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Old 5th September 2019, 01:06 AM   #1
AmyW
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How do we explain ghosts?

I am wondering about ghosts and how rational minded people claim to see them. When my mum was a child she claimed to see three shadows, she awoke from a strange noise coming from the window and then three spirits appeared and one pointed at her. How do we explain when people claim to see ghosts?
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:25 AM   #2
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We are always looking for patterns in things we don't understand on first look.Pareidolia is where you interpret what you see as something else.

For example, a couple of years back driving home in the dark from work, I swerved to avoid at cat that looked like it was going to run into the road. The same thing happened every night for a week.
Driving down the road in daylight I saw a black bin bag caught in the hedge - it didn't stop me from seeing the "cat" for the next couple of weeks in the road though.
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:25 AM   #3
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There's no one reason. Each claim is made for a different reason. All we can do is examine what is being claimed and seek alternative explanations for that particular incident.
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Old 5th September 2019, 04:50 AM   #4
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There are countless reasons for people to see ghosts, so it's not just one easy-to-explain answer, IMO.

Some people are brought up to believe in such things, especially older generations, in certain parts of the world. If you've ever been to Romania, they're very superstitious about all kinds of things, and it's the same in a lot of places throughout Europe, Germany has many superstitious people, much like parts of Ireland still do. I mean, we're talking people who still genuinely believe in werewolves, banshees, fairies, etc.

Many people simply want to believe in such things, and thus, they do.

Other people may just be influenced by stories they've heard, or things that frighten them.

People who go into old buildings, and have all of these wild stories floating around in their noggins are obviously going to think that every sound they hear or every shadow they see is likely a spirit.

Places where murders, executions, suffering, etc, have taken place, are all going to be regarded as being places where ghosts may exist.

It's a very interesting subject that I often like a bit of banter about, and like I say, it's not just one simple explanation, it's just a storied and weird world of legend, myth, religion, fear, and all manner of things which contribute to people believing in ghosts, and any number of strange things, tbh.
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Old 5th September 2019, 05:17 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
I am wondering about ghosts and how rational minded people claim to see them. When my mum was a child she claimed to see three shadows, she awoke from a strange noise coming from the window and then three spirits appeared and one pointed at her. How do we explain when people claim to see ghosts?
This particular incident (if well recalled) sounds like a variation of the “sleep paralysis” phenomena. That “hypnagogic” state between dreaming and wakefulness that sometimes involves bodily paralysis, and sometimes just allows a dream-state to “bleed over” into wakefulness.

Also, there have been a number of researches into the phenomena of people feeling a “presence” nearby. This is apparently due to brief disruptions of the activity in the temporal lobes, and can be duplicated in the laboratory.
The “presence” may be interpreted by the individual as that of a religious figure... Saints, angels, Jesus... Or ghosts, or even aliens.... Depending on mind-set.
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Old 5th September 2019, 05:53 AM   #6
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I'm unusual on this forum in believing that ghosts do truly exist.

Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I take a slightly different approach.

You see I via my immense skill at critical thinking and from the actual evidence have come to the conclusion that ghosts do exist, and I struggle to even understand people who don't think they exists. And yes I am being serious (well apart from my claims of immense skills).

But because I have followed the evidence what I label as a ghost is not something like "a spiritual entity manifesting" but rather an example of human perceptions and behaviours.

Thread here where I go into more detail:http://www.internationalskeptics.com...13#post2896613


In my view the contradiction found in the opening post is because people assume the conclusion of "a spiritual entity manifesting" and then look for the evidence to support this, which they do not in fact find.
Ghosts are a very real phenomenon it is just the fact that some people conclude they are something they are not
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Old 5th September 2019, 06:18 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
I am wondering about ghosts and how rational minded people claim to see them. When my mum was a child she claimed to see three shadows, she awoke from a strange noise coming from the window and then three spirits appeared and one pointed at her. How do we explain when people claim to see ghosts?
In this case she was perhaps still dreaming and didn't realise it.

