Scary TV truth: Spirited original British 'Ghosts UK' is better than American 'Ghosts'

ghosts or ghosts

The prolonged Hollywood strikes that put a halt to movie and TV filming, now blessedly over, offered one spectral silver lining for American TV viewers: They brought us "Ghosts UK."

When CBS primetime coffers were emptied of new shows like the hit comedy series "Ghosts," the network summoned the rights to the BBC's British version that inspired the hilarious American hauntings.

"Ghosts UK," as we're calling it from this side of the pond, makes its unlikely American network premiere Thursday (9 EST/PST) right after reruns of the CBS "Ghosts" (8:30 EST/PST), still trapped in its second season.

Was adding "Ghosts UK" a desperate timeslot-filling move? Sure! But the eerie truth is "Ghosts UK" is on the next spirit level from the critically lauded American version. Stack up all the mansion-haunting apparitions, and spirit-for-spirit the Brits run away with it by a dismembered head.

And we're not just talking about the decapitated "Ghosts UK" spirit known as "Headless Humphrey" (Yani Xander) a 16th-century English nobleman constantly searching for his noggin in a perfect recurring gag. Even that represents a better body of work than the headless greaser named Crash in the American "Ghosts," who appeared in the pilot episode and has seen background moments since.

Like flickering haunted-house lights, you begin to realize that most of what makes U.S. "Ghosts" next-level funny is the brilliant story set up by the British version, borrowed (or honored) pretty much beat for beat from the original and Americanized.

In "Ghosts UK," young British couple Alison (Charlotte Ritchie) and Mike Cooper (Kiell Smith-Bynoe) see their London housing crisis vanish after they unexpectedly inherit the crumbling Button House from a distant aunt whom Alison never heard of.

The squabbling spirits, who have spent generations haunting Alison's newly discovered ancestral home, aren't pleased with the new arrivals who aspire to make the country house a luxury hotel. Conservative politician ghost Julian Fawcett (Simon Farnaby) ‒ forever pantless because of his tawdry sex-scandal death and the only ghost who can move objects slightly ‒ even tries to kill Alison by pushing her out an open window. But the fall and head blow only enable Alison to see the ghosts. Everywhere.

And yes, I'll boldly state that when it comes to trouserless ghosts, the British MP just works better than his American counterpart, the finance bro Trevor (Asher Grodman), who died partying in his boxer shorts.

That excellence continues through the other "Ghost UK" characters, including the spiritual house leader, scoutmaster Pat Butcher (Jim Howick), who is unflaggingly good-natured despite an errant archery arrow perpetually protruding from his neck and poisoned Georgian-era noblewoman Kitty Higham (Lolly Adefope), who wants to be friends with everyone. Smiling Kitty gets her effective freak on when scaring Alison under her bed covers, showing how "Ghosts UK" brings just enough creepy chills along with the laughs.

In American "Ghosts," the cholera ghosts forever stuck in the basement make for a good gag. But the "Ghosts UK" plague ghosts (they do call it The Great Plague) are a spookier lot who can still rattle ridiculous lines as if it were a phantom Monty Python skit.

CBS has already promised new "Ghosts" episodes in the post-strike world: Season 3 is due Feb. 15. And in 100 years or so of haunting, it might catch up to "Ghosts UK." The network hasn't revealed how long the British version will run on the network (episodes are also streaming on Paramount+), so catch these spectacular spooks before they disappear.

Life's Little Mysteries

Are ghosts real?

One difficulty in scientifically evaluating is ghost are real is the surprisingly wide variety of phenomena attributed to ghosts.

Black and white photo of wooden attic with cathedral-type windows and metal folding chair in center.

The science and logic of ghosts

Why do people believe in ghosts, additional resources.

If you believe in ghosts, you're not alone. Cultures all around the world believe in spirits that survive death to live in another realm. In fact, ghosts are among the most widely believed of paranormal phenomenon: Millions of people are interested in ghosts. It's more than mere entertainment; A 2019 Ipsos poll found that 46% of Americans  say they truly believe in ghosts. (The nation is discerning in its undead beliefs; only 7% of respondents said they believe in vampires ).

And about 18% of people say they have either seen a ghost or been in one's presence, according to a 2015 Pew Research study . Why do so many claim to have such brushes with the afterlife?

"One common cause may be pareidolia, the tendency for our brains to find patterns (especially human faces and figures) amongst ambiguous stimuli," Stephen Hupp, clinical psychologist and professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Told Live Science in an email. "One common example is when we see faces or figures in the clouds and another is when random shapes and shadows in a dark house look like a ghost," said Hupp, who is also the editor of Skeptical Inquirer magazine.

Stephen Hupp is the editor of "Skeptical Inquirer" magazine. He is also a clinical psychologist and a professor of psychology at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE). He has published several books including "Pseudoscience in Therapy "  (Cambridge University Press, 2023) and "Investigating Pop Psychology" (Routledge, 2022). 

But the idea that the dead remain with us in spirit is an ancient one, appearing in countless stories, from the Bible to "Macbeth." It even spawned a folklore genre: ghost stories. Belief in ghosts is part of a larger web of related paranormal beliefs, including near-death experience, life after death, and spirit communication. The belief offers many people comfort — who doesn't want to believe that our beloved but deceased family members aren't looking out for us, or with us in our times of need? 

People have tried to (or claimed to) communicate with spirits for ages; in Victorian England, for example, it was fashionable for upper-crust ladies to hold séances in their parlors after tea and crumpets with friends. Ghost clubs dedicated to searching for ghostly evidence formed at prestigious universities, including Cambridge and Oxford, and in 1882 the most prominent organization, the Society for Psychical Research, was established. A woman named Eleanor Sidgwick was an investigator (and later president) of that group, and could be considered the original female ghostbuster. In America during the late 1800s, many psychic mediums claimed to speak to the dead — but were later exposed as frauds by skeptical investigators such as Harry Houdini. 

Related: 10 Ghost stories that will haunt you for life

It wasn't until recently that ghost hunting became a widespread interest around the world. Much of this is due to the hit Syfy cable TV series "Ghost Hunters," which aired 230 episodes and found no good evidence for ghosts. 

The show spawned dozens of spinoffs and imitators, and it's not hard to see why the show is so popular: the premise is that anyone can look for ghosts. The two original stars were ordinary guys (plumbers, in fact) who decided to look for evidence of spirits. Their message: You don't need to be an egghead scientist, or even have any training in science or investigation. All you need is some free time, a dark place, and maybe a few gadgets from an electronics store. If you look long enough any unexplained light or noise might be evidence of ghosts.

That vague criteria for ghostly happenings is part of the reason why myths about the afterlife are more alive than ever.

One difficulty in scientifically evaluating ghosts is that a surprisingly wide variety of phenomena are attributed to ghosts, from a door closing on its own, to missing keys, to a cold area in a hallway, to a vision of a dead relative. 

When sociologists Dennis and Michele Waskul interviewed ghost experiencers for their book " Ghostly Encounters: The Hauntings of Everyday Life " (Temple University Press, 2016 ) they found that "many participants were not sure that they had encountered a ghost and remained uncertain that such phenomena were even possible, simply because they did not see something that approximated the conventional image of a 'ghost.' Instead, many of our respondents were simply convinced that they had experienced something uncanny — something inexplicable, extraordinary, mysterious, or eerie." 

Thus, many people who go on record as claiming to have had a ghostly experience didn't necessarily see anything that most people would recognize as a classic "ghost," and in fact they may have had completely different experiences whose only common factor is that it could not be readily explained. 

"There are plenty of misunderstood phenomena that influence ghost sightings. For example, sleep paralysis in a recognized experience that leads to people feeling like they have seen a ghost, demon, or alien," Hupp said.

Personal experience is one thing, but scientific evidence is another matter. Part of the difficulty in investigating ghosts is that there is not one universally agreed-upon definition of what a ghost is. Some believe that they are spirits of the dead who for whatever reason get "lost" on their way to The Other Side; others claim that ghosts are instead telepathic entities projected into the world from our minds.

Still others create their own special categories for different types of ghosts, such as poltergeists, residual hauntings, intelligent spirits and shadow people. Of course, it's all made up, like speculating on the different races of fairies or dragons: there are as many types of ghosts as you want there to be.

There are many contradictions inherent in ideas about ghosts. For example, are ghosts material or not? Either they can move through solid objects without disturbing them, or they can slam doors shut and throw objects across the room. According to logic and the laws of physics, it's one or the other. If ghosts are human souls, why do they appear clothed and with (presumably soulless) inanimate objects like hats, canes, and dresses — not to mention the many reports of ghost trains, cars and carriages?

If ghosts are the spirits of those whose deaths were unavenged, why are there unsolved murders, since ghosts are said to communicate with psychic mediums, and should be able to identify their killers for the police? The questions go on and on — just about any claim about ghosts raises logical reasons to doubt it.

Ghost hunters use many creative (and dubious) methods to detect the spirits' presences, often including psychics. Virtually all ghost hunters claim to be scientific, and most give that appearance because they use high-tech scientific equipment such as Geiger counters, Electromagnetic Field (EMF) detectors, ion detectors, infrared cameras and sensitive microphones. Yet none of this equipment has ever been shown to actually detect ghosts. 

"If someone hands you an electronic device to sense a ghost, then they’re probably doing it to get your money during a ghost tour," Hupp said.

For centuries, people believed that flames turned blue in the presence of ghosts. Today, few people accept that bit of lore, but it's likely that many of the signs taken as evidence by today's ghost hunters will be seen as just as wrong and antiquated centuries from now. 

Other researchers claim that the reason ghosts haven't been proven to exist is that we simply don't have the right technology to find or detect the spirit world. But this, too, can't be correct: Either ghosts exist and appear in our ordinary physical world (and can therefore be detected and recorded in photographs, film, video and audio recordings), or they don't. If ghosts exist and can be scientifically detected or recorded, then we should find hard evidence of that — yet we don't. If ghosts exist but cannot be scientifically detected or recorded, then all the photos, videos, audio and other recordings claimed to be evidence of ghosts cannot be ghosts. With so many basic contradictory theories — and so little science brought to bear on the topic — it's not surprising that despite the efforts of thousands of ghost hunters on television and elsewhere for decades, not a single piece of hard evidence of ghosts has been found.

And, of course, with the recent development of "ghost apps" for smartphones, it's easier than ever to create seemingly spooky images and share them on social media, making separating fact from fiction even more difficult for ghost researchers. 

Most people who believe in ghosts do so because of some personal experience; they grew up in a home where the existence of (friendly) spirits was taken for granted, for example, or they had some unnerving experience on a ghost tour or local haunt. 

Belief in a spirit world may also fulfill a deeper psychological need.

"There’s still so much to this universe that we don’t understand, and it’s comforting to fill in the void with explanations. Supernatural explanations are often stated with confidence, even when there’s no actual evidence, and this confidence provides a false sense of actual truth," Hupp said.

For instance, some claim that support for the existence of ghosts can be found in no less a hard science than modern physics. It is widely claimed that Albert Einstein suggested a scientific basis for the reality of ghosts, based on the First Law of Thermodynamics : If energy cannot be created or destroyed but only change form, what happens to our body's energy when we die? Could that somehow be manifested as a ghost?

It seems like a reasonable assumption — until you dig into the basic physics. 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. The energy is released in the form of heat, and the body is 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. There is no bodily "energy" that survives death to be detected with popular ghost-hunting devices.

Related: Top 10 most famous ghosts

While amateur ghost hunters like to imagine themselves on the cutting edge of ghost research, they are really engaging in what folklorists call ostension or legend tripping. It's basically a form of playacting in which people "act out" a legend, often involving ghosts or supernatural elements. In his book " Aliens, Ghosts, and Cults: Legends We Live " (University Press of Mississippi, 2003) folklorist Bill Ellis points out that ghost hunters themselves often take the search seriously and "venture out to challenge supernatural beings, confront them in consciously dramatized form, then return to safety. ... The stated purpose of such activities is not entertainment but a sincere effort to test and define boundaries of the 'real' world."

If ghosts are real, and are some sort of as-yet-unknown energy or entity, then their existence will (like all other scientific discoveries) be discovered and verified by scientists through controlled experiments — not by weekend ghost hunters wandering around abandoned, supposedly haunted houses in the dark late at night with cameras and flashlights.

In the end (and despite mountains of ambiguous photos, sounds, and videos) the evidence for ghosts is no better today than it was a century ago. There are two possible reasons for the failure of ghost hunters to find good evidence. The first is that ghosts don't exist, and that reports of ghosts can be explained by psychology, misperceptions, mistakes and hoaxes . The second option is that ghosts do exist, but that ghost hunters do not possess the scientific tools or mindset to uncover any meaningful evidence. 

But ultimately, ghost hunting is not about the evidence at all (if it was, the search would have been abandoned long ago). Instead, it's about having fun with friends and family members, telling stories, and the enjoyment of pretending to search the edge of the unknown. After all, everyone loves a good ghost story.

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Are ghosts real? A social psychologist examines the evidence

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Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Sociology, University of South Carolina

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Curious Kids is a series for children of all ages. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, send it to [email protected] .

Is it possible for there to be ghosts? – Madelyn, age 11, Fort Lupton, Colorado

Certainly, lots of people believe in ghosts – a spirit left behind after someone who was alive has died.

In a 2021 poll of 1,000 American adults , 41% said they believe in ghosts, and 20% said they had personally experienced them. If they’re right, that’s more than 50 million spirit encounters in the U.S. alone.

That includes the owner of a retail shop near my home who believes his place is haunted. When I asked what most convinced him of this, he sent me dozens of eerie security camera video clips. He also brought in ghost hunters who reinforced his suspicions.

Some of the videos show small orbs of light gliding around the room. In others, you can hear faint voices and loud bumping sounds when nobody’s there. Others show a book flying off a desk and products jumping off a shelf.

It’s not uncommon for me to hear stories like this. As a sociologist , some of my work looks at beliefs in things like ghosts , aliens , pyramid power and superstitions .

Along with others who practice scientific skepticism, I keep an open mind while maintaining that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Tell me you had a burger for lunch, and I’ll take your word for it. Tell me you shared your fries with Abraham Lincoln’s ghost, and I’ll want more evidence.

In the “spirit” of critical thinking, consider the following three questions:

Are ghosts possible?

People may think they’re experiencing ghosts when they hear strange voices, see moving objects, witness balls or wisps of light or even translucent people.

Yet no one describes ghosts as aging, eating, breathing or using bathrooms – despite plumbers receiving many calls about toilets “ ghost-flushing .”

So could ghosts be made of a special kind of energy that hovers and flies without dissipating?

If that’s the case, that means when ghosts glow, move objects and make sounds, they are acting like matter – something that takes up space and has mass, like wood, water, plants and people. Conversely, when passing through walls or vanishing, they must not act like matter.

But centuries of physics research have found nothing like this exists, which is why physicists say ghosts can’t exist .

And so far, there is no proof that any part of a person can continue on after death.

What’s the evidence?

Never before in history have people recorded so many ghost encounters, thanks in part to mobile phone cameras and microphones. It seems there would be great evidence by now. But scientists don’t have it .

Instead, there are lots of ambiguous recordings sabotaged by bad lighting and faulty equipment. But popular television shows on ghost hunting convince many viewers that blurry images and emotional reactions are proof enough.

As for all the devices ghost hunters use to capture sounds, electrical fields and infrared radiation – they may look scientific, but they’re not . Measurements are worthless without some knowledge of the thing you’re measuring.

When ghost hunters descend on an allegedly haunted location for a night of meandering and measurement, they usually find something they later deem paranormal. It may be a moving door (breeze?), a chill (gap in the floorboards?), a glow (light entering from outside?), electrical fluctuations (old wiring?), or bumps and faint voices (crew in other rooms?).

Whatever happens, ghost hunters will draw a bull’s-eye around it, interpret that as “evidence” and investigate no further .

Are there alternative explanations?

Personal experiences with ghosts can be misleading due to the limitations of human senses. That’s why anecdotes can’t substitute for objective research. Alleged hauntings usually have plenty of non-ghostly explanations.

One example is that retail establishment in my neighborhood. I reviewed the security camera clips and gathered information about the store’s location and layout, and the exact equipment used in the recordings.

First, the “orbs”: Videos captured many small globes of light seemingly moving around the room.

In reality, the orbs are tiny particles of dust wafting close to the camera lens, made to “bloom” by the camera’s infrared lights. That they appear to float around the room is an optical illusion. Watch any orb video closely and you’ll see they never go behind objects in the room. That’s exactly what you’d expect with dust particles close to the camera lens.

Next, voices and bumps: The shop is in a busy corner mini-mall. Three walls abut sidewalks, loading zones and parking areas; an adjacent store shares the fourth. The security camera mics probably recorded sounds from outdoors, other rooms and the adjacent unit. The owner never checked for these possibilities.

Then, the flying objects: The video shows objects falling off the showroom wall. The shelf rests on adjustable brackets, one of which wasn’t fully seated in its slot. The weight of the shelf caused the bracket to settle into place with a visible jerk. This movement sent some items tumbling off the shelf.

Then, the flying book: I used a simple trick to recreate the event at home: a hidden string taped inside a book’s cover, wrapped around the kitchen island, and tugged by my right hand out of camera range.

Now I can’t prove there wasn’t a ghost in the original video. The point is to provide a more plausible explanation than “it must have been a ghost.”

