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ghosts, phantoms, ghouls, & spirits

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1. Thir13en Ghosts (2001)

R | 91 min | Fantasy, Horror

When Cyrus Kriticos, a very rich collector of unique things, dies, he leaves his house, fortune, and his prized collection of ghosts.

Director: Steve Beck | Stars: Tony Shalhoub , Shannon Elizabeth , Embeth Davidtz , Matthew Lillard

Votes: 92,679 | Gross: $41.87M

2. The Others (2001)

PG-13 | 104 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In 1945, immediately following the end of Second World War, a woman who lives with her two photosensitive children on her darkened old family estate in the Channel Islands becomes convinced that the home is haunted.

Director: Alejandro Amenábar | Stars: Nicole Kidman , Christopher Eccleston , Fionnula Flanagan , Alakina Mann

Votes: 387,835 | Gross: $96.52M

3. The Sixth Sense (1999)

PG-13 | 107 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist, starts treating a young boy, Cole, who encounters dead people and convinces him to help them. In turn, Cole helps Malcolm reconcile with his estranged wife.

Director: M. Night Shyamalan | Stars: Bruce Willis , Haley Joel Osment , Toni Collette , Olivia Williams

Votes: 1,036,036 | Gross: $293.51M

4. Paranormal Activity (2007)

R | 86 min | Horror, Mystery

After moving into a suburban home, a couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

Director: Oren Peli | Stars: Katie Featherston , Micah Sloat , Mark Fredrichs , Amber Armstrong

Votes: 253,311 | Gross: $107.92M

5. Paranormal Activity 2 (2010)

R | 91 min | Horror, Mystery

After experiencing what they think are a series of "break-ins", a family sets up security cameras around their home, only to realize that the events unfolding before them are more sinister than they seem.

Director: Tod Williams | Stars: Katie Featherston , Micah Sloat , Molly Ephraim , David Bierend

Votes: 108,944 | Gross: $84.75M

6. Paranormal Activity 3 (2011)

R | 83 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity called Toby, who resides in their home.

Directors: Henry Joost , Ariel Schulman | Stars: Chloe Csengery , Jessica Tyler Brown , Christopher Nicholas Smith , Lauren Bittner

Votes: 98,992 | Gross: $104.01M

7. Supernatural (2005–2020)

TV-14 | 44 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Two brothers follow their father's footsteps as hunters, fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds, including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

Stars: Jared Padalecki , Jensen Ackles , Jim Beaver , Misha Collins

Votes: 474,202

8. Monster House (2006)

PG | 91 min | Animation, Comedy, Family

Three teens discover that their neighbor's house is really a living, breathing, scary monster.

Director: Gil Kenan | Stars: Mitchel Musso , Sam Lerner , Spencer Locke , Ryan Whitney

Votes: 135,493 | Gross: $73.66M

9. Frankenweenie (2012)

PG | 87 min | Animation, Comedy, Drama

When a boy's beloved dog passes away suddenly, he attempts to bring the animal back to life through a powerful science experiment.

Director: Tim Burton | Stars: Winona Ryder , Catherine O'Hara , Martin Short , Martin Landau

Votes: 115,778 | Gross: $35.29M

10. The Hole (2001)

R | 102 min | Drama, Mystery, Thriller

Four teenagers at a British private school secretly uncover and explore the depths of a sealed underground hole created decades ago as a possible bomb shelter.

Director: Nick Hamm | Stars: Thora Birch , Desmond Harrington , Daniel Brocklebank , Laurence Fox

Votes: 47,957

11. The Uninvited (2009)

PG-13 | 87 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

Anna returns home after a stint in a mental hospital, but her recovery is jeopardized by her father's new girlfriend and ghastly visions of her dead mother.

Directors: Charles Guard , Thomas Guard | Stars: Emily Browning , Arielle Kebbel , Elizabeth Banks , David Strathairn

Votes: 84,304 | Gross: $28.57M

12. Shutter (II) (2004)

Not Rated | 97 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A young photographer and his girlfriend discover mysterious shadows in their photographs after a tragic accident. They soon learn that you can not escape your past.

Directors: Banjong Pisanthanakun , Parkpoom Wongpoom | Stars: Ananda Everingham , Natthaweeranuch Thongmee , Achita Sikamana , Unnop Chanpaibool

Votes: 48,445

13. Shutter Island (2010)

R | 138 min | Mystery, Thriller

Teddy Daniels and Chuck Aule, two US marshals, are sent to an asylum on a remote island in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient, where Teddy uncovers a shocking truth about the place.

Director: Martin Scorsese | Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio , Emily Mortimer , Mark Ruffalo , Ben Kingsley

Votes: 1,420,988 | Gross: $128.01M

14. Shutter (I) (2008)

PG-13 | 85 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A newly married couple discovers disturbing, ghostly images in photographs they develop after a tragic accident. Fearing the manifestations may be connected, they investigate and learn that some mysteries are better left unsolved.

Director: Masayuki Ochiai | Stars: Joshua Jackson , Rachael Taylor , James Kyson , Megumi Okina

Votes: 37,187 | Gross: $25.93M

15. The Eye (2002)

R | 99 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A blind girl gets a cornea transplant so that she will be able to see again. She gets more than she bargained for upon realizing she can also see ghosts.

Directors: Danny Pang , Oxide Chun Pang | Stars: Angelica Lee , Chutcha Rujinanon , Lawrence Chou , Jinda Duangtoy

Votes: 29,921 | Gross: $0.51M

16. The Eye 2 (2004)

R | 95 min | Drama, Fantasy, Horror

After a failed suicide attempt, a pregnant woman gains the ability to see ghosts.

Directors: Danny Pang , Oxide Chun Pang | Stars: Shu Qi , Eugenia Yuan , Jesdaporn Pholdee , Thanarat Poonnarattanakul

Votes: 5,051

17. The Orphanage (2007)

R | 105 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

A woman brings her family back to her childhood home, which used to be an orphanage for handicapped children. Before long, her son starts to communicate with an invisible new friend.

Director: J.A. Bayona | Stars: Belén Rueda , Fernando Cayo , Roger Príncep , Mabel Rivera

Votes: 162,023 | Gross: $7.16M

18. The Ring (2002)

PG-13 | 115 min | Horror, Mystery

A journalist must investigate a mysterious videotape which seems to cause the death of anyone one week to the day after they view it.

Director: Gore Verbinski | Stars: Naomi Watts , Martin Henderson , Brian Cox , David Dorfman

Votes: 370,042 | Gross: $129.13M

19. The Ring Two (2005)

PG-13 | 110 min | Horror, Mystery

6 months after the incidents involving the lethal videotape, new clues prove that there is a new evil lurking in the darkness.

Director: Hideo Nakata | Stars: Naomi Watts , David Dorfman , Sissy Spacek , Simon Baker

Votes: 100,086 | Gross: $76.23M

20. The Grudge (2004)

PG-13 | 91 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

An American nurse living and working in Tokyo is exposed to a mysterious supernatural curse, one that locks a person in a powerful rage before claiming their life and spreading to another victim.

Director: Takashi Shimizu | Stars: Sarah Michelle Gellar , Jason Behr , Clea DuVall , William Mapother

Votes: 149,803 | Gross: $110.36M

21. The Grudge 2 (2006)

PG-13 | 102 min | Horror, Thriller

Three interwoven stories about a terrible curse. A young woman encounters a malevolent supernatural force while searching for her missing sister in Tokyo; a mean high school prank goes horribly wrong; a woman with a deadly secret moves into a Chicago apartment building.

Director: Takashi Shimizu | Stars: Amber Tamblyn , Edison Chen , Arielle Kebbel , Sarah Michelle Gellar

Votes: 51,122 | Gross: $39.14M

22. The Grudge 3 (2009)

R | 90 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A young Japanese woman who holds the key to stopping the evil spirit of Kayako, travels to the haunted Chicago apartment from the sequel, to stop the curse of Kayako once and for all.

