With the spooky season coming to a close, people are packing up their decor, costumes, and candy, saying goodbye to the beloved holiday to be largely forgotten for the rest of the year. There is an exception to this though: ghosts. The widely popularized creature is spoken about throughout the year, one of the few Halloween ghouls to prosper around the clock. But, are ghosts actually real phenomena or made up for the sake of spooky stories? This topic has been debated for centuries, and even today, people are still unsure of the answer. In a relatively informal debate between two freshmen students, Genevive O’Shea and Lylah Jakubiak, this topic is explored and argued between both sides.
Affirmative: Gevieve O’shea (Arguing that ghosts exist)
Negative: Lylah Jakubiak (Arguing that ghosts don’t exist)
Timestamp: 11/17/23, 2:40 P.M.
Affirmative Constructive: Gen
G: The word paranormal is defined as ‘denoting events or phenomena such as telekinesis or clairvoyance that are beyond the scope of normal scientific understanding,’ According to the Oxford dictionary. Many people in the United States believe that paranormal activity does truly happen- and more specifically, ghosts. Our resolution is that ghosts are real.
G: For example, the White House, which is one of the more famous buildings, has had many hauntings, dating as far back as the 1800s. Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Tomas Jefferson, as well as William Henry Harrison (the first president to die in the White House) are said to haunt the White House. All of these people have been sighted multiple times. This is from Whitehouse History.org.
G: A poll from gallup news in 2005 shows that 73 percent of Americans believe in ghost related topics, including ghosts, hauntings, and possession. It also states 57 percent of Americans believe in two of these topics.
G: From Chapman blog . edu in 2018, it states that the most common paranormal belief in the US is the haunting of places, coming in at 58 percent, increased drastically from the 37 percent in 2005 from the original poll.
G: In a 2021 poll, nearly 45 percent of people said they’ve experienced paranormal activity and it mentions that 68 percent of the people polled were sure that paranormal activity existed, and 57 percent of them believed ghosts were real.
Cross Examination: Lylah Crossexamining Gen
L: Do you believe it is possible to conclusively prove someone’s ghost encounter? G: (Pause) Well that one’s tricky, but I do believe, yes. L: Do you believe everyone is always right about everything? G: No L: Do you believe people have the capability to lie? G: Yes. L: Do all people hold themselves to high moral standards? G: No. L: So what’s stopping someone from lying about their experience, miss-seeing, or miss-hearing something? People are flawed and people aren’t always right or truthful, so how do we know what they say is true? G: Why would they have any reason to lie about an encounter? I mean, if they truly believed it happened, they wouldn’t be lying. L: What about ghost shows? G: Ghost shows are scripted. Well, some of them are. L: So you admit they’re scripted? G: Some of them are, yes, but some of them might be real.
L: What do you believe ghosts are made of? G: (Pause) I personally believe that they are remnants of people’s ideologies and beliefs from when they were alive but other people will have different opinions. L: Me and you, we’re made of cells, right? G: Yes. L: But you say that when we’re gone, we’re made of beliefs. But, unlike cells, beliefs aren’t physical, are they? G: That’s true. L: And thoughts aren’t physical either. So what is physical about a ghost that can make it move things or touch someone? G: Well, I have reason to believe that it is due to electricity, radio waves, or other forces such as gravity. L: How do you know that? Do you have any sources or evidence? G: That is proof that I will be using later. I have evidence for it, but that’s in my next speech.
L: Do ghosts have organs? G: No. L: Do they have vocal cords? G: No. L: What about ears? G: No. L: A brain? G: Technically, yes. L: But do they have a physical brain like me and you? G: They don’t have a physical one.L: Then how do they talk or hear what people say? How do they comprehend what people are saying? How can they do anything if they have no physical body? G: They can affect the forces of the world around them and use things that are already in existence. L: But how can they do that if they’re just ‘thoughts’?
(Time runs out)
Negative Constructive: Lylah
L: For centuries, whimsical stories of ghosts have been told. Uniquely irrational myths of the paranormal, the spirits of the lost…This is what we will be debating today: the validity of these wistful stories and myths. Or, ghosts – real or fake. According to the Oxford dictionary, a ghost is “The spirit of a dead person that a living person believes they can see or hear.”
