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What Is A Ghost?


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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There are many theories out there concerning exactly what ghosts are. No theory currently explains all aspects witnessed concerning apparitions and hauntings in general. Amongst the popular theories are that ghosts are trapped spirits, a recorded image as in the stone tape theory or perhaps hallucinations of some sort induced by an environmental factor such as Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs).

After being involved in studies looking into EMFs at haunted locations I am inclined to believe they play a key role in hauntings generally but they can still be shoe horned into other theories, such as refering to them as spiritual energy.

I think personal bias will effect the way in which we all approach an investigation, therefore it may be useful to discuss some of the theories we champion, look at their strengths and weaknesses and discuss the best way to devise experiments around them.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Stone Tape Theory This

Stone Tape Theory

This theory has probably been around since the 1970's. The theory assumes that at times of extreme stress living beings emit a kind of energy that can be absorbed by inanimate objects, stored and then played back. Hence we get apparations, footsteps etc re-creating the stored hisorical scene.

There have been comments made about this theory that suggest the viewer needs to be psychic or that the viewer's brainwaves have to be in a certain state. Which could explain why they are not seen all the time.

The Stone Tape Theory would certainly account for many aspects of hauntings, such as why a certain ghost doesn't interact with the modern environment. It would certainly account for the repetative nature of many hauntings.

There are obvious flaws. It cannot account for ghost's that may appear to interact with the modern environment. What is this energy and how can it be measured? What objects can record these scenes, bricks, mortar, tarmac etc? Ghosts have been reported in all types of environments inside buildings and outside. What triggers the replay? How come they are not triggered more often?

The theory is interesting but would be very hard to prove scientifically. However, it is worth thinging about. What are your views on the Stone Tape Theory?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Ghosts as Spirits If this is

Ghosts as Spirits

If this is correct then ghosts can be seen as proof of the survival of consciousness after death and re-enforce many of our religious beliefs.

But do ghosts actually display consciousness. If they had intelligence wouldn't they interact with the modern environment? Apparitions have been seen walking through walls or at floor levels that no longer exist. If a ghost was intelligent wouldn't it use a door or walk on our floor levels?

Has anyone actually communicated with an apparition? I'm not talking about using a psychic or oui ja board or getting it to make rapping noises etc, as these could be something else entirely. A haunting could be a whole series of strange experiences that have different explanations. Just because a clairvoyant has made contact with a spirit does not mean the apparition that has been in that location has been communicated with.

I once had a ghost walk through me and I have interviewed many witnesses to apparitions and still feel there is no evidence of ghostly apparitions showing any intelligence or consciousness. Has anyone else?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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The following quote is taken

The following quote is taken from an Article by Dr Jason Braithwaite and appears in full at www.ASSAP.org where he discusses the MADS project. I strongly advise that you visit this site and read their articles on EMFs.

Quote:

"The idea that some apparitional phenomena and haunt-type experiences have a magnetic component to them has been gaining considerable currency over recent years. The evidence looks obtained so far looks promising. The laboratory evidence, using weak, complex magnetic fields to stimulate hallucinations, is compelling though the field-based research is found wanting in many respects. One of the problems with the field-based research is that most of the technology used so far is wholly inappropriate and could be misleading. There are two main ideas about the role of magnetic fields. One is that haunted locations contain complex magnetic anomalies (similar to those artificially produced in lab experiments) that have brain stimulatory properties; the experience of apparitions is seen here as a magnetically induced hallucination. The other idea is that apparitions exist as external paranormal phenomena that are themselves magnetic or related to magnetic fields in some other, unspecified way. One popular variation of this theory is that apparitions produce electromagnetic disturbances, particularly when they first appear. "

I am personally convinced that there is magnetic component to hauntings as described above. Sorry Jason, I couldn't put it better than you.

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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There are a few interesting

There are a few interesting points regarding the theory that ghosts are hallucinations induced by EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields).

1) How can photographs be taken of hallucinations?

2) How can it explain two differant people having very similar experiences in the same location, several years apart and with prior knowledge of said location or the haunting?

Red Don's picture
Red Don
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Looks like a big jigsaw

Looks like a big jigsaw puzzle to me and we need to find the right pieces before putting it all together.

Lee Waterhouse
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As you know Ian i'm skepical

As you know Ian i'm skepical about this EMF buisness but gradualy warming to it.

Assuming that Electomagnetic Fields have an effect on the Human brain.

Its possible that two people years apart can have similar experiences if said magnetic field is... lets say cyclic (is that a real word ?). What i mean is, if the magentic field only comes round once in every 7 years (for arguments sake) then the only way an experience is going to be had is if a person is stood in the exact area or very close to where it has happened before. Does this make any sense ?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Only EMF's of a certain

Only EMF's of a certain frequency, amplitude and complexity are considered able to induce these exeperiences. These specific Experience Inducing Fields are likely to be in these haunted locations most of the time, but they may be just one of the components involved in inducing an experience. In Muncaster the fact the bed is magnetised is also a key element and affects the fields greatly, hence people having experiences in the bed. The length of expose will have an effect too and the fields may even cause a cascade in the brain that leads to an experience a few hours later. Not everyones brain will be susceptible to the fields either, maybe only 20-30% of the population. People with certain types of epilepsy are more susceptible.

But how does it explain differant people having very similar experiences, years apart without prior knowledge? I'm not sure......yet.

I think we can assume EMF's play a key part in hauntings but they are just part of the puzzle.

Check out some of the articles on ASSAP's website, such as,

http://www.assap.org/newsite/htmlfiles/MADS%20haunted%20bed.html

for more details on the Event Inducing Fields, their field frequency and field amplitude .

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Yet another theory. Are

Yet another theory. Are ghosts that we see made up of water droplets in the air? Some testing of relative humidity may be useful here.

Red Don's picture
Red Don
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I keep thinking about this

I keep thinking about this post and the EMF's. I have heard theories that ghosts create the EMF's or even that they use the EMF's as a source of power to enable them to form. This is why a lot of paranormal groups use hand held EMF detectors, such as those seen on Most Haunted. Are those devices really suitable to find and investigate the types of fields mentioned above?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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The hand held devices are

The hand held devices are good for doing site examinations and getting a good idea of the EMF's present. We use them ourselves. Obviously they aren't as useful as the MADS for doing detailed mapping of EMFs, but not many groups will actually be doing this. Groups have to work to a budget.

Sometimes too much equipment distracts you from actually sitting and observing. Some of the most interesting vigils I have been on have been with the bare minimum of equipment.



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