Or hallucinating. Hallucinations are not uncommon in childhood even where there are no mental health issues.
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Old 5th September 2019, 06:21 AM   #8
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How do we explain ghosts?
Same way we explain UFO sightings or Bigfoot: by looking at individual reports and analysing them. Each may have its own, distinct explanation, whethere it be a hallucination, mistake of fact, optical illusion, deliberate hoax, etc.
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Old 5th September 2019, 06:22 AM   #9
Gilbert Syndrome
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I'm unusual on this forum in believing that ghosts do truly exist.



Ghosts are a very real phenomenon it is just the fact that some people conclude they are something they are not
If a person truly believes something to exist, then to them, it likely does, that's just how I personally see it.
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Old 5th September 2019, 06:26 AM   #10
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I have woken up and seen a woman in white standing at the foot of my bed looking at me.

One morning, on an army exercise, sitting in a foxhole all night, I saw soldiers everywhere, behind bushes, standing in the open, leaning against trees.

There were no soldiers there.
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Old 5th September 2019, 06:31 AM   #11
Gilbert Syndrome
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
I have woken up and seen a woman in white standing at the foot of my bed looking at me.

One morning, on an army exercise, sitting in a foxhole all night, I saw soldiers everywhere, behind bushes, standing in the open, leaning against trees.

There were no soldiers there.
People can and do see all kinds of things, the problem is that what we see is generally what our brains interpret our eyes as seeing, which is why our recollection of certain events is never going to be solid.

Ghost sightings, cryptid sightings, etc, they're all subject to our own biases and our own imaginations. People who want to see a ghost may end up doing so, but the chances of it being an actual spirit of a deceased person are, IMO, slim and none, and slim just left the building.
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Old 5th September 2019, 06:39 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Gilbert Syndrome View Post
People can and do see all kinds of things, the problem is that what we see is generally what our brains interpret our eyes as seeing, which is why our recollection of certain events is never going to be solid.

Ghost sightings, cryptid sightings, etc, they're all subject to our own biases and our own imaginations. People who want to see a ghost may end up doing so, but the chances of it being an actual spirit of a deceased person are, IMO, slim and none, and slim just left the building.
In the foxhole, we spent all night on the lookout for "enemy" soldiers - my exhausted brain obviously supplied them.

The woman was, I assume, a waking dream.
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Old 5th September 2019, 07:04 AM   #13
Gilbert Syndrome
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
In the foxhole, we spent all night on the lookout for "enemy" soldiers - my exhausted brain obviously supplied them.

The woman was, I assume, a waking dream.
I totally agree.

I've worked in countless old buildings, hospitals, schools, etc, especially at night, alone, and you do get spooked from time to time. It's so easy to see how the imagination can play tricks on us, especially in places already thought to have a haunted connection. Now if you actually believe in such things, then almost anything you see or hear in those places will probably be attributed to a ghost.

I worked in a couple of well-known ghostly hot-spots in Liverpool doing security overnight, one being Speke hall, the Grade 1 listed Tudor manor house, and the other being Park Lea Manor, which isn't more than a mild stroll away from my house, both reported to be haunted, with Park Lea even reputedly known as the most haunted house in the city.

Working at both of those places, it's easy to see how people could be spooked, I mean...they're bloody old! You do hear sounds, namely the house settling at night. A few of the other people who worked shifts there claimed to have seen and heard things, but I never saw anything, and like I said, I was alone. I'm just not that way inclined, but I do have a wild imagination, and I enjoyed my time in both buildings.

Now imagine a group of ghost-hunters walking around those places in the dark at night actually in pursuit of spirits...
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Old 5th September 2019, 07:19 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Same way we explain UFO sightings or Bigfoot: by looking at individual reports and analysing them. Each may have its own, distinct explanation, whethere it be a hallucination, mistake of fact, optical illusion, deliberate hoax, etc.
Or there"s still an unexplained phenomenon to be considered, quantified and added to collective knowledge.
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Old 5th September 2019, 07:40 AM   #15
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In your mom's case from the OP, it sounds like hypnopompic hallucinations. I've had some gnarly ones, myself. Once, a grim reaper looking fellow picked me up and slowly carried me around my bedroom while I was unable to move. I thought I was dead for sure, but nope. A few minutes later, I woke up for real. I was in my bed, and I'd been experiencing sleep paralysis, which occurs when a person is in between sleeping and waking states. It's basically a dream, but it seems very real because you're partially awake - just not fully awake. So aspects of it seem unimaginably real.

