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Thursday, April 18
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion editorial

EDITORIAL: Do ghosts exist?

Ghost Editorial Illustration

Let us have our ghosts

The existence of ghosts has been deliberated for ages without any hard-evidence conclusions in either direction.

We are here to say: they are real. And even if one thinks they’re not, he or she should be respectful of and open to the idea that they are.

Take a walk through a centuries-old home, a small abandoned town or cemetery, and you’ll feel the chill of spirits who have departed their bodies and now lurk in a world beyond ours.

Skeptics of all ghouls and spooks will simply shrug this off, but before they do, we ask that you consider this: how do you know they’re not real?

To disbelieve in ghosts is to dismiss the possibility that there is something or someone here besides us. To think we're here on this earth alone would be self-centered.

The existence of ghosts or spirits would answer many questions for those of us who still inhabit a physical form. We’re not just talking about doors opening and closing or lights turning on and off. We aren’t talking about white-sheeted ghouls. That’s horror movie stuff.

We’re talking about eerie chills, gut feelings and, most importantly, the coincidences that never feel like coincidences.

Personal experiences also influence why people believe ghosts are real. No matter how much science or brains you put into explaining things, there are just some things that cannot be explained, and we should trust in that. 

Ghosts would answer the question of where all this energy we store in our bodies goes after death. Regardless of belief in heaven or hell, we are capable of holding an insane amount of energy. If energy cannot be created or destroyed, it has to go somewhere. 

So why not entertain the idea of that energy being turned into a supernatural projection on our material world? 

Self-proclaimed mediums and psychics attempt to explain these coincidences in an almost therapeutic way. From big-shot Hollywood psychics like Theresa Caputo, Tyler Henry or Matt Fraser to ordinary people who can only connect with a few choice spirits, all mediums strive to do is to bring closure to those who have lost loved ones or friends.

These psychic “readings” have the same effects many religious beliefs in the afterlife do. People yearn to explain death in a way that makes them feel comfortable enough to keeping living.

“Long Island Medium” and “Hollywood Medium,” as well as numerous ghost hunting television shows and movies, prove the existence of ghosts is a commonly-shared belief. 

A poll from HuffPost/YouGov finds that 45 percent of people believe in ghosts or after-life spirits. And we should let them.

Shrugging off the supernatural world isn’t just misguided, it’s rude. Ghosts are a fun, harmless and spooky way to not only explain the departure of a loved one’s spirit, but also to maintain the hope that there is still some type of contact with that person.

Like most things that people choose to believe in, it’s comfort-driven. Some people find comfort in believing that we are soulless organisms, others find comfort in the opposite. 

Since we can neither prove nor deny the existence of bodiless entities like a god, spirits, aliens or ghosts, there is no point in trying to undermine what comforts others.

Believing in ghosts is nonsensical

Following a long and fun Halloweekend, the third largest party weekend of the year, Halloween has been on everyone’s mind. We love the spooky costumes, the candy and the carnivalesque nature of it all that lets us be who we’re not for a day.  

The commencement of this holiday also seems to always bring up the talk of ghosts.  

People go to haunted houses and cemeteries to try and scare themselves and others on the basis of ghosts. In fact, the percentage of Americans that have said that they believe in ghosts doubled from 1996 to 2009.  

But it is time to come to terms with these nonsensical superstitions. It may be a topic that has been argued for centuries, but the simple fact of the matter is ghosts and supernatural beings are not real. 

Philosophers have huddled around the concept of dualism, the belief of the separation of the mind and the body. This introduces the idea the soul is separate and different from the body in which it resides. This is the first step to arguing for the existence of ghosts, for when the body dies, the soul is left over to roam the earth.

However, this argument fails.  

First, we must identify that we cannot accurately suppose or prove the existence of something without seeing it.  Many people have claimed to experience some supposed “ghost sightings” in which they see the shape of a person that they once knew or recognize but is now dead.  

However, if we recognize our soul is separate from our body, and if we suppose the soul is left over and roaming the earth unaccompanied by its physical body, then it would not have the form of a body as accounts of ghost sighting claim.  

Along with this idea, we have to recognize that even if ghost sightings are credible, then there should be many more of them.  

The Population Reference Bureau has estimated that roughly 108 billion people have lived on earth, and only seven billion are living now. 

Logic dictates that ghost sightings would be widely more popular considering the number of people that have died in comparison to the number of people living now.  

Finally, there is precedent for an argument from ghost efficacy.  

To do this we start with the separation of the mind and body: our physical body never makes decisions outside of slight reactions caused by our nervous systems. Therefore, it is of conscious decision-making that we obtain revenge on wrongdoers. 

It is in our nature to be vengeful, and only convention tends to stop us. People refrain from harming those who wrong them because of legal or conventional restraints.  

However, once those restraints are removed—once a person has died—nothing would prevent these actions.  

If ghosts were real, and if people claim ghosts were able to communicate with living people, then nothing would prevent murder victims from taking vengeful actions on those who wronged them or obtaining justice. They would be able to communicate with those who could imprison their murderers if the person was unknown.  

This would be an admirable quality of being a ghost, however, it does not happen. If ghosts were real, they would be limitlessly more autonomous.  

It's finally time to put to rest the silly illusion that ghosts are real.  

We can still have fun this Halloween without the fear of ghosts paying us a visit during the night.

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