Sure, we've all heard our share of horror stories and seen our share of horror movies, but have you ever wondered how you’d actually react if you saw a shadowy apparition standing at the foot of your bed in the middle of the night? Yes, every fiber in your body will encourage you to scream your lungs off and run away, and rightly so, but the way you react depends majorly on the way you perceive and see things. This stands true for everything in life, including ghosts. With today’s level of advancement and awareness, people have broken down and analyzed even the most inexplicable of topics. Let’s face it; we humans are a curious lot and questioning everything is one of our most innate traits. So far, skeptics have managed to offer explanations and theories, but the existence of ghosts is still a very debatable topic and will remain so for a very long time to come.
This little incident happened with a friend of mine when one fine evening, he decided to take the shorter, more deserted route back home from work. It was a dark, desolate and abandoned factory road and no incident in particular was ever reported along that route. Thus, it was a safe path to take. It so happened that my friend started walking on this road and was halfway through, when all of a sudden, he saw two white apparitions gliding slowly towards him.
The hair on his neck stood on ends and a chill crept down his spine. It was all the more scary with tall dark trees looming over him, casting dark shadows and giving him a ‘trapped’ sort of feeling. So eventually, human instinct kicked in and he was faced with the ultimate decision – ‘fight' or 'flight’. As he was already more than halfway down the road, he mustered all the courage he had, revoked his faith in God, and started walking towards these two apparitions which continued to move towards him.
As the distance between them became shorter, the white figures became bigger. Beads of sweat started breaking out on his forehead. Every step he took, took him closer to them and finally, the moment of truth was there. What he saw left him speechless. The two apparitions were actually ‘sadhus’ or ‘saints’ belonging to the Jain religion of India. Clad in white fabric, these religious people walk bare feet as they believe that these practices keep them on the true path of reincarnation. Just like him, these holy people were taking the shorter route back to their temple which stood on the other end of the road.
On any bad day, my friend could have chosen to ‘flee’, thus categorizing the whole incident as an eerie mystery. He would have eventually told someone about it and that person would have told someone else. With every new audience, the story would have been modified, becoming scarier and creepier with every new version. Instead, he chose the ‘fight’ option in a fit of instinctive courage and as a result, the inexplicable became the explicable, thus killing a potential ghost story. Now we all know for a fact that the abandoned factory road is not haunted.
It is repeatedly said that a ghost is an entity. So what exactly is an entity? An entity is, on ground level, anything that exists by itself. All of us and everything around us are entities, and so are ghosts. Just as we are clusters of mass, ghosts are clusters of visible energy which come into existence once the dead person’s body becomes one with nature. Ghosts are visible imprints of energy of the dead, something like a shadow, only detached. They even walk and talk like their live counterparts. Such entities have known to interact with humans for centuries now and this phenomenon cannot be always dismissed.
Also, photographic and video evidence of ghosts have circulated on the internet for decades now. Like everything else, there is an explanation for the photographic appearance of ghosts too. Sure, we all know that ghosts are made of energy, but more specifically, photons seem to be the best explanation at the moment. Anything that appears on camera has to emit photons. So how exactly does something non-existent come on film or on a digital platform? It is purely a question of perspective, or as mentioned before, the way you perceive and look at things. If you’re a believer, the little smudge on the photograph is a spirit, and if you’re a skeptic, it’s just a smudge or a speck of contamination. And of course, there are always hoaxes.
The human brain is programmed to make sense of whatever it sees and hears. This phenomenon has a name too; it's called Pareidolia. It is an illusionary stimulus or a misperception in which vague and unclear sights or sounds are made out to be clear and significant, thus creating confusion. Pareidolia is also known to trigger off a series of unpleasant neural reactions in the brain whenever it cannot understand something, leading to anxiety, fear and panic. Ghosts are often an effect of pareidolia. However, the effect of pareidolia is so realistic that people swear that they actually saw or heard something that was not supposed to be there.Whatever the belief, the fact remains that whenever we see something we cannot explain, we apply logic and try to make sense of it. This logic can either be scientific or something based on experiences.
Since we're taking about the human mind here, let us ask ourselves a question. Have you ever wondered what sets us humans apart from animals? A million things must be popping up in your minds now, but there is one distinct quality that make us humans really unique - Imagination. We humans have used our imaginations in a number of fields such as architecture, literature, entertainment and so on. However, we also use our imaginations to fuel up our stories in our day to day lives, especially ghost stories. In early times, when our imagination wasn't as open as it is today, the subject of ghosts and spirits was confined to forests and cemeteries. Later, they started appearing inside houses, but for a valid reason such as revenge, justice or eternal peace. Then, the concept of poltergeists was introduced. Poltergeists were nothing but naughty brats of the afterlife. Most poltergeist stories talk about entities which existed to serve one purpose only – to create nuisance. And let us not forget 'specialized' supernatural species such as vampires, werewolves and zombies, which were results of the human imagination too. Moreover, in today’s advanced world, ghosts seem to have adapted to our technology by appearing on televisions and by talking on phones. As you can see, the concept of ghosts evolves and stays at par with the advancements of the time.
It seems that more than half of the reported ghost sightings involve some kind of low frequency sound. Most people don’t actually see a ghost and yet get spooked out by sounds which they’re not used to. It is established that the human ear hears sounds which lie between the frequencies 20Hz to 20,000 Hz. Anything above or below this range is sub audible and is not picked up by the human ear. However, sounds below 20 Hz are known to create an ‘eerie’ effect or an ‘auditory hallucination’, triggering fear and anxiety in people who are exposed to it. The study of such sounds is called infrasonics and the sounds themselves are called infrasounds. Such sounds are usually used to monitor earthquakes and chart underground rocks. However, they are also regularly reported at haunted venues around the world. These powerful waves also have the ability to resonate within our eyeballs, causing unclear vision. This occurrence, when coupled with the phenomenon of Pereidolia, deceives the human mind into thinking that it has seen a ghost or some other paranormal entity.