Now, mind you, I have evidence which discredits the wishful thinking which ghosts seemed to have emerged from. Evidence which conclusively proves that, while the legend of ghosts does have an impact on our society, they are nothing more than a snowball effect-like myth, having spiraled into a field of pseudoscience and folklore…
Resolved: Ghosts are real.
L: For years people have claimed to have seen ghosts, to have witnessed them ‘in front of my very own eyes’. These claims can be disproven. In fact, there is actually no scientific evidence which supports these claims.
According to Science Alert, a scientific-based newspaper, science just disproved the existence of ghosts. Let me explain, the European Organization for Nuclear Research created a machine called the Large Hadron Collider. The Large Hadron Collider’s purpose is to crash together particles so scientists can measure the building blocks which make the particles up. Brian Cox, a professor and theoretical physicist, explained to BBC that if ghosts did exist, and we assumed they were made of energy, then the Large Hadron Collider would have detected the energy by now.
Not only does the Large Hadron Collider disprove the existence of ghosts, the Second Law of Thermodynamics does, too. According to Chemistry Textx.org, The Second Law of Thermodynamics says that the state of entropy- or how spread apart particles become- will always increase over time. This means that if ‘ghosts’ do somehow exist, they would slowly become disbanded over time because their entropy increases and their energy stays the same.
Hallucinations are an umbrella term for multiple scientifically backed conditions that everyone has encountered at least once in their lives. There are a variety of factors which can affect our senses and perception without our knowledge.
According to Harvard.edu, sleep paralysis is a state of restfulness in between wakefulness and dreaming. It’s a sleeping disorder which is linked to REM, or rapid eye movement. REM sleep is the point in sleep where you dream. For those with sleep paralysis, after they wake from this dreaming stage, the images in their dreams persist, and the person may see pieces of their dream outside of the sleeping world.
It is for this very reason that according to “The Times”’s research, 40 percent of people with sleep paralysis report seeing supernatural activity during their episodes.
Brian Sharpless, a Washington State University clinical psychologist recalls, “I had one patient who was lying in bed and woke up to see a little vampire girl with blood coming out of her mouth…This is an example of a really vivid, multi-sensory hallucination. She could feel this vampire figure grabbing onto her arms, pulling her, and saying she was going to do all these terrible things to her.”
This patient in question had sleep paralysis. It’s alarming how similar this sounds to the ghost stories we hear so often. And before Gen says this, let me make this crystal clear: the U.S. census reports that there are about 331.9 million people living in the U.S. today. If a study by science direct, they found that approximately 1 in 5 people in America have sleep paralysis, that brings the total of people in the U.S. with sleep paralysis to 63.3 million and if 40 percent of people experience paranormal encounters during their sleep paralysis, that brings the number of people in the U.S. with paranormal encounters during sleep paralysis to approximately 25 million and these are just the diagnosed cases. At the end of the day, millions of people experience paranormal activity during sleep paralysis. How do we know that these hallucinations aren’t being taken seriously?
Pareiolia is defined by Cambridge as: “A situation in which someone sees a pattern or image of something that does not exist, for example a face in a cloud.” So, people tend to report seeing faces in places they don’t exist because the human brain naturally tries to find patterns wherever it looks. This is one of the reasons why people with paranormal experiences may report seeing a ghostly face where there just isn’t one.
One of the devices paranormal investigators often use to detect ‘ghosts’ is EMF readers, or Electromagnetic Frequency readers. While no one knows for sure that ghosts are part of the electromagnetic field, as it has never been conclusively proven, EMF readers are finicky enough on their own. According to NPR, EMF readers are quite difficult to handle and don’t always pick up what they’re supposed to in the first place. Usually, there are no guards on the reader, so anything that ever sends out an electromagnetic pulse could be picked up by the machine. Cell phones, light bulbs, televisions, computers, electric radiators, microwaves, and anything electronic can all be picked up by the detector accidentally.
That ghost stories just aren’t reliable because they’ve been changed so many times throughout their years of existence, ghost photos on the internet aren’t reliable because they could have been edited, experiences can be disproved, and how can we ever tell if someone is simply lying about their sightings? We can’t. That’s the problem.
Cross Examination: Gen cx Lylah
G: Can you inform me of what validity means? L: Validity means how true something is. So when I say ‘the validity of these claims’, I’m referencing the truth of these claims and how accurate they are. G: For your first source, can you remind me of when it was published? L: Can you remind me of what that first source was? G: I don’t remember the source exactly. I do remember I was wondering what date it was from. L: Was it about the Large Hadron Collider? G: Yes. L: It was published in 2017.
