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SEEING AND SENSING GHOSTS

Hounds Howl At A Ghost. Illustration: Henryk Weyssenhoff 1893

Hounds Howl At A Ghost. Illustration: Henryk Weyssenhoff 1893

People Who Sense Ghosts Don’t Always See Them

Although most people who have had a paranormal experience report visual contact with one or more disembodied spirits, a significant minority say they sensed a ghost with faculties other than their eyes.

Out of 1,800 people who told British researchers they had encountered ghosts, 84 percent said they had seen the ghost or ghosts. However, 34 percent said they had heard a ghost speak or make some other sound—and of these, only 14 percent said they’d seen it at the same time.

The sense of touch was involved in the ghostly experiences of 15 percent of survey respondents, while 8 percent said they could smell the ghost, or some odor they associated with it. A significant fraction—18 percent—said they sensed a temperature drop in the presence of a ghost.

Of course, as with “real” experiences, people often apprehend the paranormal with more than one of their senses. Respondents detected the ghost with a single sense—usually sight—in 61 percent of the reported incidents, while 25 percent said two of their senses were involved. A spirit was apprehended with three senses in 9 percent of the cases, and 5 percent reported experiencing an apparition with four or more senses.

The British surveys were conducted in 1968 and 1974 by Britain’s Institute of Psychophysical Research, and the results were published in the 1975 book Apparitions, by Celia Green and Charles McCreery.

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