Do Ghosts Exist?

by Brian Dunning, Aug 30 2012 via Skepticblog

Since so many of my acquaintances know me as “that skeptic guy”, it’s not rare for one of them to challenge me with an experience they had, often reporting something like a ghost experience and saying “Disprove THAT, Mr. Skeptic.”

Of course, this completely misrepresents what I do, and where the process of skeptical science leads us. I’m far less qualified than my friend to prove or disprove his ghost experience; I wasn’t even there. In fact I’m always a little disappointed to find that my friends think I’m obsessively out to tell people that they’re wrong. If there is one thing that obsesses me, it’s the challenge of finding solutions to interesting mysteries — and telling people that they’re wrong is not relevant to that process. Proving alternate explanations wrong is collateral damage when a mystery is eventually solved, but it’s never the goal.

Yet, plenty of unsolved phenomena exist, and so the field for possible explanations remains wide open. Perhaps some strange experiences are caused by ghosts. However, I don’t think that’s a very satisfactory hypothesis, and the main reason is that the rationale for the existence of ghosts is — forgive the term — illusory.

Here, in brief, are a few of the reasons I give most often why it’s never right to jump to the conclusion of “It was a ghost”:

  1. There is no theory in any life science that makes a prediction that ghosts exist.
  2. Ghosts have no properties that can be described.
  3. There has never been a reproducible ghost event. This makes it unlikely that the perceived phenomenon was a real one.
  4. The logic that most people use to arrive at a conclusion of “ghost” is faulty. It’s usually “Something inexplicable happened, what else could it be?” A ghost is an unknown. By no logic can a set of unknown properties be considered consistent with your experience. Any other unknown – leprechauns, sorcery, Bigfoot – is an equally valid match.

Continue here: Skepticblog » Do Ghosts Exist?.

One response

  1. What if you could match a physical event that happened and the same event would repeat itself in which a person has actually passed before or the event that caused the event repeated itself? I want everything debunked. In comparison Myth Busters said it is impossible to rotate so many times around a swing set, but what if you, yourself, had actually rotated around the swing set that many times? This is why it is tough to prove things because even if one little thing is off it can change the question of is it possible to why did it fail? They did not have the right circumstances to recreate a person going and having enough momentum to rotate around the swing set. I also do not recommend it as it made me very dizzy considering I was using an old metal swing set a few years ago and I also do not weight much. I weigh in the range of 120-147 lbs. max last I checked. I am not sure of my age then, but I was very skinny. To reproduce the effect also would require the same momentum and other effects or something to give enough kinetic energy to rotate that many times.

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