Director: Toby Wilkins | Stars: Matthew Knight , Shawnee Smith , Mike Straub , Aiko Horiuchi

Votes: 19,492

23. One Missed Call (2008)

PG-13 | 87 min | Horror, Mystery

Several people start receiving voice-mails from their future selves - messages which include the date, time, and some of the details of their deaths.

Director: Eric Valette | Stars: Edward Burns , Shannyn Sossamon , Ana Claudia Talancón , Ray Wise

Votes: 33,827 | Gross: $26.88M

24. An American Haunting (2005)

PG-13 | 83 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

An invisible entity haunts a 19th century family, and family secrets soon begin to surface.

Director: Courtney Solomon | Stars: Donald Sutherland , Sissy Spacek , Rachel Hurd-Wood , James D'Arcy

Votes: 26,689 | Gross: $16.30M

25. The Haunting (1999)

PG-13 | 113 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A study in fear escalates into a heart-stopping nightmare for a professor and three subjects trapped in a mysterious mansion.

Director: Jan de Bont | Stars: Liam Neeson , Catherine Zeta-Jones , Owen Wilson , Lili Taylor

Votes: 79,876 | Gross: $91.41M

26. The Haunting in Connecticut (2009)

PG-13 | 92 min | Drama, Horror, Mystery

After a family is forced to relocate for their son's health, they begin experiencing supernatural behavior in their new home, and uncover a sinister history.

Director: Peter Cornwell | Stars: Virginia Madsen , Martin Donovan , Elias Koteas , Kyle Gallner

Votes: 64,651 | Gross: $55.39M

27. The Skeptic (2009)

Not Rated | 89 min | Horror, Thriller

A lawyer who doesn't believe in ghosts is haunted after moving into a family mansion.

Director: Tennyson Bardwell | Stars: Tim Daly , Tom Arnold , Zoe Saldana , Edward Herrmann

Votes: 4,381 | Gross: $0.01M

28. The Eclipse (2009)

R | 88 min | Drama, Horror, Romance

In a seaside Irish town, a widower sparks with a visiting horror novelist while he also begins to believe he is seeing ghosts.

Director: Conor McPherson | Stars: Ciarán Hinds , Iben Hjejle , Aidan Quinn , Billy Roche

Votes: 3,088 | Gross: $0.13M

29. Haunting of Winchester House (2009 Video)

Not Rated | 86 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

A family moves in to look after the Winchester mansion for a few months, and soon find themselves terrorized by vengeful spirits. With the help of a paranormal investigator they'll unravel the mystery of the house.

Director: Mark Atkins | Stars: Lira Kellerman , Michael Holmes , Tomas Boykin , Kimberly Ables Jindra

Votes: 1,420

30. The Haunted Airman (2006 TV Movie)

R | 68 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A wounded RAF pilot, confined to a wheelchair, is committed to an eerie hospital where he starts to lose his mind.

Director: Chris Durlacher | Stars: Julian Sands , Rachael Stirling , Robert Pattinson , Daniel Ainsleigh

Votes: 2,114

31. The Haunting of Sorority Row (2007 TV Movie)

TV-14 | 89 min | Horror, Mystery

Samantha Willows, a college freshman, looks to pledge a sorority. Unbeknownst to Sam, it is haunted by a former pledge taking revenge on those who wronged her.

Director: Bert Kish | Stars: Leighton Meester , Kailin See , Lisa Marie Caruk , Agam Darshi

Votes: 1,486

32. Bell Witch Haunting (2004)

124 min | Drama, History, Horror

The County Sheriff's Department has released video footage found on the bodies of the Sawyer family, whose murders are believed to be linked to a centuries-old paranormal event.

Director: Ric White | Stars: Doug Moore , Stephanie Love , Amber Bland , Hope Wade

33. Corpse Bride (2005)

PG | 77 min | Animation, Drama, Family

When a shy groom practices his wedding vows in the inadvertent presence of a deceased young woman, she rises from the grave assuming he has married her.

Directors: Tim Burton , Mike Johnson | Stars: Johnny Depp , Helena Bonham Carter , Emily Watson , Tracey Ullman

Votes: 294,744 | Gross: $53.36M

34. Fragile (2005)

PG-13 | 101 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

At her new job in a rundown children's hospital, a nurse desperately tries to keep her patients safe from a plague of random, mysterious attacks.

Director: Jaume Balagueró | Stars: Calista Flockhart , Richard Roxburgh , Elena Anaya , Gemma Jones

Votes: 17,356

35. Next Door (2005)

Unrated | 75 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

John has just been left by his girlfriend Ingrid. That day he allows himself to be seduced into a mystical and scary world, where it is impossible to separate truth from the lies

Directors: Pål Sletaune , Tony Spataro | Stars: Kristoffer Joner , Cecilie A. Mosli , Julia Schacht , Anna Bache-Wiig

Votes: 10,511

36. Stir of Echoes (1999)

R | 99 min | Horror, Mystery, Thriller

After being hypnotized by his sister-in-law, a man begins seeing haunting visions of a girl's ghost and a mystery begins to unfold around him.

Director: David Koepp | Stars: Kevin Bacon , Zachary David Cope , Kathryn Erbe , Illeana Douglas

Votes: 86,281 | Gross: $21.13M

38. The Invisible (2002)

101 min | Drama, Fantasy, Thriller

After an attack leaves him in limbo, invisible to the living and also near death, a teenager discovers the only person who might be able to help him is his attacker.

Directors: Joel Bergvall , Simon Sandquist | Stars: Gustaf Skarsgård , Tuva Novotny , Li Brådhe , Thomas Hedengran

Votes: 3,281

39. The Invisible (2007)

PG-13 | 102 min | Crime, Drama, Fantasy

A teenager is left invisible to the living after an attack.

Director: David S. Goyer | Stars: Justin Chatwin , Margarita Levieva , Marcia Gay Harden , Christopher Marquette

Votes: 36,374 | Gross: $20.57M

40. Dead End (I) (2003)

R | 85 min | Adventure, Horror, Mystery

Christmas Eve. On his way to his in-laws with his family, Frank Harrington decides to try a shortcut, for the first time in 20 years. It turns out to be the biggest mistake of his life.

Directors: Jean-Baptiste Andrea , Fabrice Canepa | Stars: Ray Wise , Lin Shaye , Mick Cain , Alexandra Holden

Votes: 31,809

41. The Locals (2003)

Unrated | 88 min | Comedy, Horror, Thriller

Two best friends, Grant and Paul, hit the country road for a night of fun, but unfortunately take a short cut to their fate... where they meet the Locals.

Director: Greg Page | Stars: Johnny Barker , Dwayne Cameron , Kate Elliott , Aidee Walker

Votes: 2,150

42. The Haunting of Molly Hartley (2008)

PG-13 | 85 min | Drama, Horror, Thriller

A girl with PTSD attempts to refresh her life at a new school, but soon finds it impossible when she's afflicted by not only bullying and bad memories, but also the supernatural.

Director: Mickey Liddell | Stars: Haley Bennett , Chace Crawford , Jake Weber , Shannon Woodward

Votes: 10,072 | Gross: $13.35M

43. The Haunting of Pearson Place (2015)

Not Rated | 96 min | Horror, Thriller

A yuppie couple (in their mid thirties) buy a vacant house in the country in order to convert it to a bed and breakfast. The House, has other plans.

Director: Michael Merino | Stars: Joe Estevez , Suzi Lorraine , Ken Arnold , Tracy Teague

44. 1408 (2007)

PG-13 | 104 min | Fantasy, Horror, Mystery

A man who specialises in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408 in the Dolphin Hotel. Soon after settling in, he confronts genuine terror.

