Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ghost Hunting

One need only flip through the TV channels to find dozens of shows featuring paranormal investigators, or shows that claim to have actual footage from witnessed paranormal activity. Ghost hunting is nothing new among humans. Even the Bible mentions ghosts. But are they real? Can people really come back from the dead to move our furniture around, speak to us, or even - as a few believe - possess us from beyond the grave? Do we actually leave this plane at all when we die?

The fact we have two thousand years of stories claiming everything from hauntings to possessions should be evidence enough of a life beyond our mere physical beings. So why then do we not all believe in ghosts?

The loss of a loved one produces terrible grief. It's only natural to want to speak to that person after they die, and there are plenty of psychics and mediums out there who will take your money in exchange for promises of sessions where we can communicate with our dearly departed. But is it real, or are these people merely preying on the raw emotions of a grieving spouse, parent or daughter?

And what about shows like Ghost Hunters, the product of TAPS - The Atlantic Paranormal Society - whose investigators use the most scientific methods available, and who actually try to debunk the claims of shadows, strange lights, and sounds that go bump in the night? Certainly, reading their website one finds they err on the side of caution first. Unlike other shows, where every floating piece of dust caught in the beam of an infrared camera is labeled a "ghost," and where the narration sounds more like a melodrama than a serious investigative show, GH does lend an air of authority and scientific methodology to their investigations. And unless one completely dismisses their EVPs and video evidence as "fake," they have caught some truly bizarre things over the seasons.

So what's going on? It is all a trick? Are Satan and his imps having a bit of sport with us mere mortals? Can dead people really communicate with us? And why some but not all? How do they do it? Can they see and hear us, or are the sights and sounds caught with equipment merely residual energy?

There are as many theories as there are depictions of ghosts or spirits in our books and other media. We even have friendly ghosts - Casper - for example. My personal favorites are the ghosts in Dickens' A Christmas Carol

One theory suggests ghosts are merely the earthbound spirits of the departed dead. Some people are more sensitive to their presence than others, and animals and small children are especially sensitive. Another suggests they are merely trapped energy, and so play out a scene from their lives over and over, like a rewound tape. A third theory is that spirits are created out of magnetic or electrical energy.

One interesting theory holds that ghosts aren't dead, but rather actual live beings living in a parallel dimension. Still another holds that ghosts are nothing more than products of our fertile imaginations.

What do you think? What's your theory, or are you a non-believer? Do you have any stories you'd like to share?