I would like nothing more than the proof of various cryptids, alien civilizations, even alien visitors to be found. But that proof will come only through rigorous science and objective analysis, and by holding evidence to the highest standards of scrutiny. Born in south eastern Pennsylvania, i have found myself at one time or another living in Chicago, Cleveland, Raleigh-Durham, on the island of Kaua'i and finally landed on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. I have turned my hand to various professions from early work in 3d graphics to historic building restoration, carpentry and log home building to working in a bronze art foundry on the WWII Veterans Memorial. Currently I am a writer, script writer and working for a non profit organization called Empowerment Through Connection which is involved in equine assisted therapy for veterans, at risk teens and women.

We, the readers ,sometimes seem to forget that this site is dedicated to a “Sceptical approach to the Unexplained.” In pursuit of that goal as one of the contributors it is often more enticing to find stories of the unexplained and post them for others to pick apart, or for we the contributors to poke fun at, speaking for myself in any case. Yet scepticism is important to the search for answers in any field, doubly so in the array of fields that are represented by the sorts of stories that appear here. It keeps us honest.

Scepticism holds us to the highest standard of review of the information that comes from sources typically neither trained in observation, or informed in the appropriate and relevant fields of knowledge on which they are commenting. I do not remove myself from that grouping. I consider myself a little better informed than average on many fronts, but one fact of knowledge is that the more you know, the more you realize how little you know. In fact, how little we as an inquisitive species know. And this is where so many of these stories dwell, in that gap, and that gap is used by many as justification for their beliefs that the answers must lie outside of our current knowledge.

Much lies outside our current knowledge. But much of that we have theories on. Imagine a room waiting to be painted; it is filled with furniture that is all under drop cloths. We can not tell you what color it is, or how many cushions there are, but often if you look closely and think just a little you can see the shape of the piano, or the sofa or the Lazy-Boy.

I found this little tid-bit at LifesLittleMysteries.com

Every night, amateur ghost-hunting groups across the country head out into abandoned warehouses, old buildings and cemeteries to look for ghosts. They often bring along electronic equipment that they believe helps them locate ghostly energy.

Despite years of efforts by ghost hunters on TV and in real life, we still do not have good proof that ghosts are real. Many ghost hunters believe that strong support for the existence of ghosts can be found in modern physics. Specifically, that Albert Einstein, one of the greatest scientific minds of all time, offered a scientific basis for the reality of ghosts.

A recent Google search turned up nearly 8 million results suggesting a link between ghosts and Einstein’s work covering the conservation of energy. This assertion is repeated by many top experts in the field. For example, ghost researcher John Kachuba, in his book “Ghosthunters” (2007, New Page Books), writes, “Einstein proved that all the energy of the universe is constant and that it can neither be created nor destroyed. … So what happens to that energy when we die? If it cannot be destroyed, it must then, according to Dr. Einstein, be transformed into another form of energy. What is that new energy? … Could we call that new creation a ghost?”

This idea shows up — and is presented as evidence for ghosts — on virtually all ghost-themed websites as well. For example, a group called Tri County Paranormal states, “Albert Einstein said that energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change from one form to another. When we are alive, we have electrical energy in our bodies. … What happens to the electricity that was in our body, causing our heart to beat and making our breathing possible? There is no easy answer to that.” [6 Paranormal Videos Debunked]

In fact, the answer is very simple, and not at all mysterious. After a person dies, the energy in his or her body goes where all organisms’ energy goes after death: into the environment. When a human dies, the energy stored in his or her body is released in the form of heat, and transferred into the animals that eat us (i.e., wild animals if we are left unburied, or worms and bacteria if we are interred), and the plants that absorb us. If we are cremated, the energy in our bodies is released in the form of heat and light.

When we eat dead plants and animals, we are consuming their energy and converting it for our own use. Food is metabolized when digested, and chemical reactions release the energy the animal needs to live, move, reproduce, etc. That energy does not exist in the form of a glowing, ghostly ball of electromagnetic energy, but rather in the form of heat and chemical energy.

Many ghost hunters say they can detect the electric fields created by ghosts. And while it’s true that the metabolic processes of humans and other organisms actually do generate very low-level electrical currents, these are no longer generated once the organism dies. Because the source of the energy stops, the electrical current stops — just as a light bulb turns off when you switch off the electricity running to it.