Director: Mikael Håfström | Stars: John Cusack , Samuel L. Jackson , Mary McCormack , Tony Shalhoub

Votes: 290,092 | Gross: $71.99M

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Types of Ghosts

Different types of ghosts and spirits.

For many people new to the realm of paranormal, it comes to them as a surprise that there are different kinds of ghosts, each classified by the types of hauntings, how they appear, what they are, how they haunt, and so on.

Animal Ghosts

Horses in the fog

An animal ghost , as the name suggests, are the spirits of non-human animals. They are most often pets, wild dogs, or horses. Since these animals were unable to speak to humans during their time alive, they cannot talk to humans in death, either.


A foggy cemetery

An apparition is a visual representation of a spirit. While there are several different types, the transparent or semi-transparent apparition are the most widely known/witnessed varieties. Apparitions may also include animals, cars, ships, carriages, buildings, and trains, or anything else that could appear before us.

Unlike other types of ghosts, apparitions look as real as a living people. Some have been known to hold conversations and interact with the living before disappearing. Witnesses say that certain odors can be smelled before, during, and/or after a sighting.

When multiple people witness the same apparition at the same time, it is called a collective apparition .

Atmospheric Ghosts

A ghostly woman sitting at her own grave.

Atmospheric ghosts are only ever seen in one specific location. They will repeat a certain action over and over and over again. They are believed to be projected images from psychic energy stored in the area.

Atmospheric ghosts are all known as replaying, haunting, and residual ghosts.

A twisted forest.

Banshees have been a part of Irish lore for hundreds of years. They are believed to be the spirits of women whose voices bear messages to warn of death. The legend says that her screams are heard by everyone, except the person who is to die.

Calling Ghosts

A blurred ghost.

Calling ghosts are ghosts who alert the living by calling out their names. They can be of any category, as long as the category includes ghosts who can interact.

Crisis Ghosts

A mysterious figure roaming an abandoned building.

Crisis ghosts bear important messages for the living. They are also known as message-bringers.

Cyber Ghosts

A laptop on a table.

An abandoned website that lures in visitors and allows them to send emails that will never receive replies is known as a cyber ghost . They are not actually ghosts.

Cyclic Ghosts

A foggy forest.

Cyclic ghosts are spirits that appear on the anniversary to a significant event, often times their death.

A drawing of a demonic creature.

Demons are evil spirits capable of harming the living, often by means of scratches and/or possession. They are believed to be spirits from Hell.

Family Ghosts

An apparition wearing a top hat in the woods.

Family ghosts are connected by the ties of relation. While not actually dead in all cases, they are believed to appear to warn the living of death or disaster. Most often appearing in visions, a man’s sister could appear to him in a dream warning that their cousin has died of cancer, for example, even despite the sister is still alive. It is believed to be some kind of psychic energy. In other cases, it could be the uncle of a woman letting her know he has died in a car accident.

Haunted Objects

A gramophone.

Objects that ghosts had a strong emotional tie to. Such objects may include wedding rings, a favorite chair, a doll, a surgical instrument, etc.

Historical Ghosts

Old photographs and letters.

Similar to atmospheric ghosts, historical ghosts have been seen replaying historic events, though they may be seen in multiple locations. They, too, are non-interactive, and fall under the category of location based. In general, they appear to be solid and wearing period clothing. Battlefield ghosts are also considered historical ghosts.

Incubus / Succubus

A frightening, seductive woman.

Incubuses and succubuses are demonic entities who invade the dreams of men and women and provide sexual images, lust, and sometimes assault. Incubuses affect women while succubuses affect men.

Marian Ghosts

A statue of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus.

Many believe that this is the appearance of the Virgin Mary. Marian ghosts also cover cameos of religious figures and saints.

Modern Ghosts

A mysterious figure in a hoodie.

Modern ghosts are similar to the historical ghosts, but they are of the modern era.

A foggy, empty street at night.

Phantoms closely resemble the living, and they are often not suspected of being paranormal until they do something like vanish or walk through a wall.

Phantom Hitchhikers

A hitchhiker with her thumb out.

Phantom hitchhikers are the base of many urban legends and pop culture, including episodes of The Twilight Zone. In most cases, they appear on the anniversary of their death. They interact with the living by asking for a ride, but they disappear before they arrive at their destination.

Phantom Travelers

A vintage car abandoned in the desert.

These ghosts are normally found along a particular stretch of road. They appear near the place of a deadly accident. Phantom travelers have been found riding in or waiting to board a train, plane, boat, car, or horse, depending on how they died. In most cases, they appear on the anniversary of their death.

Photographic Ghosts

Old photographs with camera lenses.

Photographic ghosts can be any kind of ghost, but they are normally not seen with the naked eye and are only seen in the photos taken. Some appear as orbs, vortexes, ectoplasmic mist, or other unusual light/optical abnormalities.


An apparition floating in the doorway.

German for “noisy spirit,” poltergeists are nothing short of their names. They are known to throw things, move things, and wreak havoc in a near playful manner.

Recurring & Replay Ghosts

Two young ghosts wandering the woods.

Recurring ghosts appear at a certain time, often times the anniversary of their death. There are several stories of ghosts appear on Halloween night; these are recurring ghosts.

Transportation Ghosts

A train coming through the fog.

While not a living thing, transportation ghosts are ghosts of a vehicle of transportation (train, car, plane, etc.) that no longer exist. They are often associated with a tragic event, often a crash, that the transportation met its end. Sometimes, phantom passengers have been seen on these transportation ghosts, depending on the deaths.

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Listen If You Dare: Exploring Our Belief In Ghosts

ghosts phantoms

A Chateau Le Fear cast member waits for thrill seekers at the house of horror show in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Charles McQuillan/Getty Images hide caption

A Chateau Le Fear cast member waits for thrill seekers at the house of horror show in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.

Have you ever been home alone but had the feeling that someone is watching you?

Or when you're just about to go to sleep and you get a chill down your spine... maybe you even hear footsteps or a faint voice.

And then the question starts to nag at you. Is something else here that you just can't see? Could it be something... otherworldly?

Yes, we are talking about ghosts, spirits, and the other side. Nearly half of Americans believe in ghosts. The concept of spirits is present in many cultures around the world. Their existence permeates books, movies, and folklore.

But what would you do if you were faced with the existence of something you couldn't explain?

Glynn Washington , the host of the podcast "Spooked, presented by Snap Judgment," joins us to share some of his favorite ghost stories. And we hear from professor Chris French about why humans believe in the paranormal .

Like what you hear? Find more of our programs online .

It’s a wonderful world — and universe — out there.

Come explore with us!  

Science News Explores

The science of ghosts, here’s what may explain why some people see, hear or feel a spooky presence.

ghosts phantoms

People love scary, spooky stories of spectral phantoms. While there’s no science to support the existence of ghosts, research does provide plenty of explanations for why we might genuinely sense a supernatural presence.

D-Keine/E+/Getty Images

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By Kathryn Hulick

October 31, 2019 at 5:45 am

A shadowy figure rushed through the door. “It had a skeletal body, surrounded by a white, blurry aura,” recalls Dom. The figure hovered and didn’t seem to have a face. Dom, who prefers to use only his first name, had been fast asleep. Just 15 at the time, he panicked and closed his eyes. “I only saw it for a second,” he recalls. Now, he’s a young adult who lives in the United Kingdom. But he still remembers the experience vividly.

