Have you ever seen a ghost? Do you believe in ghosts?
Scientifically accepted proof of the existence of ghosts does not exist. But does this fact alone convince you that ghosts do not exist? Why does every culture in the world have stories about ghosts and haunted buildings? Why have eyewitness accounts of ghost sightings remained similar over many centuries? Will we ever know the truth about ghosts?
A ghost is the spirit of a dead person that is capable of making itself seen or heard by the living. The oldest known record of a ghost appears in an ancient Babylonian tale known as The Epic of Gilgamesh, which is dated from around 2200 BC. Ghosts can take several different forms. Some shapes ghosts can take include a solid or see-through image of a dead person, a disembodied voice, or some other unusual visual effect such as strange lights. The world’s various cultures believe ghosts take different forms.
Several explanations are given for the possible existence of ghosts. There are those who believe that ghosts are people trapped between the living world and the world of the dead. These dead people can be stuck inbetween worlds because of some wrong they did while they were alive, or because they must deliver a message to someone before passing onto the next world, or even because something tragic happened to the person.
When the same ghost is seen repeatedly in the same house, it issaid that the house is haunted. The word haunt means to "visit often.” Hauntings can continue on and off for years, and affect different occupants of a haunted house. In most cases the ghosts in haunted houses once lived in the house. Usually the ghost repeats the same actions each time it makes an appearance, and witnesses often say that the ghost looks like a person who is sleepwalking.
A special kind of ghost is called a poltergeist. Poltergeist is a German word, which means "noisy ghost.” Poltergeists live up to their names: they are noisy! A poltergeist disturbance includes noises such as knocks, thumps, scraping, footsteps and other sounds. Poltergeists are known to move objects, sometimes throwing them across the room. Usually a poltergeist does not stay longer than a few weeks. Young people are the preferred targets of poltergeists, and occasionally poltergeists have followed a particular person from one location to another.
Modern techniques for investigating paranormal activity, or ghostbusting, involve using sophisticated equipment. Researchers use Geiger counters, infrared cameras and computers. Hitech instruments allow ghost detectives to detect radiation, take photographs in the dark without using a flash, register temperature changes and record any movement in a room. Psychics, who are people who can supposedly sense activity going on beyond our normal comprehension, are often called to help ghost investigators, as well.
Still, the fact remains that there is no scientific proof of the existence of ghosts. Surely they must not exist. But how can you explain the countless ghost stories from so many different people and from so many different places? And you would have an impossible time trying to convince the victims of a haunting that ghosts were not real. They must exist. Or do they? Death is the end of life. Or is it?
UNDERSTANDING WHAT YOU READ
If you can, answer these questions from memory. If you cannot, look back at the article.
1) What is a ghost?
2) List reasons why dead people can be trapped between the living world and the world of the dead.
3) What kinds of noises do poltergeists often make?
4) Would it be easy to convince the victims of a haunting that ghosts were not real?
1) Do you believe in ghosts? Why? Why not? Do you think proof of their existence will ever be discovered? Discuss.
2) Do you know any ghost stories? Take turns telling ghost stories.
3) What is the scariest movie you have ever seen? Why? Do you like scary movies? Why? Why not? Discuss.