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Do the spirits of the dead walk among us?

According to a survey published in October 2005, 68 per cent of people believe in ghosts. Wow! This take on real meaning when you compare it to the percentage of people who believe in God: 55per cent. One in 10 people claim to have had a direct encounter with a ghost or ghosts.

Scientist of course, dismisses the very notion of survival after death as quite simply absurd. They have ready explanation for all the classic manifestations of spirits, ghosts, and ghouls. Bizarre noises in the night? These are just everyday sounds over interpreted corner by twitchy people. Creepy shadows in the corner of the bedroom? Tricks of the light. Strange cold spots in the hallway. Try fitting draught-excluders.

 Of course it makes sense to rule out the commonplace before reaching more unusual explanations, however, at some point, when all else is considered what is left? Haunting, sightings, and things that go bump in the night that’s what. Are they ghosts? Are they really the spirits of the dead?.

 Let’s look at a report of a haunting:

 Mary knows something was wrong with the main bedroom in her house. Her cat refused to stay in it. Then the noises started: footsteps outside the room, followed by the creak of the bed in the room itself, as if someone was setting down for the night. Finally, walk into the bedroom one day, Mary saw a looming shadow of what appeared to de a man, standing but apparently asleep. The ghostly image vanished, only to return again one night when Mary woke up to find the “shadow man” standing in the corner.

 For several weeks, Mary tried to ignore the mounting evidence the she was in the presence of a ghost: the noises around the house late at night, the icy-cold area at the foot of the stairs, the sense of being watched. But in the end she could stand it no longer, and vacated the house.

This is a classic tale of a haunting. It lacks only a sinister butler and old stories of murder most foul. Yet these strange events did not take place in some old baronial hall or rectory in Victorian times. Mary reported the ghostly apparition in the year 2000 and it happened in a two-bed roomed council flat in south London.

Even more strange was that Mary was not the first person to report strange going-ons at the flat, either. A previous tenant had felt the same brooding presence and sense of being watched, with one visitor reporting seeing a figure of a man in the hallway.

The care of the council flat ghost is still not solved to this day despite years of investigation by a paranormal research society.

Many of us read with interest reports of ghosts from times gone by, safe in the knowledge that today things are different, that we are not as gullible as people back then. And we have “ghost busters” these days’ people who study and challenge the paranormal, and machines that could capture an image of a ghostly apparition.

Seeing a ghost and talking about it can have a great impact on your life: and not always a good one. People are as likely to believe you, as they are to believe you, as they are to believe those people who claim to have seen a UFO. And while the majority of the scientific world pooh-hoo the whole business, there are a few intelligent men {and women, of course} who stand to be counted when it comes to being ready to accept the possibility of the existence of ghosts despite their scientific training.

The Ghost club was founded in 1862 by Cambridge university academics and others intrigued by reports of ghostly phenomena it is reputed to be the world’s oldest paranormal research society.

Ever since it was established, their memberships have carried out first-hand investigation into reports of alleged hauntings. It’s most famous investigation centered on Borley Rectory in Essex, reputedly the most haunted place in England.

In 1928, plagued by ghostly apparition, flickering lights, and strange noises, the resident vicar contacted the local newspaper, which enlisted Ghost Club member Harry Price to investigate. Harry price spent a decade studying the phenomena, using methods still used by paranormal investigator today. The club’s apparent confirmation of a haunting by a nun still provokes controversy. Today, teams from the Ghost club continue to investigate site of alleged hauntings.

It was Rosie Murdie of the Ghost club who was given the task of investigating the strange going-on, which had frightened Mary, at the south London council flat. She later reported that after eight years of ghost hunting she regarded Mary council flat as the spookiest case she has ever been involved with.

“I could sense the atmosphere change in an instant from relaxed to hostile. And I had a strong sense of someone watching me”.

On two separate visits to the flat, two team members reported the presence of the ghost-and their descriptions were the same as that given by Mary’s hostile black man aged 30 to 40.

What are we to make of such accounts? For many people, they simply confirm what they already suspect: that the spirits of the dead walk among us.

But is what some people hear and see really, what they think it is?

In a 2005 study, 200 members of the public were asked about their experiences while visiting Mary king’s close, a network of allegedly haunted passageways and houses under Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

The visitor were taken to one of four locations-but were not told that only two had been specifically linked with spooky events. Even almost half of those visiting even the “ghost-free location reporting unusual experiences. This is at least consistent with long-standing claims of sceptics that people can be spooked by their own preconception.

