Do Ghosts Exist?

Do ghosts exist?

What Is A Ghost?

Do ghosts exist? Before we can get into the truth behind ghost stories and ghost sightings, we first need to discuss exactly what a ghost is.

These otherworldly entities are depicted as translucent beings and vague shapes. However, the classical Halloween sheeted ghost began to appear in the 19th century to bring ghost stories to life.

The dictionary definition is: “the spirit of a dead person, sometimes represented as a pale, almost transparent image of that person that some people believe appears to people who are alive”

The history of ghosts goes back to ancient times and across many different cultures. In the stories and retelling, ghosts are mostly solitary, haunting certain places or people that they were connected to in their lives.

Why Do People Claim Ghosts Exist?

With paranormal investigators and haunted houses making appearances on increasingly popular ghost-hunting TV shows, we’ve all been invited into the real-life ghostly experiences of others. But, how much of it is TV production, or simply the want to believe?

Some of us have experienced real paranormal activities or are convinced we live in a haunted house. But, scientists are quick to explain away these spooky occurrences with sound logic (which we take with a pinch of salt).

We might have a definition of ghosts, but there’s many eerie, varying phenomena that seem to be attributed to ghosts:

  • Slamming doors
  • Disembodied voices
  • Distant screams
  • All kinds of unearthly malice

So, it is easy to understand why scientists have come up with good reasons behind all these different happenings. The definition of what a ghost is and what it can do is a bit blurred, making the existence of ghosts easier to disprove.

The science behind ghosts

Here are some reasons that scientists have come up with why people may believe they saw the spirit of a dead person.

Sleep paralysis

When we dream, we experience something called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. During this phase, our minds are active, but our bodies are paralysed.

Sleep paralysis is when you become conscious during REM sleep, but you can’t move your body. You are dreaming with your eyes open. It can be terrifying, and you might see a demonic ghost lurking over your bed as you “sleep”.


Pareidolia is a common habit we humans have of seeing faces when there are none. Ever seen a human shadow in the corner of your room when it is actually the coat rack’s shadow or spotted faces in the smoke rising from a fire?

As common as it is, people still believe that when pareidolia occurs, it is actually a deceased person reaching out to us from beyond the grave.

Perceptual blindness

This refers to someone’s inability (or unwillingness) to see what is actually there. When focused on something else, and you hear strange noises or see something bizarre, your brain just doesn’t have the capacity to find a reason. As a result, you decide it must be part of your personal ghost story instead.

Out-of-body experience (OBE)

OBEs are considered neurological phenomena caused by something as simple as dehydration or as severe as brain trauma.

Believers in the supernatural may use an OBE to support their beliefs and claim that they left their body as a ghost or spirit, and therefore ghosts must exist.

Neurological issues

Brain injuries or neurological issues like epilepsy can make you see things that are not really there or give you a sensation of being followed and feeling like you’re going to imminently suffer a violent death. But, all along, it is just your mind playing tricks on you.

Why Spiritual People Believe In Ghosts

Telling spooky stories around the campfire is one thing, but why are so many people convinced that ghosts exist?

1. Cultural beliefs

Ghosts have been around for a very long time, becoming a part of culture. African folklore, Asian tales, Scandinavians and throughout the Americas – these civilisations and cultures respect ghosts and consider them generational ancestors.

Many believe in ghosts, since they make up the fabric of their culture: ghosts are the embodiment of their predecessors.

2. Comfort

The human personality is a complicated thing, and the vast majority of people take comfort in the afterlife. Knowing that our loved ones never truly leave us lessens the pain of death, and believing that the spirit will return when a human dies can offer relief.

Some people think ghosts are bad, but for those who believe their loved ones return to them to say “Hi”, a ghost can be more of a “cherished visitor” and less a “flesh-eating demon”.

3. Paranormal experiences

Some ghost-sceptics become converted when they have their own unexplainable paranormal experiences. Sometimes, something happens to you that you just can’t explain, and your reasoning is that it must have been a ghost, and so a believer is created.

4. Open to spirituality and mystical occurrences

Some people, no matter their culture or history, are willing to admit that we don’t know everything. As such, there are certain things in the spiritual realm that we simply won’t understand. These people tend to have a more open mindset and consider ghosts a real possibility.

Why Some People Don’t Believe In Ghosts

As many believers as there are, some people like to prioritise critical thinking and refuse to believe that ghosts exist:

1. Don’t believe in the afterlife

If you believe that when you die, you are dead, and there is only nothingness, then you won’t believe that the spirit can return to the living once a person dies.

2. No paranormal experiences

There are those among us who have been lucky enough (or is it unlucky?) to have never experienced something unexplainable. If you are a sceptic, you are more likely to disregard spooky happenings anyway.

Some people are also discouraged from believing, either by friends, their family or their culture.

3. Lack of proof

No matter how many EVP recordings you may play them, or show them weird temperature disturbances on your thermal imaging camera, some people just refuse to accept any proof of ghosts.

Sure, there are no published scientific journal articles that confirm the existence of ghosts, but the Bible is also not scientifically proven, and many people believe in Jesus Christ!

So, a lack of proof really doesn’t prove anything.


What equipment do ghost hunters use?

To prove ghosts are real, a ghost hunter will use equipment like EMF meters, voice recorders, motion sensors and thermometers to document paranormal activity and prove to sceptics that ghosts exist.

Are ghosts the same across different cultures?

Ghosts may appear in many cultures, but these ghosts vary. Their appearance, purpose and significance differ, with some cultures believing in malevolent entities, while others believe in kind spirits that offer protection. Some people even believe in ghost cats are real.

Final Thoughts

Do ghosts exist? We can’t tell you whether ghosts are real or not, only you can decide what you want to believe.

Science may have come a long way in explaining some odd phenomena that happen in the world around us. But with ghosts dating back centuries, and ghostly stories continuing to be told, we like to believe the supernatural exists and comes to visit us every so often.


Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I'm a ghost-hunting expert, writer and founder of SpiritShack. My mission is to help people like yourself learn about spirituality and how to hunt ghosts!