Was the figure a ghost? In the mythology of the United States and many other Western cultures, a ghost or spirit is a dead person who interacts with the living world. In stories, a ghost may whisper or groan, cause things to move or fall, mess with electronics — even appear as a shadowy, blurry or see-through figure.

ghosts phantoms

Ghost stories are lots of fun, especially on Halloween. But some people believe that ghosts are real. Chapman University in Orange, Calif., runs a yearly survey that asks people in the United States about their beliefs in the paranormal. In 2018, 58 percent of those polled agreed with the statement, “Places can be haunted by spirits.” And almost one in five people from the United States said in another survey, conducted by the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C., that they’ve seen or been in the presence of a ghost.

On ghost-hunting TV shows, people use scientific equipment to attempt to record or measure spirit activity. And numerous creepy photos and videos make it seem like ghosts exist. However, none of these offer good evidence of ghosts. Some are hoaxes, created to fool people. The rest only prove that equipment sometimes can capture noise, images or other signals that people don’t expect. Ghosts are the least likely of many possible explanations.

Not only are ghosts supposed to be able to do things that science says are impossible, such as turn invisible or pass through walls, but also scientists using reliable research methods have found zero evidence that ghosts exist. What scientists have discovered, though, are lots of reasons why people might feel they have had ghostly encounters.

What their data show is that you can’t always trust your eyes, ears or brain.

‘Dreaming with your eyes open’

Dom began having unusual experiences when he was eight or nine. He would wake up unable to move. He researched what was happening to him. And he learned that science had a name for it: sleep paralysis. This condition leaves someone feeling awake but paralyzed, or frozen in place. He can’t move or speak or breathe deeply. He may also see, hear or feel figures or creatures that aren’t really there. This is called a hallucination (Huh-LU-sih-NA-shun).

Sometimes, Dom hallucinated that creatures were walking or sitting on him. Other times, he heard screaming. He only saw something that one time, as a teenager.

Sleep paralysis happens when the brain messes up the process of falling asleep or waking. Usually, you only start dreaming after you’re fully asleep. And you stop dreaming before you waken.

A sitting woman looks down at her dreaming self

Sleep paralysis “is like dreaming with your eyes open,” explains Baland Jalal. A neuroscientist, he studies sleep paralysis at the University of Cambridge in England. He says this is why it happens: Our most vivid, lifelike dreams happen during a certain stage of sleep. It’s called rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep. In this stage, your eyes dart around under their closed lids. Though your eyes move, the rest of your body can’t. It’s paralyzed. Most likely, that’s to prevent people from acting out their dreams. (That could get dangerous! Imagine flailing your arms and legs as you play dream basketball, only to whack your knuckles on the wall and tumble to the floor.)

Your brain usually turns this paralysis off before you wake up. But in sleep paralysis, you wake up while it’s still happening.

Faces in the clouds

You don’t have to experience sleep paralysis to sense things that aren’t there. Have you ever felt your phone buzz, then checked to find there was no message? Have you heard someone calling your name when no one was there? Have you ever seen a face or figure in a dark shadow?

These misperceptions also count as hallucinations, says David Smailes. He’s a psychologist in England at Northumbria University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He thinks that just about everyone has such experiences. Most of us just ignore them. But some may turn to ghosts as the explanation.

We’re used to our senses giving us accurate information about the world. So when experiencing a hallucination, our first instinct is usually to believe it. If you see or feel the presence of a loved one who died — and trust your perceptions — then “it has to be a ghost,” says Smailes. That’s easier to believe than the idea that your brain is lying to you.

The brain has a tough job. Information from the world bombards you as a mixed-up jumble of signals. The eyes take in color. The ears take in sounds. The skin senses pressure. The brain works to make sense of this mess. This is called bottom-up processing. And the brain is very good at it. It’s so good that it sometimes finds meaning in meaningless things. This is known as pareidolia (Pear-eye-DOH-lee-ah). You experience it whenever you stare at clouds and see rabbits, ships or faces. Or gaze at the moon and see a face.

a wall with three bricks that look like they have faces

The brain also does top-down processing. It adds information to your perception of the world. Most of the time, there is way too much stuff coming in through the senses. Paying attention to all of it would overwhelm you. So your brain picks out the most important parts. And then it fills in the rest. “The vast majority of perception is the brain filling in the gaps,” explains Smailes.

What you see right now isn’t what’s actually out there in the world. It’s a picture your brain painted for you based on signals captured by your eyes. The same goes for your other senses. Most of the time, this picture is accurate. But sometimes, the brain adds things that aren’t there.

For example, when you mishear the lyrics in a song, your brain filled in a meaning that wasn’t there. (And it will most likely continue to mishear those words even after you learn the right ones.)

This is very similar to what happens when so-called ghost hunters capture sounds that they say are ghosts speaking. (They call this electronic voice phenomenon, or EVP.) The recording is probably just random noise. If you listen to it without knowing what was supposedly said, you probably won’t hear words. But when you know what the words are supposed to be, you might now find that you can discern them easily.

Your brain may also add faces to images of random noise. Research has shown that patients who experience visual hallucinations are more likely than normal to experience pareidolia — see faces in random shapes, for instance.

In one 2018 study, Smailes’ team tested whether this might also be true for healthy people. They recruited 82 volunteers. First, the researchers asked a series of questions about how often these volunteers had hallucination-like experiences. For example, “Do you ever see things other people cannot?” and “Do you ever think that everyday things look abnormal to you?”

a face that hidden in a busy black and white image

Next, the participants looked at 60 images of black and white noise. For a very brief moment, another image would flash in the center of the noise. Twelve of these images were faces that were easy to see. Another 24 were hard-to-see faces. And 24 more images showed no faces at all — just more noise. The volunteers had to report whether a face was present or absent in each flash. In a separate test, the researchers showed the same volunteers a series of 36 images. Two-thirds of them contained a face pareidolia. The remaining 12 did not.

Participants who had initially reported more hallucination-like experiences were also more likely to report faces in the flashes of random noise. They were also better at identifying those images that contained face pareidolia.

In the next few years, Smailes plans to study situations in which people might be more likely to see faces in randomness.

When people sense ghosts, he points out, “They’re often alone, in the dark and scared.” If it’s dark, your brain can’t get much visual information from the world. It has to create more of your reality for you. In this type of situation, Smailes says, the brain may be more likely to impose its own creations onto reality.

Did you see the gorilla?

The brain’s picture of reality sometimes includes things that aren’t there. But it can also completely miss things that are there. This is called inattentional blindness. Want to know how it works? Watch the video before you keep reading.

The video shows people in white and black shirts passing a basketball. Count how many times the people in white shirts pass the ball. How many did you see?

Partway through the video, a person in a gorilla suit walks through the players. Did you see it? About half of all viewers who count passes while watching the video miss the gorilla completely.

If you too missed the gorilla, you experienced inattentional blindness. You were likely in a state called absorption. That’s when you are so focused on a task that you tune out everything else.

“Memory does not work like a video camera,” says Christopher French. He is a psychologist in England at Goldsmiths University of London. You only remember things you’re paying attention to. Some people are more likely to become absorbed than others. And these people also report higher levels of paranormal beliefs, he says, including beliefs in ghosts.

How could these things be related? Some strange experiences that people blame on ghosts involve unexplained sounds or movements. A window may seem to open all by itself. But what if someone opened it and you just didn’t notice because you were so absorbed in something else? That’s a lot more likely than a ghost, French says.

In one 2014 study, French and his colleagues found that people with higher levels of paranormal beliefs and higher tendencies to get absorbed are also more likely to experience inattentional blindness. They also tend to have a more limited working memory. That’s how much information you can hold in your memory at once.

If you have trouble keeping lots of information in your memory or paying attention to more than one thing at once, then you risk missing sensory cues from the environment around you. And you might blame any misperceptions that result on a ghost.

