Difference between revisions of "Essay:Open questions about ghosts"

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Revision as of 00:37, 15 February 2020

This is a list of questions which I would like to answer through scientific experimentation, under the assumption that the phenomena of "ghosts" is a cluster separate from "ordinary" spooky explanations (carbon monoxide or xenon poisoning, black mold, infrasound, settling house, pareidolia, stress-induced psychosis, schizophrenia, sleep paralysis, mass psychosis, placebo, confirmation bias, etc). The evidence for this phenomena cluster is abundant and clearly points to an explanation which isn't traditionally understood - most easily, that haunted locations almost always have repeated sightings by unrelated parties with no communication which cannot be reasonably explained by any known mechanism of inducing hallucinations.

It's also important to note that there may exist a subset of "ghosts" which are simultaneously hallucinations and ghosts, eg I've heard it proposed that (some) sleep paralysis (particularly those which are regularly occurring in a particular location by multiple people) may be a medium through which the ghost phenomena manifests. Possibilities should not be ignored simply because the mechanism of action can be explained when they can't also explain synchronistic effects.

Additionally, the "ghost" phenomena cluster is by necessity a physical phenomena, as they have direct measurable interactions with the rest of reality. Ghosts are thus no less "physical" than neutrinos, and infinitely easier to study. Anyone who says they're "nonphysical", "spiritual", or "untestable" is either muddling terms or an unscientific quack.

Open questions

  1. What is the "half-life" of a ghost?
    • There must exist some process of decay, otherwise we'd expect much more neolithic hunter ghosts than victorian ghosts.
  2. What is the actual cause of a death resulting in a ghost? Is it a physical phenomena (presence of quartz deposits, running water, "sacred sites") or something more subjective like "unfinished business", or both?
  3. Why are people afraid of ghosts?
    • This makes sense in some cultures, such as in Japan where encounters are very often deadly, but in Western culture ghost sightings are almost always benign, with the worst effects being pervasive feelings of negativity, occasionally manifesting signs of harm such as bruising or scratches, bad luck, and illness
    • It may have something to do with an aversion to the concept of death but I find this explanation lacking
  4. Can a ghost exist simultaneously with a reincarnation of that life? Possibly, are there multiple "parts" to a spirit which come apart after death?
  5. What are the factors which influence the level of intelligence of a haunting?
    • Some are "psychic imprints" of a particular moment on loop, others a self-sustained imprint of the general emotion of an individual, and more rarely there are hauntings where the ghosts appear to be intelligent and possessing intent
  6. What are the factors which influence the degree and variety of physical manifestations?
    • Sightings can be induced hallucinations and require no physical effort, but many hauntings exhibit telekinesis, technokinesis (eg flickering lights, phantom phone calls, and EVPs), apportation, reduction of local entropy ("cold spots"), electromagnetic fluctuation, and electrostatic manipulation. All of these strongly imply either the direct application of some kind of force/energy, or else the capability of enacting change without work, both of which require new models of physics
  7. Why does no one, including the "ghost hunter" and "psychic" communities, actually take this seriously?
    • None of these questions have even been asked, much less rigorously studied
    • As a set of phenomena, this is very testable, especially with known locations of very heavy activity
    • At most so-called "ghost hunters" pretend to care about scientific rigor by attempting to gather evidence to "prove" that ghosts exist, which is unnecessary and counter to the actual scientific method to begin with
    • The only dedicated effort that I know of is the SCOLE experiments, which were discontinued for some reason despite having willing "insider" participants, ghostly scientists
    • There also isn't any dedicated effort to maintain a centralized database of haunting locations, proposed backstories, attempted exorcisms, articles of evidence, and symptoms. Even UFOs/cryptids have this in MUFON, among others, and those are much easier to casually discount!
  8. What is the medium of existence of ghosts?
    • Three potential mediums off-hand would be a weakly-interacting fifth field, extra unseen dimensions, and out-of-phase matter vibrations (generally unsupported by modern physics)
    • Ghosts also seem to exhibit a degree of nonlocality reminiscent of magic, suggesting that this "medium" may be unlike what we currently know of
  9. What is the relationship between people and their ghosts, particularly with regards to the mind-body problem?
    • Ghosts are one of: the origin of consciousness, a co-participator, or a product of consciousness (eg "psychic imprint")
    • The functions of the various parts of the brain are already well-established, so ghosts being the origin strains believability. The only explanation offered is that the brain "tunes" to consciousness like a radio to a program, but this fails to recognize the demonstrable mechanisms of action between neurons forming a "universal function approximator", as replicated (quite successfully) in neural networks, as well as how this tuning is so sensitive to destruction that very particular cognitive functions can be precisely located
  10. What is the relationship between ghosts and magic?
    • Ouija, a common form of necromancy, is widely believed to enable direct communication with spirits while also displaying the fixtures of magic
  11. What is the relationship between ghosts and skepticism?
    • Unlike magic, which seems to abhor skepticism, ghosts appear to be a separate objective phenomena, although symptoms may be ignored by "rational" people
  12. How do ghosts "possess" something, be it a location, person, or object? Can this be done on demand?
  13. What is the source of energy for ghosts when manifesting physical phenomena, or do they create energy? Can it be harnessed?
  14. Why are nonhuman ghosts so rare, and even then only really consisting of pets?
  15. Why do children and nonhumans seem to be so much more capable of observing ghosts?
    • The common explanation is that clairvoyance is a natural capacity which society trains children to ignore, but this seems to exist across time and cultures regardless of their level of belief
  16. What differentiates a clairvoyant psychic from the average person?
  17. What is the relationship between ghosts and religion?
    • Exorcisms commonly use religious symbolism to compel spirits to leave, but the beliefs of those affected doesn't seem to have any bearing on the efficacy
  18. Why do spirits appear to require permission to enter a location, and why can they be commanded to leave?
  19. What causes particular herbs to be more or less efficacious at exorcism? Does it merely require something that smells nice, or is there something special about those herbs?
  20. How are serial killers possible if, presumably, they would be constantly haunted and hindered by the ghosts of their victims?
  21. What is the relationship between ghosts, doppelgangers, and astral projection?