Mystery of rowdy ghosts | Sunday Observer

Mystery of rowdy ghosts

23 July, 2023

When we were children, we loved to listen to ghost stories narrated by our elders. The stories were about all types of demons such as Reeri Yaka or Mahasona. We really did not know whether such demons existed or invented by story tellers. However, we believed in them to such an extent that some of us were scared to walk on dark streets or go past cemeteries. In the Digital Age, children appear to be bolder than their predecessors.

Today, some people believe in ghosts, but others need proof of the existence of such beings. Recent research into ghosts has confirmed that believing in ghosts can be good for you. Scientists have found that the gullible may have the evolutionary edge.

One day, a man wanted to call Michael Thalbourne, a psychologist at the University of Adelaide in Australia and ask for his opinion on the paranormal. In fact, the psychologist gave a strange explanation. He quoted a passage from the Bible about a shepherd trying to separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the believers in ghosts and the goats are the non-believers. Accordingly, you are either a sheep or a goat as far as ghosts are concerned!

Apart from the Bible story, psychologists have taken a keen interest in ghosts. Although there is still no proof of the existence of ghosts, their findings have opened new vistas into paranormal incidents. According to some psychologists, those who believe in paranormal powers such as extrasensory perception (ESP) or telepathy might be accessing information in their subconscious without realising it.


It so happens very often that when you think of a person, he may appear or another person sitting in front of you may do so likewise. Sometimes you think of someone very close to you, but living in a faraway place. At the same time, he may be thinking of you. According to psychologists, this is a form of telepathy. However, a rationalist such as Dr. Abraham T. Kovoor would dismiss it as a mere coincidence.

Thalbourne was perhaps the first psychologist to suggest that people who regularly have subconscious information surfacing in their conscious mind experience such paranormal phenomena. He coined the term transliminality explain the tendency for information to pass between the subconscious and the conscious mind.

I remember taking part in an experiment that took place a long time ago. Being young enthusiasts of telepathy we were asked to think of someone living far away. We used the telephone to verify what the other person was doing at the particular time. To our surprise, he too had been thinking about us. The psychologist who guided us said some of us had ESP abilities.

We have heard about haunted houses. When we shifted to a new house, my father used to say that he had heard people talking in the kitchen in the night when others were fast asleep. He had even seen some strange figures moving about in the house. Although he believed in ghosts, the rest of us were non-believers because we did not hear noises at night or see strange figures moving about in the house.

An example of the trait known as ‘pareidolia’ helps some people to see ghosts and hear their voices. While some psychologists view such a phenomenon as a shortcoming, others say it is an important aspect of human cognition. From an evolutionary perspective, it is safer to err on the side of gullibility. If you miss tigers in the forest, you are dead. However, if you always see tigers in the forest, you are not dead!

Laws of physics

Very often we hear about ghost activities in certain houses. Sometimes rationalists visit such houses to prove the non-existence of ghosts. However, we hear a different story from England. One day, beauty products began flying about a shop in York, England. Even big plastic containers of shampoo sailed off the shelves. The manager engaged the services of a parapsychologist who said that a poltergeist (rowdy ghost) had been at work. We still hear about such unaccountable disturbances from many parts of the world. If you see someone passing through a closed door or wall, such phenomena defy basic laws of physics.

Today’s poltergeists are so sophisticated that they can even meddle with high-tech equipment. The Padgett family of Nottingham was driven from home by a doorbell ringing with no visible finger on the button. Tony Willis, the Vicar of Holy Trinity was asked whether he could do something about the mysterious occurrences. Willis could not come up with a rational explanation, but he sprinkled holy water. He also prayed that restless spirits should depart. Thereafter, the Padgett family had no more problems.

Scientists have been trying to solve the mystery of poltergeists for a long time. Some of them believed that the spirits of dead people were creating such problems. However, such theories have still not been proved. Tony Cornell, a ghost hunter for 30 years, looked for trickery after visiting the North London house of an old man who lived with his son and daughter-in-law. They had been frightened by ghostly activities for a long time. Even the police confirmed that the house had been haunted. Cornell later discovered that the old man’s daughter-in-law was behind the strange incidents. She had been trying to send the old man into a home for the aged.


Although such trickery cannot be ruled out, it is difficult to disprove every such strange happening. Some houses seem to be really haunted. In a big old house in Hull, noises of a running quarrel up and down the stairs troubled the inmates. Although they clearly heard the noises they saw nothing. Finally the house was blessed by a priest and everything returned to normal. The priest later admitted that prayers and holy water had an effect on the troublesome poltergeists.

Although there is no psychic explanation of poltergeists, scientists keep on searching, perhaps into the way the mind can be misled, or the psychology of children’s pranks.

They are still looking for hard facts behind such strange phenomena which have intrigued people for thousands of years.

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