Laura Chafin Bonnie Collett
Carrie Cornelius Paula Duncan
Kenneth Griffin Chris Keith
Ghosts, or the other wordily essence of the once living, have nearly always been a part of human culture. Ghosts tales reach out to us from the most ancient times. These tales depict ghosts as many different things. These things range from the spirit of the dead to demons. The apparitions can take several forms. Some of these forms are seen as light, mists, shadows or nearly transparent human forms. Other ghost sightings are reported as a solid tangible form.
Tales of ghosts are found in the oral tradition of the most primitive cultures. The Mehinakee of the Amazon basin in South America live essentially as they did hundreds of years ago. The Mehinakee still have a festival to keep the ghosts of an elder woman, a known trickster, under control. In ancient Japanese culture ghosts are seen as suicide victims who come back to reek havoc on the living. Japanese culture produced story of a ghostly woman who told men to torture and kill a man she blamed for her murder. Another traditional story suggest that a warlord was haunted by many people he killed. The Japanese believed that ghosts are everywhere and easy to conjure.
In Western society ghosts are usually seen as tortured souls. Europe has a rich variety of ghost tales. England and Ireland are especially famous for their tales of haunted castles. One such tale is of Dramnerogha. A castle tale in which the phantom portrait of Lady Anna Mary appears. The ghosts is reported to smile at all and no one really seems frightened of her. The hooded lady is often seen on the shores looking for her love last love lost at sea.
When the immigrants of Europe came to America they brought with them the oral tradition of the ghost story. The traditional story telling carries over to modern culture. The urban legend of the phantom hitchhiker is one of the more famous stories. Whether people believe the ghosts stories to be true or not, they have had a definite impact on American culture. This has led to an increase in studying the supernatural.
One of the principal difficulties in the scientific study of spectral manifestations is their elusive nature. Their unpredictability coupled with their diversity , make ghosts almost impossible to study. Researchers usually have little to work with other than personally accounts. A brief personal account was experienced by two women in our group. Bonnie Collet and Paula Duncan experienced the supernatural from July 1995 to October 1996. In the thirteen months there were many strange experiences with what they considered to be ghost. Visitors to their apartment also had such encounters. They lived at the Cabara apartments on Lassil road in Lexington for two days before they experienced the phenomenon. Bonnie viewed an apparition in the dressing room of her bedroom. She saw a faint figure of young boy between thirteen or fourteen years of age. He had autumn hair, dark eyes, and wore a white t-shirt and blue jeans.
When she started toward him he vanished. Over the subsequent months other ghostly happenings were witnessed by the women and some visitors. Some encounters they witnessed are very similar to the typical ghost encounters of other people. The encounters included: Unseen hands touching face, and arms and fingers prying at them as they slept. They were awakened when lights and televisions would come on without being touched. Couches and chairs were pulled out in the middle of the room. Pictures and mirrors were turned the wrong way. Cabinet doors in the kitchen were open in the mornings. Strange shadows without a source moved across walls. They heard faint sounds of crying coming from the bathroom and dressing room adjacent to the bedroom. The supernatural experiences continued until the day the moved out. No explanation could be made for what happened, yet they also have no proof of what occurred
The advent of the camera provided an ideal medium for investigators to use to substantiate claims. Unfortunately many frauds seized the chance to fleece the credulous. They used double exposures and darkroom editing to produce spirit photos. Such con artists were the target of debunkers such as Harry Houdini. Houdini in his later life dedicated himself to the exposure of the frauds. Houdini promised his wife he would return to his wife after he was dead if it was possible. His wife never experienced his return. Few legitimate ghost photographs exist from these early years of photography, and little progress has been made in the years since.
In recent years there has been a resurgence of spirits photographs. The popular conception of spirit photography has changed as well. Supposed photographs of ghosts have entered popular culture, and are very different from the old spirit photos. Today, ghosts on film are generally seen as fitting into three distinct categories, each with several variations. These photographic anomalies are almost invariably unseen at the time the photos are shot, and are discovered only after the film is developed. Ghost orbs, vortexes, and mists are common results in pictures. The prevailing theory is that ghost hunters are able to capture spirits on film due to the wider spectrum of light that film is sensitive to, as compared to the human eye. Common film is responsive to both the low end of the spectrum and the high end of the ultraviolet spectrum, both invisible to the naked eye. Popular theories also counter the ghost claims. These theories include tricks of light, flaws in the film, errors in development, lens flare, water spots, and simple deliberate fraud.
Similar to ghost encounters, mediums claim to communicate with the dead through brain waves or energy. Mediums have been around since written history. Every primitive culture claimed to have people who could communicate with the dead. Common names were wizards, oracles, medicine men, witch doctors, mystics, and fortune tellers. Communicating with the dead was very popular in the middle 1800's due to the rise in science and technology. It faded away and then came back strong after World War I. This was due to the fact that so many people were suffering and grieving and this was one way to deal with loss.
Some cults accept the use of mediums. It is also common belief that most women are more intuitive and more have mystical minds than men. Higher intelligence is said to block personal psychic experiences. Two things happen to a medium while in communication with the dead. The first aspect is automatic writing in a dissociative state. Mediums wrote rapidly and amazingly fast while being scarcely aware of it. Thoughts were wrote down like messages from the dead. This provided the medium with a written text that could examined and checked as proof. The second aspect in the trance reception. The medium entered into a another state of consciousness that could be witnesses and monitored.
