What Is A Ghost?

What Is A Ghost?
What Is A Ghost? 

But, after all, what is a ghost? What do we mean by this? Where do ghosts live, and how? What do they do with themselves? How do they manifest? Why do they return? These are some of the questions that the average man asks himself—unless he totally disbelieves in them. Most men, it is true, disbelieve in ghosts—unless they have had some experience to convince them to the contrary. Yet, after all, why should they? As Mr. W. T. Stead once remarked:


“Real Ghost Stories! How can there be real ghost stories when there are no real ghosts? “But are there no real ghosts? You may not have seen one, but it does not follow that therefore they do not exist. How many of us have seen the microbe that kills? There are at least as many persons who testify that they have seen apparitions as there are men of science who have examined the microbe. You and I, who have seen neither, must perforce take the testimony of others. The evidence for the microbe may be conclusive, the evidence as to apparitions may be worthless; but in both cases, it is a case of testimony, not of personal experience.”

How Ghosts Influence Us


The average conception of a Ghost is probably somewhat as follows: That it is a thin, tall figure, wrapped in a sheet, walking about the house, clanking chains behind it, and scaring out of his wits anyone who sees it. According to this view, a ghost would be as material and substantial a thing as a buzz-saw or a lap-dog, and exists just as fully “in space.” Such, however, is not the conception of the ghost that modern science entertains. Many investigators who have examined this question closely have come to the conclusion that ghosts do actually exist; but when we come to the more troublesome question: What are they? we are met at once with difficulties and disagreements. The recent scientific theories and explanations of the subject are complex and subtle and necessitate a certain preliminary knowledge on the part of the student in order for him to understand them. I shall explain as briefly and clearly as possible exactly what these theories are. For the moment, I wish to speak, first of all, of the history of psychic investigation; and particularly that portion of it that deals with apparitions or “ghost hunting.”


Historic Investigations

Here and there, serious investigators have always existed. In the sixteenth century, Dr. Glanvil pursued this study with great genius and patience; Dr. Johnson also was a firm believer in the reality of “ghosts”; Sir Walter Scott and others of his time were investigators, and the famous Dr. Perrier wrote a treatise on apparitions, and similar investigations have been continued up to the present day. The first organized and systematic attempt to solve the problem, and to find out exactly what ghosts are, however, was made by the Society for Psychical Research (S. P. R.) in 1882. Practically all the investigations which have been carried on since then have led to important results. 

How A Ghost Warned The King



Soon after the above-mentioned Society was founded, and material began to be collected, it was found that many cases had to do with haunted houses, many with apparitions, but the greater number of them hinged around one point—the coincidence of apparitions with the death of the persons represented. An apparition of a certain person would be seen in London, let us say; and some hours later a telegram would arrive, conveying the news that this person had just been killed. When the time was compared, it was found to agree exactly; the hour of the death and that of the apparition tallying to the minute.

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