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Scientific reasons which explain why many believe ghosts exist

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About one in every three Britons believe in ghosts. However are there any scientific reasons which can explain the uneasy feeling, a sudden apparition or even the prickling in the neck that is often described?  

In October 2014 a YouGov survey discovered that 1 in every 3 Britons believe that ghosts exist.  The results showed that 39% of people believed that a house could be haunted and that 28% of people had felt an unusual or potentially supernatural presence.  Sabrina Stierwalt a physicist from Berkeley UC has suggested that there could be some reasons to explain these sensations.

Low sound frequencies

Our ears can analyse and understand sounds of between 20 and 20, 000 hertz.  Below 20 hertz, it is called infrasound. Although we cannot hear these sounds, it does not mean they have no affect on our human brain. In a study carried out in 2003, 22% of participants at a concert during which some of the music was strewn with infrasound actually stated that they “felt uncomfortable or sad, had chills or feelings of revulsion and fear, ” notes the researcher.

Weather phenomena like earthquakes or lightning are often the source of infrasound. Whales and elephants can also produce infrasound to communicate with their species. What about humans? “Humans also create low-frequency sounds through diesel engines, wind turbines, and certain loudspeakers or chemical explosions,” Sabrina Stierwalt says. Could these infrasounds explain our feelings of unease in certain situations?

Toxic mold can affect our brain

If you breath in toxic mold and fungi such as stachybotrys chartarum, known in English as “black mold”, or ergot of rye, the toxins can alter your brain. Neurological symptoms can then appear “like delirium, dementia or irrational fears,” says the researcher. Is it a coincidence that homes we suspect to be haunted also tend to be dilapidated and therefore probably filled with toxic molds? “.
fantômes maison hantée
Haunted house and cemetery  Source : Pixabay

Carbon monoxide

Breathing too much carbon monoxide will poisons us. An unnoticed leak can then “cause auditory hallucinations, a feeling of pressure on the chest and an unexplained sense of terror,” Sabrina Stierwalt notes. Apparitions or feelings of paranormal presence could then simply be explained by intoxication with this painless gas.

So as to avoid the carbon monoxide poisoning, it is best to check and maintain your boilers, water heaters and flues, and not obstruct the air inlets and outlets to your home

We like to be scared

Being afraid releases dopamine into our brain, a chemical substance associated with pleasure. The fact that we enjoy being afraid could explain why some people like horror movies so much.  This could also lead some people to let their imagination run riot. Once you think that their might be ghosts, dopamine is released into your brain and makes people accept the idea that there are ghost present.

Finally, the researcher also points out that “believing in ghosts also allows us to believe in an existence after death, which can in the end be a comforting thought.


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