Ghost research - why so little progress?

Ghost research - why so little progress?

In the 50 years or so since I’ve been studying ghosts I’ve seen no real progress in the science of the subject. By comparison, almost every scientific field I can think of has progressed out of all recognition  over that period. So what’s holding back the scientific study of ghosts?

Centuries ago, astronomy was stuck too. What held it back was the assumption that the Earth was the centre of the universe. With all celestial bodies apparently rotating around us that appeared reasonable.  But some things didn’t fit, like some,  but not all, planets occasionally going into retrograde motion. It was all fixed when it became obvious that Earth was just one planet in a solar system going round the sun. What was holding astronomy back was a false assumption.

In ghost research we have the same issue now – an assumption is holding everything back. That assumption is that ghosts are spirits. Once we ditch the idea it is possible to progress. If we look at the evidence it is clear that ghosts could be better defined as someone seeing a person who is not physically present. This is clearly the situation that gives rise to ghost reports. Straight awy we get a big win – the old question of whether ghosts exist is solved. Obviously they do as people have been consistently reporting seeing people who weren’t there for centuries. I’ve seen  a few myself.

Further easy progress follows. It rapidly becomes obvious from the evidence that ghosts have more than one cause. Causes include misperception, hallucination, coincidence (including witnesses seeing real people they assume, often for good reason, aren’t there) and so on. Some might even be spirits, but given that is a slippery concept it’s difficult to say from the evidence. And here we find another assumption that has stopped progress - that ghosts have just one cause. Someone will see a perfectly normal human figure that might vanish. It could be caused by misperception or hallucination but the effect would be the same.

Some people will, of course, say that what I’m talking about are not ‘real’ ghosts.  But there is nothing from the evidence to distinguish ghosts caused by misperception and ‘real’ ghosts. And once you start talking about ‘real’ ghosts you are simply back at square one, with ghosts as spirits. And square one is where research will remain forever with that idea.

There is much more I could say on this subject but that's for future posts.

Author :© Maurice Townsend 2023

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