Is it possible to explain ghosts and hauntings with physics?

I am a paranormal investigator and I believe in ghosts and hauntings (which isn’t a requirement to be a paranormal investigator). But I don’t necessarily believe that ghosts are souls trapped on earth. The idea just sounds illogical to me. We’ve always been taught that anything that exists on earth (or even in this universe) theoretically has to follow the rules of physics.

With that said, I am not going to rule out the possibility that ghosts are the souls of the deceased. I’m not even going to begin to pretend that I know what ghosts are – no one does. Theories abound, but proof is lacking.

Many scientists or other paranormal investigators have offered opinions on how physics and quantum physics can explain ghosts and hauntings. The problem is that no one theory explains every type of ghost and haunting.

So I guess what I’m getting to is… What do you think? All opinions are welcome.
I think I need to expand upon my question.

First off, the better question may have been:

Can science (i.e. physics, medicine, psychology) give a rational explanation for the experiences people attribute to ghosts and hauntings?

There are of course the usual things… tree branch banging on the window, mice in the walls, raccoons in the attic, etc.

I’m not saying that every case of a ghost or haunting will have a rational explanation. And even in those circumstances we can only state that we can find no explanation for the events experienced.
owenmurdoch and gandalf – excellent responses!! I like the way you both think :)
It seems obvious to me that a paranormal investigation group would first rule out any and all natural causes before exploring the possibility that the events are paranormal. Our philosophy is to try to prove the events are not paranormal before we explore the possibility that they are paranormal.

I’m sorry if I didn’t make this clear in my question and follow-up statement.

Because I want to know what the Yahoo! answers community thinks of science’s role in paranormal investigation, I’m going to put this question to vote.

What do you think?

******Can science (i.e. physics, medicine, psychology) give a rational explanation for the experiences people attribute to ghosts and hauntings?*****

Personally, I think yes, it can.

Given enough imagination, you can explain almost anything with a sufficiently large dataset to draw on: see Slutzsky’s Theorem and think about it in terms of things outside time series analysis…

Having said THAT, the theory has been advanced that these sightings actually could fall into numerous types of categories; some are quite probably purely psychological phenomona, others are probably illusions or misperceptions; some may well be a cockeyed chain of events that are (individually) quite mundane but which are bizarre as a chain–field effects and the like.

What I have heard suggested by serious, rather free-thinking but otherwise hard-nosed physicists is that there may be the temporal equivalent of a wormhole: something that will transmit light across large spans of time, but little else, other than (perhaps) other fields and possibly pressure waves (=sound). Do I buy that? No–nor do I reject it out of hand, either. HOWEVER, it is interesting to note that spectral appearances are invariably from the past, and often from the distant (but not too distant) past. We’re talking years to a few centuries, rarely if ever millenia, and I’ve never heard of a ghost CroMagnon or Astralopithicus or even Homo erectus or whatever. This suggests that there is a distancing issue–you can only jump so far forward, so to speak, or the perception can only be so long delayed.

This thought is potentially one that is experimentally testable, actually–or at least potentially so. Consider this thought: if there is something equivalent to a wormhole or quantum tunneling through time, it is reasonable to assume that the larger the distance in time “traveled” the more blurred the image is likely to be. THUS, you can set up a “grid” of observations that allow you to rate how “clear” an apparation is–things like number of facial features clearly present, whether clothing is present, whether audible and discrete phonemes are heard in any sound made (you might want to go for just consonants; they’s likely be disappearing before vowels, and that gets you past most barriers caused by languages differing); and you can set up some sort of tool (how, I don’t know) to allow you to rate the probable age of the appearance. That would probably need some sort of something to identify the period of the spectre–like period clothing, perhaps, which would require a fairly clear apparition, or the legend of who the spectre is supposed to be, and from when–but I leave that detail to you, because you’ve probably more data to sift and can find more in terms of datable stuff than I can dredge up out of my ol’ brain.

The null hypothesis: there is no relationship between clarity of apparition and putative age of its source.

Active hypothesis: the older the putative age of an apparition’s source, the less distinct it is likely to be.

Just remember: don’t expect a single explanation to handle it all, because the odds are that there are multiple phenomona all being lumped together as “ghosts” or “hauntings”…

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