The power of critical thinking

Anyone may experience sleep paralysis, hallucinations, pareidolia or inattentional blindness. But not everyone turns to ghosts or other supernatural beings as a way to explain these experiences. Even as a child, Dom never thought he had come face to face with a real ghost. He went online and asked questions about what might have happened. He used critical thinking. And he got the answers he needed. When an episode happens now, he uses a technique that Jalal developed. Dom doesn’t try to stop the episode. He just focuses on his breathing, tries to relax as much as possible and waits for it to pass. He says, “I deal with it far better. I just sleep and enjoy sleeping.”

Robyn Andrews is a psychology student at the University of South Wales in Treforest. She wondered if people with stronger critical-thinking skills might be less likely to believe in the paranormal. So she and her mentor, psychologist Philip Tyson, recruited 687 students for a study about their paranormal beliefs. The students majored in a wide range of different fields. Each was asked how strongly he or she agreed with statements such as, “It is possible to communicate with the dead.” Or “Your mind or soul can leave your body and travel.” The research team also looked at the students’ grades on a recent assignment.

a woman sitting on a chair looking at a ghost twin image sitting in front of a window

Students with higher grades tended to have lower levels of paranormal beliefs, this study found. And students in the physical sciences, engineering or math tended not to believe as strongly as those studying the arts. This trend also has been seen in research by others.

This study did not actually assess the students’ ability to think critically. “That’s something we would look into as a future study,” says Andrews. However, previous research has shown that science students tend to have stronger critical-thinking skills than art students. That’s probably because you need to think critically in order to conduct scientific experiments. And thinking critically can help you scout out likely causes for an unusual experience without involving ghosts (or aliens, or Bigfoot).

Even among science students and working scientists, though, paranormal beliefs persist. Andrews and Tyson think that’s a problem. If you can’t judge whether a ghost story or spooky experience is real or not, you may also get fooled by advertisements, bogus medical cures or fake news, says Tyson. It’s important for everyone to learn how to question information and seek reasonable, realistic explanations.

So if someone tells you a ghost story this Halloween, enjoy it. But remain skeptical. Think about other possible explanations for what was described. Remember that your mind may fool you into experiencing spooky things.

Wait, what’s that behind you? (Boo!)

Kathryn Hulick has been a regular contributor to Science News for Students since 2013. She’s covered everything from laser “photography” and acne to video games, robotics and forensics. This piece — her 43rd story for us — was inspired by her book: Strange But True: 10 of the world’s greatest mysteries explained. (Quarto, October 1, 2019, 128 pages).

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Ghost of a child sitting on wooden steps reading a ghost book.

Are you haunted by ghosts of the past and phantoms of your future? Welcome to the spooky realm of hauntology

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Do you believe in ghosts? Every year, Halloween serves up the usual images of spooks, skeletons and witches – but these ideas aren’t just the domain of fiction or trick-or-treating. There is also a philosophical concept that embraces ghosts.

It is called “hauntology”, and it might just make you a believer.

The word hauntology was invented by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida for his 1993 lecture Spectres of Marx .

Derrida was a whimsical guy, and the words “hauntology” and “ontology” both sound identical when spoken in French.

Ontology is the philosophical study of existence and being, dating back as far as ancient Greece. In Derrida’s mind, ontology was shadowed by hauntology, a state of non-being.

Hauntology is that eerie zone where time collapses and our past memories and associations haunt our minds, like a ghost.

Haunted by past and future

ghosts phantoms

In his lecture, Derrida invoked Shakespeare’s Hamlet, both through the phantom of Hamlet’s father and particularly the phrase “time is out of joint”.

Not only does hauntology look back to your past experiences, it looks forward. You are haunted by the future – or, at least, haunted by futures that did not eventuate.

Are you in the job you planned to have ten years ago? Do you live in the house you dreamed of when you were younger? Do these unfulfilled dreams weigh on your mind? Dare I ask, do these unmet expectations haunt you?

English theorist Mark Fisher called this concept “cancelled futures” and associated it with cultural stagnation. In a 2014 lecture he bemoaned little forward progress in music and films: an endless repetition and recycling of old ideas, just in high definition.

Fisher was an important catalyst in the transformation of ghosts. Along with music journalist Simon Reynolds, Fisher appropriated Derrida’s hauntology by analysing pop culture, music and movies through a hauntological lens: considering how contemporary culture is haunted by our pasts and impossible futures.

This area of “spectral studies” developed in the new millennium mainly through blogs. The traditional idea of ghosts evolved from a supernatural phenomenon (fictional or otherwise) into a philosophical concept, discussed vigorously in the digital realm.

Those studying spectral studies turned to sources as diverse as Freud’s observations of the “ uncanny ” and Sartre’s suggestion that, although invisible, the dead survive and are all around us.

Read more: From Black Death to COVID-19, pandemics have always pushed people to honor death and celebrate life

Haunted popular cultures

Many creatives have embraced the motif and connotations of the ghost. Richard Littler’s blog Scarfolk (2013-) imagines a fictional English village stuck forever looping on 1979. The retro electronica musicians of the Ghost Box Records label (2004-), seem to capture the soundtrack of a parallel world outside of time.

Hauntology also describes a post-traumatic-like disquiet of those born in the 1960s and ‘70s. Dubbed by Bob Fisher as “ the haunted generation ”, Fisher says kids of this era grew up in an age of “cosy wrongness”, consuming lots of media – especially television.

Not all of it was suitable for children.

Think of films like Watership Down (1978) with its blood-soaked fields and scary rabbits, or those fuzzy Jon Pertwee/Tom Baker-era episodes of Doctor Who.

Are you of an age where the memory of those grainy black and white ghost photographs you saw as a child in Usborne’s World of the Unknown: Ghosts (1977) still freak you out? Does the recollection of the shrill screams in Disney’s read-along book and record of The Haunted Mansion (1970) still send shivers down your spine?

Much hauntological writing discusses popular culture artefacts such as these, and the way they haunt our minds through recurring memories that return again and again.

Walking with ghosts

Films like Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), especially its setting at the vast and secluded Overlook hotel, strongly reflect key features of hauntology. The emotional disintegration of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) mirrors the very hauntological collapsing of time within the walls of the hotel.

People and events from decades past appear and influence his behaviour. Then, of course, there are the ghosts of those two little girls in their blue dresses.

This depiction of ghosts we knew returning to us dressed in the attire they wore in life reflects a long tradition. Hamlet’s father returns dressed in battle armour. The ghosts of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol are decked out in their burial suits.

It was not until the 20th century that ghosts began to appear in their ubiquitous white sheets, most notably in the works of MR James. In James’ Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad (1904), a holidaying academic inadvertently conjures up a terrifying entity swathed in linen bedsheets.

A sheetly-like ghost.

So in a sense, hauntology has brought us full circle, returning to these ideas of ghosts we knew from our lives returning once more to haunt us.

Now you know it, hauntology is a name you can give to those slightly eerie memories from your childhood, or that nagging feeling that you took a wrong turn in life somewhere along the road.

Whether ghosts be the Scooby Doo-style spooks chasing us around old castles, or the psychological phantoms gatecrashing our own minds, hauntology is all around.

Read more: Looking for love on a dating app? You might be falling for a ghost

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Phantoms: Ghostly Apparitions or Painful Memories of the Lost?

Phantom behind a curtain

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By: Sid Meyers

The Phantom is itself a phantom. It’s the all-encompassing and defining characteristic of the things that go bump in the night; it’s the darkness creeping along the perimeters of the soul, the malevolent presence that dissipates from the corner of your eye. 

It’s the illusory things that we no longer have or the thing that we once controlled. Now it’s gone, twitching in the darkness of time and memory. 

It’s the possessor of that which does not belong to it; a thief of bodies, souls, and dreams.

phantom in a hallway

How is a Phantom Truly Defined?

That’s just it. Phantoms are so many things, all of which are frightening, some of which are real. The reality is terrifying because of what is lost, while the ethereal dimensions, those of the moaning specter, frighten because they exist within the unknown.