One final consideration: Virtually all ghostly experiences involve impediments to making accurate perceptions and judgments – bad lighting , emotional arousal , sleep phenomena , social influences , culture , a misunderstanding of how recording devices work , and the prior beliefs and personality traits of those who claim to see ghosts. All of these hold the potential to induce unforgettable ghostly encounters.

But all can be explained without ghosts being real.

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Are ghosts real? What to know about hauntings and paranormal activity

Have you ever felt an unseen presence? Caught something – or someone – moving out of the corner of your eye? Walked into a cold draft in a warm room ?

If you've ever experienced something you just can't explain, something that can only be described as supernatural , you aren't alone.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they've experienced a paranormal encounter of some kind, according to a 2022 YouGov poll. That includes things like hearing unexplained voices, seeing objects inexplicably move on their own, as well as other events that defy all logic.

And one in five people polled claimed to have seen a spirit or a ghost .

While hauntings and visits from the great beyond make for scary horror movies and ghost stories , the question "Are ghosts real?" is one people of almost every culture have been pondering for thousands of years, if not since the very beginning of time.

To help answer it, TODAY reached out to a trio of experts including a medium, a psychic and a professor specializing in parapsychology, to share their thoughts on the spirit world , ghosts, apparitions and whether or not they really exist.

And, if you're experiencing a haunting or hosting an unwanted visitor, they've got some advice that just might help.

Here's what you need to know.

So: What are ghosts?

For many people, the word “ghost” conjures up one of two images: A menacing apparition that terrorizes unsuspecting homeowners, or a cute trick-or-treater covered in a white bed sheet.

Pop-culture perceptions aside, the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a ghost as a “disembodied soul,” or the soul of someone who’s died that either lives in the spirit world or, somehow, still exists in ours.

Sherrie Dillard , medium and author of the book “I’m Still With You,” says it's important to distinguish between ghosts and the spirits of loved ones who have passed on. Because according to Dillard, they aren't the same thing.

When loved ones die, she says they leave the earth and pass into a "higher loving existence," whether it be heaven, "the light" or any other concept of the afterlife.

Similar to ghosts, Dillard says that we may occasionally feel the presence of those loved ones after they are gone, whether it be in dreams, paranormal activity or other encounter. And in those instances, she says we typically have feelings of warmth, recognition or love.

“It doesn’t emotionally incite,” she tells TODAY.com. “For most people, we don’t get scared or fearful. Most of the time people will recognize, ‘Oh, I feel like my grandmother was here, or my mother or father, or just have that feeling.’”

Ghosts, however, are a different story. Dillard says we rarely, if ever, know who they are. “Usually, it strikes us as a different energy. It strikes us as something we’re not familiar with,” she explains.

If not acquaintances or loved ones, then...who are they?

“Most commonly, ghosts are human beings, people who pass over and, for various reasons, resist going into that higher level of love and resolution," says Dillard. She explains that one of the reasons a ghost might stick around instead of moving on to “the other side” is trauma.

“They may have been in a sudden accident, or some trauma unexpectedly, and they don’t realize that they are actually passed over,” she says. “I know that sounds strange, but it’s true.”

Confused or “lost,” the ghost lingers. “What they do is they try clinging to any kind of energy source; they’ll cling to a house or the people in the house.”

Ghosts can also be attached to other physical objects, she says, including antiques or anything with a “strong emotional energy.”

Psychic and medium Chip Coffey has appeared on more than 130 paranormal TV shows, including “Kindred Spirits.” And much like Dillard, he considers ghosts to be deceased people whose souls haven’t properly transitioned.

“They’re kind of stuck in the middle someplace. They’ve remained on the third-dimension plane and, for whatever reason, they may have, they haven’t completed their transition into Spirit,” he tells TODAY.com.

What does science say about ghosts?

Christine Simmonds-Moore, Ph.D., is a professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia who specializes in parapsychological research.

According to Simmonds-Moore, ghosts are found in every single culture and have been recorded throughout history.

“Ghosts come from experience,” she tells TODAY.com. “So, human beings have had experiences with spirits — and we can be neutral on whether some of those are genuine spirits, or whether they are explained more normally. But irrespective of that, people have had experiences because it’s a big part of being human.”

Whether those experiences are related to more earthly things like a near-death experience, loss of a loved one, or occur in an altered state such as a dream, deep relaxation or are chemically induced, in trying to understand them, they can change our perception or beliefs.

From there, those beliefs can lead to other experiences, including seeing ghosts. Bottom line? If you think there are ghosts, then you’re more inclined to think you’ve seen one.

“There’s a whole hierarchy of different types of ghost experiences,” Simmonds-Moore says, “and some of them are much more easy to explain using normal psychology than others.”

That said, Simmonds-Moore says that there are incidences in which people have paranormal encounters and inexplicably gain “access to information that they didn’t have access to” prior to those encounters. And those are somewhat less easy to explain.

Examples include things like people traveling to a location they’ve never been to, yet they “seem to know things what they shouldn’t know,” including events that occurred there or what a person they’ve never met was wearing, and other unexplainable circumstances.

“It doesn’t mean that it’s the media idea of a ghost, that there’s something persisting and haunting. It could be that it’s information that is tied to a place ,and some people who are in these different states are more able to notice that information and have access to than others,” she says.

According to Simmonds-Moore, some people believe they’ve had encounters with deceased loved ones, which is understandable given feelings of bereavement and loss, she says.

“But sometimes they might know that somebody’s going to pass before they do, or they might an encounter with an apparition, and they don’t know that the person has actually passed away and they see the apparition at the point of death and dying,” she says.

More than that, they might know how the person died even before the information has been relayed.

“I think that there are probably some extremely strong cases that are very rare, where you can’t always apply the normal explanation,” Simmonds-Moore says. “But the fact that they occur at all is interesting.”

So does all of this information make the case that ghosts are real?

“I think it’s probably more like information that has aspects of somebody’s life that might persist, and then other people might be able to access that field of consciousness," Simmonds-Moore says.

Whether they exist in the traditional sense or not, Simmonds-Moore says that there are many, very rare experiences that are difficult to explain.

In those cases, normal explanations don't necessarily fit.

"This implies that there are some experiences that are more intriguing, so there is a big question mark for those."

Let's say ghosts are real: What do ghosts want?

When it’s a loved one visiting us, Coffey says there are a variety of reasons to explain why they’ve come.

“Sometimes it’s because they love us and they want us to understand that death is not the end, that death doesn’t end relationships — it just alters them, changes them. Sometimes it’s because we call them up and they can choose whether or not they’re going to interact with us. But many times, they’ll willingly come through and bridge that gap where our two realms connect,” he says.

Ghosts, however, have a different agenda, says Dillard.

“Wherever there’s strong emotional energy, they’re attracted to it because they need a source of energy,” she says. “And sometimes ghosts will want to be known, they’ll want to be recognized, because they want our emotional reaction.”

Even if that reaction is stress or fear, Dillard says ghosts don’t mind because one way or another, they’re receiving the attention or emotional energy they’re seeking. “They sometimes want help, too. They’ll want someone to see them, know them, know there’s something here and tell them where to go.”

In rare cases, Dillard says certain ghosts, like poltergeists, have a darker purpose and, unlike lost souls seeking direction, they gravitate toward negative energy.

For instance, places with a lot of history or where bad things or traumas have occurred can attract these negative spirits.

“They invoke an incredible amount of fear in people for good reason. If you’ve got something flying across the room, it could hurt you. And they don’t tend to react or respond to us in any other way than invoking fear in a negative, powerful way,” she explains.

Even more rare are demonic spirits like the one portrayed in the horror movie “The Exorcist.” But according to Dillard, they do exist. “They will happen,” she says. “There’s documented cases of things.”

What to do if you think you have a ghost?

While some people are convinced that ghosts, spirits, poltergeists or other otherworldly apparitions are real, there are, of course, skeptics.

“In my line of work, I get that all the time,” says Dillard. “I just tell people that it’s fine. With things like this, we can only really believe if we’ve experienced them.

"We can believe it’s possible, we can believe that maybe someone else may believe it. But, normally, we become true believers when we’ve had some form of experience.”

According to Coffey, he’s seen far too much to not believe there’s more than meets the eye.

“How can there be so many stories about ghosts and spirits and paranormal things and just the realm of the weird for there not to be something there? I mean, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”

He also dismisses the idea that only certain places on earth are “haunted.”

“I think every place is haunted. ‘Haunted’ is not a bad word. It’s just the presence of paranormal or spiritual activity,” he says.

“There can be the 'mom-and-pop' garden variety, non-malicious, non-malevolent haunting. Absolutely. A lot of people have died throughout history. There are a lot of dead people out there. So, ‘haunted?’ You’ve probably got spirits floating in this space right here. Most places have spirit activity,” Coffey explains.

For the average person, however, a ghost encounter, whether benign or not, can be pretty unsettling, if not downright scary.

If you believe it’s happening to you, Dillard suggests firmly, but kindly, telling them to leave.

“You can send a thought message, you can send a verbal message,” she says. “And that is: ‘You don’t belong here. You’re no longer in the physical world, and there’s a better place for you.’”

And in most cases, she says that it’s enough.

When it’s not, then it might be time to enlist the help of an expert.

“If you have a malicious or malevolent haunting, that’s when you have to call in the troops and get the help you need in trying to expel it,” says Coffey. “Get in touch with a reputable paranormal team that’s going to give you some good, sound advice on how to handle what’s going on in your house.”

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ghosts or ghosts

Sarah is a lifestyle and entertainment reporter for TODAY who covers holidays, celebrities and everything in between.

photo illustration of a "ghost"

Are ghosts real? A social psychologist examines the evidence

In an article for The Conversation , Distinguished Professor Emeritus of sociology Barry Markovsky looks at people’s belief in ghosts. 

Is it possible for there to be ghosts? — Madelyn, age 11, Fort Lupton, Colorado

Certainly, lots of people believe in ghosts — a spirit left behind after someone who was alive has died.

In a 2021 poll of 1,000 American adults , 41% said they believe in ghosts, and 20% said they had personally experienced them. If they’re right, that’s more than 50 million spirit encounters in the U.S. alone.

That includes the owner of a retail shop near my home who believes his place is haunted. When I asked what most convinced him of this, he sent me dozens of eerie security camera video clips. He also brought in ghost hunters who reinforced his suspicions.

Some of the videos show small orbs of light gliding around the room. In others, you can hear faint voices and loud bumping sounds when nobody’s there. Others show a book flying off a desk and products jumping off a shelf.

It’s not uncommon for me to hear stories like this. As a sociologist , some of my work looks at beliefs in things like ghosts , aliens , pyramid power and superstitions .

Along with others who practice scientific skepticism, I keep an open mind while maintaining that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Tell me you had a burger for lunch, and I’ll take your word for it. Tell me you shared your fries with Abraham Lincoln’s ghost, and I’ll want more evidence.

In the “spirit” of critical thinking, consider the following three questions:

Are ghosts possible?

People may think they’re experiencing ghosts when they hear strange voices, see moving objects, witness balls or wisps of light or even translucent people.

Yet no one describes ghosts as aging, eating, breathing or using bathrooms — despite plumbers receiving many calls about toilets “ ghost-flushing .”

So could ghosts be made of a special kind of energy that hovers and flies without dissipating?

If that’s the case, that means when ghosts glow, move objects and make sounds, they are acting like matter — something that takes up space and has mass, like wood, water, plants and people. Conversely, when passing through walls or vanishing, they must not act like matter.

But centuries of physics research have found nothing like this exists, which is why physicists say ghosts can’t exist .

And so far, there is no proof that any part of a person can continue on after death.

What’s the evidence?

Never before in history have people recorded so many ghost encounters, thanks in part to mobile phone cameras and microphones. It seems there would be great evidence by now. But scientists don’t have it .

Instead, there are lots of ambiguous recordings sabotaged by bad lighting and faulty equipment. But popular television shows on ghost hunting convince many viewers that blurry images and emotional reactions are proof enough.

As for all the devices ghost hunters use to capture sounds, electrical fields and infrared radiation — they may look scientific, but they’re not . Measurements are worthless without some knowledge of the thing you’re measuring.

When ghost hunters descend on an allegedly haunted location for a night of meandering and measurement, they usually find something they later deem paranormal. It may be a moving door (breeze?), a chill (gap in the floorboards?), a glow (light entering from outside?), electrical fluctuations (old wiring?), or bumps and faint voices (crew in other rooms?).

Whatever happens, ghost hunters will draw a bull’s-eye around it, interpret that as “evidence” and investigate no further .

Are there alternative explanations?

Personal experiences with ghosts can be misleading due to the limitations of human senses. That’s why anecdotes can’t substitute for objective research. Alleged hauntings usually have plenty of non-ghostly explanations.

One example is that retail establishment in my neighborhood. I reviewed the security camera clips and gathered information about the store’s location and layout, and the exact equipment used in the recordings.

First, the “orbs”: Videos captured many small globes of light seemingly moving around the room.

In reality, the orbs are tiny particles of dust wafting close to the camera lens, made to “bloom” by the camera’s infrared lights. That they appear to float around the room is an optical illusion. Watch any orb video closely and you’ll see they never go behind objects in the room. That’s exactly what you’d expect with dust particles close to the camera lens.

Next, voices and bumps: The shop is in a busy corner mini-mall. Three walls abut sidewalks, loading zones and parking areas; an adjacent store shares the fourth. The security camera mics probably recorded sounds from outdoors, other rooms and the adjacent unit. The owner never checked for these possibilities.

Then, the flying objects: The video shows objects falling off the showroom wall. The shelf rests on adjustable brackets, one of which wasn’t fully seated in its slot. The weight of the shelf caused the bracket to settle into place with a visible jerk. This movement sent some items tumbling off the shelf.

Then, the flying book: I used a simple trick to recreate the event at home: a hidden string taped inside a book’s cover, wrapped around the kitchen island, and tugged by my right hand out of camera range.

Now I can’t prove there wasn’t a ghost in the original video. The point is to provide a more plausible explanation than “it must have been a ghost.”

One final consideration: Virtually all ghostly experiences involve impediments to making accurate perceptions and judgments — bad lighting , emotional arousal , sleep phenomena , social influences , culture , a misunderstanding of how recording devices work , and the prior beliefs and personality traits of those who claim to see ghosts. All of these hold the potential to induce unforgettable ghostly encounters.

But all can be explained without ghosts being real.

Hello, curious kids! Do you have a question you’d like an expert to answer? Ask an adult to send your question to [email protected] . Please tell us your name, age and the city where you live.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

Banner image: Photo by David Wall/Moment via Getty Images

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student opinion

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Reports of paranormal activity have increased during the coronavirus pandemic. Have you ever experienced strange, unexplained sights or sounds? Do you have a personal ghost story?

ghosts or ghosts

By Jeremy Engle

Find all our Student Opinion questions here.

Have you ever heard strange noises in the middle of the night? Have you seen household objects mysteriously move or be suddenly gone? How about free-floating, full-torso vaporous apparitions, in the famous words of “Ghostbusters”?

Have you experienced more strange, perhaps paranormal, phenomena during the pandemic? If yes, you are not alone.

In “ Quarantining With a Ghost? It’s Scary, ” Molly Fitzpatrick writes:

It started with the front door. Adrian Gomez lives with his partner in Los Angeles, where their first few days of sheltering in place for the coronavirus pandemic proved uneventful. They worked remotely, baked, took a two-mile walk each morning and refinished their porcelain kitchen sink. But then, one night, the doorknob began to rattle “vigorously,” so loud he could hear it from across the apartment. Yet no one was there. In mid-April, Mr. Gomez was in bed when a nearby window shade began shaking against the window frame so intensely — despite the fact that the window was closed, an adjacent window shade remained perfectly still, the cats were all accounted for, and no bug nor bird nor any other small creature had gotten stuck there — that Mr. Gomez thought it was an earthquake. “I very seriously hid myself under the comforter, like you see in horror movies, because it really did freak me out,” he said. Now, though neither he nor his partner noticed any unexplained activity at home before this, the couple can “distinctly” make out footsteps above their heads. No one lives above them. “I’m a fairly rational person,” said Mr. Gomez, who is 26 and works in I.T. support. “I try to think, ‘What are the reasonable, tangible things that could be causing this?’ But when I don’t have those answers, I start to think, ‘Maybe something else is going on.’” They’re not alone … possibly in more ways than one. For those whose experience of self-isolation involves what they believe to be a ghost, their days are punctuated not just by Zoom meetings or home schooling, but by disembodied voices, shadowy figures, misbehaving electronics, invisible cats cozying up on couches, caresses from hands that aren’t there and even, in some cases — to borrow the technical parlance of “Ghostbusters” — free-floating, full-torso vaporous apparitions. Some of these people are frightened, of course. Others say they just appreciate the company.

Students, read the entire article, then tell us:

Do you believe in ghosts ? Why or why not?

Does the article change your views on the existence of ghosts? What do you think best explains the strange phenomena experienced by Mr. Gomez, Ms. Hill and the others described in the article?

Do you or does someone you know have a personal ghost story? Did it involve disembodied voices, shadowy figures, misbehaving electronics or invisible cats cozying up on couches? Tell us about it.

The article cites a 2019 YouGov survey that revealed 45 percent of U.S. adults believe in ghosts and a 2009 Pew Research Center report that found 18 percent of Americans believe that they have seen or otherwise encountered one. Are you surprised by these results? What do you think they tell us about ghosts — or humans?

