Science and Ghosts

    A November 5, 2007 Newsweek article by Sharon Begley attempted to provide a ‘scientific’ explanation for the phenomenon of seeing ‘ghosts’.  It relied on a well-known aspect of human perception–namely that our brains seem to seek order and understanding of unexplained phenomena.
     We have an innate tendency to ‘see’ faces in the shadows, to attribute intelligence to inanimate objects, to see ‘ghosts’ were there are none.
Such an explanation is part of the naturalistic/scientific approach to paranormal/spiritual experiences–I use the term Extraordinary Experiences of Awareness [EEA] to describe them.
    And there is no question that the human brain DOES indeed seek explanations for what is frightening or unknown. 
But…..this, I believe, does not completely account for such EEA as perceiving ALL apparitions / ghosts.
    Scientific attempts to ‘explain’ the near-death experience as an illusion of the brain are equally questionable  [see NDE discussion–to be posted]
    As difficult as it might be for some to accept–I do believe that apparitions of the dead are and can be perceived.  I do not state that I have ‘proof’ of this.  But the ‘evidence’ seems overwhelming to support this contention.  Can I explain this as a being a ‘disembodied’ entity? Can this be an image that is ‘created’ by the brain and that appears to be projected into space?  I can’t say.  But some of the experiences I have heard from reliable sources are quite extraordinary and deserving of consideration.
    I do refer to others in my book Meta-Physician On Call for Better Health.  But I will relate one or two here.
The first comes from a young woman who works for me.  She has no particular reason to ‘make up’ any of this.  She grew up in a home that was more than one hundred years old.  She recalls a ‘playmate’ who was a young blond girl who wore an ‘old fashioned’ dress.  She would appear in her bedroom from behind a piece of furniture and play with her.
    She recalls telling no one about this until many years later. Her half-brother, 14 years younger, was then staying in the same room.  She spontaneously described seeing the same young girl to his mother.
    In another story from one of my patients:  she had been very ‘close’ to her father-in-law who had died several months before.  One night he appeared to her at the foot of her bed, glowing with a warm light and wearing one of his favorite sweaters.  She told no one.  In the morning her teenage daughter excitedly reported seeing her grandfather and described the same sweater.
    There are numerous other examples of ‘confirmed’ sightings in which more than one individual has described seeing a deceased person.
I personally cannot ascribe Begley’s theory to explain such phenomena.  There clearly seems to be some intelligent ‘energy’ that manifests in a particular time and place.
    More than that, I can not hope to explain–at least for the present.
However, I do continue to seek scientific explanations for all mental phenomena.  It may very well be that there is no true distinction between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’.  They may all eventually be understood as some common phenomenon.  This approach does not diminish the notion of spirit or soul.  It merely states that we don’t know what the relationship between matter and soul actually is.
They may not be separate aspects of reality [Descartes Dualism].  They may be ‘real’, however.  They may represent different degrees of vibrational frequency of the same underlying ‘substance’.
    After all, without the scientific demonstration, who would intuitively know that ice, water and steam are all  identically the same?

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