The Science of GHOSTS! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

The Science of GHOSTS! (Because Science w/ Kyle Hill)

August 14, 2019 99 By William Hollis


I ain’t got phasmophobia. I mean, I ain’t
afraid of no ghosts because although things in this world can be spooky, I think a belief
in ghosts tells us more about the brain than it does about the supernatural. This is: According to recent polls, nearly three fourths
of Americans believe in some sort of the paranormal, 41% believe in ESP, 37% believe in hauntings,
and 32% of Americans believed in ghosts. Those numbers are probably similar everywhere
in around the world, and have persisted for a few thousand years. But… Let’s stay scientific here and deal with
only what we can test. So what else could explain why we feel a spooky
presence in a condemned building or see a spirit in the dead of night? Perhaps it’s
a perfectly normal human brain. Humans are maybe nature’s best pattern-seeking
machines and for good reason. It was advantageous for our ancestors to think that rustle in
the grass was a hungry tiger and not just the wind and to be able to imagine others
with agency and control over our actions like we have. But our tendency to notice signals in the
noise doesn’t account for nature’s probabilities. Take a look at these two boxes. Which one
of them has a random distribution of dots inside? It’s the one on the right. Based
on randomness alone, we expect there to be clumps in the data, and to have coincidences
happen in our everyday lives. In fact, it’d be weirder if nothing weird
ever happened to you. So when there’s something strange, in the
neighborhood, be that creak of a floorboard, a flash of light, or even a vision of some
phantasm, our brains are assuming the worst based on what we are scared of or what pop
culture has primed us for. When you’re looking for ghosts, you find
them. Once you have a spooky experience and attribute
that to a ghost or spirit, another psychological quirk comes into play. Confirmation bias is the tendency to focus
only on evidence that supports or confirms a belief, and to ignore or discredit evidence
that does not. In short, you remember the “hits” and forget the “misses.” In our minds, no matter how many times that
a cold draft really just was an open window, it will never win out over the time we could
not explain it. And then there is what we know about the natural
world. We know of medical conditions like hallucinations
and sleep paralysis — where you are awake, paralyzed, but still dreaming — that can
explain a creepy figure here and there. But even the odd stuff like detecting magnetic
fields and heat signatures and low-frequency sounds have better groundings in science than
in the occult. When you consider how weird human psychology
and perception can be, when you account for all the natural explanations, there is still
room for spooky stuff, but not quite poltergeist level spooky stuff. Seeing a ghost might could
be the afterlife reaching out to scare you, but I’d bet on brains before boos. Why? Because Science. Need more science? Check out my latest video on nature’s real monsters. And want more? Make sure to subscribe. If you have any questions, hit me up in the comments below. Thanks.