Kurt Gray, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says: “In quarantine, you are physically confined and also psychologically confined. Your world narrows. You’re trapped at home, you’re needing human contact — it’s comforting to think that there’s a supernatural agent here with you.” Do you agree? Why do you think there has been an increase of reports of haunted houses and other paranormal activity during this time of quarantine and social distancing?

Do you enjoy movies, television shows and books about ghosts and the supernatural? Why or why not? Why do you think they are so popular?

Students 13 and older are invited to comment. All comments are moderated by the Learning Network staff, but please keep in mind that once your comment is accepted, it will be made public.

Jeremy Engle joined The Learning Network as a staff editor in 2018 after spending more than 20 years as a classroom humanities and documentary-making teacher, professional developer and curriculum designer working with students and teachers across the country. More about Jeremy Engle

Den of Geek

Ghosts: Comparing the Characters, History & Humour in the UK and US Comedies

With season 2 airing now on CBS, here's what the US Ghosts shares with the UK original, and where they differ.

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Ghosts UK and US

Warning: contains spoilers for both shows

Ghosts (UK) has just finished its fourth series on BBC One, and Ghosts (US), the American adaptation, is a few episodes in to its second season on CBS. Both series offer a mix of dry humour, black comedy, and real warmth in their characters. Both shows can make you laugh and cry within the space of a few minutes as they swing from comedy to tragedy and back again. But there are a fair few differences between the two that remind us of some of our differences in both the history of the two countries, and the humour.

The original British show is written by and stars the sketch comedy team behind the children’s television classic Horrible Histories . The team’s passion for history is clear throughout the show and the selection of ghosts from various historical periods who could possibly have died on the grounds of a British country house reflects their skills in historical comedy. The American adaptation takes the same idea, but of course it has to be adapted to American history.

Straight Character Swaps : Pat/Pete & Julian/Trevor

Ghosts Pat and Pete

Only one of the eight regular ghosts from the British original is directly transplanted into the US version – Scout leader (or in the first UK series Adventure Club leader) Pat Butcher/Pete Martino (Jim Howick/Richie Moriarty), whose characterisation and backstory is almost identical in both shows.

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The next closest connection between a UK ghost and their US counterpart is Julian/Trevor (Simon Farnaby/Asher Grodman). Both died wearing a shirt, tie and blazer but no trousers and both are the most recently deceased ghost in the house; Julian is from the early 1990s and Trevor from the year 2000. However, Julian is an MP who died in a scandalous sex act, whereas Trevor is a young finance executive. Executive producer Joe Port told Den of Geek that “the 90s British sex scandals in Parliament were such a specific thing… Obviously, we had our own 90s sex scandals”, referring of course to President Clinton’s impeachment following lying about his affair with Monica Lewinksy. However, the impeachment of a President made that a rather more serious incident for the US. “The douchey finance bro to us seemed like a fun American archetype to explore,” Port said. “I went to college with so many of those guys at Penn.”

Hetty Woodstone (Rebecca Wisocky, US) is also very similar to Lady Button (Martha Howe-Douglas, UK), though she’s from a slightly earlier time period, and considerably less moral. Lady Button is an uptight but upstanding Edwardian lady, whereas Hetty is a late 19 th -century robber baron. Although she shares some of Lady Button’s old-fashioned views on modesty, women’s roles in society, class, and so on, Hetty is also an unapologetic borderline criminal, which Lady Button most certainly is not.

Sexuality and Race: The Captain/Isaac & Kitty/Alberta

Alberta Danielle in the US remake of Ghosts

There are fairly obvious reasons for the different period choices when it comes to the Captain/Isaac (Ben Willbond/Brandon Scott Jones). The choices of a British World War Two officer and an American War of Independence officer show the significance of the two wars in the two countries. World War Two was, of course, very important in American history as well, but for Americans it was a war fought primarily overseas, whereas for British people, it was fought in their own homes and cities, as we see in the taped-up windows of Button House during flashbacks to the Captain’s time there. The American War of Independence, on the other hand, is a war that, for obvious reasons, is very important to Americans but not much talked about in Britain.

Both shows aim to deal sensitively with the history of racism when it comes to characters of colour in the cast. The only regular ghostly character of colour in the UK series (there are more living people of colour) is a Black woman, Lolly Adefope’s Kitty , who is presumably inspired by the real life British woman Dido Elizabeth Belle. Dido Belle was born in 1761; her mother Maria Belle was an African enslaved woman in the Caribbean, and her father was British naval officer Sir John Lindsay. Lindsay took Dido Belle to England when she was very young, and she was raised by his uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, alongside her cousin Elizabeth Murray. Kitty being raised by her white father alongside a white sister seems to echo Dido Belle’s story pretty closely, and her unequal treatment also reflects real life.

Kitty’s story wouldn’t work in an American context, and considering the show is a light-hearted comedy, including an enslaved character would result in some probably very awkward shifts in tone. US Black character Alberta ( Danielle Pinnock ), therefore, comes from the 1920s. She makes regular references to racism and to the struggles she faced as a Black woman, but she was not enslaved, and she can also be the focus of stories about brighter topics like enthusiastic fans thanks to her status as a minor celebrity. As Port told Den of Geek, “Race is so much a part of the story of America, and it’s something that we want to handle delicately and respectfully and honestly.”

Historical Divergence: Sasappis, Robin, Thorfinn & Thomas

Ghosts Robin and Thorfinn

It was also important for the US version to feature a Native American character, something obviously not relevant to the British version (the indigenous people of Britain are Celts). “Having a Native character was always our number one priority amongst the cast,” Port says. “We have Native representation in the writer’s room, we have in the cast obviously, and we have a Lenape consultant. It’s something that we really take care to get right.”

Lenape character Sasappis (Román Zaragoza) is roughly the same age as the British recurring ghost Sir Humphrey (Laurence Rickard and Yani Xander). He could have been from any historical period really, but the choice of the 1500s pre-dates much of the tragic history between Native Americans and European colonizers, while keeping him recent enough for historians to have a decent idea of his history and culture. It also provides an opportunity for the show to feature some older ghosts, beyond the not-quite-300-year history of the United States.

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One British character with no American equivalent – though Sasappis fills the gap in the cast – is Thomas the Romantic poet ( Matthew Baynton , who is incidentally set to cameo as a new character in the US show’s second season). This probably says something about the British obsession with romantic literature of the early 19 th century, inspired by Shelley and Byron, but also by the contemporary romance novels of Jane Austen. Thomas’ defining characteristic is his lovelorn nature and hopeless yearning for Alison (Charlotte Ritchie).

Writer/actor Laurence Rickard stated on the BBC Sounds podcast Inside… Ghosts that the team made a deliberate decision to feature as wide a range of ghosts as possible, including both “really really old ghosts” as well as “almost contemporary ghosts”, and this is why the UK show has the unusual inclusion of his character, Robin the caveman. The US version similarly showcases characters from across a wide range of history, but the US showrunners made a different choice with their oldest ghost. A caveman could appear as a ghost in America just as he can in Britain, but the US series has replaced Robin the caveman with Thorfinn the Viking (Devan Chandler Long).

Presumably this reflects an interest in earlier migrations to America, before the journeys of Christopher Columbus or the Mayflower , though the switch has given Thorfinn rather inexplicably odd speech patterns. The reason Robin struggles with speech is because he has a small speech centre, and his culture had very limited speech – he never spoke a complete human language when he was alive. The Plague Ghosts in the British version and Sasappis in the US version, on the other hand, all spoke a complete, developed language when alive and have learned modern English as ghosts. It makes no sense that Thorfinn speaks in incomplete English, like Robin. He would have spoken a complete human language when alive and should be just as capable as Sasappis of learning English after death. Maybe the lightning strike scrambled his brains.

Cultural Folklore

Laurence Rickard as Sir Humphrey Bone in Ghosts

Some characters in the British show also reflect British ghost story themes. The headless ghost is a familiar trope in British ghost folklore, usually associated with executed nobles in the Tudor period, though Ghosts ’ Sir Humphrey turns out to have lost his head in an accident . The American writers were clearly attracted to the idea of the physical humour resulting from a body walking around without a head, but lacked the historical tradition to go with it. We presume that Crash (Hudson Thames) is the victim of a car accident, given his James Dean-inspired costume, but we’ve barely seen him – it seems the US series is not quite sure what to do with him.

The main bit of US folklore to have made its way into the show so far is attic ghost Stephanie’s (Odessa A’zion) backstory. The American show has introduced a lot more ghosts beyond the main eight (nine including Sir Humphrey/Crash), primarily as a result of needing to fill more episodes (the British show only has 22 episodes to date, whereas season 1 of the US version alone has 18 episodes). We’ve had ghosts sealed into ghost-proof vaults, ghosts revealed to be living in a shed on the edge of the property, ghosts called up in a séance, ghosts who haunt Samantha’s workplace, and Stephanie, a teenaged ghost who spends nearly all her time sleeping in the attic. Stephanie was murdered by a chainsaw killer on the night of her prom, which is pure American urban legend.

The US series has wisely avoided the old American horror tropes of haunted Native American burial grounds or psychiatric hospitals. Interestingly, they have also avoided a few tropes common to both countries that are featured in the British version. Grey Lady ghosts like Lady Button are especially common in Britain, but the idea of a ghostly “woman in white” is known in America as well, and unlike Alison, Samantha (Rose McIver) has yet to bump into a murdered hitchhiker even though there are hundreds of those in US urban folklore.

The US writers also avoided setting the show in Salem and including a ghost who was executed for witchcraft, even though the British original features just such a ghost, Mary (Katy Wix) (who has inaccurately been burned rather than the English execution method of ducking and/or hanging witches). Mary’s role in the show is filled by Flower (Sheila Carrasco), a 1960s hippie who was high when she died and can make the living high if she walks through them, a considerably more pleasant experience than Mary’s ability to make them smell burning. Flower is a surprising choice in terms of ghost story folklore, but her presence indicates the importance of the history of hippies and the movements for free love, anti-war protests, and feminism in the cultural history of America in the 20 th century.

British Horror

Ghosts BBC

These changes to the more ‘ghost story’ aspects of the show also reflect a slight difference in tone between the two versions. The British version, although primarily a light-hearted sitcom, occasionally leans in to the horror side of ghost stories, whereas the American version, despite the discovery of Alberta’s murder and the addition of a ghost being seen actually going to Hell, leans more into the ‘bright sitcom’ side of the story.

The US pilot had to be 10 minutes shorter, and the storyline it cut was Lady Button re-enacting her own murder every day, which we see happening over and over again in the British version, played for laughs. The UK show also plays up the creepiness factor, and little girl Jemima (Anya McKenna-Bruce) and the Plague Ghosts who live in the boiler room are positively chilling in their initial appearances. The US version of the Plague Ghosts is the Cholera Ghosts, who are equally unpleasant to look at but play a more broadly comic role, especially Pete’s fake girlfriend Nancy (Betsy Sodaro).

The ghosts trying to drive Alison out in the second episode of the UK show is also properly scary and Thomas is the creepiest, who doesn’t want to get rid of her, but wants her to kill herself to be with him. And of course, in the British version Julian outright tries to murder Alison in the first episode, whereas in the American version Samantha trips and falls by accident after Trevor’s attempt to push a vase over was more successful than Julian’s. There is a slightly darker tone to the “haunting” aspects of the UK series.

Flower (Sheila Carrasco) and Sasappis (Román Zaragoza) on CBS's Ghosts

The US series , on the other hand, leans more into a broader form of comedy, especially in the earlier episodes. For example, although Alison tells us that Julian isn’t wearing “pants” (i.e. underpants), Trevor is directly shown to be wearing no underwear, as occasionally the camera has to blur out his private parts – although it turns out that the reason Trevor has no underwear is rather sweeter and more innocent than Julian’s scandalous sex act.

Pat/Pete’s death is also treated slightly differently even though their backstory is the same. Although Trevor, unlike Julian, didn’t try to murder Samantha/Alison, Pete was directly killed by a young girl accidentally shooting him, whereas Pat tried to drive away from the scene and was technically killed when he drove his car into a tree. The British series has also done an episode dealing with the traumatic effect of this incident on the young boy who accidentally shot Pat, whereas so far as American series has left the poor little girl as a brief joke.

We can see the broader humour in the American version most clearly in the characterisation of the Captain and Isaac. Both are closeted gay men in deep denial about their own sexuality. However, the Captain is quiet and repressed, his sexuality indicated by occasional comments like observing that Alison’s husband Mike ( Kiell Smith-Bynoe ) would “make a very fine soldier”. Isaac, especially early on, plays much more into gay stereotypes, with a fairly camp line delivery, and loudly declaring his love for musical theatre.

Both men have romantic storylines that are treated seriously and sensitively, but where the Captain has only the memory of a man he liked but who went away to war to keep him going, Isaac accidentally shot the man he had a crush on to death while spying on him, resulting in both of them haunting Woodstone Manor and ending up in a relationship after death. It’s a sweet storyline, but it’s much broader humour – as well as a happier ending – than the British version.

Both series can be very moving and both feature sequences that are genuinely emotionally touching, whether that’s Robin naming the stars in the UK version or Sasappis speaking along with living Lenape representative Bob in the US version. Both show us an uptight society lady learning to broaden her horizons, a repressed gay army officer coming to terms with his sexuality, and a young couple trying to start a new business and navigating whatever comes their way. And both are an absolute joy to watch and highly recommended, whatever the differences between their British and American sensibilities.

Ghosts Series 4 is available to watch in the UK on BBC iPlayer. Ghosts (US) Season 2 is currently airing on CBS.

Juliette Harrisson

Juliette Harrisson | @ClassicalJG

Juliette Harrisson is a storyteller, freelance writer, and ancient historian, and a lifelong Trekkie whose childhood heroes were JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis. At her podcast,…

ghosts or ghosts

‘Ghosts’ Season 3 Premiere Storyline Hints at Missing Ghost as CBS Unveils First Photos

Tristan D. Lalla, Utkarsh Ambudkar, and Rose McIver in 'Ghosts' - Season 3, 'The Owl'

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Ghosts fans! CBS is getting ready to check back into Woodstone’s B&B with hosts Sam ( Rose McIver ) and Jay ( Utkarsh Ambudkar ) and their eclectic group of haunting spirits, but the Season 3 premiere episode logline is hinting at an absence as the installment will address a lingering mystery.

Utkarsh Ambudkar and Rose McIver in 'Ghosts' Season 3

(Credit: Bertrand Calmeau/CBS)

As fans of the kooky comedy will recall, spouses Sam and Jay were sitting in their car outside their inherited estate-turned-bed and breakfast, only for her to discover that one of the mansion’s many spirits was being “sucked off,” otherwise known as crossing over to the other side. As a beam of light shined on the house, it was unclear which ghost was taken, but CBS is hinting at an answer.

The network unveiled three all-new photos for the highly anticipated season kicking off Thursday, February 15, with “The Owl.” The episode’s logline reads, “Sam, Jay, and the remaining ghosts unravel the mystery of which ghost passed into the afterlife. Also, Sam and Jay must relocate an owl in order to do construction on the barn to turn it into Jay’s restaurant.”

Rose McIver in 'Ghosts' Season 3

So, while fans may have to wait a while for exact answers, the episode storyline’s teasing statements, like “remaining ghosts” and “Jay’s restaurant,” give them plenty to consider. Are the remaining ghosts all of the main spirits fans have come to love, or will it be one of their own?

'Ghosts': Which Woodstone Resident Crossed Over in Season 2? (POLL)

'Ghosts': Which Woodstone Resident Crossed Over in Season 2? (POLL)

Also, as was teased in previous seasons, Jay’s a chef, and it’s clear that he and Sam plan to expand their business by opening a restaurant on their land. Could this be a whole new place for the lovable ghosts to haunt?  We can’t wait to find out.

Written by John Blickstead and Trey Kollmer and directed by Jay Karas, Season 3’s premiere is just over a month away from providing long-awaited answers. Stay tuned for more on Ghosts ‘ third season as we approach the premiere date, and keep an eye out for additional information arriving in the days and weeks ahead of the return.

Ghosts , Season 3 Premiere, Thursday, February 15, 8:30/7:30c, CBS

Ghosts - CBS

Ghosts where to stream

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Rose McIver

Utkarsh ambudkar.

Most Popular Stories on TV Insider

Why Do People Believe in Ghosts?

Across the world, ideas of the paranormal persist.

In June, Sheila Sillery-Walsh, a British tourist visiting the historic island prison of Alcatraz in San Francisco, claimed that she captured an image of a ghost in a picture she snapped on her iPhone. In the frame of what was otherwise supposed to be a picture of an empty prison cell was a blurry black-and-white image of a woman. The story, which was printed in the British tabloid the Daily Mail , featured on the Bay Area’s local KRON4 TV station and mocked by SFist , isn’t the first time the Daily Mail has claimed that strange images have come up on smart devices.

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Normally, a paranormal story wouldn’t catch my attention, but a few months before the story came out, a Spanish friend of mine named Laura showed me a weird image she found on her phone while I was traveling in Madrid. The photo, taken on her iPhone while on a trip to Ethiopia, shows a boy looking down at leaves he is holding in his hands. Seemingly superimposed onto the boy is another image of the boy, hands in a different position and eyes looking straight at the camera.

Laura was convinced she captured an image of a ghost.

