Can science support the existence of ghosts?

When you’re in your bedroom at night, trying to sleep without much success, and you hear a strange noise, what do you think? You can try to convince yourself that it wasn’t so strange; after all, houses make popping and cracking noises all the time -something to do with thermal differences. But this noise was more like a whining. Maybe the wind… The only problem is there’s absolutely no wind outside. Maybe a stray dog, but you haven’t heard any barking.

Then you begin to forget about the noise: sleep is finally coming.
The very moment you close your eyes the noise comes back. Yep, definitely a whine, and it was inside the house. You turn on the lights, get out of the bed and begin exploring. Nothing under the bed, nothing in the closet…
What was that? It felt like a cold hand on your neck. And this time the sound has pronounced clearly your name.
You try to convince yourself, again. It was nothing, just your imagination. You remember that you have a scientific mind and science says that ghosts don’t exist, right? Right?
Well, if that’s your last line of defense, don’t go on reading. We’re going to give you 4 ways in which science can support ghosts.


1. Science can’t disprove the existence of anything

Did you know that? Science is the most powerful knowledge tool we humans have and it can prove the existence of a lot of things. Unfortunately, it can’t disprove the existence of anything, or, if you want, it can’t prove the non-existence of anything. Let’s give an example: science has proven there are horses and rhinos, but it can’t disprove the existence of unicorns. All scientists can say is they’ve been looking everywhere for unicorns, but they haven’t found them yet.
So the next time someone tells you that science proves that there’s no such thing as ghosts, don’t take their words at face value. That’s not science, but omniscience.

Arthur C. Clarke

2. Sufficiently advanced technology

Arthur C. Clarke, a very prominent science-fiction writer and a man of unquestionable scientific prowess, proposed his three laws in his essays. The most famous is the third law: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Who are we to deny the existence of advanced beings between us? They could be aliens, people from other dimensions, from the future… the possibilities are endless, and none of them pose any conflict with science. What if they have a cloaking device to study us without interferences and sometimes that device malfunctions? Could you misinterpret that as a ghost sighting?


3. Time travel

We’re not talking here about people time traveling, but about their signals. A very common case of ghosts is seeing them -and hearing them- as they repeat some event in their lives. Some parts of these events could have been recorded in a medium we don’t know of yet (it would be, sorry for the pun, a medium’s medium).
One of these mediums could have been pottery. Time and again we find the news that some scientists have retrieved sounds from ancient vases, supposedly from the potters that made them. The idea is fascinating: while they were talking, the sounds were recorded in the fresh clay and then preserved for people to hear them in the future. Unfortunately, these news don’t seem to hold much truth. There’s an episode of Mythbusters, ep. 62, in which they test this theory and they don’t get any conclusive recording out of the pottery.
One of the most famous instances of this -for the time being- myth is episode 19, season 7 of X-Files, in which a mythical bowl is reputed to have recorded on it the words that Jesus spoke when he raised Lazarus from the dead.
In 1902, Charles Sanders Peirce wrote: “Give science only a hundred more centuries of increase in geometrical progression, and she may be expected to find that the sound waves of Aristotle’s voice have somehow recorded themselves.” It seems sensible.

Actual dead people

4. Actual dead people who come back to haunt the living

Until now we’ve seen three possible alternatives, from less to most scary: impossibility of denial, people using very advanced technology and actual records of dead people. But I know what you’re thinking: that is not so scary, those are not real ghosts. Real ghosts are spirits of the dead who come back to haunt the living, and that can’t possibly have any scientific explanation. There’s no scientific frame that could accommodate this idea. How could they interact with physical objects? Where could they draw the energy from?
Well, challenge accepted. It’s not been easy, but here goes: remember The Matrix? It was a great movie, with a lot of fun. But that was all it was?
They sure didn’t have computers when Plato talked about a reality (ideas) beyond our reality (shadows) or when Descartes looked for absolute certainty, but the idea has been floating around for a while now: how do we know that what we call reality is real? Maybe it’s just some projection of the real world.
Computers are able to create a new world. Have you noticed the level of detail in games like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty? It’s not difficult to think that in just a few centuries we won’t be able to tell apart computer-generated worlds from real ones. And the world as we know it could be a giant computer simulation. This is known as the Simulation Argument, and its most recent form is credited to philosopher Nick Bostrom.
How is this connected to the idea of ghosts? Well, if the universe is indeed a giant computer program, let’s suppose that every human being can be assimilated to a file. Death would be then equivalent to erasing that file. But when you erase a file in a computer, you don’t immediately erase all its contents; you just remove the handle that tell the rest of the computer elements where is that file. When time passes, and depending on how busy the computer is, you’ll erase the file contents little by little until there’s nothing left.
That is our ghost, a file without a handle. But the information is there, at least for a certain time. And there are special tools that allow us, some other files inside the computer, to retrieve information from the missing files, that is, to make contact with the Great Beyond.
Strange? Maybe, but science is full of stranger theories.

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