September 21, 2010
Ghosts are disembodied spirits of creatures (usually people) that have died but are still able to interact in some way with the physical, material world. In some cases ghosts appear as translucent specters, visible but unable to interact with their surroundings. At other times, ghosts are invisible but are held responsible for strange sounds or otherwise inexplicable events (such as a door slamming shut or items falling off shelves).
Ghosts appear in the folklore of many cultures around the world dating back to Sumerian and other Mesopotamian societies seven thousand years ago. In recent decades, ghosts have been popularized by, among other means, haunted houses, the children’s cartoon Casper, the movies Ghost and Ghostbusters, and reality TV shows such as Ghost Hunters.
Despite appearing in countless stories, there is no evidence for ghosts. Many famous photographs exist claiming to depict ghosts have been proven to be fraudulent, while the content of others could be easily reproduced using standard techniques of the period.
There is no question that the idea of an individual’s personality persisting after death has a strong, universal human appeal. However, the evidence is completely lacking to support any manifestation of this concept, whether in the form of ghosts, an afterlife, angels, reincarnation, or resurrection.
Ghosts make for excellent stories, but are fictional constructs that have no foundation in reality outside of human psychology.