Then a few weeks later I discovered an image of a man in the background of a photo I took with my own iPhone. The picture was taken in my apartment and the man, whom I can’t identify, was not actually in the apartment at the time. I’ve been using the photo to scare my friends, and myself, ever since.

Recent surveys have shown that a significant portion of the population believes in ghosts, leading some scholars to conclude that we are witnessing a revival of paranormal beliefs in Western society. A Harris poll from last year found that 42 percent of Americans say they believe in ghosts. The percentage is similar in the United Kingdom, where 52 percent of respondents indicated that they believed in ghosts in a recent poll . Though it’s tough to estimate how large the paranormal tourism industry is—tours of sites that are supposedly haunted (rather than staged haunted houses)—there are 10,000 haunted locations in the U.K. according to the country’s tourist board, and sites like HauntedRooms.co.uk list dozens of allegedly haunted hotels where curious visitors can stay. In the U.S., residents of places like Ellicott City in Howard County, Maryland, pride themselves on their haunted heritage.

While the terms spirit and ghost are related and even interchangeable in some languages, the word ghost in English tends to refer to the soul or spirit of a deceased person that can appear to the living. In A Natural History of Ghosts , Roger Clarke discusses nine varieties of ghosts identified by Peter Underwood, who has studied ghost stories for decades. Underwood’s classification of ghosts includes elementals, poltergeists, historical ghosts, mental imprint manifestations, death-survival ghosts, apparitions, time slips, ghosts of the living, and haunted inanimate objects.

It seems that belief in ghosts is even more widespread in much of Asia, where ghosts are characterized as neutral and can be appeased through rituals or angered if provoked (as opposed to our scarier depictions of ghosts in the West), according to Justin McDaniel, a professor of religious studies and director of the Penn Ghost Project at the University of Pennsylvania. “[Ghosts in Asia] can be asked for help in healing humans, winning the lottery and protecting one while traveling or while pregnant,” he says. “Like American ghosts, they have an attachment to the human realm which keeps them haunting and helping humans.”

ghosts or ghosts

In China, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand, the seventh month of the lunar calendar (which falls in August this year) ushers in the Hungry Ghost Festival , when it is believed that ghosts of the deceased are temporarily released from the lower realm to visit the living. In Taiwan, some people believe that the presence of wandering ghosts during Ghost Month can cause accidents to the living. At least one study has shown that people avoid risky behaviors during this time, including those in bodies of water, reducing the number of deaths by drowning.

“Like in the West,” McDaniel says, “people in Asia have kept their belief in ghosts despite the rise of science, skepticism, secularism, and public education. In places like Japan where secularism is very strong, the belief in ghosts is still high. Even hypermodern and liberal Scandinavia has a high percentage of people believing in ghosts.”

It turns out that a significant number of people report having personally experienced paranormal activity. In a study published in 2011, 28.5 percent of undergraduate students surveyed at a southern university reported having had a paranormal experience. In a 2006 Reader’s Digest poll , 20 percent of respondents (21 percent of women and 16 percent of men) reported that they had seen a ghost at some time in their lives.

But it’s also true that if you already believe in ghosts, or are told a place is haunted, you are more likely to interpret events as paranormal. A 2002 study found that believers in ghosts were more likely than nonbelievers to report unusual phenomena while touring a site in Britain with a reputation for being haunted. Visitors who were told that there was a recent increase in unusual phenomena occurring at the site also reported a higher number of unusual experiences on the tour.

ghosts or ghosts

Another study demonstrated that hearing or reading about paranormal narratives, especially when the story came from a credible source, was enough to increase paranormal beliefs among participants. With the abundance of ghost-hunting shows in the U.S. and the UK, like Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures and Most Haunted , which is returning to screens this fall, it’s probably not surprising that studies have also linked belief in ghosts with exposure to paranormal-related TV shows.

“What we have is people trying to make sense of something that, to them, seems inexplicable,” says Christopher French, a professor of psychology and head of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. “So you get the misinterpretation of noises or visual effects that do have a normal explanation, but not one that people can think of. People assume that if they cannot explain something in natural terms, then it must be something paranormal.”

According to French, hallucinations are more common among the general population than most people realize, and are sometimes wrongly interpreted as ghosts. He points to sleep paralysis—a phenomenon that occurs when someone wakes up while still in the dream-inducing REM stage of sleep, in which your body is paralyzed—as one example. Studies have shown that around 30 to 40 percent of people have experienced sleep paralysis at least once in their lives, with about five percent of participants reporting visual and audio hallucinations, including the presence of monstrous figures, and difficulty breathing.

The experience has been interpreted as paranormal in several cultures. In a study done in Hong Kong, for example, 37 percent of students reported at least one instance of what they refer to as “ghost oppression.” In Thailand, the term for sleep paralysis— phi um— translates to “ghost covered.” In Newfoundland, Canada, it is known as a visit from the “ Old Hag .” The woman in Swiss artist Henry Fuseli’s famous 18th century painting, “ The Nightmare ,” is said by French and other researchers to be suffering an episode of sleep paralysis.

Michael Shermer, author of The Believing Brain , argues that we see causal, intentional relationships—even when they don’t exist—because it is evolutionarily advantageous to do so and because humans have the tendency to look at patterns and see them as deliberate. In a column for Scientific American , Shermer writes, “We believe that these intentional agents control the world, sometimes invisibly from the top down (as opposed to bottom-up causal randomness). Together patternicity and agent­icity form the cognitive basis of shamanism, paganism, animism, polytheism, monotheism, and all modes of Old and New Age spiritualisms.”

One example of this is our tendency to see faces in random images, a phenomenon called pareidolia. In a study conducted at the University of British Columbia, researchers Aiyana Willard and Ara Norenzayan found that participants with a higher tendency to anthropomorphize—meaning those that are more likely to assign human qualities to nonhuman things—were also more likely to have paranormal beliefs.

“There is also the emotional motivation for these beliefs,” French says. “The vast majority of us don’t like the idea of our own mortality. Even though we find the idea of ghosts and spirits scary, in a wider context, they provide evidence for the survival of the soul.”

With that in mind, I reached out to Apple Inc. for a comment on the images at the start of this article. A representative for the company was kind enough to check out the images, but didn’t have a comment for the story. And though a few independent analysts had a good look at the photos and suggested that Laura’s could be something related to high-dynamic range photography , no one was able to come up with a definitive explanation for the man in my apartment.

Maybe more images like mine will surface and someone will come up with a technical explanation for these spectral iPhone photos.

Or maybe, it’s just a ghost.

It’s a wonderful world — and universe — out there.

Come explore with us!  

Science News Explores

The science of ghosts, here’s what may explain why some people see, hear or feel a spooky presence.

ghosts or ghosts

People love scary, spooky stories of spectral phantoms. While there’s no science to support the existence of ghosts, research does provide plenty of explanations for why we might genuinely sense a supernatural presence.

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By Kathryn Hulick

October 31, 2019 at 5:45 am

A shadowy figure rushed through the door. “It had a skeletal body, surrounded by a white, blurry aura,” recalls Dom. The figure hovered and didn’t seem to have a face. Dom, who prefers to use only his first name, had been fast asleep. Just 15 at the time, he panicked and closed his eyes. “I only saw it for a second,” he recalls. Now, he’s a young adult who lives in the United Kingdom. But he still remembers the experience vividly.

Was the figure a ghost? In the mythology of the United States and many other Western cultures, a ghost or spirit is a dead person who interacts with the living world. In stories, a ghost may whisper or groan, cause things to move or fall, mess with electronics — even appear as a shadowy, blurry or see-through figure.

ghosts or ghosts

Ghost stories are lots of fun, especially on Halloween. But some people believe that ghosts are real. Chapman University in Orange, Calif., runs a yearly survey that asks people in the United States about their beliefs in the paranormal. In 2018, 58 percent of those polled agreed with the statement, “Places can be haunted by spirits.” And almost one in five people from the United States said in another survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., that they’ve seen or been in the presence of a ghost.

On ghost-hunting TV shows, people use scientific equipment to attempt to record or measure spirit activity. And numerous creepy photos and videos make it seem like ghosts exist. However, none of these offer good evidence of ghosts. Some are hoaxes, created to fool people. The rest only prove that equipment sometimes can capture noise, images or other signals that people don’t expect. Ghosts are the least likely of many possible explanations.

Not only are ghosts supposed to be able to do things that science says are impossible, such as turn invisible or pass through walls, but also scientists using reliable research methods have found zero evidence that ghosts exist. What scientists have discovered, though, are lots of reasons why people might feel they have had ghostly encounters.

What their data show is that you can’t always trust your eyes, ears or brain.

‘Dreaming with your eyes open’

Dom began having unusual experiences when he was eight or nine. He would wake up unable to move. He researched what was happening to him. And he learned that science had a name for it: sleep paralysis. This condition leaves someone feeling awake but paralyzed, or frozen in place. He can’t move or speak or breathe deeply. He may also see, hear or feel figures or creatures that aren’t really there. This is called a hallucination (Huh-LU-sih-NA-shun).

Sometimes, Dom hallucinated that creatures were walking or sitting on him. Other times, he heard screaming. He only saw something that one time, as a teenager.

Sleep paralysis happens when the brain messes up the process of falling asleep or waking. Usually, you only start dreaming after you’re fully asleep. And you stop dreaming before you waken.

A sitting woman looks down at her dreaming self

Sleep paralysis “is like dreaming with your eyes open,” explains Baland Jalal. A neuroscientist, he studies sleep paralysis at the University of Cambridge in England. He says this is why it happens: Our most vivid, lifelike dreams happen during a certain stage of sleep. It’s called rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep. In this stage, your eyes dart around under their closed lids. Though your eyes move, the rest of your body can’t. It’s paralyzed. Most likely, that’s to prevent people from acting out their dreams. (That could get dangerous! Imagine flailing your arms and legs as you play dream basketball, only to whack your knuckles on the wall and tumble to the floor.)

Your brain usually turns this paralysis off before you wake up. But in sleep paralysis, you wake up while it’s still happening.

Faces in the clouds

You don’t have to experience sleep paralysis to sense things that aren’t there. Have you ever felt your phone buzz, then checked to find there was no message? Have you heard someone calling your name when no one was there? Have you ever seen a face or figure in a dark shadow?

These misperceptions also count as hallucinations, says David Smailes. He’s a psychologist in England at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He thinks that just about everyone has such experiences. Most of us just ignore them. But some may turn to ghosts as the explanation.

We’re used to our senses giving us accurate information about the world. So when experiencing a hallucination, our first instinct is usually to believe it. If you see or feel the presence of a loved one who died — and trust your perceptions — then “it has to be a ghost,” says Smailes. That’s easier to believe than the idea that your brain is lying to you.

The brain has a tough job. Information from the world bombards you as a mixed-up jumble of signals. The eyes take in color. The ears take in sounds. The skin senses pressure. The brain works to make sense of this mess. This is called bottom-up processing. And the brain is very good at it. It’s so good that it sometimes finds meaning in meaningless things. This is known as pareidolia (Pear-eye-DOH-lee-ah). You experience it whenever you stare at clouds and see rabbits, ships or faces. Or gaze at the moon and see a face.

a wall with three bricks that look like they have faces

The brain also does top-down processing. It adds information to your perception of the world. Most of the time, there is way too much stuff coming in through the senses. Paying attention to all of it would overwhelm you. So your brain picks out the most important parts. And then it fills in the rest. “The vast majority of perception is the brain filling in the gaps,” explains Smailes.

What you see right now isn’t what’s actually out there in the world. It’s a picture your brain painted for you based on signals captured by your eyes. The same goes for your other senses. Most of the time, this picture is accurate. But sometimes, the brain adds things that aren’t there.

For example, when you mishear the lyrics in a song, your brain filled in a meaning that wasn’t there. (And it will most likely continue to mishear those words even after you learn the right ones.)

This is very similar to what happens when so-called ghost hunters capture sounds that they say are ghosts speaking. (They call this electronic voice phenomenon, or EVP.) The recording is probably just random noise. If you listen to it without knowing what was supposedly said, you probably won’t hear words. But when you know what the words are supposed to be, you might now find that you can discern them easily.

Your brain may also add faces to images of random noise. Research has shown that patients who experience visual hallucinations are more likely than normal to experience pareidolia — see faces in random shapes, for instance.

In one 2018 study, Smailes’ team tested whether this might also be true for healthy people. They recruited 82 volunteers. First, the researchers asked a series of questions about how often these volunteers had hallucination-like experiences. For example, “Do you ever see things other people cannot?” and “Do you ever think that everyday things look abnormal to you?”

a face that hidden in a busy black and white image

Next, the participants looked at 60 images of black and white noise. For a very brief moment, another image would flash in the center of the noise. Twelve of these images were faces that were easy to see. Another 24 were hard-to-see faces. And 24 more images showed no faces at all — just more noise. The volunteers had to report whether a face was present or absent in each flash. In a separate test, the researchers showed the same volunteers a series of 36 images. Two-thirds of them contained a face pareidolia. The remaining 12 did not.

Participants who had initially reported more hallucination-like experiences were also more likely to report faces in the flashes of random noise. They were also better at identifying those images that contained face pareidolia.

In the next few years, Smailes plans to study situations in which people might be more likely to see faces in randomness.

When people sense ghosts, he points out, “They’re often alone, in the dark and scared.” If it’s dark, your brain can’t get much visual information from the world. It has to create more of your reality for you. In this type of situation, Smailes says, the brain may be more likely to impose its own creations onto reality.

Did you see the gorilla?

The brain’s picture of reality sometimes includes things that aren’t there. But it can also completely miss things that are there. This is called inattentional blindness. Want to know how it works? Watch the video before you keep reading.

The video shows people in white and black shirts passing a basketball. Count how many times the people in white shirts pass the ball. How many did you see?

Partway through the video, a person in a gorilla suit walks through the players. Did you see it? About half of all viewers who count passes while watching the video miss the gorilla completely.

If you too missed the gorilla, you experienced inattentional blindness. You were likely in a state called absorption. That’s when you are so focused on a task that you tune out everything else.

“Memory does not work like a video camera,” says Christopher French. He is a psychologist in England at Goldsmiths University of London. You only remember things you’re paying attention to. Some people are more likely to become absorbed than others. And these people also report higher levels of paranormal beliefs, he says, including beliefs in ghosts.

How could these things be related? Some strange experiences that people blame on ghosts involve unexplained sounds or movements. A window may seem to open all by itself. But what if someone opened it and you just didn’t notice because you were so absorbed in something else? That’s a lot more likely than a ghost, French says.

In one 2014 study, French and his colleagues found that people with higher levels of paranormal beliefs and higher tendencies to get absorbed are also more likely to experience inattentional blindness. They also tend to have a more limited working memory. That’s how much information you can hold in your memory at once.

If you have trouble keeping lots of information in your memory or paying attention to more than one thing at once, then you risk missing sensory cues from the environment around you. And you might blame any misperceptions that result on a ghost.

The power of critical thinking

Anyone may experience sleep paralysis, hallucinations, pareidolia or inattentional blindness. But not everyone turns to ghosts or other supernatural beings as a way to explain these experiences. Even as a child, Dom never thought he had come face to face with a real ghost. He went online and asked questions about what might have happened. He used critical thinking. And he got the answers he needed. When an episode happens now, he uses a technique that Jalal developed. Dom doesn’t try to stop the episode. He just focuses on his breathing, tries to relax as much as possible and waits for it to pass. He says, “I deal with it far better. I just sleep and enjoy sleeping.”

Robyn Andrews is a psychology student at the University of South Wales in Treforest. She wondered if people with stronger critical-thinking skills might be less likely to believe in the paranormal. So she and her mentor, psychologist Philip Tyson, recruited 687 students for a study about their paranormal beliefs. The students majored in a wide range of different fields. Each was asked how strongly he or she agreed with statements such as, “It is possible to communicate with the dead.” Or “Your mind or soul can leave your body and travel.” The research team also looked at the students’ grades on a recent assignment.

a woman sitting on a chair looking at a ghost twin image sitting in front of a window

Students with higher grades tended to have lower levels of paranormal beliefs, this study found. And students in the physical sciences, engineering or math tended not to believe as strongly as those studying the arts. This trend also has been seen in research by others.

This study did not actually assess the students’ ability to think critically. “That’s something we would look into as a future study,” says Andrews. However, previous research has shown that science students tend to have stronger critical-thinking skills than art students. That’s probably because you need to think critically in order to conduct scientific experiments. And thinking critically can help you scout out likely causes for an unusual experience without involving ghosts (or aliens, or Bigfoot).

Even among science students and working scientists, though, paranormal beliefs persist. Andrews and Tyson think that’s a problem. If you can’t judge whether a ghost story or spooky experience is real or not, you may also get fooled by advertisements, bogus medical cures or fake news, says Tyson. It’s important for everyone to learn how to question information and seek reasonable, realistic explanations.

So if someone tells you a ghost story this Halloween, enjoy it. But remain skeptical. Think about other possible explanations for what was described. Remember that your mind may fool you into experiencing spooky things.

Wait, what’s that behind you? (Boo!)

Kathryn Hulick has been a regular contributor to Science News for Students since 2013. She’s covered everything from laser “photography” and acne to video games, robotics and forensics. This piece — her 43rd story for us — was inspired by her book: Strange But True: 10 of the world’s greatest mysteries explained. (Quarto, October 1, 2019, 128 pages).