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Old 5th September 2019, 07:45 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by rockysmith76 View Post
Or there"s still an unexplained phenomenon to be considered, quantified and added to collective knowledge.
Which fits snuggly into the post I made. What's your point? The OP asked how can we explain stuff, not how we can not explain it.
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Old 5th September 2019, 07:55 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I'm unusual on this forum in believing that ghosts do truly exist.



Ghosts are a very real phenomenon it is just the fact that some people conclude they are something they are not
I accuse you of being a tad disingenuous with how you posted about your experiences. You should provide some more details.
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Old 5th September 2019, 09:43 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by Belz... View Post
Which fits snuggly into the post I made. What's your point? The OP asked how can we explain stuff, not how we can not explain it.
My point: You make the effort to quantify what it is then. I found an odd electrical field out hiking in basically nowhere and brought an EF reader out there in that pursuit, the field is in fact there, and after crunching possibilties most of them although sorta strange, are naturally occuring:

Magnetic or similar ore
Certain facets of the pollination cycle
An underground spring

all come up after some googlish detective work.

Thats my point. Not conjecture, an attempt to confirm the nature of that weird thing.

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Old 5th September 2019, 09:49 AM   #19
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I entered a room to find a rocking chair moving by itself. I even had time to get out my phone, start up the app, and video record it. It was about 30 seconds before it stopped.

Turns out, the cat sleeping it had been startled when I walked in, and its leap set the chair in motion. I had not seen the cat (until a few days later, when the same thing happened.) I was surprised that the rocking had such a long decay time, though.
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Old 5th September 2019, 12:05 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by rockysmith76 View Post
My point: You make the effort to quantify what it is then.
Only once you've reached at least a reasonable burden of reason to even ask the question. "Vague, unsupported anonymous anecdotes" do not a need for a double blind study make.

We'll worry about "explaining ghosts" once we're given a valid reason to even bothered asking the question, not before.
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Old 5th September 2019, 12:32 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post

The woman was, I assume, a waking dream.
I woke up once as a kid with some troll/smurf/gnome like little fellow on the floor beside my bed.

As soon as I was struck by the weirdness of it, I had the thought "I have to still be a little bit asleep. That can't be real" and...poof! It disappeared.
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Old 5th September 2019, 12:39 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
I am wondering about ghosts and how rational minded people claim to see them. When my mum was a child she claimed to see three shadows, she awoke from a strange noise coming from the window and then three spirits appeared and one pointed at her. How do we explain when people claim to see ghosts?
The power of suggestion possibly with psychological disturbances mixed in.

Some researchers argue ghost sightings may stem from vestigial psychological adaptations developed in the days of prehistoric hominids, or at least humans.
Our ancestors would have seen human agency in a lot of things we now know are natural phenomena. They had a keen sense of their environment, but they didn't do the skeptical sifting of the evidence we (some of us) do today.

Some cool reads:
http://nautil.us/issue/53/monsters/h...gned-your-fear
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Old 5th September 2019, 12:59 PM   #23
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The question cannot be answered .... There is at least dozen(s) of base reasons, there is a specific group of reasons, for each persons 'sighting"

One example is if the person had ZERO data input on ghosts, would it occur to them what they saw was a "ghost""
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:15 PM   #24
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Someone on this board (sorry can't remember who) has a great story about how the completely unmistakably ghost of a woman in white appearing and disappearing turned out to be a cow. I've had a few very creepy examples of pareidolia when out at night, and once after about 36 hours without sleep was seeing people out of the corners of my eyes when anything moved, and had a long conversation with someone who was demonstrably somewhere else. I've also had one experience I can't explain but I can't vouch for the accuracy of how I remember it. I believed is such things at the time and was tired and very stressed. It's a story I've told many times but never documented and that is a recipe for creating false memories.
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:30 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Robin View Post
In this case she was perhaps still dreaming and didn't realise it.