The war-torn survivor, a veteran of multiple deployments, stares at the space that used to be their arm, lost to some improvised explosive device in a war-torn, alien land, from which the veteran doesn’t love, and will never understand.

The fingers still move, curl, twitch, and even feel. It’s the maddening, tangible, and frightening insistence that the phantom limb is still there. It’s still moving. It must be, for how else could this veteran still feel it, shifting under the cotton sheets of the bed, somewhere between the darkest point of the night, and the coming dawn?

Phantoms are also our memories , where people move, talk, joke, laugh, and scream, somewhere in the deep recesses of the brain, where such conjurings escape the rigid logic of science. 

For most, however, the mere mention of a phantom entreats images of dark forms in human shapes , graveyards and tombstones, and the cold granite of royal crypts. 

Hollywood has glamorized the Phantom, both its spectral form and the dark imaginings of creative and depraved minds.  Ultimately, the phantom is the ideal of the beholder. It can be both the dark form in the corner of a moonlit room or the haunting visage that arises from traumatic memories. 

general perception of a phantom

A History of Phantoms

Phantoms have haunted the imaginations of mankind for millennia.  Phantom is another word for ghost, apparition, or specter.

The human mind has a way of taking movements or things that startle us and turn them into threats or fears of the unknown. It’s not hard to see how stories grow from the dancing shadows we see at night or the imagined view of a lost loved one we distinguish in the dark.

One of the first, ghost stories was written by Pliny the Younger in the first century C.E.

Anne Boleyn is the spectral phantom that haunts the Tower of London, which has its secrets; its phantoms buried within the walls. 

Abraham Lincoln is said to still walk outside of his old law offices and near the Capital building, the man who reportedly dreamed his death in a premonition.

There have been countless videos of alleged phantoms , especially in historical areas, such as Civil War battlefields. The more brutal or violent a memory is, the more likely the ghosts are to haunt these places.

Do Phantoms Exist?

However, its often difficult to ascertain the legitimacy of such evidence, especially considering the advancements in video editing technology. Despite all of the sightings in the world, it’s difficult to scientifically prove the existence of phantoms, ghosts, or any other kind of ethereal being.   As far as the pure, physical evidence is determined, there is none or, at least there isn’t any yet.

And so the phantom remains the spooky afterthought of a grade B horror film, the tales told at the edge of the campfire light, and the subject of countless “ghost hunting” reality TV shows. 

The idea of phantoms and ethereal beings remains locked in the minds of millions of people, however. Because of that, phantoms will continue to haunt reality TV shows and movie cameras for decades to come. 

How Do We Explain Phantom Sightings?

That’s difficult to say with any degree of certainty. As aforementioned, there is no existing physical evidence , at least not anything that would pass scientific muster. However, there are thousands upon thousands of videos, full of purported evidence of such beings.

Even the most skeptical of people will tell you that they have experienced one or two happenings throughout their lives that were completely inexplicable in any rational sense. 

Phantoms walking up the stairs in the dead of night, only seeming to exist as spectral dreams, even though the witnesses will swear an oath that they were fully awake and alert. 

The internet is replete with haunting audio segments and apparitions fading in and out of obscurity in the darkest recesses, just beyond the edge of the camera’s night vision. 

phantom girl in hallway

When stacked one upon the other, equaling thousands if not millions of hours of footage, its difficult to brush them all off, because if only 1% of all of those nearly countless recordings is genuine, then the existence of phantoms would be laid to rest on the side of reality. 

In terms of what defines a phantom on video, it’s anything ethereal, ghostly, disembodied, and immaterial. It’s something that can only be seen when your minds are tuned to that frequency and the cameras happen to be rolling in that direction.

As far as whether or not phantoms truly exist, the axiom revolves around the individual observers of such phenomena and is up to them to decide that has long been beyond the reach of science, in measurement, if not in ridicule. 

Fun Facts About Phantoms

Orbs Some believe that phantoms, ghosts, ghouls, and poltergeists don’t always appear in humanoid form. They are also known to show up as orbs, tiny and even large, spherical objects with a dim, ethereal glow. A lot of video evidence centers on these orbs and the way they move through the frame of a shot.

Nightime Many ghost hunters and believers think that phantoms only appear at nighttime because fewer electronic devices are running in the evening-time. The night also allows for shapes, shadows, and ghostly figures to dance within our minds, creating the phantoms that haunt us.

Most Haunted Place in the World In America, the most haunted place in the country is supposedly the city of New Orleans , but there’s one place across the ocean that has it beat and that is Windsor Castle . The seat of the Queen of England, Windsor Castle is supposed to be the most haunted place in the world.

cartoon drawing of a phantom

Ghosts of the Past

Phantoms have been a part of the human imagination for time immemorial, and that is unlikely to change any time soon. Even as adults, we fear allowing our feet to get too close to the bottom of the bed, in the dark. 

Phantoms and ghosts, in general, will always conjure fear of the unknown, fear of those that we lost, and fear of the veil of darkness that comes with death.

Real or not, phantoms are here to stay, whether they live in our dreams, our memories, or in the darkest corner of the bedroom , waiting for the closing flick of the light. 


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Phoenix Ghosts: Phantoms, Psychopaths, & Poltergeists Tour

Home » Phoenix » Phoenix Ghosts: Phantoms, Psychopaths, & Poltergeists Tour

Phoenix Ghost Tour

Valley of the Dead

Did you know that the historic Orpheum Theater in Phoenix is rumored to be haunted? It is believed that the ghost of a little girl named Maddie haunts the theater. She is known to interrupt shows, hit patrons on the head, and has even been captured in photographs.

An oasis in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, the lively city of Phoenix basks in Arizona’s sun-drenched landscape. However, as dusk settles over the horizon, a darker aura descends, revealing a realm of mystery and the macabre. Emblazoned by a tumultuous past marked by profound loss of life and a notorious historic district teeming with vice and betrayals, Phoenix unveils a chilling legacy of haunted history.

From the harrowing echoes of past atrocities to the lingering presence of despairing souls who caused their own demise, the city's haunting narrative showcases a captivating blend of tragedy and turmoil. Brace yourself for an unforgettable experience as you delve into the supernatural realm, guided by the whispers of the past and the spirits that linger in the shadows.

“I had no idea Phoenix was so creepy! It was so much fun seeing the city like this.”

What is the Phoenix Ghost Tour About?

Join Phoenix Ghosts for an enthralling expedition through the haunted landmarks of the city, where the secrets lurking beneath its picturesque façade come to light. Encounter the ethereal victims of the Spanish flu epidemic and be gripped by the bone-chilling tale of a secret room of haunted dolls. 

Brace yourself for a spine-tingling encounter with the paranormal as we delve into the haunting mysteries that unfold along Phoenix's seemingly serene streets.

What You Will See On This Tour:

Step into a mesmerizing world where the veil between past and present is lifted and the haunted past of Phoenix beckons you to explore a collection of unsettling sites shrouded in mystery. Brace yourself for an evening of terrifying tales as you are introduced to:

  • The headless figures at St. Mary’s Basilica
  • The disappearing man at the Hilton Garden Inn
  • The unexplained activity at the Rosson House
  • The eternal guest of the Hotel San Carlos
  • And so much more…

Embark on a mesmerizing journey through the haunted history of Phoenix as knowledgeable local guides lead you into the realm of the unexplained. Prepare for an immersive experience filled with hair-raising stories of ghostly apparitions, inexplicable occurrences, and eerie sights that have become an integral part of the city's tapestry. 

Join us for an immersive odyssey that will both captivate you and send shivers down your spine as you navigate the secrets that lie concealed within the city's past, leaving you with a newfound appreciation for the haunting allure of Phoenix's mysterious heritage.