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The Science (and Non-Science) of Ghosts

A Skeptic Reads the Newspaper

Ghosts are everywhere—yet nowhere. Cultures all around the world believe in spirits that survive death to dwell in another realm. In fact, ghosts are among the most widely believed of paranormal phenomena: Millions of people are interested in ghosts, and a 2019 Ipsos/YouGov poll found that 45% of Americans say that ghosts “definitely or probably exist.”

The idea that the dead remain with us in spirit is ancient, and appears in countless stories from the Bible to Macbeth . It even spawned a folklore genre: ghost stories. Belief in ghosts is part of a larger web of related paranormal beliefs, including near-death experience, life after death, and spirit communication. Such beliefs offer many people comfort — who doesn’t want to believe that our departed loved ones are looking out for us, or with us in times of need?

Many people have tried to—or claimed to—communicate with spirits over the centuries; in Victorian England, for example, it was fashionable for upper-crust ladies to hold séances in their parlors after tea with friends. So-called “Ghost Clubs” dedicated to searching for ghostly evidence formed at prestigious universities including Cambridge and Oxford, and in 1882 the most prominent such organization, the Society for Psychical Research, was established. Eleanor Sidgwick was an investigator (and later president) of that group, and could be considered the world’s first female ghostbuster. Meanwhile across the pond during the late 1800s, many American psychics claimed to speak to the dead — and were exposed as frauds by skeptical investigators such as Harry Price and Harry Houdini.

Despite these early, sporadic spirit investigation attempts, it wasn’t until recently that ghost hunting became a widespread interest around the world. Much of this is due to the popular TV series Ghost Hunters , which ended thirteen seasons without finding good evidence for ghosts. The show spawned dozens of spinoffs and imitators, and it’s not hard to see why the show was so popular: the premise is that anyone can look for ghosts. The two original stars were ordinary guys (plumbers, in fact) who decided to look for evidence of spirits. Their message: You don’t need to be an egghead scientist—or even have any training in science or investigation—to look for ghosts: All you need is some free time, a dark place, and a few cameras and gadgets. If you look long enough (and your threshold of evidence is low enough) any “unexplained” light or noise could be evidence of ghosts.

Scientifically evaluating ghosts is problematic for several reasons, including that surprisingly diverse phenomena are attributed to ghosts. To one person a door closing on its own is a sign of a ghost, while for others it may be missing keys, a faint scent, a cold area in a home, or even a dream about a dead friend. When sociologists Dennis and Michele Waskul interviewed ghost experiencers for their 2016 book Ghostly Encounters: The Hauntings of Everyday Life (Temple University Press) they found that “many participants were not sure that they had encountered a ghost and remained uncertain that such phenomena were even possible, simply because they did not see something that approximated the conventional image of a ‘ghost.’ Instead, many of our respondents were simply convinced that they had experienced something uncanny — something inexplicable, extraordinary, mysterious, or eerie.” Because of this, many people claiming to have had a ghostly experience didn’t necessarily see anything that most people would recognize as a classic “ghost.” In fact they may have had totally different experiences whose only common factor is that it was not easily explained.

Ghost research is greatly complicated by the fact that there’s no consensus about what a ghost is—even among ghost hunters and “experts.” Some believe, for example, that ghosts are spirits of the dead who get “lost” on their way to “the other side”; others are sure that ghosts are instead telepathic entities projected into the world, or strong emotions somehow recorded and later “replayed” in the environment (often called “stone tape theory” ). Still others create their own categories for different types of ghosts, such as poltergeists, residual hauntings, intelligent spirits and shadow people. It’s a fun exercise in fantasy, but of course it’s all made up, like speculating on different types of dragons; there are as many types of ghosts as you want there to be.

There are many contradictions inherent in ideas about ghosts. For example, are ghosts material or not? Either they can move through walls and solid objects without disturbing them, or they can slam doors shut and throw objects across a room. According to logic (not to mention the laws of physics), it’s one or the other. If ghosts are human souls, why do they appear clothed and with inanimate objects such as hats and dresses — not to mention the many reports of ghost trains, cars, and carriages? If instead ghosts are the result of unavenged deaths, why are there unsolved murders, since ghosts are said to communicate with psychic mediums, and should be able to identify their killers for the police. And so on — just about any claim about ghosts raises logical reasons to doubt it.

Ghost hunters use many creative (and dubious) methods to detect ghostly presences, including psychics. Most ghost hunters claim to be scientific and give that appearance because they use high-tech scientific equipment such as Geiger counters, Electromagnetic Field detectors, and infrared cameras. Yet none of this equipment has ever been shown to actually detect ghosts. Centuries ago people believed that flames turned blue in the presence of ghosts. Few people today believe that bit of ghostlore, but it’s likely that many of the signs taken as evidence by modern ghost hunters will be seen as just as silly and quaint centuries from now.

Many ghost hunters claim that ghosts haven’t been proven real because we don’t yet have the right technology to detect the spirit world. But this, too, can’t be true: Either ghosts exist and appear in our ordinary physical world and visible spectrum (and can therefore be detected and recorded in photographs, film, and video), or they don’t. If ghosts exist and can be scientifically detected or recorded, then we should find hard evidence of that—yet we don’t. If ghosts exist but cannot be scientifically recorded, then that means that all the photos, videos, audio and other recordings claimed to be ghosts are not in fact ghosts. With so many contradictions — and so little science brought to bear — it’s not surprising that despite the efforts of thousands of ghost hunters for decades, no hard evidence of ghosts has been found.

Much of the belief in ghosts comes not only from television shows but some personal experience. Maybe the person grew up in a home where the presence of a spirit was taken for granted. Maybe they had some unnerving experience on a ghost tour or at a local haunt. But still, they believe, science has offered a logical, physical rationale for ghosts. It is widely claimed that Albert Einstein himself proved the possibility of ghosts with his First Law of Thermodynamics: if energy cannot be created or destroyed but only change form, then what happens to our body’s energy when we die? Could that somehow reappear as a ghost?

The idea seems superficially reasonable—unless you understand basic physics. The answer is simple and not at all mysterious. After a person dies, the body’s energy goes where all organisms’ energy goes after death: into the environment. The energy is released in the form of heat, and the body is transferred into the animals that eat us (i.e., wild animals if unburied, or worms if we are interred, or heat if we’re cremated), and the plants that absorb us. There is no bodily “energy” that survives death.

While legions of amateur ghost hunters imagine (and portray) themselves as on the cutting edge of ghost research, they are engaging in what folklorists call ostension or legend tripping , a form of playacting in which people “act out” an existing narrative or legend, often involving ghosts or supernatural elements. In his book Aliens, Ghosts, and Cults: Legends We Live (University Press of Mississippi, 2003) folklorist Bill Ellis notes that ghost hunters take the search seriously and “venture out to challenge supernatural beings, confront them in consciously dramatized form, then return to safety. … The stated purpose of such activities is not entertainment but a sincere effort to test and define boundaries of the ‘real’ world.” It’s a fun and fascinating hobby, but not investigation or research.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what all the scientists, skeptics, and ghost hunters think. If ghosts are real, and are some sort of as-yet-unknown energy, then their existence will (like all other scientific findings) sooner or later be discovered and verified by scientists through controlled experiments — not by weekend ghost hunters wandering around abandoned houses late at night with cameras and flashlights.

Despite mountains of ambiguous photos, sounds, and videos, the evidence for ghosts is no better today than it was a year ago, a decade ago, or a century ago. There are two possible reasons for the failure of ghost hunters to find good evidence of their quarry. The first is that ghosts don’t exist, and that reports of ghosts can be explained by psychology, misperceptions, mistakes, and hoaxes. The second option is that ghosts do exist, but that ghost hunters are simply incompetent and need to bring more scientific rigor to the search, because what they’ve done so far has clearly failed. Ghost hunting is not really about the evidence (if it was, the search would have been abandoned long ago). Instead, it’s about having fun with friends, telling spooky stories, and the enjoyment of pretending they’re searching the edge of the unknown. After all, everyone loves a good ghost story.

For more on ghosts and ghost investigation see my award-winning book Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits !

Adapting 'Ghosts': The Characters of the U.K. Series and Their U.S. Counterparts

Both versions of 'Ghosts' stand out in the television landscape through their use of themes, characters, and experiences through time.

The concept of U.K. to U.S. television adapting isn’t anything new to the genre, from their popularity in the 1970s with Three’s Company (U.K.’s Man About the Hous e) and Norman Lear’s All In The Family (U.K.’s Till Death Us Do Part ) to the 21st century with The Office , House Of Cards and Shameless , just to name a few. Not that there haven't been a few duds along the way (see 2003’s U.S. version of Coupling ). Still today, Trans-Atlantic conversion seems to be at its height for two countries that Oscar Wilde once famously wrote “have everything in common (with).... except, of course, language."

Since the popularity of The Office in 2005, literal adaptations and adherence to the source material, plot lines, characters, and themes have become the norm where previous reboots had mainly used the source material as a jumping-off point — often making the recent era of reboots feels like cookie-cutter imitations, depending on which series you watched first. This makes the recent CBS adaptation of the U.K. series Ghosts a refreshing change of pace.

Ghosts is a series about... well, a group of ghosts, spanning generations haunting one house after dying on the property. Their life, or afterlife, is forever changed when a married couple inherits the house with plans to turn it into a Bed and Breakfast. Chaos ensues when Allison ( Charlotte Ritchie in the U.K. version) and/or Samantha ( Rose McIver in the U.S. version), after hitting their heads, develop the ability to hear and see the ghosts, much to the chagrin of their husbands. (U.K.’s Kiell Smith-Bynoe and U.S.’s Utkarsh Ambudkar )

Baked into the original U.K. series is the history of the country in which it takes place. The ghosts in the house range from a World War II Captain to a headless Elizabethan to a Regency Jane Austen-style poet. The exciting aspect of the U.S. Ghosts is that while adapting many storylines from the original, the series has the leeway to be creative with characters due to differences between the two countries' land histories. Thoroughly American changes include a Viking, a Revolutionary officer, a 1960s hippy, a Native American, and a 1920s Jazz Singer. Both versions of Ghosts also stand out in the television landscape through their use of LBGTQ+ themes, characters, and experiences through time. Here are just a few of the characters from the U.S. series that come directly from the head of their U.K. counterparts.

RELATED: Rose McIver on ‘Ghosts,’ How ‘iZombie’ Helped Her Prepare for the Series, and Wanting to Play a Villain

Lady Stephanie “Fanny” Button (U.K.) / Hetty Woodstone (U.S.)

Played by series writer/co-creator Martha Howe-Douglas , the great Lady Button, much like her U.S. Victorian counterpart Hetty Woodstone (the superb Rebecca Wisocky ), is set in her ways based on the patriarchal indoctrination of her time, ideas such as that bike riding sexually arouse women (U.S.) or how overthinking is bad for a women's health and safety (U.K.). While both women had husbands who cheated on them, the biggest change is that Lady Fanny’s husband killed her (causing her to reenact her death every night by screaming and flinging herself out of her bedroom window). In contrast, Hetty’s husband ( Veep ’s Matt Walsh ), in comparison (a robber baron, i.e., see The Gilded Age ), is not canonically LBGTQ+ as Fanny’s husband is, which we find out when Fanny divulges that after finding her husband having sex with the male staff, he killed her. We later discover that Fanny and her husband, Lord George Button, were forced into marriage based on the societal pressures of the 1900s. (Fanny due to family money issues and being unable to enter business; George due to the archaic mores of the time.) An overall theme in the series that Fanny expresses the best:

“After all, if George had been free to love as he chose... well, I wouldn't have been murdered, and I could have had a husband instead who wanted to know me."

While it is best that the American version stayed clear of this storyline, with its history of tragic queer characters, thematically missing from the U.S. Ghosts (within more than one character), is that the group is better off when everyone can be their true selves. However, the U.S. version has explored a similar storyline in a deeper way than the U.K. version has yet to achieve. (More on that later.) Both Hetty and Fanny explore how to break from their literal corsets in different ways, and based on the trajectory of the U.S. version Hetty will be catching up to Fanny very soon.

The Captain (U.K.) / Captain Isaac Higgintoot (U.S.)

The Captain (played by writer/co-creator Ben Willbond ) in the U.K. version hails from World War II, representing Britain's Churchill years, an archetypally English symbol. Therefore, it makes sense that his American counterpart reboot, Captain Isaac Higgintoot ( Brandon Scott Jones ), would be a Revolutionary War veteran. The Captain is a charming, sweet man with the famous Brit “stiff upper lip.” Early on in the series, it is obvious that the Captain died in the 1940s, unable to express that he was queer and in love with a fellow soldier. Completely chaste, the Captain's longings are implied in scenes, never acted on or spoken.

In contrast, in the U.S. version, even though making Hetty’s husband straight and changing the same-sex wedding in the house to a heterosexual one, Captain Higgintoot gets a love interest and a coming-out story. Isaac reunites with the ghost of a British officer throughout the first season, with whom he had a crush-worthy mutual flirtation in life. In a lovely touching scene (in the U.S.’s most recent episode), Isaac confesses to Hetty something he is excited but nervous to say out loud — that he is in love with British Officer Nigel Chessum, something he could never have imagined saying in his own time. Another addition to the U.S. version is that Captain Isaac, unlike the U.K.’s Captain, is played by an out actor. Jones told Out Magazine on playing the role and relating to his own time of feeling closeted in his past:

“The thing that has interested me from the get-go is, I remember that feeling. I remember that time in my life when I was somebody that just kind of wished I was somebody else or was struggling with my own identity… Then to sort of play this character who has held onto that moment for much longer than any human could ever hold onto it for almost two and a half centuries, was so kind of sad, but also really, really exciting to me to play as an actor... Then to sort of play this character who has held onto that moment for much longer than any human could ever hold onto it for almost two and a half centuries, was so kind of sad, but also really, really exciting to me to play as an actor."

As the U.K. series has just finished filming their fourth season, one can only hope The Captain has a coming-out moment in this future when he’s ready.

Pat Butcher (U.K.) / Pete Martino (U.S.)

Pat (U.K.) and Pete (U.S.), played by U.K. series writer/co-creator Jim Howick ( Sex Education ) and Richie Moriarty ( The Tick ), are the only characters with no noticeable gaps between their respective versions. Pat/Pate, dressed literally as a Boy Scout (killed with an arrow through his neck) is the sweet, cheerful goody-two-shoes from the 80s who loves Newhart , sports (well, maybe not archery anymore!), and his wife. They both have similar backstories, but it is the actors that bring their substance and likability to the role as the resident optimistic among the dead. From Horwick’s excitement and giant smile to Moriarty's bright naive spirit, they each bring their individual take to a memorable character.

Julian Fawcett MP (U.K.) / Trevor Lefkowitz (U.S.)

Both series depict the 1990s as a time of excess and greed, so what's more perfect than a character who died with their pants down to actually turn out to be a politician and/or a stock market bro? Although it feels deeply American to age down a character in a Brit-to-American transfer, the young Wall Street pre-9/11 type fits into the U.S. ensemble perfectly. The U.K.’s Jillian Fawcett MP (writer/creator Simon Farnaby ), a career Member of Parliament, is the perfect satire of the end of Thatcherism, a hilarious buffoon who delivers some of the best lines (and improvs — watch the outtakes). However, the U.S.’s Trevor Lefkowitz ( Asher Grodman ) fits the same mold but with moments of vulnerability, letting other characters on the show have the larger comic moments otherwise reserved for his predecessor. Still, at the surface, Julian and Trevor are both pompous sex maniacs who have never seen a modern H.R. department, but they also are doing what the series does best — shining a light on how far we’ve come and turning that into laughs.

Robin the Caveman (U.K.) / Thorfinn (U.S.)

Robin and Thorfinn are both the oldest characters in their respective series: a caveman and a Viking who have moments of brutalism and genius, alongside vulnerability. The concept behind Robin in the original series was that the oldest ghost was the smartest, having seen it all — only it is their way of speaking and presenting themselves that makes everyone assume otherwise. Often Robin is the one with the words of reason and a big heart. Thorfinn’s juxtaposition from his appearance and his literal armor is also his soft heart from his past, singing baby Hetty to sleep, to his feelings of torture about killing his best friend: a squirrel. While Robin has all the answers, Thorfinn looks for them in therapy, making them both treasured characters.

Thomas Thorne (U.K.) / Sasappis (U.S.)

Of all the characters on the series, the U.K.’s Regency poet Thomas Thorne (writer/co-creator Mathew Baynton ) and the U.S.’s Lenape Native American Sasappis ( Román Zaragoza ) couldn’t feel more rooted in the history of the land where they died. And while Sasappis does share DNA, so to speak, with Robin in the realm of the “oldest characters being the wisest” mantra, his genuine connection appears to be with Thomas Thorne, as they are each the storytellers of their group. While Thomas is a writer who could never tell his stories in his lifetime or get the girl (dead or alive), and he is neither as brave as Sasappis nor as wise — yet you can’t help but fall in love with both of them. While Thomas Throne, much like The Captain, is a symbol of a romantic version of the British Isles, Sasappis represents North America's true origins. And similar to Thomas, he was unable to fulfill his storytelling dreams while he lived. Speaking in a modern vernacular, Sasappis is quick and funny; he makes jokes about the living characters' experiences and prejudges and has moments of true honesty, making him the American reboot's stand-out character. One could say he is the truest character adaptation from British-to-American in the entire U.S. show.

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Do you believe in ghosts here's what spirituality experts have to say about them.