Or hallucinating. Hallucinations are not uncommon in childhood even where there are no mental health issues.
Yes I thought that perhaps she was just dreaming still, a lot of people who 'see ghosts are in bed, thinking they are awake when are in fact asleep
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:35 PM   #26
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Awesome and rational responses, thanks guys. This was my thought, I think my mum was still in a dream state, just wanted others views. My colleague at work said she saw a man lying next to her, a ghost, my immediate thought was omg, but then I thought 'she was probably still dreaming'
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:40 PM   #27
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What I also find interesting is how a lot of people seem to see ghosts in the night, this must mean that they are still in a dream when they think they are awake. If ghosts were real we would see them everywhere but we don't!
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:47 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
I've also had one experience I can't explain but I can't vouch for the accuracy of how I remember it. I believed is such things at the time and was tired and very stressed. It's a story I've told many times but never documented and that is a recipe for creating false memories.
1) well, not I'm just super-curious about what that "also" thing was.
2) Yeah, believing in such things at the time is key. I "saw ghosts" when I believed in them, too, and would not be surprised if my memories were embellished over the years in my re-remembering of them (while I still believed.)
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:55 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by P.J. Denyer View Post
Someone on this board (sorry can't remember who) has a great story about how the completely unmistakably ghost of a woman in white appearing and disappearing turned out to be a cow. I've had a few very creepy examples of pareidolia when out at night, and once after about 36 hours without sleep was seeing people out of the corners of my eyes when anything moved, and had a long conversation with someone who was demonstrably somewhere else. I've also had one experience I can't explain but I can't vouch for the accuracy of how I remember it. I believed is such things at the time and was tired and very stressed. It's a story I've told many times but never documented and that is a recipe for creating false memories.
Do you think our brains can malfunction at times/hallucinate if we are stressed etc? Like others have said when we really believe in something we start to see them. Personally I've never seen a ghost
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:56 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by Ron Swanson View Post
The question cannot be answered .... There is at least dozen(s) of base reasons, there is a specific group of reasons, for each persons 'sighting"

One example is if the person had ZERO data input on ghosts, would it occur to them what they saw was a "ghost""
Very good point. The brain can see things but it may be that there is nothing there
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Old 5th September 2019, 01:57 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
The power of suggestion possibly with psychological disturbances mixed in.

Some researchers argue ghost sightings may stem from vestigial psychological adaptations developed in the days of prehistoric hominids, or at least humans.
Our ancestors would have seen human agency in a lot of things we now know are natural phenomena. They had a keen sense of their environment, but they didn't do the skeptical sifting of the evidence we (some of us) do today.

Some cool reads:
http://nautil.us/issue/53/monsters/h...gned-your-fear
Awesome response, thank you
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Old 5th September 2019, 02:20 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
I am wondering about ghosts and how rational minded people claim to see them. When my mum was a child she claimed to see three shadows, she awoke from a strange noise coming from the window and then three spirits appeared and one pointed at her. How do we explain when people claim to see ghosts?
I don't explain ghosts.

Nothing ghosts do is significant enough to require explanation. It's not like they're hurricanes, or internal combustion, or stellar fusion, or anything else that's actually important. Stuff happens, and you want to attribute it to ghosts? Be my guest.

Show me a ghost that can do something predictable, repeatable, and useful, and I'll show you a ghost that requires any more explanation than, "that's nice... more tea?"
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Old 5th September 2019, 02:39 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
I am wondering about ghosts and how rational minded people claim to see them. When my mum was a child she claimed to see three shadows, she awoke from a strange noise coming from the window and then three spirits appeared and one pointed at her. How do we explain when people claim to see ghosts?
There are as many explanations as there are ghost stories. I personally see things that aren't there when I hear a noise. I am very suggestible and when some noise on the roof sounded like walking I saw a big tall ghost walk in. It was in broad daylight. Cartoon Casper like thing. My cousin has morning hallucinations and chases them with a shotgun.

