The science behind why people see ghosts and demons


Does it take a certain type of brain to experience the paranormal? Some scientists think so – but this can go in two directions.

On the other hand, researchers specializing in parapsychology – the psychological study of the paranormal – have spent decades studying whether and how these anomalies exist in nature, outside the human body, and how some people might be more likely to experience these anomalies. More specifically, they want to know if some people have unique “abilities” that allow them, for example, to see ghosts, spirits, and any other entities that might exist outside the person going through (i.e. not in their minds).

On the other hand, skeptical scientists from the field of neuroscience and cognitive psychology try to show that it has more to do with how some people process reality, subjectively, in their minds. Some people may just be attached Produce These experiences are in their mind, even though they may not be real.

While you might assume that parapsychology is about ghost hunters, spoon benders, and witches, this is not entirely the case. Parapsychology, also known as “psi,” is an academic branch of psychology that has been studied at universities and research facilities around the world. Scientists in this field believe that more academic, experimental, theoretical, and analytical research will show that what science knows about the nature of the universe is largely incomplete.

“There is more than enough data and research at this point to make a credible claim that anomalies in mainstream science do in fact occur,” Brian Leith, director of the Institute for the Study of Religious and Aberrant Experiences and a member of the Paranormal Society, told the Daily Beast.. In fact, there is more than a century of peer-reviewed research on these topics. It is statistically unlikely, Leith said, that the hundreds of Ph.D.s producing these papers are all fraudulent or incompetent. “Where people wrestle over the meaning and interpretation of those findings, which are mostly based on theology and philosophy, as opposed to issues of analytic science.”

However, critics argue that parapsychology’s procedures and methods do not meet rigorous scientific standards, the results are too flimsy, and most importantly, many of these experiments cannot be replicated, cutting to the core of how science is validated.

And one big problem still remains: there are no valid theories to support most of the findings. Some theories are more based on physics, others focus on consciousness – but parapsychologists have a hard time finalizing which ones explain it all. Of course, this often happens in all scientific disciplines, Laith points out, but skeptics disagree.

“We need parapsychology because if there is telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, precognition, ghosts, any of those things, then there must be,” says Susan Blackmore, visiting professor of psychology at the University of Plymouth and visiting professor of psychology at the University of Plymouth. radically overthrowing science. He told the Daily Beast. “I’m glad there are other people doing it. And then of course, I’m not terribly surprised. They haven’t found any reliable results. They don’t have any theory that works. They don’t have any results that contribute to any kind of theoretical progress. So they always just ask the same question” .

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There is a lot of value in learning and understanding what these experiences are for people – but that doesn’t mean that no medical explanation actually exists that can justify it.

That’s what Michael van Elk, professor of cognitive psychology at Leiden University in the Netherlands, is trying to stab. The self-described “humble skeptic” has a lab that focuses on the cognitive differences that he believes are the basis of why people believe and experience the supernatural. According to his research, paranormal believers are more likely to trust their intuition and emotions, and are less guided by analytical thinking. They seem to see more “phantom factors” in random motion shows, which means they may have a bias to see shapes and objects when there aren’t any.

“We identified that paranormal believers have a stronger self-attribution bias, where in a random card-guessing game they often take credit for positive outcomes, which were actually caused by chance, than skeptics,” Van Elk told The Daily Beast. . “These findings are consistent with the broader view that paranormal believers are susceptible to a range of cognitive biases, but at the same time, these biases may be adaptive to promote mental health and self-esteem.”

Charlotte Dean, a researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK, recently published a meta-analysis of 71 studies over the past three decades that explored the links between paranormal belief and cognitive function. Most of the findings are in line with the hypothesis that experiencing paranormal activity is associated with specific cognitive traits, Dean told the Daily Beast.

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“The believers usually have an intuitive thinking style. That’s that kind of gut feeling. And they will go with it to try to explain something they can’t explain otherwise,” Dean said. Whereas people who are skeptical about the paranormal tend to be more analytical. So they will go through every different way to solve the problem before they come to a conclusion. We refer to this as a kind of ‘cognitive flexibility.’

According to Dean, such research is not entirely incompatible with the field of parapsychology. Parapsychologists tend to agree, to an extent. Certainly, some people are more prone to paranormal experiences, and neurotic traits, beliefs, and sociocultural environments facilitate this experience. But they say it’s not entirely correct to say that Just Cognitive traits or neuroscience are responsible for the paranormal experience.

“Although it is not without value, this approach taken in isolation seems closer to acknowledging that some people who claim to be patients are prone to hypochondria,” Chris Rowe, professor of parapsychology at the University of Northampton, told The Daily Beast. Then proceed with the adoption of a human disease model that focuses solely on factors affecting hypochondria or susceptibility to placebo effects. [The British] The NHS is going to be in a really, really unfortunate situation.”

The tendency to paranormal experiences is distributed across the population, according to Christine Symonds-Moore, a parapsychologist at West Georgia University. But this does not exclude the presence of anomalies. For example, parapsychological research has shown that the concept of the transcendent, a thin boundary structure between consciousness, the unconscious, and the environment, is a strong predictor of traumatic experiences because it enables people to access paranormal experiences.

“There is some evidence that people who have more paranormal experiences have greater communication between the two hemispheres [of the brain]for example, and more crosstalk potential,” Symonds-Moore told The Daily Beast. “There is greater permeability between regions of the mind and between people, the environment, and social others, and the information is likely to be supernatural” with the information being the outside of the human brain that suffers from it.

She argues that different scientific frameworks can be applied to examine the same thing, and sometimes both can be true. “I appreciate the ideas that reality may be both physical and mental, and that there may be a third aspect that contributes to both,” Symonds-Moore said. She believes that research should explore paranormal experiences using cognitive psychology, what is known about it, and parapsychology. “Sometimes there can be a little bit of the ordinary and the supernatural,” Symonds-Moore said. “Reality is complicated.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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