Five Things to Explain Your Ghostly Encounter

According  to Pew Research Center, close to one-fifth of Americans believe they’ve  seen a ghost. With that--and Halloween--in mind, Gizmodo reached out to a  number of psychologists and neuroscientists to figure out why this  might be. Here are the findings:

  1. Sleep paralysis. According  to University of London professor Christopher French, sleep paralysis  affects eight percent of the general population and involves being half  awake and half asleep. It typically lasts a few seconds, but symptoms  like hallucinations can make for a much scarier experience. 
  2. “Pareidolia.” Michael  Nees, assistant professor of psychology at Lafayette College, notes  that a common version of pareidolia is perceiving human faces in random  configurations of physical objects; a classic example is when people  claim to see the face of Jesus in a piece of toast. 
  3. The survival hypothesis. As  explained by Manchester Metropolitan University senior lecturer Ken  Drinkwater, this theory proposes a disembodied consciousness (soul)  survives bodily death. Thus, seeing ghosts in this context confirms  belief in life after death and produces reassurance. 
  4. “Agency-detection mechanisms.”  In other words, if an individual believes that an encounter with a  ghost is a possibility, then ghosts may become the explanation that gets  used to resolve uncertainty.
  5. The unknown. The word “ghost” is often used as a convenient (if sloppy) label for “an experience someone doesn’t understand.”

Source:  Gizmodo