Just Call it a Ghost!


“Fantome”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fantome.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Fantome.jpg

One of my pet peeves is the constant line by Skeptics that ghosts don’t exist or there are no such thing as ghosts. Some say this more accurately as we don’t have any evidence that ghosts exist. They are right, partially, but that all depends on how we define ghost.

The term ghost is used by Skeptics and paranormal investigators to imply a cause: Just using the word ghost comes with the understanding that they dealing with dead people. But there are some problems with this.

First of all believers don’t even have a single accepted explanation for what a ghost is. Some say they are simply dead spirits, others contend that they are demons, some say they are dead spirits but only those who have unfinished business here. Still others say that this is simply imprinted energy playing itself back to us. And that’s just a few of the common hypotheses. Why then should we assume Ghost carries the implication that we are seeing dead people when we can’t even agree on that?

And the second issue is with eyewitnesses. Thanks to Hollywood and TV everyone knows what a ghost is and what it does, so when someone hears strange noises, seemingly spontaneous movement of objects, scratches, or a ghostly shadow or mist they correctly use the term ghost. And there should be nothing wrong with that. Some of these witnesses use the term but do not necessarily believe something paranormal was the cause. The term ghost describes these common events in a way we can all understand. It is like the term deer describes a lean, four-legged animal with short brown hair that runs through the forest.

Skeptics can spend their time fighting eyewitnesses who say they experienced something ghostly, but this is a fruitless endeavor. Skeptics will not win hearts and minds by sharpshooting terminology and experiences.

Yes I know this is an argument of semantics, but correct word usage can be important. For Skeptics publicly acknowledging that the Ghost phenomena is certainly real would go a long way to bridging the gap between skeptics and those who are skeptical of the skeptics. After all people are having very real experiences with events the average person would ascribe to a ghost. Why can’t we use the term? It accurately describes the characteristics being experienced. It does not have to carry the implication that someone who experienced a ghost phenomenon touched the etheric plane.

If Skeptics want to avoid confusion, instead of using the word ghost, use the term ghost phenomena. It highlights the difference while acknowledging that these events are occurring. So instead of saying ghosts don’t exist we can say we have no evidence to support the supernatural explanation concerning ghosts, or there is no evidence that the ghost phenomena has an unnatural or unexplained cause. See the difference? People would appreciate open acknowledgement of these experiences and that will open more doors to acceptance of Skeptical explanations. Experiencing strange things should not be turned into a stigma! Let the people call a ghost a ghost.