G: Have you experienced hallucinations? L: I’ve experienced pareidolia. G: You’ve experienced what? L: Paradolia, I explained it in my first constructive speech. G: Have you experienced sleep paralysis? L: Not that I know of, I don’t have diagnosed sleep paralysis. G: If you’ve experienced neither of these things, how would you know they’re not caused by an outside force? L: The sources I’ve looked up explained it from the brain. It’s a lot about how your brain works… Are you implying that a ghost is controlling your brain? G: No, but I am asking if a ghost, since they are able to control the environment around them, could they hypothetically be able to mess with the electricity around you and cause hallucinations like that? L: Do you have any evidence that they do control electricity? G: No, I’m asking you. L: Asking me if they control electricity? G: No, I’m asking you if they could affect something like that. L: I don’t know because I don’t have the evidence that they could do that because everything I found disproves- you’re asking me to argue your side of the argument, here? G: We’re still on my time, Lylah. L: Okay, okay, sorry. (Both laugh)
G: You said that ghost stories were told around the campfire? L: Yes. G: And they’ve been re-told many times? L: Yes. G: And they have warped beyond recognition? L: Yes. G: Since every story has some sort of truth to it, does that imply that these first retellings, these first accounts, could have been true? L: Well, what I was saying is that ghost stories… Well, it could have started as someone seeing a person dressed in white walking through the woods and now it’s seen as a floating creature cloaked in white that tries to scare little children. What I’m saying is that it was based in reality but it’s morphed into superstition. G: Thank you (Time runs out)
Negative Rebuttal: Lylah
L: You said that many people believe paranormal activity occurs especially in cases of haunted houses. The thing is, in old houses, they may just contain carbon monoxide which is due to old water heaters, furnaces, etc. According to the American Lung Association and Air Quality Accessors, carbon monoxide and black mold can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, anxiety, disorientation, hallucinations, mood swings, and many other health issues… Does any of this sound familiar? It sounds a lot like what people experience in ‘Haunted houses’
L: You also said that 73 percent of Americans believe in ghost-related topics… But how does this prove ghosts exist? All it proves is that ghosts are widely accepted in the media, which we know is flawed in its spreading of information. Not everything that people believe is true.
L: Eventually, you’ll have to face the facts here: Ghosts just aren’t real. Every idea of why they do is based on pseudoscience, not real, based evidence. We don’t know what they’re made of, we don’t know how they came to be, and we don’t know anything about these mythical beings my opponent wants you to believe in. Take a look at the facts and you’ll see it all come crumbling: If ghosts are made of energy, they’d be torn apart particle by particle and if they’re not, the large Hadron collider would have found something by now. People who experience ghosts could be lying or simply misunderstanding the situation because of hallucinations, pareidolia, sleep paralysis, or simply mis-seeing their surroundings. Social media and the world of technology is spreading the accounts of quote on quote “witnesses” to the masses, the spread erratic and untrustworthy. How can we believe in something that has no proof, no grounded sightings, and no information, with every study disproving their existence? The truth is, we simply cannot.
Affirmative Rebuttal: Gen
G: Back in August, a few days before school began, I went to a sleepover my friends and I organized. As is the habit for sleepovers, people brought snacks and games. However, someone brought a different kind of board: a ouija board. After exhausting other things to do, we brought it out of its box, ready to mess around. None of us other than them and the person who had brought the board had any experience with calling ghosts, so we just went along with it. We asked it several questions such as favorite food, and just generally messing around. One of us asked a question that seemed to offend it, and it quickly became agitated at our antics. It was at this point our friend who had chosen to call this person specifically panicked, telling the group we needed to say goodbye immediately. The rest of the night was slightly uncomfortable, as several of the group members felt off. The friend hosting the sleepover mentioned several days later that they felt like they were being watched in their home.
G: According to electrical engineer Dr Marina Antoniou, an electricity expert said that various ghost hunting equipment is used for not only ghost hunting, but used by scientists to detect various electric and magnetic fields and see disturbances in readings.
G: So, in conclusion, ghosts may not be able to be seen by everyone but they definitely have some presence on this mortal plane.