The question of survival beyond death has plagued mankind even before we were mankind. There is archeological evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead with flowers, and personal effects, uniformly organized. This indicates at least some belief in a life after death. Stories of visitations of deceased persons are present in every culture, as far back as can be determined, and even make up the basis for most religions. Of all the creatures on planet Earth, we seem to be the only ones with a knowledge and concern of our own mortality. And it is an extremely big concern, if the Funeral Industry, and religion are any measure of it. And what about the pyramids? We spend a lot of time worrying about what happens to us after we die.
If any part of us does survive the death experience, then what happens? Can we come back and interact with the living? Many people think so. The séance business is a very profitable one. So is the funeral business, and religion is the biggest selling product there is. The entire premise of religions is concerned with what happens after you die, whether it is cohabitation with 1000 virgins (how would you know??), or walking streets paved with gold. Is it really possible that some part of us survives after the body dies?
Science is pretty well convinced that the brain operates on bio-electricity, which is a form of energy. Any physics major will tell you that energy cannot be created, or destroyed, only manipulated from one form to another. So the question is whether or not our consciousness is a function of this bio-electricity, and what happens when the lights go out.
I am a Paranormal Investigator, and I have been on many ‘investigations’. I am the type normally referred to as a ‘Skeptic’, or ‘De-Bunker’. I don’t necessarily disbelieve, but I do require scientific evidence. Most of the teams I have been out with were severely lacking in both scientific knowledge, and methodology. Here is a typical investigation; a group of 3 or 4 members of a supernatural organization, who are inevitably clerks, waitresses, office workers, and other non-scientific vocations, with little or no science education or background, will show up with camcorders, EMF meters, and digital voice recorders to capture EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomena). They set cameras up, take pictures of ‘orbs’, and talk to inanimate objects to record the audible ‘response’. I will address each procedure separately. First, according to standard scientific methodology, you have to have evidence that can be duplicated, or observed under controlled conditions. Next, the ‘evidence’ you obtain has to be established as ‘evidence’ for that particular claim, and extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. And all natural sources must be ruled out. None of the activities of any group I have been out with has satisfied any of this criteria. Recording images on a camcorder is not evidence of anything other than a video was taken (the same problem with videos of cryptids). Readings on an EMF meter (which measure Electromagnetic Fields), mean nothing, because the planet is full of fluctuating EMF fields naturally, in addition to emissions from lights, wiring, appliances, etc… And they move around. Likewise with ‘cold-spots’, because there are moving temperature fluctuations everywhere. None of this is proof of any spiritual presence. As for EVPs, they are nothing. Sensitive audio equipment picks up the fluctuating ‘white-noise’ background that is present everywhere, and is a function of the earths magnetic fields. The ‘voices’ that investigators pick out of the recordings are just like most ghost sightings. The brain is evolved to put all incoming stimuli into recognizable patterns, which is why you see ‘faces’ in the clouds, etc…. Your ears do the same thing. And the ‘orbs’ that show up on photographs are simply a well known quirk of photography, where the camera lens picks up light reflected off of dust particles, and moisture. I have never experienced anything in a ‘haunted place’ that could not be attributed to natural causes.
On the scientific side, especially from a physics point of view (physics controls everything in the real world), there is no mechanism that we currently understand that would allow what goes on while you are alive, to continue after the body’s systems have shut down. At least, not in this world. And, ghosts seem to be able to defy the laws of physics, which is impossible. You cannot walk through walls, then be able to physically throw something. And you cannot be incorporeal, yet have a set of working vocal cords. And, why are ghosts always clothed? Clothing cannot have a ‘spirit’, so how does that work? Shouldn’t ghosts, if they were real, appear au naturál?
There is evidence, however, that ‘ghosts’ may be a psychological phenomenon. It is an established fact that what a person sees is often dependent on what their expectations were at the time. A great example of this was the famous Flatwoods Monster incident. In 1952, in Braxton County, West Virginia, a meteor, picked up on radar, and seen in three states, crashed near the town. Thinking it was a UFO, a group of people went to the site, and were scared half to death by a 10-foot tall ‘alien’ with a roundish face. An investigation verified (through owl droppings at the exact site) that what they saw was just a large owl sitting on a tree limb. But the people were expecting a UFO, so it must have been an alien. Most ghost sightings can be attributable to the same cause.
I would really like to be able to believe in ghosts, because they are fun. Ghost stories have provided people with many memorable camp-fire weekends. We love to be scared, as long as the danger is only perceived, and not actual. But, sadly, there is no evidence that ghosts are anything more than creations of our own imaginations. When we all cross that Great Barrier, it will be a one-way journey. Whatever happens on the ‘other-side’ will stay there.
In the meantime, we can still enjoy the thrill of ‘things that go bump in the night’. There is nothing wrong with a little imagination.