Altogether harder to explain, however, were the results from the allegedly haunted site. The proportion of people reporting strange phenomena leapt to around 70 per cent, reaching to 80 per cent in the most “haunted” site of all the scene of sightings of a sinister-looking figure dressed in black.

Women proved especially sensitive, with 92 per cent of those visiting the most notorious location experiencing at least one unusual event- and all despite being unaware of its reputation.

This is encouraging when it comes to the question of “do ghosts walk among us? For the experts say that the best way to see a ghost is to be terrified of ghosts. So if you are afraid of ghosts and are creeping around expecting to see one, you probably will. But will it really be a ghost or just your imagination?.

One of the frustrations of ghost hunting is the way in which ghouls seen to know when a hardened investigator is on their tail and refuse to appear. Cynic suggests there’s an obvious explanation ghosts are all in the imagination. Terrified witnesses, meanwhile, insist they really did see something spooky.

New research by a team at Mayo clinic, Minnesota, USA suggests both sides might be right. They examined patients who claimed to have witnessed images of people and animals on walking during the night. The team found a surprising degree of similarity in the visions seen by the patients, which often lasted for several minutes and featured witch-like figures and people with distorted bodies. The possible connection with report of ghosts appearing in bedrooms in the dead night is all too obvious. Searching for some common factor, the team also found that one-third of the patients suffered from anxiety-inline with the long-held view that state of the mind play a key role in reports of ghosts.

The findings, published in July 2005, may thus explain why people who feel unnerved by their surrounding are more likely to see a ghost-while hardened “ghost hunter” see northing all.

There are many explanations of paranormal phenomena for example, apparition, which are seen directly or on photographs, are often explained away by auto-suggestion and, in the care of photographs, double exposure.

Strange noise, like ghostly chatter is another sign of paranormal activity. Research at the institute of psychiatry, London suggests these could be auditory illusions triggered by anxiety.

Temperature drop often occur on a landing or in a corridor.

They could be the result of cold, dry air circulating in a draughty old building.

Some say they can feel that someone is there. They have a sense of presence. Experiments suggest an eerie sense of a “presence” in a room may be explained by ultra-low- frequency {but entirely natural} “infrasound”.

Often reports of hauntings are accompanied by claims of seeing bizarre lights. Floating orbs of light are sometimes seen on photographs. Research at the University of Arizona, USA, points to reflections in cheap cameras.

And then there are poltergeists. The “rumbling/play/nasty spirit” phenomenon, such as the movement of objects, the turning on and off of switches, the slamming and locking of doors, or the contact with people are often simply dismissed by skeptics as  purely fabricated.

Human beings are becoming more sensitive to their surroundings, sometime with literally hair-raising results. Now new research also suggests a new role for the power of the mind in the report of ghosts.

Teams at Harvard University in the USA have been investigating an effect called hypnopompia, in which people continue to experience dream-like effects after waking up-including distinctly eerie feeling of dread, visual illusions and sounds.

 Previous research suggests around 40 per cent  of us experience hynopompia effects at some time and, according the Harvard team as many as one in 10 of us may interpret the effects as ghosts.

So was Mary of London council flat fame simply experiencing a hypnopompic hallucination in her home or the effects of infrasound, or just her own preconception?.

I suppose that depends on whether you are afraid of not. As yet, definite proof, a proof to satisfy everyone, is still not forthcoming from the experts. And so, until then the question of “do the spirits of the dead walk among us” must remain unanswered, another unsolved mystery.

Conmment :

Message: I’m not an expert in some kind of ghostly theories or things like that, but as a human being, I’m of the view that these question actually hang in our minds. What we allow to occupy our minds could go a long way in manifesting what we feel or thing we have really seen. Be it what is may; I think people should be made to understand that though the human being is said to be more than just the physical flesh and bones, the physical actually controls the affairs. The whole enigma might have been created for the end result of the fear. So that the few ones who claim to have the superpower to mediate between the physical and the spiritual can treat the rest people as their slaves, whom they will continuously control their minds. I don’t want to argue whether or not spirits do exist. I will rather stress that people being more aware of their powers to make their own decisions and bearing in mind that their decisions can have consequences…

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