Ghost (page 3)
In the search for rational explanations, it is fair to concentrate on the physical state, as well as the state of mind, of the person concerned. Ghosts seen from bed, during the night, or just upon awakening and a good many of these have been recorded must be suspected of being part of a dream. Those encountered in broad daylight are another matter. Some have appeared to people under much the same conditions as poltergeists that is, when the observers have clearly been awake and unaffected by exhaustion or mental instability.
The fact that most people merely see ghosts (one researcher records that of the people who see ghosts, 84 percent only see them, while 37 percent hear them and 15 percent touch them) must suggest at least the possibility of hallucination. A relatively few people also have other senses affected: a few record that they feel a drop of temperature in the presence of a ghost, and even fewer suggest that ghosts are accompanied by a curious smell.
It is extremely difficult to produce any generally acceptable proof of the appearance of a ghost. Even if two or three people see the same apparition, there is the possibility of group illusion; while the very circumstances under which apparitions usually appear preclude careful scientific observation ghosts are notorious for their failure to appear under test conditions (no good reason for claiming they do not exist, but a hindrance to proving that they do). The most famous ghost-hunter, the Englishman Harry Price (1881-1948), had no real success at proving the existence of ghosts, but he witnessed, and recorded many strange experiences, especially at Borley Rectory.
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Occasionally people have claimed that ghosts have told them things that they could not know, have uttered warnings or provided information about the future. Very few of these are any more reliable, as proof, than simple anecdotes. The case for ghosts, although sometimes extremely interesting, must be regarded as unproved.
In the 1980s a poll in the United States by the University of Chicago revealed that 42% of the adult population and 67% of widows reported experiences with apparitions of some form, either visual images, noises and voices, or an uncanny sense of a lingering presence.
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Sources: Article is scheduled to be reviewed.
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