Skip to content

Are Ghosts Real? Here’s What Science Has To Say

Are Ghosts Real

Although science is yet to clearly understand this phenomenon, it usually occurs when our brain tries to shift from conscious awareness to rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, when vivid dreams occur. This can make the person feel detached from their body, have a sense of floating away or feeling trapped. This complex experience can often lead to hallucinations of a night hag, a shadow demon, succubus or incubus.

5. Pareidolia

Pareidolia is the human tendency to recognize shapes and patterns, like faces, and find meaningful interpretations from abstract visual stimuli, even in the absence of any familiar objects. So whether you are seeing the face of a dog in the clouds or if you believe a face appears in the mold on the ceiling, it is most likely due to this phenomenon, and not due to ghostly encounters.

6. Magical thinking & media influence 

Are folklore and campfire stories the root cause of our belief in ghosts? Do horror movies churned by Hollywood that claim to be “based on true stories” and ghost hunting shows influence our belief in demons and ghouls? Well, our belief in ghosts can be a result of media influence, which kind of makes a lot of sense when you are looking for evidence that ghosts are real. Moreover, cognitive bias might play a significant role here as well. 

The science of ghosts reveals that “paranormal beliefs and magical thinking” are often influenced by the media. Scientists have found that we are more prone to accepting ghost sightings or reported paranormal phenomena when they are explained through pseudoscientific rationales.

Related: 18 Weird Superstitions You Practice Without Even Knowing

An experiment on undergraduate professional students found that students with pre-existing paranormal beliefs are more likely to accept paranormal reports as credible, believable and scientific, even when presented with pseudoscientific narratives. They may even discredit actual scientific critique. The study concluded that when it comes to paranormal beliefs and magical thinking, particular genres of media can influence viewers’ perceptions.

The science of ghosts in the environment

Why do we see ghosts? Recently, scientists have identified certain environmental factors that can help to explain anomalous experiences in haunted houses, apparitions, demons, hauntings, séance, poltergeist, ghosts and other paranormal experiences.

The researchers identified 6 environmental variables that can help to explain ‘are ghosts real?’ using the science of ghosts –

1. Embedded (static) cues in the physical environment

What makes a house or a room creepy? A blue hue in the dimly lit room. A mysterious smell. Unexplainable sounds or music playing somewhere in the house. Such tangible embedded cues in the environment can promote haunting or spooky experiences. The researchers found that windows, mirrors and artworks, such as human portraits, can make someone feel like they are being watched. The reputation of an old house or building as being haunted can also add to a person’s belief in ghosts.

These can lead to experiences of depersonalization (out-of-body presence), derealization (deformations in perceptions) and dissociated identity (apparitions of strange personalities in the mirror).

2. Lighting levels

Do you ever see ghosts in broad daylight? Nope. Ghosts and darkness are inherently connected and hence, the lighting conditions may have something to do with our perception and belief of ghosts. Thanks to horror films and evolution, we are often more cautious when in dimly lit settings as our mind conjures up various tricks to creep us out. 

Related: How to See Spirits Around You, 3 Tips

Hence, lower level of lighting or darker settings can often lead to false ghost sightings which can bolster our belief in the paranormal. Due to sensory deprivation in darker environments, our mind tends to perceive meaningful patterns in visual noise. This is known as visual pareidolia, which can explain apparitions in the dark corner of the room.

Overall, lighting level seems a likely contributor to experiences deemed paranormal or ghostly,” adds the study. 

3. Air Quality

Can particle pollution & carbon monoxide in the environment affect our perception of the supernatural? The science of ghosts says yes. Many buildings, especially old buildings or houses, are prone to mold growth that develop due to humidity or water vapor. Biotoxins in molds and similar substances can often lead to chronic & acute illnesses, when someone is exposed to it. This can result in  mood swings, headaches, disorientation, feelings of listlessness, hallucinations, strange sensations, temperature regulation issues, tingling etc.

As most locations that are believed to be haunted are highly prone to molds & other indoor air quality issues, people tend to have ghostly experiences after being exposed to toxic molds. Moreover, carbon monoxide in the environment can also lead to similar experiences.

Pages: 1 2 3 4 5

Theo Harrison

Hey there! I am just someone trying to find my way through life. I am a reader, writer, traveler, fighter, philosopher, artist and all around nice guy. I am outdoor person but heavily into technology, science, psychology, spiritualism, Buddhism, martial arts and horror films. I believe in positive action more than positive thinking.View Author posts