A noise like words that are just under our ability to hear cause us to believe a ghost is around. Schizophrenics and brain-damaged people see things. The power of suggestion makes us believe in ghosts

I personally am among the brain-damaged people who see things they don't want to see whether they are there or not.

Phenothyizides stop hallucinations but they make you feel so bad your better off without them.
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Old 5th September 2019, 02:54 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by Venom View Post
The power of suggestion possibly with psychological disturbances mixed in.

Some researchers argue ghost sightings may stem from vestigial psychological adaptations developed in the days of prehistoric hominids, or at least humans.
Our ancestors would have seen human agency in a lot of things we now know are natural phenomena. They had a keen sense of their environment, but they didn't do the skeptical sifting of the evidence we (some of us) do today.

Some cool reads:
http://nautil.us/issue/53/monsters/h...gned-your-fear
Originally Posted by Cainkane1 View Post
There are as many explanations as there are ghost stories. I personally see things that aren't there when I hear a noise. I am very suggestible and when some noise on the roof sounded like walking I saw a big tall ghost walk in. It was in broad daylight. Cartoon Casper like thing. My cousin has morning hallucinations and chases them with a shotgun.

A noise like words that are just under our ability to hear cause us to believe a ghost is around. Schizophrenics and brain-damaged people see things. The power of suggestion makes us believe in ghosts

I personally am among the brain-damaged people who see things they don't want to see whether they are there or not.

Phenothyizides stop hallucinations but they make you feel so bad your better off without them.
Wow, so ghosts are merely a picture that is produced by our brains, not some outward entity? I personally have never seen or heard a 'ghost'
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Old 5th September 2019, 02:55 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I don't explain ghosts.

Nothing ghosts do is significant enough to require explanation. It's not like they're hurricanes, or internal combustion, or stellar fusion, or anything else that's actually important. Stuff happens, and you want to attribute it to ghosts? Be my guest.

Show me a ghost that can do something predictable, repeatable, and useful, and I'll show you a ghost that requires any more explanation than, "that's nice... more tea?"
I personally don't believe in them, I am just curious as to how some people suggest to have seen/heard them.
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Old 5th September 2019, 03:14 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
I'm unusual on this forum in believing that ghosts do truly exist.



Ghosts are a very real phenomenon it is just the fact that some people conclude they are something they are not
If by 'truly exist' you mean exists as much as my imaginary madras curry that i'm drooling over, even though it's not real, then yeah it truly exists.

There's no evidence that ghosts exist, in the sense of having an existence.

People seeing ghosts is a real phenomenon yeah, that doesn't mean ghosts truly exist. If it does then my imaginary madras curry truly exists too. I drooled after all.

Last edited by p0lka; 5th September 2019 at 03:32 PM.
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Old 5th September 2019, 03:43 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by AmyW View Post
What I also find interesting is how a lot of people seem to see ghosts in the night, this must mean that they are still in a dream when they think they are awake. If ghosts were real we would see them everywhere but we don't!
Le sigh. Here are a pair of ghosts photographed in my hallway.



Real? Or fake? No CGI involved it that pic. Can you explain it? I can because I took it. Can you?
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Old 5th September 2019, 03:48 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Le sigh. Here are a pair of ghosts photographed in my hallway.



https://i.imgur.com/XoWNj1E.jpg



Real? Or fake? No CGI involved it that pic. Can you explain it? I can because I took it. Can you?
Forget explanations. Can I hire your ghosts to do useful work?
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Old 5th September 2019, 03:52 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Le sigh. Here are a pair of ghosts photographed in my hallway.

https://i.imgur.com/XoWNj1E.jpg

Real? Or fake? No CGI involved it that pic. Can you explain it? I can because I took it. Can you?
And they say ghosts have disappeared in the age of mass media. Great work.
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Old 5th September 2019, 04:23 PM   #40
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AmyW, no one has yet demonstrated that there are any supernatural things or phenomena.

Please examine your reasons for wanting them to be real. Understanding those reasons might be beneficial to you.
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