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Are ghosts real?

Are ghosts real?
Thomas Garrett from Tyne and Wear (Age 5-14)
Cassidy A from Surrey (aged 5-14)

Are there such things as ghosts?
Kris Fisher from Tyne and Wear (Aged 5-14)

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One Response

  1. Hi Thomas and Kris,

    Depends what you mean by real. Do some people honestly have the experience of ‘seeing something that isn’t there’? Yes, I’m sure they do, so there are ‘ghosts’. Are ghosts the souls of dead people? That’s far less certain. One thing is clear, the more we learn about the functioning of the brain the clearer it is that our conscious experience (what we feel we are seeing or hearing) is not 100% based on fact. In certain cases we can have vivid experiences that are not based on any outside event at all. In other words, it’s what you might call ‘all in the mind’.

    From what I have written above you can see that there are two (and perhaps more) potential explanations for ghosts: dead people, or the brain playing tricks. There is an old maxim in science that if you have two explanations, and as yet no way of deciding which is right, then you go with the one that requires fewest new assumptions. If we were seeing dead people it would assume that people survive death, that they are normally in some sort of different dimension, so we can’t see them, that they sometimes get into our dimension, so that we do see them, and even then, only some people seem to be able to see them. All these ideas are new to science – there is no evidence that any one of these steps is likely – although it’s possible. On the other hand, if you go with the brain-playing-tricks theory, all you are saying is that there are sometimes situations where people have the sensation of seeing a figure that isn’t really there. Well, we know that the brain can do that, for example in hypnosis, so we are not really claiming too much more than science knows already. Hence, the brain explanation is the one most scientists would be inclined to go with, until we can collect more evidence to settle the matter.

    So, have either of you seen one?

    Happy ghost hunting,

    Peter

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