Most of the “energy” that any dead person leaves behind takes years to re-enter the environment in the form of food; the rest dissipates shortly after death, and is not in a form that can be detected years later with popular ghost-hunting devices like electromagnetic field (EMF) detectors. Ghost hunters who repeat the claim that Einstein’s theories provide a sound basis for ghosts reveal less about ghosts than they do about their poor understanding of basic science. Ghosts may indeed exist, but neither Einstein nor his laws of physics suggests that ghosts are real.

Full source: LifesLittleMysteries.com

Does this mean ghosts do not exist? We have no proof they do, but certainly a great deal of anecdotal evidence. It is also important to remember that absence of proof is not proof of absence. I have my own ideas about ghosts, and how they might be explained if they exist, but they are just the ideas of a would be writer and no more valuable than any other.

  • Ophu

    I really don’t know. I’ve seen too many things I can’t explain to be an out-and-out denialist. The most I can manage nowadays is a lukewarm skepticism. 🙂 It puts me on the fence, true, but at least my feet are out of the mud.

  • Ophu

    And wow, for they sake of science, let’s not quit looking for other kinds of energy than the ones we already know. We’ve only just recently discovered entanglement in the past few decades. Who knows what that’s about? Dark energy, multiverse, anti-time, etc.? Who knows what’s next? Science is about keeping an open mind, after all.

  • Henry

    Nor does my commentary set out to give absolute denial. I think you will find that to be true. The argument here is that if the ghost hunters are going to use specific scientific instruments, they are bound to prove the validity of that use before claiming success. There are other forms of energy we are only now learning about, and those too will need to have their validity proven. I believe I stated in the beginning of the article that scepticism is a part of the search for answers in that it holds us to the highest standard.

  • Kevin

    The problem with proving that ghosts are in fact real is the credibility of the person(s) who experienced one. You can say the President had an experience or maybe Einstein himself, but does that make you immediately believe?

    People have a tendency to believe immediately following an experience. Some question their experience or manage to safely debunk and continue on being a skeptic. Then there’s that small percentage that is purely delusional and compose entities and crazy experiences all the time. 

    I myself live on what seems to be haunted land. We did some research into it, and it appears there was a farm there back in the 40’s. When I say “Land” it isn’t just my house that has some eerie things happening but to our surrounding neighbors as well. All good, hardworking and respectable people who constantly say they see an older man. I have never physically seen anything, but I’ve heard things and seen out of place shadows in a house I’ve lived in for 10 years. Though, never once have I felt threatened. 

    NOW for the science portion: I understand the basic rules and laws of physics and energy, but why do they have to apply the same to human energy. Our brain is simply a piece of flesh with electrical current, yet it can perceive, be self-aware and give sentience to our fleshy shell. Likewise, when we die, that energy is released into the world. Perhaps rather then actual spirits walking the world, the world is actually playing an event that contained a lot of energy from the past on “repeat”- Sometimes more visible, audible, or stronger then other times. This understanding of the super-natural may surpass our very understanding like the answer to life. Though, just because some handful hasn’t directly experienced the unexplained doesn’t mean it’s impossible to exist.

  • Cormac

     according to David M Rountree, its a bit more complicated than souls being detectable by emf.  More that the frequencies within that EM range seem to be the best frequencies within which to communicate with humans. 

    I think sceptical is good.  Its cynicism I have a problem with.

  • Prento

    Having seen a “ghost” I feel that the link with energy
    is correct.The man  I saw was a Roman soldier, he was
    standing on a footpath that had recently been tarmaced
    Was he real? Only as real as you are.

  • Thank you for this discussion – I am a proponent of skepticism, even cynicism!  ..and read with interest your Einstein on Ghosts essay.  One sentence caught me, ” just as a light bulb turns off when you switch off the electricity running to it.” First of all, I’m not a scientist, but I am unusually curious and observant.  A light bulb does indeed ‘turn off’ when one flips the switch, but not before it has ‘glowed’, remained warm, and why are we energy-savers advised to unPLUG appliances if no energy flows after the ‘source’ of the energy is extinguished.  Sign me “Believing in The After Glow”  Emily Hill

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  • Josh Howard

    There are reasons that a light bulb glows the source of electricity is cut off. It isn’t because…..ghosts. I will dig up some science if I have to. This “after glow” is not the rigorous application of the scientific method that the editor alludes to. Here, read this please http://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/999/why-do-lightbulbs-continue-to-glow-after-the-light-is-turned-off