Sarah Regan

The idea that ghosts could be among us has fascinated, perplexed, and of course, spooked people for generations. We asked around to get the history of ghosts, whether there's any evidence they actually exist, and more—here's what to know.

What does the term "ghost" really mean?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a ghost is defined as an "apparition of a dead person which is believed to appear or become manifest to the living, typically as a nebulous image." Across different cultures, there are also more nuanced explanations for what ghosts really are.

One of the most generally accepted ideas about ghosts, though, is that they're spirits that used to be in a body, and for whatever reason, feel tied to being Earthbound, explains intuitive Natasha Levinger . "This could be due to anything from feeling unresolved about a relationship or even a location to dying before they felt ready to leave ," she says.

And it's important to note that ghosts are not always believed to be inherently bad—despite common misconceptions.

"When I've worked with these spirits, it is usually resolved fairly quickly and has nothing to do with them trying to invoke pain or upset," Levinger says.

Feng shui expert Anjie Cho adds, "From a feng shui perspective , we have this perspective of nonduality , so something is not necessarily good or bad."

The history of the term.

People have been having ghostly experiences (or at least, perceived ghostly experiences) for literally thousands of years. In fact, one tablet from ancient Babylon around 1,500 BCE is believed by some to be the first known depiction of a ghost in human history.

And the ghost stories don't stop there, with cultures around the world believing in, and even embracing, the idea of ghosts. For many Asian cultures, a deep connection with ancestors can explain perceived ghostly experiences, with Cho telling mbg that ghosts or "entities" are often thought of as loved ones passed on, or even the energy of their memory.

The felt presence of a lingering energy has been recorded everywhere from the U.S. to Ghana to China, Thailand, and more. (It's worth noting here that we're talking about people reporting ghostly experiences, not actual evidence of such.)

Why some people believe in ghosts:

It's a cultural belief..

As aforementioned, some cultures embrace the idea of ghosts, particularly if there is a connection with ancestors within the culture, as seen in Chinese and other Asian cultures. Cho tells mbg many believe ghosts to be the energy of ancestors, or even predecessors of the space in question.

They want to believe.

For others, the idea that loved ones could still be with them is comforting. We've all seen clips of shows where mediums claim to communicate with the dead, offering relief to family members, or heard someone say they saw a cardinal and believed it was their grandma saying "Hi," for example.

Though many believe ghosts are inherently bad, for the people who believe their loved ones might be showing up in a ghostly way, it can bring comfort and connection.

They've had a paranormal experience.

Of course, if someone has had an inexplicable paranormal experience, they may believe in ghosts even if logic tells them not to. Some experiences just can't be explained, and for better or worse, will forever change the way people think about ghosts and the afterlife .

They're open to mystical ideas.

And lastly, some people are simply more open to the idea that there are other realms , or forces we can't explain in general, making them more likely to be open to the idea of ghosts.

Why some people don't believe in ghosts:

They don't believe in an afterlife (or anything mystical)..

Whether they identify as an atheist, don't believe in the afterlife , or don't believe in the idea of a soul, some people are not open to mystical ideas. To believe in ghosts is to believe that a spirit, soul, entity, etc., can exist without a physical body in some unseen realm, and for nonbelievers, that just doesn't sound possible.

They've never experienced anything paranormal.

Just as feeling or seeing a ghost can make someone a believer, never experiencing anything paranormal isn't going to help convince a skeptic that ghosts could be real. "It's often dismissed in some cultures as imagination," Levinger adds.

There's no "real" proof.

Along similar lines to the points above, tangible proof of ghosts is ultimately lacking. For people who aren't necessarily open to ideas that can't be explained by science , the burden of proof is subsequently too heavy for them to believe in ghosts.

So, are ghosts real?

Cho, Levinger, and professional intuitive and author of Angel Intuition Tanya Carroll Richardson are all open to the idea of ghosts. Levinger and Richardson, in fact, both say they've experienced ghostly energy firsthand.

However, Richardson caveats, "When discussing topics like ghosts, I think it's important to note that no one has all the answers, and I encourage people to make up their own minds. I have seen ghosts a few times with my physical eyes, but they can also be sensed with your feeling or clairsentient psychic pathway ."

Levinger concurs, noting that after working as a medium and intuitive for years, she's received enough validation through her readings to believe the information that comes through to her. "If this isn't your line of work or if you aren't used to trusting your intuition, it can be hard to believe that ghosts, which live in a realm where the only way to be aware of them is to trust that intuition exists."

She adds that, again, some people just don't believe that there is an afterlife. "There are so many religious and belief systems that don't include ghosts—and I personally respect that, even if that's not what I believe."

Ultimately, though, the experts in the fields of mysticism, the occult, and the paranormal are (more than likely) going to believe, or at least be open to, the idea of ghosts. Those who are more concerned with the physical realm, and prefer to base belief on science (as well as proof), are going to have a hard time warming up to the idea—unless, of course, they were to experience something ghostly themselves.

The takeaway.

No one can say for sure whether ghosts are real, but those who claim to have experienced them will stand by that belief. While science hasn't been able to pin down any concrete proof of the existence of ghosts, their reported presence has been recorded for years upon years and will likely continue to be reported for years to come.

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Ghosts Vs. Spirits – The Definitive Guide

Can Ghosts Talk

The terms ghosts and spirits are often used interchangeably, but they are two very different beings . Ghosts and spirits appear and feel differently to each other, and it isn’t too difficult to tell the difference between the two.

Knowing the key differences between ghosts and spirits will help you identify what might be in your space, visiting you at night or hovering in the corner of your peripheral. 

The Differences Between Ghosts and Spirits

Ghosts and spirits appear and make contact for different reasons, and the way they ‘act’ and communicate is the strongest difference between them.

Let’s talk about each one so we can better understand the differences.

ghosts or ghosts

Ghosts are most similar to humans, but without the control and resolution that the living have. They are almost incapable of reason or using a sound mind. They are often tied to the location at which they died.

Their death is usually sudden, a murder or tragic passing. Often, ghosts do not realize that they are in fact dead, which in most cases causes them to be in a state of frenzy.

Many say that ghosts have unfinished business on earth, which is why they are so strongly tied to one place.

Unfinished business also ties in with sudden or tragic death, as they didn’t have adequate time to get their items in order before death.

Sometimes, unfinished business could be a strong emotional bond to a person, or even just tending to their home.

This strong tie to the emotional and physical aspects of our world is often what keeps them here from day to day.

A violent death can also lead to dark energy, as the person was surrounded by anger and violence when they passed into the ghostly realm. Don’t worry though, ghosts really aren’t out to hurt you .

Ghosts are most famous for being sighted , and many people think that ghosts do not possess any power other than ‘being seen’. This isn’t always true.

Some ghosts, depending on their strengths, can manipulate the temperature of the room, can speak or change the odor in a room.

Because ghosts usually result from tragic deaths, they are mostly troubled souls. It is important to remember that this doesn’t make them evil or malevolent unless this is what they were like in real life.

A person who passes to become a ghost doesn’t always have to have a violent death, but they could have lived a troubled life which has caused them many negative emotions, which could prohibit them from moving on and finding peace.

If you feel sudden chills or smell a strange odor in the room, you may have a ghost lurking near. You might also have the sensation of being watched, you might hear strange voices or noises, and you might notice things moving in your peripheral.

If you want to know if a ghost may be in your room, be sure to read this article.

Or, if you want to become an expert on what ghosts are, and what we know about them, take a look at my absolute favorite book on Amazon .

Instead of manifesting as the appearance of a dead person, spirits are more the personality or soul of someone who has died a fairly normal death.

Spirits are able to travel, as they are not tied to the site of sudden death or tragic event.

A spirit is the soul of a person wishing to live on, but without a physical body to survive in any more. It is thought that spirits can travel to different realms and dimensions, and can return to the living realm at free will when they wish to.

The spirit of a person might have a strong emotional tie to a person, most often a family member.

They may check in on this person regularly, which is why most people feel a warm and comforting presence surrounding them, often with the feeling that is a loved one who has passed.

Often, spirits have been through the light, but choose to come back and visit. Spirits tend to communicate with us in a peaceful and positive way. This could be through dreams which are known as visitations.

Usually, these visitations are brushed off as imaginative dreams, but so often it is a way of a lost loved one letting us know they are okay or saying I love you.

Spirits are also able to appear as different forms of nature. Dragonflies and butterflies are often thought to be the spirit of a lost loved one making a connection.

They are also strongly tied to coins, either by communicating dates through coins or dropping coins to announce their presence.

Many people also swear that a loved one has communicated with them by playing a song through the radio. There are many different signs that spirits communicate with us, we just have to open our eyes, ears, and hearts to receive the messages.

Different Types of Ghosts

Most of us are not aware of the many different types of ghosts that exist. There isn’t one box that a ghost fits into, they appear in different forms, sensations or feelings.

Ghosts aren’t usually summoned, instead many go looking for their existence and use different tools and technologies to try and find proof that they are living and traveling among us.

Poltergeists

ghosts or ghosts

Poltergeists are also known as ‘noisy ghosts’. They are able to manipulate the environment around them.

They open windows, drawers, throw things across the room, move chairs and topple books off of shelves. They cause lights to flicker, slam doors and in severe cases, they can start fires.

The presence of a poltergeist usually starts off mild, and the signs are often brushed off as coincidences. The occurrences become stronger over time as the poltergeist increases in power.

Poltergeists usually have bad intentions, and very rarely leave on their own. Their object is to cause harm and distress in a home, they feed off of bad emotions.

Interactive ghosts

Interactive ghosts are the most common type found living among us. Usually, they are loved ones who have come to convey a message of love or importance.

You can usually feel their presence or smell a scent that is familiar to them. In some cases, they are able to make a noise or even communicate with you.

Interactive ghosts are usually friendly, as they have an emotional bond with the person they are contacting, and would not wish to do them any harm.

Orbs are the most common way for ghosts to present themselves through photographic evidence. The orbs appear as translucent or blue bulbs of light that appear hovering above the ground.

It is believed that orbs are the physical representation of human or animal souls that are traveling. The circle shape helps them travel easier, and it is considered that the more time they spend on earth, the more human their appearance will become.

Funnel ghosts

Funnel ghosts are often found tied to historical buildings or personal homes.

They present themselves as a swirling funnel of light and as cold spots. In photos, funnel ghosts can appear as a spiral of light.

We are all familiar with the ectoplasm found in Ghost Busters, but this is a little far from the truth.

Ectoplasm presents itself as a swirling mass of mist that is either white, black or grey. They are usually several feet above the ground. Although they are able to move around quickly, they mostly stay in one place and orbit.

Ectoplasm is most commonly found in graveyards, historical sites, and battlefields. They are considered to be old spirits, stuck in time and history.

Demonic possession

ghosts or ghosts

Demonic possession is always dark and dangerous. It is when a demonic ghost possesses a human body, taking control of their consciousness.

They have much greater strength than another ghost, as they have a physical body to act through. They move their new bodies just like we do, and are able to do great harm.

Demons are not to be contacted or messed with. They are powerful supernatural beings that can attach themselves to objects, invade homes and inflict physical and mental torture.

They are able to morph into different shapes but are most commonly witnessed as black masses.

Shadow people

ghosts or ghosts

There is so much mystery surrounding shadow people. They appear in the corner of your eye but vanish as soon as you turn to look at them.

Those who have been able to look at a shadow person directly recall seeing a dark void that is endless. S

hadow people are in the shape of a silhouette of a person, and sometimes appear to be wearing a cloak or hood. Once spotted, they retreat back into walls, televisions, or into the dark of the night.

Different Types of Spirits

Spirits are usually positive, encouraging entities that visit earth to spread good messages and connect with loved ones, or to offer protection.

Many people look to connect with spirits for guidance, protection, or comfort. Those who look to make contact with the supernatural try and cover themselves in a positive spiritual light, to help keep them safe through different forms of paranormal contact.

Guardian angels

ghosts or ghosts

Guardian angels have spent most of their time in the spiritual realm, and because of this, they can offer a different perspective to those who have resided in the physical world.

They help guide us spiritually and support us in uplifting and activating our spiritual self. They protect us through spiritual interactions and warn if something is amiss.

Archangels usually have a specific field that they watch over, helping better the physical and spiritual world.

Often, archangels help larger groups of people, and if the time calls for it, they can take on human form to help guide others.

Spirit guides

Spirit guides are usually known as humans who are more in touch with the spiritual world than others, but they can also be in the form of spirit who helps to guide us along a spiritual journey.

Spirit familiars can come in many forms, but they usually attach to one person whom they guide and watch over.

Ascended masters

These types of spirit are similar to archangels but have lived on earth at least once before.

Having lived on earth and then in the spiritual realm, they have knowledge and experience to guide a larger group of people. Some consider religious deities to be ascended masters.

ghosts or ghosts

Spirits who are deceased loved ones are probably the most common spirit found among us. It could be a deceased family member or even a pet. They can even at times act as a spirit guide. 

Many people feel the presence of a passed loved one around them, and sometimes have contact with them in dreams. These spirits often have a loving message to pass along and can do so through dreams or different signs.

Elemental spirits

Among the spiritual community, these are often debated on. Elemental spirits are thought to be beings that live in the physical realm, but who have a spiritual presence.

Some examples are faeries, gnomes and plant and crystal spirits. They are mainly found in nature, in forests, oceans, meadows and lakes, places where nature is wild and easy to connect to.

Common Misconceptions

As unexplained as the paranormal realm might be, there are common misconceptions that occur within the community, and with those who are interested in the subject. This is often exaggerated by rumors, myths, and tales that seek to confuse and scare people. 

Beware of the common misconceptions when it comes to ghosts and spirits, don’t get caught up in unbelievable stories, and don’t believe those who try and disprove your experiences or beliefs.

Paranormal facts

There are some in the paranormal community who claim to know it all. They say they know how to make a ghost appear or react, and will often try and sell their services.

The truth is that there is not one person or group who definitively know everything about the supernatural realm. It is such an endless world where there are things we could not even imagine.

Scientific facts do not apply, no matter how much people push for this to be believed. Contact and experiences with spirits and ghosts is a very personal thing, and cannot be dictated by someone who claims to be a professional.

Nighttime is best for ghosts

This is also a myth that is grossly incorrect. Yes, if you are seeking out spirits and ghosts it might be easier to hear and feel their presence at night when the world is quiet and at rest, but they are around all day.

Many ghosts are still in-tune with their old lives, so probably feel more comfortable being out during the day.

Ghosts only attach themselves to buildings

While it is common to find a ghost living in their childhood home or the place in which they died, they don’t actually have to be tied to a specific place.

Sentimental objects with a lot of meaning can be haunted, or even people themselves. As long as there is a strong emotional bond for the ghost to cling to, anything can be an item for a haunting.

There is a new wave of paranormal fascination

Thanks to the internet, we are more aware of the paranormal realm, but people have been researching ghosts throughout history.

Spiritualism is something that comes naturally to humans, we feel a connection to the world around us, and it is often inexplicable.

This leads to a curiosity of the unknown, and we cannot resist diving into the darkness to find out what surrounds us, and this is as much true for us as it is for those who lived hundreds of years ago. 

Ghosts and spirits haven’t only started making contact now, they have been around as long as man.

Spirits and ghosts are omens

It isn’t difficult to understand why many people are petrified thinking of the presence of ghosts and spirits. They do not understand the paranormal world and believe that anything to do with death and the spirit world might be evil.

While there are bad ghosts and demonic possessions, most spirits have good intentions. They are family members or loved ones who are looking over us, reassuring us that they are happy, and it is okay for us to move on.

How To Tell If a Ghost or Spirit is Present

With so many distractions in the modern world, it can be difficult to stop and notice the signs that a spirit or ghost might be present around you . 

If you stop for a second and take notice of your surroundings and senses, you might be able to pick up on an unknown presence. Here are some signs that a ghost or spirit is around:

Spirits find it easy to communicate with us through dreams . It is when we are most peaceful and give the least amount of resistance to outside influence.

Many people experience dreams with words or symbols, sent from a lost loved one. Don’t dismiss these as only dreams, take note of what the dreams are telling you as it might be a message from the other side.

Moving objects

Some ghosts are able to manipulate objects in the physical world. They do this as a way to catch our attention.

They usually focus on one item, like keys or a photograph. They will move this around or hide it, again and again, to try and get your attention.

Electricity

Spirits and ghost find it easy to play with the electricity we are so used to using. It is a form of energy, just like them.

They will flicker the lights, turn the television on and off and even drain battery from electronic devices.

Ghosts and spirits are famous for using familiar smells to gain your attention. It might be a smell that has no cause or something that is familiar to you, which you associate with someone that has passed.

Synchronicities

This is one of the most beautiful ways spirits let us know they are around. It is a complicated theory, but simply put it is hearing the same name twice in the day, hearing the same song multiple times or being recommended something by different people.

Spirits are throwing a sign in our direction, we just have to be awake and aware to realize when this is happening.

Sensing a presence

Most people sense a presence before any other signs appear. The change in energy or temperature alerts your attention, and you have a feeling of being watched. Hopefully, it is comforting and warm energy that brings peace and healing.

Related Questions

How do i communicate with a ghost.

Communication with the supernatural should always be done with precaution. While you might be wanting to reach out to a familiar or ‘good’ ghost, you never know who might be reaching out back to you.

Ask your spirit guides for protection and call out to the ghost or spirit you want to communicate with.