“Ghost stories are windows into the past, reminding us of the spirits that still wander among us.”

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Additional Info

Meeting point address: 622 E Adams St, Phoenix, AZ 85004

Duration: 1 Hour

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Can hogwarts ghosts leave (& 9 other questions about harry potter phantoms & spirits).

The Harry Potter ghosts are mysterious creatures in the universe, but we have the answers to many questions about them.

There is just so much to talk about  Harry Potter  and its multiverse — different tiers of canon include the books, movies, official websites, video games, to name a few. One aspect not discussed in detail is that of Spirits, who are often background fixtures in the story (playing important roles on very rare occasions.)

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Ghosts are the most commonly observed ones, but several others have been featured include Boggarts, Poltergeists and Dementors. As it is with humans, not all spirits are evil, but not all of them are completely benign either, and most of them are more neutral than anything else.

Can Hogwarts Ghosts Leave?

The short answer to this is: technically yes, but the fact that ghosts tend to "haunt" a specific place symbolizes the deep affinity they had for that location whilst they were alive. This doesn't necessarily mean that they loiter around wherever they died, for instance, Helena Ravenclaw, the Grey Lady, is killed in Albania, but returns to Hogwarts to become the ghost of her former House.

This is in line with the standard understanding that ghosts exist because they are attached to something in the living world, even if it means "choosing a feeble imitation of life," as Nearly-headless Nick says.

Where Did Dementors Come From?

The Dementors of Azkaban are officially categorized as non-beings , as they aren't exactly alive (and, by extension, cannot die.) Nobody is really sure how they came into existence, except that the island of Azkaban and its original inhabitant, the Dark Wizard, Ekrizdis, had something to do with it.

He spends his lifetime apparently abducting and experimenting on random sailors who happened to chance upon his vicinity, but when he dies, the Ministry of Magic discovers the hitherto unknown island and its demonic contents: a host of Dementors.

What Are Ghosts Made Of?

Ghosts in Harry Potter, as they are in most fictional universes, are composed of an enigmatic substance known as "Ectoplasm." This is a glue-y material that magic-users tend to hate as it simply gets in the way half the time, and ghosts are seemingly unable to stop secreting it all over the place for no reason.

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Luckily, a simple Skurge spell is suggested to get rid of Ectoplasm, which has the convenient secondary effect of also getting rid of any pesky ghosts lurking in the area.

How Do Ghosts Experience Existence?

Sadly for ghosts, they are completely unable to sense most things in the world of the living, being a vague approximation of what they used to be (an imprint of reality, if you will.) As such, they experience no personal growth either, holding on to whatever grudges or miseries they had while they were alive.

For example, Nick is constantly whining about his quasi-decapitation, regardless that it occurred over five centuries ago. One thing ghosts can supposedly taste, though, is putrefying food, because of its high level of rancidity and possibly because it can be considered not entirely dead.

Are Ghosts Able To Affect The Environment?

Not all the time, but they certainly do have a calling sign of sorts — for example, whenever a ghost phases through an object, it doesn't change the object as long as it's a solid; however, fire develops a temporary blue shade when they "interact with it," and also "create disturbances in water."

As Harry himself has endured, it feels like being "plunged into ice-cold water" when a ghost passes through a human body (and their general proximity results in a reduction in ambient temperature.)

Who Are The House Ghosts?

Although they are all known by name (and a brief backstory), the Hogwarts House ghosts are quite a fascinating bunch. Sir Nicholas De Mimsy-Porpington of Gryffindor is executed for a silly cosmetic magic error and the Fat Friar of Hufflepuff is eliminated by paranoid clergymen.

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The other two: the Grey Lady of Ravenclaw is murdered by her jealous admirer, and this admirer happens to be the Bloody Baron of Slytherin, who immediately commits suicide after realizing what he had done. How they all hang out at the same place without brewing conflict is anyone's guess.

Can Ghosts Be Controlled?

An interesting detail about ghosts is that non-magic folk do not become one when they die, nor are they able to actually perceive their presence. Aside from the Skurge, the Ministry of Magic has been shown to have some level of authority over ghostly activities, which is ensured by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

In one case, Moaning Myrtle mentions that she was compelled to move back to her original haunt after causing unnecessary agitation during the marriage of her school bully, Olive Horny's brother.

What Does A Boggart Actually Look Like?

The existence of a Boggart is proven by its manifestation of fear , as it takes whatever form is most terrifying to the person standing before it. Why it does this is unclear — perhaps they thrive off their victim's terror, or maybe they are just irksome creatures.

However, it is literally impossible to know the actual form of a Boggart, or even if it really has a form (it could be a gaseous cloud when not under observation for all anyone knows), because it becomes something new for every individual.

Will A Ghost Ever Be Able To Move On?

This is a rather complex conundrum: on one hand, Nick gently explains to Harry that Sirius would never be coming back because he would have "gone on," while on the other, is it really possible for something to remain static forever? Ghosts have what they call "unfinished business," so does this mean that they are freed of their condition if said business is finished?

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Consider Lord Voldemort, who gets himself trapped inside a horrifying baby-monster  because of all his soul-mutilation . He may have been a super evil Dark Lord, but punishing him for eternity without a single chance for reprieve doesn't really make moral sense. On the opposite end of the scale, the History of Magic Professor, Cuthbert Binns, wouldn't move on even if he could.

What On Earth Is Peeves?

Peeves, who inexplicably doesn't appear as comic relief in the movies, is a poltergeist, but not a normal one (as almost all others are not visible to people.) This devious fiend takes great pleasure in causing havoc at Hogwarts , but is not evicted by Dumbledore because he isn't that much of a disruption, to be honest.

It's said that he has been at the Castle ever since it was built, which implies that his character is an intrinsic part of the school, as much as anything that the four Founders have done .

NEXT:  Harry Potter: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hedwig

The Independent

The Independent

Ghosts Christmas Special review: one of the warmest shows on TV waves goodbye

Posted: December 25, 2023 | Last updated: December 25, 2023

Ghosts and Christmas go together like tiny sausages and a nice bacon sleeve. Whether they represent Christmases Present, Past or Future, spirits have a close affinity to the festive season. It’s fitting, then, that BBC One’s much-loved sitcom,  Ghosts , has chosen a Yuletide setting to finally say goodbye to its spectral ensemble.

When we last saw Alison ( Charlotte Ritchie ) and Mike ( Kiell Smith-Bynoe ) Cooper at the end of  Ghosts ’ fifth season, they’d made the decision to remain at Button House and raise their unborn child on the spooky premises. Now they’re back, with little baby Mia (“This is where we live,” Alison tells her daughter, the word “we” doing some serious heavy lifting) and Mike’s mother Betty (Lorna Gayle). “It’s a creaky old house,” Alison tells her mother-in-law, “and if you’re not used to it, it can feel a little creepy.” New life brings unexpected twists to the Coopers’ undead community, including an exorcism and a late volte-face on the future of the manor.

Far from being a chilling experience,  Ghosts  has long been one of the warmest shows on TV. That has always been its greatest strength: a gentle, witty tone that belies its supernatural premise. It is often described as a “comfort watch”, something that nourishes rather than stimulates. The success of the show has been merging the likeable straight-man duo of Alison and Mike with a pantheon of eccentric but loveable spooks: needy Georgian socialite Kitty (Lolly Adefope), lovesick Romantic poet Thorne (Mathew Baynton), horny trouserless Julian (Simon Farnaby) and upbeat scoutmaster Pat (Jim Howick), to name but a few of the ghostly troupe. All have a distinctive identity, and play different roles in the show’s orchestra – but when they’re playing in tandem, there are few sweeter symphonies on TV.