Mediums are vigorously investigated by skeptics because they have been so many bogus mediums. Few channeling interactions have been conducted and reported in a manner that could be used as evidence. Scientific evidence is seldom the primary goal in the channeling sessions. It is not easy to establish a situation that is both favorable to the channeling process and to scientific evaluation. Thus, questions remain and the issue is highly controversial. Common fraudulent techniques have been explored. Harry Houdini scanned newspapers for deaths, births, marriages, engagements, checked court records, hired pick pockets, and got clerks to search mail ways to get information to mimic the medium ability.
Today, recording devices in the waiting rooms to listen to the conversations of the people before the medium session. Mediums have also been analyzed by other explanations. From a psychological view point explanations include mental instability, schizophrenia, visions and voices heard in the head, and insecurity in early life.
To help understand the supernatural some people turn to the Christian religion to make sense of spirits. Corinthians 15 states that when you die those believers of Christ will be given an incredible body, soul, and spirit. We will never be drifting bodiless ghosts. This contradicts channellers claims that they have spirits or souls of the dead speaking through them. The dead are totally inert. Thus, two conclusions can be drawn. The first is that the chaneler is a fake and they prey on many people with money that desperately want to talk with loved ones that have died. Secondly, there are invisible spirits that are willing to use mediums. These spirits are not dead people, nor gods. These beings are said to be angels who turned against God and Satan, which gives rise to the negative view of spirits.
Poltergeists have also been given a lot of attention in communication with the dead. Cases of poltergeist activity dates back to 9th century with cases being documented across the world. The first case was recorded in 858 A.D. when a "evil spirit" threw stones and made the walls shake in a small farmhouse. The word poltergeist is German and means "noisy spirit". Anthony North, author of the book, "The Paranormal: A Guide to The Unexplained" defines a poltergeist as an unknown force that can throw this and that around the place, making a general paranormal nuisance of itself. A poltergeist is a mischievous, destructive, malicious, teasing, and spiteful.
The difference in ghost and poltergeist, is that poltergeists are very physical. They move and throw things, and have been known to hit their helpless victims. Harry Price coined it best in 1945 when he stated that, "a ghost merely haunts, a poltergeist infests." Many of the articles researched stated that poltergeists were predominately found to be around young girls. The articles gave no explanation for this occurrence, but that possibly the poltergeist appears as a child is going through puberty because of how unsettled and insecure the child feels during this period.
Poltergeists can communicate with the living by speaking or by knocking. Although it has been documented that their speech is usually a learned gradual process. Many have tried to explain the phenomenon of poltergeists. Frank Podmore, a member of The Society for Psychical Research, thinks many poltergeists outbreaks were faked. Hungarian-American psychoanalyst Nandor Fodor feels that poltergeist were personality fragments.
Scientist, Arthur Koestler, believes poltergeists are "holons gone crazy". He describes holons a being atoms and molecules. He feels that some of the nastiest poltergeist can even make small fires. The most common belief is that poltergeists are spirits of 9th dead. Based upon a study performs by parapsychologist Alan Gould and A.D. Cornell they found the following statistics of poltergeist encounters: 64% Movement of small objects, 58% Most active at night, 48% Involved raps or knocking, 36% Featured movement of large objects, 24% lasted over one year, 16% Involved communication with an entity, 12% Shutting and opening of doors and windows.
In conclusion there has been no hard evidence of communication with the dead despite the rise in the level of technology. The five points of the presentation are: Ghosts are found throughout history ans within many cultures. Physical proof of the existence of ghosts remain vague, despite the use of modern technology. The difference between a ghost and poltergeist haunting is that a poltergeist haunts are physical, but a ghost merely haunts. Communication with the dead has been neither proven or disproven, however mental instability has widely been accepted as a major characteristic of those considered to be mediums. Many more people do not believe in ghost than believe.
The presentation seemed effective with the use of video clips throughout the presentation. We received good feedback as to the use of the video tape. Many people asked if we had edited the tape, which we had. We cut out parts that we deemed to be a waste of time. This approach allowed to allocate are time more efficiently, although we still ran a little long. There was not a lot time for questions at the end, although we did have discussion during the presentation which worked.
We felt it was a good idea to split the class up into non-believers and believers as an attempt to get some interaction with the audience. Some feedback from students suggested that this was not a good idea. This was not as effective as we hoped although we got a little feedback, as mentioned. In retrospect we should have just as people to discuss with a neighbor regardless of whether they believed or not.
The main points: ghost in different cultures, personal experiences, mediums, and poltergeist were conveyed in the presentation. Much of the student feedback expressed a great deal of interest in the topics we decided to focus on in the supernatural. The personal stories provided by Bonnie Collet and Paula Duncan created interest and was a good attention graber for a presentation. The feedback suggested that many people do not become bored, and we generated a lot of interest throughout. That part of the presentation could be a factor in that positive part of the presentation.
The research of cultural aspects of ghost was researched and presented
first in the presentation. The second part focused on the personal accounts
followed by the evidence to support if such claim are true of false. The
third section was researched on mediums. A majority of the research on
this topic was lengthy, so we choose to focus on the broad aspects of the
medium experience. The poltergeist section was presented the most efficiently,
and we covered what we felt was the definitions or explanations of how
and why a poltergeist infest. There was explanation of the difference between
ghost and poltergeist. The conclusion part was a simple summary of the
presentation, which we did not make too specific, but it cover the material
1. Ghost are found throughout history and within many cultures.
2. Physical proof of the existence of ghosts remains vague, despite the use of modern technology.
3. The difference between a ghost and a poltergeist haunting is thatpoltergeist hauntings are physical; while a ghost merely haunts, a poltergeist infests.
4. Communication with the dead has been neither proven or disproven,however mental instability has widely been accepted as a major characteristic of those considered to be mediums.
5. Many people do not believe in the supernatural.