In your mind, secure yourself so only this spirit may communicate with you.

Use a tape recorder or video camera to catch a response you might not hear when asking a question.

Are Ouija boards dangerous?

Ouija Board

For the inexperienced, yes. You never know who might try and contact you through an Ouija board , and you might be opening yourself up to being contacted by an unsavory spirit.

Ask for a person in specific and have candles and sage burning in the room to cleanse the area.

Can animals sense a ghost’s presence?

Absolutely yes. You might notice your dog or cat acting anxious to enter a room, or snarling at a corner in the living room.

They are able to pick up on energies and frequencies that we cannot. T

hey are not distracted with mundane things like we are, and are more aware of spirits around them.

Spirits and Ghosts

There is not one definitive guide to explaining ghosts and spirits, instead, it is an accumulation of hundreds of years of experience and knowledge.

If you suspect you are being visited by a ghost or contacted by a spirit, take note of all the signs and symbols that may appear.

Record your story and share it with others. This is how we learn and discover more about a world that is shrouded in so much mystery and myth.

Take comfort in the fact that not all spirits and ghosts are bad, and if you are being contacted, it may be a lost loved one looking to offer support and peace.

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Ghosts Season 3 Filming Update Is Good News Ahead Of 2024 Premiere

Posted: December 18, 2023 | Last updated: December 18, 2023

  • Ghosts season 3 filming has begun, according to Román Zaragoza's Instagram post, indicating that production is back on track after this summer's strikes.
  • The season 2 finale left audiences with a cliffhanger, hinting at a shocking loss and the possibility of important characters moving on in season 3.
  • Fans can look forward to the continuation of various storylines, including the romance between Isaac and Nigel, as well as the future of the bed and breakfast.

The Ghosts season 3 filming update from star Román Zaragoza is good news ahead of its upcoming 2024 premiere. Based on the British sitcom of the same name, Ghosts follows Sam and Jay Arondekar, a young couple who move into a haunted house occupied by many different spirits. Along with Zaragoza, the show's cast includes Rose McIver, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Brandon Scott Jones, Danielle Pinnock, Richie Moriarty, Devan Chandler, Asher Grodman, Rebecca Wisocky and more. Airing on CBS, Ghosts has maintained strong ratings, and it was confirmed back in January that the comedy series would return for season 3.

In a recent Instagram post, Zaragoza shared behind-the-scenes photos from the production of Ghosts season 3 . Check out the images below:

The carousel includes selfies of Zaragoza, who portrays Sasappis, as well as pictures of the season 3 slate and co-star Ambudkar, which indicates production has finally gotten underway after the dual writers and actors strikes.

What To Expect From Ghosts Season 3

Ghosts ' season 2 finale introduced Kelsey, an unknown relative of Sophie Woodstone, who claimed the house actually belonged to her. Following Sam's (McIver) investigation, it was revealed that her lawyer orchestrated the property transfer, hoping to sell the estate for a large sum. Ending on a cliffhanger, Sam witnessed what appeared to be one of the ghosts departing. Because their home is full of spirits, and many have become friendly with Sam and Jay (Ambudkar), Ghosts season 3 could begin with a shocking loss when it confirms the identity of whoever moved on.

In the upcoming stretch of episodes, Ghosts may continue to track the romance between Issac (Jones) and Nigel (John Hartman), and it would be heartbreaking to discover that one of them left, considering the pair just got engaged. After Sam and Jay's conversation about their deceased housemates, in which they expressed appreciation, it's also worth wondering what the future of the bed and breakfast looks like, and if more stories, including that of Zaragoza's character, are explored.

CBS' Ghosts: Every Ghost Time Period & Backstory Explained

Because of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, there hadn't been a lot of updates regarding Ghosts season 3 until now. It was delayed from its normal fall premiere and will be among the many shows returning in early 2024. It will be interesting to see what else gets released prior to the show's return, and if Zaragoza or other cast members continue to share behind-the-scenes content.

Ghosts season 3 is scheduled to premiere on CBS on February 15, 2024.

Source: Román Zaragoza /Instagram

Ghosts (US)

Ghosts is a CBS sitcom that is based on the British series of the same name. Premiering in 2021, the series focuses on married couple Samantha (Rose McIver) and Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar), who have inherited a mansion from one of Sam's distant relatives. They turn the house into a bed and breakfast. When Sam has a near-death experience, she begins to interact with the quirky group of ghosts who live in the mansion.

Ghosts Season 3 Filming Update Is Good News Ahead Of 2024 Premiere

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Here’s The Real Difference Between Ghosts, Poltergeists, & Demons

ghosts or ghosts

There are a lot of concretely scary things in life, that's for sure — natural disasters, student loans, superbugs, mansplainers... you get the picture. But if you expand your worldview to include the realm of the supernatural , then, well, you've got a whole new batch of creepy stuff to add to your fear repertoire. Life's more exciting when you embrace the unknown, though, so it's really good to know the difference between ghosts, poltergeists, and demons for a number of reasons. Firstly, because, well, it's really freaking fascinating. Secondly, you'll be able to make way more sense of horror movies when you know exactly the type of supernatural entity the characters are dealing with. And thirdly, it could be helpful in case you ever get... haunted by one ? OK, sorry, not trying to put that kind of energy into the universe for you or anything, but I'm just saying. Hey, you gotta protect yourself — it's a vast n' wild paranormal world out there.

It's easy to clump all of the most well-known notable supernatural entities together — like "oh, check out that ghost/demon/poltergeist thing." But c'mon, it's almost Halloween, and we can do better than that! These entities are all fully unique from each other, and a haunting from any one of them comes with a whole different (and freaky) bag of tricks. Let's get super clear on these three types of supernatural entities — which ones are maybe chill, which definitely aren't , and what makes each distinct from the others — as you allow me to explain ghosts, poltergeists, and demons , once and for all. Read on.

Ghosts: The old classic when it comes to supernatural entities. Ghosts are known to simply be the spirits of people who have passed away who make themselves seen by the living. They tend to only make themselves known by sighting, but are also said to be able to speak, change the temperature of a room, or bring a certain odor with their presence. "Ghosts are almost exclusively dead humans who passed across to the afterlife due to unresolved issues or a violent death," explained Mystic Investigations on its site. So generally ghosts are troubled souls, yes, but that doesn't exactly make them dangerous or malevolent (although apparently they can be if they were a particularly evil person in life ). Often times, they may just be confused, trying to get closure about something that happened in their earthly life, or too disturbed by their own violent end to fully move on into the next realm, causing them to remain partially here and thus, have interactions with living people. Or sometimes, it may just be an extremely determined person who didn't want to die, and isn't quite ready to leave.

In any case, ghosts generally experienced some sort of trauma in their life — whether related to their death or not — and tend to stick to the location where these hard-to-move-past events took place (although they've been known to haunt people and objects on occasion, too). This can explain "haunted houses," where a spirit remains regardless of who is moving into or out of the space. If you suspect you're being haunted by a ghost , you may want to look out for signs. Feeling a sudden, inexplicable cold chill in the room may be an indicator, as can an unexplained foul odor (or even sometimes a pleasant one). Many people who claim to have had ghostly encounters say they've had the sensation that they're being watched, and also heard strange noises or voices in their homes.

Poltergeists

Many of us know poltergeists from the classic film series of the same name. The word itself translates to "noisy ghost," which refers to its apparent ability to make noise, throw around objects, and otherwise disrupt our physical environment — and us. They're said to be able to literally bite, pinch, and otherwise attack or harass their human victims, as well as move, throw, and even break objects. And although the word's definition implies that a poltergeist is a specific type of ghost (as do some other sources), many experts believe they're actually completely different entity. "[P]oltergeists have nothing to do with ghosts or spirits at all," explained Psychic Elements on its site . "The best way to describe it is active kinetic energy that causes physical disturbances." This makes sense, as ghosts are generally unable to break through to the physical realm in the extreme ways that make poltergeists unique.

Another key difference is that poltergeists aren't typically visible the way ghosts are, although they have no trouble making their presence known regardless. "Poltergeists are extremely angry and violent non-corporeal entities who have the power to lash out ... and physically interact with our environment," wrote Mystic Investigations . So while seeing a ghost is certainly scary beyond belief, being in a space with a poltergeist, invisible or not, is straight-up dangerous , as they've been known to break objects, injure people, and otherwise wreak havoc in the physical realm.

Unlike ghosts, poltergeists are said to feed directly off of the emotional state of a particular person rather than being linked with a place. "Poltergeists are not angry spirits seeking retribution, but psychic disturbances surrounding an unhappy person, often a teenager," explained Psychic Elements . And as stated by Ghosts And Gravestones , "Some experts explain it as a mass form of energy that a living person is controlling unknowingly . " For this reason, poltergeists are known to follow energy or a person , rather than occupying a particular space like a ghost does, and the reason they're known to be linked with teenagers is because of the extra-strong emotions and turmoil that comes with adolescence and puberty. Thanks, hormones.

OK, now we're moving over to the really freaky-deaky stuff, IMO anyway. I was raised Catholic, and even though I don't identify with that belief system anymore at all, the deep-seated fear of of demons and possessions and all that fun/evil stuff is still totally alive within me. That said, demons are defined as "an evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormentor in hell." So yeah, not ever a good thing. They're widely considered to be insidious and malevolent in nature, and have been referenced in countless types of folklore, religions, and cultures throughout history. In religious terms, they're often considered to be fallen angels, or other "lower gods" who wield some sort of supernatural power. "A demon isn't out for any resolution of an issue but rather pure malicious evil, as it feeds off the emotional energy of fear and anger," explained Mystic Investigations . This sets them apart from ghosts, obviously — and while the danger and potential for physical destruction associated with demons can be compared to that of a poltergeist, it's considered much more severe in demonic cases, and demons have the power to make themselves very much seen in the human realm. "[D]emons can manifest themselves to us, taking on physical form in order to try to coax us to commit evil," wrote ThoughtCo on its site . They're said to be highly persuasive and tempting (think the snake in the myth of Adam and Eve), and prey upon vulnerable, emotionally-troubled people who may be desperate for help, not able to think clearly, or are weak in other ways.

And while demons won't necessarily haunt you the way a ghost will, they can do worse: demonic possession. "A demonic possession occurs when, through continued cooperation with a demon, a person essentially invites the demon in by aligning his will with that of the demon," explained ThoughtCo . This is where a demon's snake-like power of persuasion comes in handy — they essentially have to convince you of allowing them in, hence why they prey upon people with emotional or physical weaknesses who may be desperate or just not strong-willed enough to deny the temptations offered up by the demon. Let's all hope we maintain our wills of steel and that there are no exorcisms necessary in any of our futures. Glad to know the option exists though... I mean, just in case, right?

ghosts or ghosts

Petersburg's Ghost Watch 2024 at Centre Hill Mansion Museum: Paranormal presentation

'james was an enslaved teenager who, according to him, loved to drink his master’s gin when he wasn’t working' — michelle murrills.

ghosts or ghosts

PETERSBURG — Don't miss Ghost Watch 2024 at Centre Hill Mansion Museum. The historic property owned by the city of Petersburg was constructed in 1823 by Robert Bolling IV. It is known to have nonliving occupants. Ghost enthusiasts and curiosity seekers love this event.

Originally, Centre Hill was designed in Federal-style. In 1839, Bolling’s son Robert Buckner Bolling inherited the property and modified it to the Greek Revival style in 1850.

The main ghost story originated in the 1870s on January 24 when former owner Townshend Bolling reported hearing Union soldier ghosts enter the mansion. The occurrence became so frequent that Bolling hosted what he called "listening parties." To honor Townshend’s tradition, the annual Ghost Watch continues to be held on January 24.

Ever since the end of the Civil War, on the evening of January 24 at 7:20 there is a ghostly visit of cavalry men. They arrive at Centre Hill, leave their horses, enter the front door, climb the steps to the general's office, bang around for about 20 minutes, and exit the mansion at 7:40.

At exactly 7:30 p.m., the time Bolling said he heard the soldiers, ongoing tours will be alerted to stay in place by the sound of a gong. Then, lights will be turned off so guests can try and hear the ghost brigade.

Petersburg: Ghost Watch 2024

Ticket holders are in for a treat. They get to tour the tunnel which is not on the regular tour, and meet the following ghosts portrayed by historical interpreters.

  • Lady in White: Tamara Eastman
  • Ghost of Josephine Mcllwaine: Suzy Crowder
  • Archibald Campbell Pryor: Lindsay Gray
  • Charles Davis Jr.: Bailey Sheetz
  • Civil War ghost soldier: Ben Barrett
  • Anne Augusta Banister Pryor: Cherry Turner

Petersburg: Haunted Centre Hill Mansion

Tour guide Michelle Murrills has personally encountered ghosts at Centre Hill Mansion Museum. She shared one of the ghostly experiences with our readers.

"Centre Hill has dozens of ghosts that inhabit it, many of which I have had personal contact with. I have been pushed and pinched and have heard them speaking and making other noises. Once they stole my keys for about an hour," Murrills said.

One of the most interesting ghosts Murrills is aware of is down in the tunnel and is named James. 

"I met James in the tunnel during a special COVID ghost watch when we had special equipment brought in to speak with the ghosts. He spoke with us and told us a bit about himself. James was an enslaved teenager who, according to him, loved to drink his master’s gin when he wasn’t working," Murrills shared.

The paranormal experts and those present could not figure out whether James said he was born or bought in Richmond.

"James thought the women he was talking to were beautiful. We didn’t get to talk to him much because he said the master was coming and he had to leave," Murrills said. "So, if you are ever in the tunnel at Centre Hill, say hi to James."

Centre Hill Mansion Museum: Paranormal activity

Steve Vaughan, Angela Vaughan, Matt Kilbourne and Kelly Kilbourne with Ghost Eyes Paranormal will be on site during Ghost Watch 2024. During their presentation about paranormal activity, they will present their findings from their Centre Hill Mansion Museum investigation on Sunday, January 7.

The team of paranormal investigators try to connect the history of a location with the paranormal activity reported there. They have investigated The Poe Museum, Magnolia Grange Museum, Jennie Wade House, Gettysburg Orphanage, Henricus Historical Park and other historic haunted locations.

Brian Silver, Petersburg Museums tour guide and Ghost Watch co-chair, was present during Ghost Eyes Paranormal team's latest Centre Hill Mansion Museum investigation. According to Silver, using a flashlight they communicated with a spirit in the southwest bedroom.

"It appeared to be a ghost of a Civil War soldier that may have been in the house during Lincoln's visit," Silver said. "We would ask mostly yes and no questions, and with responses with the flashlight going on and off."

Ghost Watch 2024 tickets are $15 per person. Tours are every 20 minutes between 6 - 8:40 p.m. on Wednesday, January 24. Centre Hill Mansion Museum is located at 1 Centre Hill Ave. in Petersburg. Additional parking is located on Franklin St. To purchase tickets, visit eventbrite.com . Tickets are also available at Blandford Church Reception Center at 111 Rochelle Lane in Petersburg which is open Thursday - Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday 1 - 3 p.m.

Who knows...perhaps the Lady in White will show herself or the entity in the library will make a special appearance.

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Real Paranormal Experiences

The 6 Common Types of Ghosts and Spirits (How to Spot the Difference)

Table of Contents

When you think of Ghosts, most people think of the traditional forms, a figure from the past walking through the wall, or a child’s voice laughing inside the very same room you are sitting in, and there is no one else there. But there are other ways the dead can walk the earth.

Some ghosts are easy to make out in photos or videos while others only become apparent when listening through specialized equipment. Some are considered a dangerous ghost capable (and even willing) of causing harm while others are more of a guiding spirit or completely uninterested in the living.

Understanding the types of spirits and ghosts you might find means you know what to expect from them and, if you choose to, which tools will best help you communicate with them.

Common Types of Ghost

These names have been passed down from centuries of ghost sightings, hauntings and possessions.

Note:  When it comes to paranormal activity it’s hard to really speak with certainty. These are the general terms we use for the kinds of ghosts we see on a frequent basis but terminology overlaps and I wouldn’t take any of this as a hard-set rule.

Poltergeists

A poltergeist is one of the most commonly reported ghost types. Probably because they’re the most obvious and can be seen with the naked eye when they’re really acting up.

These beings are the inspiration behind many spooky films of haunted houses where doors are seen opening on their own or beds start to shake at night while people are still sleeping on them.

More often than not, the poltergeists are previous owners of the home or building that it is haunting, and they are trying to get the current tenets to leave.

These ghosts are known as the noisy ones and can be heard talking, groaning, laughing, or yelling. They’re the common manifestation of angry ghosts and often seem to feel like their death wasn’t fair but they seem to be very much aware of the current situation (unlike the traditional interactive type). However, they usually really aren’t very dangerous, just obnoxious but they can certainly send a chill up your spine.

interactions with poltergeists often start out slowly and mildly and escalate from there. Because they can be more obvious, paranormal investigators often get very excited to communicate with them.

Traditional Interactive Ghosts

The traditional ghost refers to the most commonly seen form of ghosts that have been captured in pictures or seen by many people in the same location year after year.

These ghosts are spirits that have passed away but unable to move on for one reason or another. So they stay in the location in which they died and at times communicating with those who live there in the present.

Some of these ghosts will make their presence to the current occupants on purpose while others won’t even be aware they are dead, continuing on with their daily lives just like they would have before they passed. They often seem to retain at least  some of their personality.

