is for visible light and the other is IR. Assuming a positive result, as in the "usher" caught on camera on a number of occasions, I think that would suffice to show the effect is probably real. It should also be repeatable by anyone using similar equipment.


Experiments like this and other more complicated ones too have been conducted, they have never provided any proof.


If you can watch:




It is clearly not scientific, but demonstrates how suggestible people are.

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I want to point out to JohnB that 2 cameras and visible and IR are getting ahead of the main point which is to define what is a ghost


In the usher case you devise an experiment in which a device records an image. Your claim is that the ghost, whatever your definition is, gives off visible light. Without stating a definition you have an expectation that a ghost is visible because it gives off light so a light detector, a camera, can record that. Then you toss in an IR detector as well. Why is that?


My point here is that you need to come up with a simple experiment. The simpler the less that can go wrong. It's cheaper. What you learn from the experiment is likely to be useful in further research.


Are your cameras video cameras or stills? Are they human activated or activated in other ways? Do you need to test the cameras for their ability to capture low intensity images?


Don't get overly complicated. Keep it simple. Make sure that the devices you use are able to detect a ghost before you proceed. You don't want to be in the embarrassing situation of claiming ghosts can't be detected by cameras when people begin to challenge with low intensity images can't be recorded. So get that definition worked out. Then get a detector. Make sure the detector is capable of doing the job, then go.


Frankly, no skeptic like me is going to do the work. But if you get good data I certainly would be willing to reevaluate my position. Klaynos is correct in pointing out that efforts along these lines have not turned up positive results, but maybe you can be the first.

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stereologist, perhaps I didn't fully explain my thought process.


When someone claims to have seen a ghost, to me they are making two claims, not one. The claims are that;

1. They have seen something. and

2. That what they saw was a ghost.


The experiment I proposed was intended to investigate the first claim only, hence my use of the word "effect". It is intended to find out if there is anything to see, not to investigate the cause if something is seen.


The reason for the cameras is that the claim is that something is seen. Sight involves visible light so it follows that a camera should see what a person sees. Constantly recording video cameras would be ideal for observation, what with the current prices for hard drive space, but would also leave the experimenter open to charges of digital manipulation. Old fashioned film would probably be best. You'd use a lot of film though.


In the Royal Theatre example, the claim is that a figure of a female usher (apparently solid enough to have people speak to it) is seen. If a figure shows up on one camera but not another then a reasonable conclusion is that something odd is going on. The use of IR cameras is so that if we see the usher on the normal cameras but find the figure has no IR signature, again something odd is going on. (Or we can at least rule out the idea that it was a person.)


Note that the experiment does nothing to find the cause of the effect, but merely tries to establish whether or not something odd is going on.


To give a variation on the theme.


In many cases of hauntings there are reports of locked doors opening "by themselves". This effect is not unknown nor unusual as buildings settle and can change enough that "locked" doors are not as secure as may be supposed. So we know the effect exists, the question is "In this case, is the effect unusual?"


So we would place two cameras, one across from the offending door and one looking down the passageway to cover the approaches to the door.


We then add a separate locking mechanism, say a hasp and padlock, to the door. The lock must be of such design that no amount of door movement would allow the lock to give, so a simple bolt and padlock wouldn't do the job.


Then we wait.


If the padlock is seen to open and the door then opens without anybody around, then that would again be reasonable grounds to conclude that something unusual is going on.


I've not defined the term "ghost" because I think it's irrelevent to the questions. To wit;

a) Is something odd going on? and if so,

b) What is going on?


To attempt the definition of "ghost" beforehand changes question b) to

b) Is this particular thing going on?


To me it is far better not to assume anything about the cause of the effect beforehand or you can finish up in the odd situation of;

"Yes there is something odd going on, but it doesn't fit my definition of ghost." A not particularly enlightening result.


By not assuming a definition of the possible cause, we may find that through further experiments we can arrive at an accurate definition.


If, for the sake of argument, my supposition that they are recordings was shown to be correct, then after a series of experiments we might arrive at the definition: "A ghost is a recording of a place, person or thing that is recorded on medium "X" under certain conditions and is replayed when conditions "A", "B" and "C" are satisfied."


This type of definition gives us someplace to start and some things to continue on with.


The idea is to keep asking questions and then arrive at an answer rather than assuming an answer and then looking for ways to back it up. (Although we might have to make some guesses along the way.:D)


To go back to the usher.


Let's say the visible light cameras do see her and the IR ones don't. So we know we haven't filmed a human walking around.


We have a supposition that it might be a recording of some kind. So we keep filming and with a bit of luck film multiple appearances. Even two would help. We then compare the two pieces of footage. If the usher performs exactly the same motions, then the idea of a recording is strengthened, but not proven. If we get a number of identical appearances, then that would be reasonable proof that our supposition may be correct.


We may find that after 12 appearances, we have 3 groups of 4 identical sequences. This would again lend credence to the "recording" idea.


(If the ushers actions are different in each appearance, or she reacts to things happening in real time, then the recording idea is wrong and we'll have to try something else.)


But let's say her actions are identical each time. This leads to two immediate questions;

1. What is the recording medium? and

2. How is playback triggered?


So we would put thermometers throughout the area, barometers, gaussmeters, anything we can think of to record the physical parameters of the room when she appears.


We might find out that she will always appear when the room temperature is between 15-18 degrees, the pressure is at 900-960 millibars and it's 4 hours after sundown.


We could then start to control some parameters and see what happens. Perhaps we can make her appear.


At about this point I run out of ideas and hand over to someone else who will be a lot smarter than I am to find out what the recording medium is and how it works.:D


Be all the above as it may, the actions in the first instance would be to see if there is anything to see in the first place. That has to be the starting point, definition in hand, or not.


It is clearly not scientific, but demonstrates how suggestible people are.

Mate, I used to make equipment for magicians, both stage and close up. I'm very aware of how suggestible people are. You would not believe how simple some amazing illusions are.

Or, perhaps the believers don't really want proof. Perhaps they're afraid that if they carried out the long term, meticulous experiments you suggest they'd find nothing.

That's certainly a possibility. Part of the problem is the divide between "believers" and "non-believers". The believers want to believe and will often adopt anything (no matter how minor) that might strengthen their belief, while non-believers will jump at any chance, no matter how remote, that the "evidence" is flawed or faked. It's about individual belief systems and unfortunately "truth" is irrelevent to personal belief systems.

Edited by JohnB
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The idea was never to differentiate humans from ghosts, but rather to separate the mundane from unusual.


Footage of a figure moving accompanied by IR footage showing warmth is not unusual. "Ghosts" are often identified with "cold spots" so I thought that footage of a figure that showed colder than ambient temperature would be unusual and therefore interesting.


The figure of a female usher filmed in a theatre at say 4AM is unusual but not necessarily unusual, if you get my drift. She may be the security guards girlfriend dropping in to see him and he prefers her to wear an ushers uniform. Whatever floats your boat.:D However, the figure of a female usher filmed at 4AM that has an apparent body temperature of say 140 would definitely make her, as the police say, "A person of interest".

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