We’ve all heard ghost stories. But is that all they are? Stories. You can talk to almost anyone and they’ll tell you they’ve either seen a ghost or know someone who has. There’s also the ones that don’t believe in ghosts and find, what they feel is a logical explanation for what they’ve seen. Why is it always a weather balloon?
I’ve also heard one individual give a lecture, mocking those who have made the claim of a ghost sighting. They act as if they’re having to suppress their superior intellect and that they have the explanation others just don’t understand. So they “dumb it down for you”. Science cannot explain everything and if you claim it does, you’re leaving a lot of discovery on the table and you’re at odds with a lot of scientists.
So, what do we make of ghost sightings? What do we make of the countless stories of haunting’s, visitations, and sightings of these spiritual beings? Is everyone intellectually inferior to these pompous naysayers? Is everyone delusional? Is it everyone who is wrong and that these “religious people” need to check with the self-proclaimed intellectually superior know-it-all’s to verify what they believe and have seen?
The Ghost Sighting Studies – Really?
I’ve read through dozens of articles on haunted cemeteries and ghosts, all quoting studies on the individuals who saw the apparitions and showing the vast variations in world views or religious beliefs that apparently caused these different visions. There are dozens of articles that will give reasons for the variations but they don’t deny that something was indeed seen and it wasn’t from our physical world.
Some articles focused on the discrepancies of the studies framing religious beliefs but quickly had to start departmentalizing each religious belief to account for the variations, even within the religious system itself, none of which were consistent. After exhausting that stat, they moved on to the unbelievers of religion who also varied dramatically, followed by the expected reasons as to why they really saw nothing at all. It’s the consistencies among all the variations that should tell us something. I often wonder if skeptics attack to reassure themselves that there’s nothing they don’t have control over. If ghosts actually do exist, they’re at a loss to explain it so they mock the witnesses. If I were trying to disprove the sightings I would apply facts about how the spirit world doesn’t exist, not try to convince someone that they saw a light reflecting on a lamp post.
Why Not Investigate?
Instead of trying to “explain away” the existence of ghosts as based on a worldview or, even worse, hallucinatory, why not educate yourself on why people claim they do exist and then go from there? Why not find the common denominator between all the people who believe they’ve encountered something truly remarkable? Why not go where the evidence leads you? If I wanted to substantiate the claims of ghost sightings I might start with reassuring myself of the credibility of the witness who made the claims. No one has time to interview the countless witnesses worldwide so I would try to make sense out of what they all claim and why. I would find the common ground to start from.
What’s The Common Ground For Ghost Sighting Witnesses?
We can agree on right and wrong, fear, happiness, feelings of peace, or even visions of beauty. For most normal people, you don’t have to explain to them that hurting a child is wrong or that sunsets are beautiful. Everyone can relate to the feeling of happiness, even if it’s restricted to a moment. So there are commonalities that reach across all races, all people and across the world.
So, what I’d like to do is make it logically coherent to at least say that ghost sightings are possible, if for no other reason but this; you can’t have group hallucinations. One person can hallucinate. But a group of people can’t have the same hallucination. So with those multiple witness sightings we can’t call them hallucinatory. In addition to that, what about all witnesses experiencing the same emotions at the same time based on that same “hallucination”? Just using these two parameters, not likely that all witnesses could hallucinate and feel the same emotion at the same time and report the same thing.
What’s The Most Reasonable Explanation?
Let’s say there were two individuals in the forest and a large animal attacked each of them and then ran off. Both people survived and when asked what attacked them, each gave their own perilous account. One said it was mountain lion while the other said it was bear. Now those describe two very different animals. How could you mistaken a bear for a mountain lion or vice versa?
So, a skeptic might explain that both individuals experienced this “interpreted attack” because they each grew up in a part of the world which was populated by the animal they perceived was attacking them. Further analyzing they proclaimed that if they’d grown up in an area with no wildlife, such as inside a congested city, they wouldn’t have seen anything at all and therefore would not have been attacked…because there actually was no attack, merely the illusion of being attacked. They were told that the entire episode was created by a “very imaginative and willful mind” each seeing what they wanted to. Where it could be that there were actually two animals, it was dark, both have fur, whatever. More analysis is needed but we should agree that they were attacked by either one or two animals and not explain away the incident based on where they were brought up as children or what their belief in rural areas are.
To believe that it was an illusion could only make sense to someone who didn’t experience the attack. This is the argument that some use pertaining to the existence of ghosts or spirits or anything that can’t be verified by science. Here, the evaluator is guilty of using the genetic fallacy. It doesn’t matter how they came to believe something, you still have to address the belief, the attack. It may be true that one of them grew up on a mountain lion farm, but that doesn’t allow for a conclusion that they didn’t see a mountain lion merely because they’d grown up around mountain lions and therefore were more prone to hallucinate about mountain lions. You can’t take how a belief came to be, or originates and use the originating point to show that the belief is false. That’s the genetic fallacy.
What Does it Mean to us if Ghost Sightings Are Real?
It was once said that if one person calls you a horse, ignore them. If two people call you a horse, consider it. If THREE people call you a horse, buy a saddle. So there reaches a point where it’s more probable to believe something than not, based on the reoccurring data and deductive reasoning. The existence of ghosts isn’t a truth claim based on a moral framework, but it is a massively popular, staggeringly numerically substantive, subjective claim to consider, as a possible truth.
Although, since ghosts and spirits are ethereal you cannot apply any type of scientific test to confirm this. This is the rub for atheists or humanists. If nothing exists or can be verified outside of what science can explain, then ghosts cannot exist because they are not verifiable by science. But then neither can logical and mathematical truths, metaphysical truths, basic rational truths like, (other people have minds like mine), ethical truths about statements concerning good or evil (objective moral truth like is murder okay?) none of these can be proven by science. Science cannot tell me if it’s right or wrong to kick a puppy. It cannot tell me if loving my wife is good or bad.
But if you’re willing to let the evidence lead where it may, you might come to some surprising conclusions. Ask yourself, “What’s the best explanation based on the evidence I’ve seen?”
So, I would like to put forth that it is reasonable to believe that spirits or ghosts are real, or at the very least, possible, based on the overwhelming evidence that exists. My next blog will make a suggestion about what it is that we’re actually seeing or experiencing.
Thanks for reading. Am I driving you nuts yet?
(If you’d like to leave a comment, I make a policy of removing your email from public view before the comment is approved. Thanks for reading.)