‘Ghosts have been haunting people all over the world for centuries. But why do they persist in this age of reason? Mike Williams explores the fear and fascination ghosts produce and finds out how our reaction to apparitions has changed over the years.’
Participants describe their paranormal experiences as real experiences as they hunt ghosts in a spooktacular tour of a derelict orphanage. Mike meets the cultural historian Dr Shane McCorristine in the birthplace of the Victorian ghost story; ‘I do not believe in the question do you believe in ghosts?…Ghosts is one way of exploring our relationship we have with the dead…’. Searching for response to questions asked through poltergeist activity, like tapping.
The psychologist Professor Christopher French explains the mind’s capacity to produce hallucinations. Dr French is from the Anomalistic psychology research unit (“Anomalistic Psychologists tend to start from the position that paranormal forces probably don’t exist and that therefore we should be looking for other kinds of explanations, in particular the psychological explanations for those experiences that people typically label as paranormal.”) who gives facts that over 50 percent of people believe in ghosts, and is more common in female respondents. Explanations require the consideration of such factors as cognitive biases, anomalous psychological states, personality factors, developmental issues, the nature of memory, the psychology of deception and self-deception, and a range of other psychological variables. It should be noted that the aims of anomalistic psychology would still be valid even if the existence of paranormal forces were to be established beyond doubt because there is little question that most paranormal claims can be plausibly explained in non-paranormal terms. Non-paranormal accounts for a range of ostensibly paranormal experiences including: Ghosts and poltergeists.
Perception is a subjective process. When people are bereaving people they often see ghosts. At Cambridge the society of psychic research was founded in 1882 asking the question ‘What do we do in the world if God is dead?’. People may see ghosts at the moment of their death. The society is still open and sends investigators out to research ghost events. Investigators who work for the spontaneous cases committee of the society of psychical research say: ghosts look mundane, it is rare to see a ghost materialise, at the time of day there is an increase in the sightings with a peak at midnight to four am. 30-40 percent experience sleep paralysis (between sleep and waking when the subject cannot move) and of these a percentage experience hallucinations. In Japan this is defined as a nocturnal spirit attack. In new found-land it is the old hag. In St Lucia it is the spirits of unbaptized children. In the middle ages it was interpreted as sex crazed demons. Maybe there is something in the brain that interacts with something deeper in reality says one of the investigators. the question is ‘How do you deal with that reality?’
From Hamlet: the classic interpretation: Is the ghost from heaven or hell?: ‘Look my lord it comes, Angels and ministers of grace defend us, Be thou a spirit of health or a goblin damned, Bring with the airs of heaven or a blast from hell, Be thou intense wicked or uncharitable, Thou comest in such a questionable shape that I will speak with thee, And call thee king father hamlet..’
18th August 21:00
First broadcast: Friday 15 August 2014