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Ghostly Categories


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Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Most natural things on Earth have been assigned into categories such as mineral, animal, vegetable and sub categorized further such as mamal, fish, amphibian and again and so on. Hence everything has a place in the order of things.

What about ghosts? We've mentioned Battlefield Ghosts, Phantom Hitchhikers, Road Ghosts and Poltergeists in other topics, but can ghosts be categorised, any families identified that share common traits.

If they are hallucinations this would be impossible, but there are distinct differances of appearance between black shadow ghosts, those that pass for living people and the grey mist form types. Have a think about and whether it may or may not be possible and how it put together.

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Agricola
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This would be a huge task,

This would be a huge task, and it needs to be remembered that minerals, animals, etc all exist. Whereas solid evidence for the paranormal is scant at the least.

Thinking about the lists of ghosts you mention, hitchikers, battlefield ghosts, etc - maybe we should be looking at what is seen and categorising them as oppose to grouping them by location.

Take for example, battlefield ghosts - these tend to be groups of people (for the sake of argument) so we could place them in such a category. Then we list all the common features for sitings of groups which could include; being viewed near/on battlesites, period they are from, any sounds. Once we have that information, we could then see if there are common features which would allow us to regroup ghosts into more useful categories as suggested above.

Mysteryshopper
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Quote:What about ghosts?
Quote:

What about ghosts? We've mentioned Battlefield Ghosts, Phantom Hitchhikers, Road Ghosts and Poltergeists in other topics, but can ghosts be categorised, any families identified that share common traits.

You could start be defining a ghost ...

Matt.H
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Just to confuse things

Just to confuse things further - how do we know that aliens and fairies don't have the same origins/causes as ghosts?

Ian Topham's picture
Ian Topham
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Mysteryshopper wrote: You
Mysteryshopper wrote:

You could start be defining a ghost ...

I think that is the right first step. Any takers?

Matt.H
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For the sake of discussion,

For the sake of discussion, I'll suggest the definition that Spritualists use, where ghosts are non-sentient "recordings" of past events and spirits are sentient yet non-corporeal beings, as a decent starter.

Mysteryshopper
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I would suggest "a ghost (or

I would suggest "a ghost (or apparition) is a human figure witnessed by someone who has good reason to believe it is not physically present"

This definition contains no assumptions about the nature of ghosts and agrees with the evidence. People clearly see ghosts from time to time - no one could argue with that. Once you talk about spirits or recordings you are getting into interpretation. I don't think we yet have sufficient evidence to go that far.

As for categories, there is your 'standard' apparition - like the definition above. Then there is the 'road ghost' which is notably different because of its specific habit of hanging around roads and frequently getting run over. There are 'crisis apparitions', different because they are often of living people.

I would say poltergeists were something rather different. Many poltergeist outbreaks don't even involve an apparition.

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Ian Topham
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I think the problem with

I think the problem with categorising beyond a broad description such as Road Ghost is that we can only base it on observations provided by witnesses who, at the time of the experience are not looking too deeply for details about the appartion and thinking how it can be categorised.

Matt.H
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Ghosts aren't just human -

Ghosts aren't just human - apparitions of cats are more numerous than people may think.

Broadly, a ghost is an echo of the past, I suppose.

I wouldn't limit poltergeists to within the "ghost" definition - they're just as much to do with folkloric aspects like elementals and fairies as latter-day ghosts.

Mysteryshopper
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Ian Topham wrote:I think
Ian Topham wrote:

I think the problem with categorising beyond a broad description such as Road Ghost is that we can only base it on observations provided by witnesses who, at the time of the experience are not looking too deeply for details about the appartion and thinking how it can be categorised.

Since we don't have any definite explanations for ghosts as yet (though lots of theories), I think definitions of types must rely on witness descriptions. This isn't unscientific - animal species were originally described purely on appearance and behaviour.

matt.h - would you disagree with my definition if we include animals: "a ghost (or apparition) is a human (or animal) figure witnessed by someone who has good reason to believe it is not physically present"?

Are you suggesting defining ghosts as "echoes of the past", because that, to me, is more of theory than an observation.

Matt.H
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I would argue that the

I would argue that the principal current definition of a "ghost" concerns the dead, and so is an echo of the past. This is evidenced by the use of the word "ghost" in literature as a metaphor for the past.

I'm not sure you could limit ghosts to just those that aren't physically present - amongst road ghost reports, for example, there are plenty where the witness has been certain they have hit something or someone.



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