A common type of ghost in stories where a strange image or unsettling feeling is in a room but nothing really happens. Often these ghosts have little to no interest in us but, for whatever reason, we can sometimes see them with a naked eye.

A common type of ghost to pick up with something like Ghosttube SLS but they’ll often not react to attempts to communicate with them.

Funnel Ghosts and Orbs

Types of Ghosts

Funnel Ghosts are just as they sound, a funnel of light that flashes its way into a space with no reason for it to be there. Many believe these ghosts are family members or previous owners of the home you are in trying to make their presence known.

It is very common for the temperature of the location in which the funnel ghost is spotted to become cold quickly and then warm back up after it has left.

Like the Funnel Ghost, most orbs are captured in photos or videos. They are small balls of light that can be seen moving about dutifully and fast. These orbs are believed to be the souls of the dead moving about the earth.

Ectoplasm (Or ‘Ghost Mist’)

You can frequently see Ectoplasm ghosts in graveyards or even on-site of old battlefields. This form of spirit is most often noted as being a large area of fog or mist that hovers a few feet off the ground.

This dark fog can sit in one place for an extended period of time but most often is known for floating around, moving about the area as if it is looking for something or has a specific purpose.

These sightings have been described as a black, grey, or brown cloud that you cannot get too close to and can move about with ease.

Stories often seem a little vague here but generally, it won’t move as a normal mist would. It might go against the wind or curve in different directions, especially towards something (or some one ).

A wraith is often what we hear about when we’re talking about non-earthbound spirits. They manifest as vague forms but these seem to be the closest to kids putting a sheet over their head and saying ‘boo’.

A wraith often floats above the ground and wanders through physical obstructions like walls without hindrance. They seldom seem to make any noise perceptible to human hearing but can be picked up by a spirit box.

Demons are associated with the devil. They are said to be evil spirits that are able to take over the body of man or woman to fulfill whatever task it is they are on earth to complete.

Many believe that demons are fallen angels working to create a rift between humans and god by having the living do immoral acts.

Demons are the reason behind exorcists. An exorcism is a ritual performed when a demon is believed to have taken over a human’s body.  This ritual is done to extract that entity from the body and sending it back to where it came from.

How to Spot the Difference in Types

Sometimes the difference in types is immediately obvious but sometimes there’s an overlap. For example, an interactive ghost might (for whatever reason) be loud and could be mistaken for a poltergeist if they happened to be shouting even if they’re not trying to get your attention.

Use these rough descriptions as a starting point and go from there.

Sometimes the best way to find out exactly which type you’re dealing with  is just to ask . With the shouting interactive ghost example, using a spirit box you’d get an idea of what they’re saying and if they’re just talking to themselves it’s just a personality going about their own business. If they start screaming threats then you  know it’s a poltergeist.

Which Types of Ghosts are Evil or Dangerous?

A loaded question and, especially given the overlap and confusion between different types a difficult one to answer.

For the most part, none of these spirits are actively trying to hurt you. These are spirits of the dead that have been left on earth for one reason or another and are unable to communicate with the living.

Some ghosts are unaware they are dead and do not even notice you are there. They can continue on from the other side, believing they are still alive and living their day-to-day life.

On the other hand, other ghosts may be well aware they have passed and just want to interact with you. They may have unfinished business they need help fulfilling, or they could be loved ones or family that just want to say their final goodbyes.

Chris

Obsessed by ghost hunting and all things paranormal. Chris spends a lot of time (some would say  too much time ) investigating ghosts and spirits and documenting stories and paranormal communication. He teaches aspiring ghost hunters in the Paranormal Academy .

How to Find Spirits Around You (Beginners Guide)

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Whoopi Goldberg on How Patrick Swayze Convinced Her to Make Ghost : ‘He Was Sexy and Sweet’

"It wasn’t until we all saw the film that we realized what we had,” says the EGOT winner

Andrea Mandell is the Senior Editor of Entertainment Projects at PEOPLE Magazine. She joined the brand in 2022 and helps lead special projects, film coverage, festivals, awards and more. 

CBS via Getty

Whoopi Goldberg 's Academy Award-winning role almost passed her by.    

Five years after her first Oscar nomination for The Color Purple , the star, 68, won her Oscar in 1991 at the 63rd ceremony for playing the questionable psychic Oda Mae Brown in Ghost . However, Goldberg needed some persuasion from her costar before she signed onto the project.

“I get a phone call from my agent, Ron Meyer, who says, ‘ Patrick Swayze has been hired for this movie. Patrick is not going to do this if you don’t do it. Can you make some time for him and the  director to come up?’” the decorated actress told author Dave Karger in his new book 50 Oscar Nights (on sale Jan. 23). 

The EGOT-winning actress said director and Jerry Zucker and Swayze flew to meet her, and she was immediately at ease. “So they flew in, I meet Patrick, and out of the blue, we’re old friends," Goldberg recalls. 

Shortly after, Swayze made his pitch for Ghost, in which Oda Mae Brown, ultimately played by Goldberg, helps Swayze's Sam Wheat communicate with his girlfriend ( Demi Moore ) from the great beyond.

"About 40 minutes go by and Patrick says, 'Please do this with me,'" remembers Goldberg. "I was like, 'Yeah, okay.' And that’s how it happened."

CBS via Getty 

The supernatural romance ultimately became a sensation no one expected. "I said yes, not really knowing what it was going to be. It wasn’t until we all saw the film that we realized what we had,” Goldberg shared with Karger. 

Not only was Goldberg's 1991 win pivotal for her career, but it also stood as a historic moment in Oscar history. Her win marked the second time a Black actress won Best Supporting Actress, over 50 years after Hattie McDaniel's historic win in 1940 for Gone with the Wind.

The View co-host added that when she and Swayze saw the film for the first time together. “He looked over to me and said, ‘Do you remember making this movie?’ I said, ‘I remember some of this, but I don’t remember all of this!’ It was kind of like, ‘Oh my God, this is great!’”

Swayze died in 2009 at the age of 57 after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Today, Goldberg toasts the star's kind nature. "He was sexy and sweet and just a terrific human being to me," she says.

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Goldberg previously shared with Naomi Campbell on her No Filter with Naomi YouTube series that it was also Swayze who convinced producers she was right for the part.

Before Goldberg was recruited for the role, she asked her agent why she hadn’t auditioned for the role. "They don’t want you," he told her at the time, adding that, "they think that your persona, that Whoopi, is too big and will take people out of the movie.”

But Swayze had been wanting to work with her. “I’d never met him, but he was a fan,” Goldberg told Campbell, adding that during their first meeting, they immediately hit it off. “As soon as Patrick and I looked at each other, we started laughing,” said the Sister Act star.

Recently, Goldberg made a surprise appearance in the new  The Color Purple . She originally starred opposite Oprah Winfrey in  Steven Spielberg 's 1985 movie, an adaptation of Alice Walker’s 1982 novel, as Celie Johnson.

She appears in a cameo in the new film , which stars Fantasia Barrino as Celie.

Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty

Goldberg's cameo, said director Blitz Bazawule, "was symbolic not only because of what Whoopi represents in the canon of  The Color   Purple , but what Whoopi represents, period — the juggernaut that she is and the doors she kicked open.”

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I visited Mark Cuban's Texas ghost town, and 'Mustang' was more barren and mysterious than I ever imagined

  • The billionaire Mark Cuban bought the ghost town of Mustang, Texas, in 2021 for about $2 million.
  • Cuban has never been there and said he has "zero plans for it" in an email.
  • I drove to visit Mustang, population zero. I found no buildings but an intriguing history.

Insider Today

I recently learned that Mark Cuban, the billionaire and former owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, bought an entire "ghost town'" called Mustang for about $2 million in 2021.

Mustang is about an hour away from the part of Dallas I live in. But until now, I had never come across it — and almost nobody in my circles had, either.

The Census reports that Mustang's population is zero, so maybe that makes sense.

Typically, I would file away this newfound knowledge in the recesses of my mind — an unusual story I could later impress my friends with over coffee or dinner.

But my curiosity refused to wane.

Numerous questions crowded my thoughts: Why would someone be interested in buying a town without people? Is it genuinely abandoned? What might be worth saving there?

I even reached out to Cuban by email to get some answers. He had little to say about it.

"I bought it to help out a basketball buddy who was dying of cancer, he needed it for his family," Cuban, who Forbes said has a $6.2 billion net worth , told me. "I have zero plans for it, I haven't ever been there."

I did some reading. NBC News, who spoke with Mike Turner , a real-estate agent who brokered the deal, said that Cuban bought Mustang from the principal owner, Marty Price , a Dallas attorney and a devoted Mavericks season-ticket holder. The New York Times reported the reason: Price, who died in August 2021 , apparently didn't want to leave his wife and children a hard-to-maintain ghost town .

I wanted to know more, but Turner didn't call me back.

In such moments, a saying often comes to mind, "The cure for ignorance is curiosity."

So I went to Mustang. Yes, I hopped into my car, opened up Google Maps, and drove from my downtown Dallas apartment to a remote town that wasn't even on my radar until last week.

Here's what I found .

Mustang is approximately an hour’s drive south of Dallas, a major city packed with buildings — even its suburbs are dense. But Mustang is surrounded by roads with no buildings.

ghosts or ghosts

In rural Texas, you often see large, open pastures with cows and horses. When I got close to Mustang, I wasn't surprised to see cattle ranches lining the roads.

ghosts or ghosts

As I exited Interstate 45 and neared Mustang, I was excited to see a highway sign pointing toward the town. I thought I must be close.

ghosts or ghosts

The excitement turned to confusion as I drove around for 30 minutes. I couldn't pinpoint where Mustang and the adjacent town, Angus, began. Angus has 458 people, while, according to the most recent Census, Mustang has zero.

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Source: US Census Bureau

I tried driving down the few roads Google Maps has marked. They were unpaved, and I saw knocked-down signs and warnings to stay away. I saw a few houses, but no people.

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Feeling frustrated, I asked a man working on the side of the road for directions to Mustang. He also had no idea but recommended checking out Stuckey’s, a longtime gas station and convenience store in Angus. But even the store’s clerk hadn’t heard of Mustang.

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I next approached the cashier at a grocery store in Angus, who was aware of Mustang. Victory! But all she could tell me was that it was deserted, with its most notable features being a now-demolished strip club and a fire station.

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At this point, I was desperate. I showed up at Angus' city hall unannounced. Government officials would have answers, right?

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At the city hall, I met Trina Kelley, a secretary who did not share her age — and refused to let me take her picture — but said she has lived in Angus since she was 9 years old.

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Kelley — who seemed elated to have someone to talk to — gave me the lowdown on both Angus and Mustang and showed me this map of the greater Angus area.

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Kelley said Mustang is the area labeled Mustang Courts, about 75 acres in the middle of Angus.

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Kelley explained that Mustang was originally a part of Angus but was disannexed in July 1973 because Mustang locals wanted the freedom to sell liquor, which Angus didn't allow at the time.

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In 2006, the Associated Press described Mustang as "carved from a pasture in 1973 to sell alcohol so a beer run was no longer a 60-mile drive to Dallas." The town was "broke, withering and down to about 50 residents," the AP reported.

Kelley said that the two cities became independent entities a few days after the disannexation.

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The 2006 Associated Press story described Mustang as having "two dusty streets, a strip club, a boarded-up country western bar, one trash bin and a dilapidated trailer park where the entire population lives." It also had a shed for Mustang's volunteer fire department , the Dallas Morning News reported.

News reports say that pretty much everything has since been razed.

I couldn't find the strip club, Wispers Cabaret, which the Independent reported closed after "a 2008 murder in which a clubgoer was beaten to death that made headlines across the state."

Kelley said Mustang has remained desolate for many years, never truly sustaining a substantial number of residents or buildings.

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Before Cuban bought Mustang, it had been on and off the market since 2017.

Kelley said there is now nothing there, adding that Cuban recently agreed to let Angus keep its new fire truck on Mustang land.

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Armed with Kelley's information and a new perspective on the map, I hit the road again to try to see Mustang for myself. I passed Angus' water tower for the fourth time.

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On the drive to Mustang, I saw several "keep out" signs. What better way to know you're in the South?

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I thought my tires would burst driving down the unpaved country roads, but I made it. Behold: The sprawling patch of land that is Mustang.

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A few Angus homes surround the Mustang land, including this quaint house listed for $220,000.

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Source: Zillow

The area's homes are mostly ranch-style or manufactured, with agricultural equipment in sheds outside and American and/or Texas flags flying out front.

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Before heading home, I decided to check out a nearby winery. I didn't know this part of Texas was known for growing grapes.

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I parked on the side of the road to check out some horses. One in particular gazed at me, almost as if it could sense I wasn't from around here.

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I reached the winery, but unfortunately, it was closed. Just my luck. I still enjoyed its classic farmhouse-style architecture.

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I briefly stepped out of my car to admire the vineyard, but upon noticing a sizable dog, I promptly hopped back in. Glancing in my rearview mirror, I could see it chasing my car.

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While returning to Dallas, I thought about what I had seen and learned about Mustang.

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While I didn't discover anything extraordinary, I found a quirky little city almost forgotten to time if not for a billionaire's efforts.

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It reminded me that there is hidden history like this all over Texas. Sometimes, you just have to work a little harder to find it.

ghosts or ghosts

Columbus touts 2023 police seizures of 'ghost guns,' dangerous Glock switches

ghosts or ghosts

Columbus police last year seized 43 "ghost guns" — illegal and untraceable firearms built by unlicensed sellers.

Assistant Chief Gregory Bodker, who oversees operations for the city Division of Police, said during a press conference on Thursday that the division seized these ghost guns as part of a total 3,693 guns recovered in 2023.

That's a year-over-year increase from the total 3,356 guns seized in 2022.

The increase in ghost gun seizures marks a troubling trend as those guns don't have required serial numbers and other markers that allow law enforcement to trace ownership or possession of firearms used in crimes. Sometimes the guns are even 3-D printed and can evade metal detectors.

Officers confiscated 31 such guns in 2022, and 14 in 2021.

Police also saw a significant increase in the number of Glock switches confiscated on Columbus streets last year, said Bodker. Glock switches are devices as small as a quarter that can turn a semi-automatic handgun into a fully automatic weapon.

Officers seized 75 Glock switches in 2023, compared to 17 in 2022 and none in 2021, Bodker said Thursday.

Mayor Andrew Ginther said Columbus police are doing a remarkable job. He also praised gun buyback programs for removing hundreds of firearms from the community — something the city was criticized for by mayoral candidate Joe Motil, whom Ginther handily defeated in winning reelection in the Nov. 7, 2023, general election.

"(Police are) taking record numbers of guns off our streets," Ginther said. "The more guns we get off our streets, the safer we're all going to be. This shouldn't be a controversial statement."

Last year in Columbus, shootings made up the majority of the city's homicides (85% of 149 deaths) and felonious assaults (75% of 1,363 assaults). And nearly half of all robberies involved a firearm, according to Bodker.

Ginther again repeated his complaint that the Republican-controlled Ohio legislature is "refusing to get out of our way" and allow the city to enforce local gun control reforms .

"But we aren't going to allow them to prevent us from doing what we need to do to keep our city safe," Ginther said. "We're embracing innovation and continuous improvement."

In 2023, there were 149 homicides reported , a slight increase over 2022 but still markedly lower than the record-setting number of deaths in 2020 (175) and 2021(205).

[email protected]

@LairdWrites

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  4. Ghost

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  8. Ghost

    ghost, soul or spectre of a dead person, usually believed to inhabit the netherworld and to be capable of returning in some form to the world of the living. According to descriptions or depictions provided by believers, a ghost may appear as a living being or as a nebulous likeness of the deceased or, occasionally, in other forms. Belief in ghosts is based on the ancient notion that a human ...

  9. The Ghosts of Ghosts (CBS) and Ghosts (BBC) Ranked

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  14. The science of ghosts

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  15. The Science (and Non-Science) of Ghosts

    In fact, ghosts are among the most widely believed of paranormal phenomena: Millions of people are interested in ghosts, and a 2019 Ipsos/YouGov poll found that 45% of Americans say that ghosts "definitely or probably exist." The idea that the dead remain with us in spirit is ancient, and appears in countless stories from the Bible to Macbeth.

  16. What Are Ghosts Really? 5 Paranormal Theories

    1. Ghost Are the Spirits of Dead People It is a widely-held belief supported by many major religions: When we die, our spirit continues on. However, not all religions agree on what that spirit does after death. In most Christian faiths, the spirit heads off to Heaven or Hell and doesn't stick around to bother the living.

  17. Ghosts U.K. vs U.S. Characters

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  19. List of ghosts

    Ghosts (2019 TV Series) includes the Captain, Mary, Robin, Kitty, Thomas Thorne, Julian Fawcett, Lady Fanny Button, Pat Butcher and Humphrey. The Grudge: Kayako Saeki, the onryo, and her homicidal husband Takeo Saeki, the evil yurei. Harry Potter series: The Bloody Baron. The Fat Friar.

  20. Life After Death: The Difference Between Ghosts and Spirits and How

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    Funnel Ghosts and Orbs. Funnel Ghosts (also known as ghost orbs) are the types of ghosts most often captured in photographs. The people in the picture often don't even notice it is there until after the film has developed, or they look at the picture taken later on. Funnel Ghosts are just as they sound, a funnel of light that flashes its way ...

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