Ghosts: Real Terrors or Phantom Fiction

John M.

Staff Writer

Every year, thousands of people in the United States and around the world decorate their houses to celebrate Halloween. While many use ghost decorations, ghosts are more than white sheets covering a tree; according to some supernatural experts, ghosts are real. A poll from 2005 indicates 32% of Americans believe in the existence of ghosts. Experts show evidence of ghosts through photos, TV shows, and even via eyewitness accounts. Do these experts have a real case for ghosts, and could a spirit from the dead still be haunting a house?

Ghosts are the spirits of dead people who are still roaming Earth. Ghost stories, which are tales involving ghosts, have become a part of American folklore. The earliest ghost stories go back to Babylon, the Roman Empire, and Ancient Greece, and ghosts have appeared in some of the most famous works of literature like Hamlet and A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol tells the story of three ghosts that haunt Ebenezer Scrooge, a despicable man who needs to change his ways or suffer a terrible fate. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet’s father tells Hamlet that he was murdered by his brother, who is now the king.  Sophomore Jalen Kelly shares another famous ghost story, The Legend of Sleepy Hallow. This famous story, which began as a folk tale in Europe and eventually spread to the United States, features the Headless Horseman, who goes through the woods in Sleepy Hallow, New York, terrorizing the people in the village. While the ghosts in these legendary works are fictional, according to paranormal experts, ghosts are real and are in the world right now.

ghost AParanormal experts continue to search for ghosts all over the world, and their attempts captivate viewers watching TV shows such as Ghost Adventures and Most Haunted. These paranormal experts use real tools such as audio recorders to hear any unexplained noises and motion sensors to detect any movements recorded by any non-human beings; they do not actually have plasma packs like those seen in the film Ghostbusters. The experts work to capture photographs to use as evidence in their claims of finding ghosts. One of the most famous ghost pictures shows Mary Todd Lincoln after her husband’s assassination in 1865; the photo appears to show the ghost of Abraham Lincoln standing over her. Another famous picture shows the ghost of a monk in a church. In the photos the ghosts are either blurry or appear to be translucent humans, so many skeptics have called these ghost pictures fakes. Experts believe that the camera which was used to take the photo could have been messed with to include a picture of a dead person, and then when the photo developed, the photographer could have claimed to have seen a ghost. These experts have evidence in photos, and they also claim that places all around are locations of reported hauntings.

All around the world there are reported places where hauntings occur, and there are possible reasons for the hauntings. Many haunted places include graveyards such as Boot Hill in Tombstone, Arizona, the civil war cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and the Saint Louis Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana. Many of these locations are sites where bloody battles took place like The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas. Others are prisons such as Alcatraz in San Francisco, California, and the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. The Ohio State Reformatory was one of the sites used in the movie The Shawshank Redemption; during filming, many crew members actually reported hearing unusual sounds such as screams and footsteps from people who were not there at the time. Of course, many haunted sites are just ordinary people’s houses; for example, the Lizzie Borden House in Fall River, Massachusetts, is the site where two people were murdered brutally in 1892, and the spirits of the murdered are said to still haunt the house to this day. In the house people have heard strange noises and people screaming like someone is suffering. According to ghost experts, how ghosts appear are mysteries, as not all spirits become ghosts; although some experts have theories on why ghosts are here, like that ghosts come from brutal deaths, it remains a mystery why ghosts appear. For many people, when they see or hear a ghost, they run off afraid because they have never seen a ghost before and are afraid of what a ghost could do to them.

Despite the fear of ghosts, millions of people very year celebrate Halloween, which includes dressing up as or decorating houses with ghosts. So, if ghosts arrive because of brutal demises, then why do people celebrate them? Halloween actually originates from All Saints and Souls Day, which is a Catholic holiday celebrated on November 1st. Halloween comes from the phrase “all hallows eve,” meaning the night before All Saints and Souls Day, and as a tradition in medieval times, many people used to leave food outside of their house to keep ghosts away from them; this eventually formed into the tradition of trick-or-treating, which turned into the holiday of Halloween. Every year thousands of Americans travel to a site of a reported haunting so they can hear a scary story, take a tour of the location of a haunting, or even experience firsthand a ghost. In Mexico around the time of Halloween the citizens honor deceased relatives on the Day of the Dead; relatives visit graveyards and go to celebrations, and many leave food out to welcome their deceased relatives back to their houses. All around the world people celebrate the legends that ghosts are and continue to come up with new legends for ghosts.

Ghosts are the spirits of dead people who stay on Earth, they have appeared throughout works of fiction, they have inspired people to go look for them, and millions of people celebrate them every year. Throughout history ghosts have been debated and will continue to be debated until a real ghost comes to give speak the truth about if ghosts are real. Until that day comes, expect to see ghosts throughout all sources of media, and on every October 31st, people will celebrate Halloween and the ghosts that continue to create legends to this day.

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