At the end of its 33-episode run,  Ghosts  needed a conclusion. Unlike its phantom company, the show’s writers have no desire to outstay their welcome. This final episode is much less a standalone special, and more the completion of the previously unfinished run. “The most Christmassy feeling in the world,” grunts caveman Robin, “is when you give somebody a gift you know they will always remember.” For fans of  Ghosts , this is an opportunity for closure. The future of Button House and its inhabitants is resolved, the next chapter of life for Alison and Mike arrives. While there may have been a temptation to break format and run the episode long, the show’s writers (who constitute much of its cast) instead retain the half-hour length and the standard structure, complete with a jolly B-plot about Christmas decorations. For a show that has always been unshowy, it is a fittingly slight send-off.

All the same, a primetime slot on BBC One on Christmas Day is a big ask for a show that has always felt like more of a cult hit than a showstopper. The very best Christmas specials manage the alchemy of retaining the spirit of the show while bringing in new audiences. Think of Geraldine’s tour of Dibley’s Christmas lunches, or  The Office ’s legendary party, the climax of the show’s exquisitely slow-burning romance. The best thing about the  Ghosts  Christmas special is that it feels like a  real  episode of  Ghosts ; the worst thing about the  Ghosts  Christmas special is that it feels like  just another  episode of  Ghosts .

For viewers new to the  Ghosts  phenomenon (and with an equally successful American version that has run for 40 episodes, it is truly a global one), this Christmas special is probably too much of an epilogue, too predicated on its previous storylines. In the battle for channel space on Christmas Day, it is a shame that a more accessible point of entry could not be found. But as the ungodly residents of Button House know only too well, the end is only the beginning.

From news to politics, travel to sport, culture to climate – The Independent has a host of free newsletters to suit your interests. To find the stories you want to read, and more, in your inbox, click here .


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ghosts phantoms

Wilmington Ghosts: Phantoms of Pirates and Patriots Tour

North Carolina


Taxes and fees will be calculated at checkout

Come on Wilmington's top rated ghost tour! Nostalgic architecture and inviting southern charm veil centuries of bloodshed and a demented history filled with the barbarities of war, deadly insurrections, and oddities stranger than fiction. Follow Wilmington Ghosts to discover the diabolical origins that made this Port City one of the most active hubs for terrifying, unearthly activity on the East Coast. Come join in on our thrilling ghost tour and experience the haunted side of Wilmington. This is an in person guided walking tour. We do not enter the premises or property of private homes or businesses.

Ticket Options

1 Option Available

Wilmington Ghosts: Phantoms of Pirates and Patriots Tour: $33

Thalian hall center for the performing arts, the cotton exchange, zebulon latimer house, battleship north carolina.

Come see this historic theatre where our guide will tell thrilling tales of performers who never left. Even long after their demise.

This historic building was once the epicenter of commerce in Wilmington. Merchants buying and selling cotton are still in the building. Only they are not amongst the living. The ghosts that haunt this historic building are still in the market to this day.

This haunted pub is frequented by locals and tourists a like. However the pub is also a popular spot for spirits of the dead. Who still frequent their favorite watering hole. Our guide gives a riving tale of how this pub came to be so infamous among ghost enthusiasts.

This haunted home of the affluent in its glory was an architectural marvel. Now it is considered one of the most haunted estates in North Carolina.

This ship was part of a dedicated fleet protecting our harbors. This ship is still beloved by its former crew who passed away on board. Our guide tell chilling tales of sailers who dedicated and gave their lives working on board.

Meeting Point

This activity ends back at the meeting point.

Ticket Information

  • Mobile or paper ticket accepted
  • One per booking

What's Included

  • Thrilling Ghost Stories
  • Local Knowledgeable Guide
  • Well Researched History

What's not Included

Cancellation policy.

  • For a full refund, cancel at least 24 hours before the scheduled departure time.

Additional Info

  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Infants and small children can ride in a pram or stroller
  • Service animals allowed
  • Public transportation options are available nearby
  • Transportation options are wheelchair accessible
  • All areas and surfaces are wheelchair accessible
  • Suitable for all physical fitness levels

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  1. What is the difference between a phantom and a ghost?

    To me there is a difference. In a court case you might say "your case is relying upon phantoms" but not "your evidence is full of ghosts". So a phantom to me starts off as being corporeal material and then becomes hidden; I could walk down the street in camouflage gear and be alive, human and a phantom.

  2. Ghost, phantom (7) Crossword Clue

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  3. Ghost

    In folklore, a ghost is the soul or spirit of a dead person or non-human animal that is believed to be able to appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely, from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes to realistic, lifelike forms.The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a ...

  4. Difference between ghosts, specters, phantoms, wraiths, apparitions

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  5. ghosts, phantoms, ghouls, & spirits

    64 Metascore Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist, starts treating a young boy, Cole, who encounters dead people and convinces him to help them. In turn, Cole helps Malcolm reconcile with his estranged wife. Director: M. Night Shyamalan | Stars: Bruce Willis, Haley Joel Osment, Toni Collette, Olivia Williams Votes: 1,031,214 | Gross: $293.51M 4.

  6. Types of Ghosts

    An animal ghost, as the name suggests, are the spirits of non-human animals. They are most often pets, wild dogs, or horses. Since these animals were unable to speak to humans during their time alive, they cannot talk to humans in death, either. Visual Spirits Apparitions An apparition is a visual representation of a spirit.

  7. Phantom vs Ghost: Similarities, Differences, and Proper Use

    A phantom is a supernatural apparition or illusion, often seen as a vague or shadowy figure. It can also refer to something that is elusive or difficult to define. On the other hand, a ghost is the spirit or soul of a deceased person or animal, often seen as a transparent or translucent figure.

  8. Listen If You Dare: Exploring Our Belief In Ghosts : 1A : NPR

    Phantoms. Spirits. Apparitions. The other side. Nearly half of Americans believe in ghosts. The concept of spirits is present in cultures around the world.

  9. The science of ghosts

    One in five Americans say they've encountered a ghost. But science has no evidence that ghosts are real. Here are more likely explanations. ... People love scary, spooky stories of spectral phantoms. While there's no science to support the existence of ghosts, research does provide plenty of explanations for why we might genuinely sense a ...

  10. Are you haunted by ghosts of the past and phantoms of your future

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  11. Phantoms: Ghostly Apparitions or Painful Memories of the Lost?

    Phantom is another word for ghost, apparition, or specter. The human mind has a way of taking movements or things that startle us and turn them into threats or fears of the unknown. It's not hard to see how stories grow from the dancing shadows we see at night or the imagined view of a lost loved one we distinguish in the dark.

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  18. 2023 Alexandria Ghosts Phantoms of the Potomac

    Departure details. King St & N Royal St, Alexandria, VA 22314, USA All ghost tours meet at Market Square, 301 King St., in front of the fountain across the street from Subway and Sur la Table. Please arrive 15 minutes early and look for your guide wearing a US Ghost Adventures T-shirt and carrying a lantern!

  19. Providence Ghosts Phantoms and Poltergeists Tour

    Sep 2023 • Family. 4 of us visited Providence for a long weekend and took the Providence Ghosts, Phantoms and Poltergeist Tour. Zee was our guide, and she was good but could have included a lot more content as we did a lot walking but not a lot of talking. Written September 19, 2023.

  20. Ghosts Christmas Special review: one of the warmest shows on TV ...

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  22. Ghosts&Phantoms

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    Ghost Lace System. Waterproof. Benefits (0) Easy On & Off. Nike Phantom Luna Elite. Coming Soon. Nike Phantom Luna Elite. FG High-Top Soccer Cleats. 1 Color. $300. Nike Phantom GX Elite. Coming Soon. Nike Phantom GX Elite. Low-Top FG Soccer Cleats ... Nike Gripknit Phantom GX Elite Dynamic Fit FG By You. Custom Soccer Cleats. 2 Colors. $305.