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▶ Understanding The Different Types of Ghosts

Did you know there are many different types of ghosts, and, further, that not every being that inhabits in the spiritual realm is necessary a ghost at all? As such, it’s might be helpful to our study if we first start to understand the different types of ghosts out there and how they are different from each other. Of course, my effort to categorize these ‘critters’ is no more definitive than anyone else’s, but I do believe mine to be at least an honest effort to find some consensus among the various paranormal camps. I offer it only as a general guide and not the final word on the subject. I’m sure some readers—particularly those who have studied ghosts for awhile—may find some of my definitions to be questionable and will continue to insist upon their own preferred terminology, which is fine; I only offer these as a reasonable place to start.

The Interactive Personality
The first and probably most commonly understood type of ‘ghost’ is that of the deceased human being—usually of someone known to the observer such as a friend or family member (though they may also be strangers or ‘historical’ figures as well). This type of ghost appears not only self aware and intelligent, but capable of interacting within the linear world of time and space; interactions which may include making itself visible (manifesting), being heard audibly or telepathically, and even of being capable of touching the living (tactile capabilities). Some ghosts even seem capable of manufacturing odors (such as tobacco, perfume, or after shave) that were associated with them when they were alive. Further, just as human beings are capable of displaying a whole range of emotions and temperaments, so too is a ghost. Some may be playful and loving while others are dark and angry. Often they are described as brooding, sad, or melancholy, and are seen even to exhibit such very human emotions as rage, fear and jealousy. As such, an encounter with a ghost may be either a pleasant experience or a frightening and disturbing one, depending upon the nature and temperament of the ghost and the circumstances of its manifestation (as well as the emotional state of the observer.) In general, however, ghosts are usually considered harmless and, in some cases, even beneficial, and should be treated with the respect and dignity accorded to any human being, be they living or dead.

Therefore, since such ghosts apparently retain much—if not all—of their former earthbound personality, be it positive or negative, and are capable of feeling emotions such as love, joy, anger, guilt and regret, I think a better term for a non-corporeal or disembodied consciousness that is clearly human in origin should be a personality rather than either ‘entity’ or the more generalized term ‘ghost’. Personality captures the essence of what this being is; it is a ‘person’ who simply no longer resides within the context (and some might say, the confines) of the physical body. As such, to identify such a presence as a personality is simply to acknowledge its inherent humanity.

Personalities are further divided into several sub categories, largely determined by their relationship to the viewer. Those of a recognized family member or friend who have passed are called familial personalities because they are intimately familiar to the witness. This would be a parent, a spouse, a child or a close friend, or someone otherwise known to the witness, and are probably among the most common type of manifestation seen. Accounting for the vast majority of all sightings, familials are also not only the most common type of ghost, but are often the most short-lived variety as well; they are frequently seen but once, usually to a grieving spouse or parent, assumedly as a means of saying farewell or in an effort to comfort or reassure the bereaved. Unfortunately, the fact that they are often not seen or experienced repeatedly makes them among the most difficult to confirm or study, since no return appearance is usually anticipated. Of course, sometime familials will make more than a single appearance, though this is less common; in most instances, they appear to have a specific agenda in mind, and seem to interact only to the degree that they are trying to comfort the still living.

The second type of interactive personality is the historical, which is roughly defined as the manifestation of a person not personally known to the witness, but who is still identifiable as a known deceased individual. The ghost of Abraham Lincoln is probably the most famous example of a historical, though of course, one needn’t be famous to be ‘historical;’ simply being a past owner of a now haunted residence can make one a ‘historical’ personality. All that is required is that the person be identifiable, even if their identity is not determined until after the viewing. Unlike familials, historicals are among the more long-term manifestations seen, often residing within a particular locale for years or even decades, and are seen by countless scores of witnesses over a considerable period of time. As such, they also make the best ‘test ghosts’ because of their longevity and, to some degree, predictability.

The third type of personality is the anonymous, who is, by definition, the manifestation of an obvious human being whose identity remains unknown to both the witnesses or research historians. An example of such a personality might be that of a Revolutionary War soldier who regularly appears in the cellar of an eighteenth century era home built near a battlefield. Clearly human in nature and even apparently interactive, it’s identity remains anonymous mainly because it was never a resident of the place it is haunting and as such leaves no historical records that might be able to place a name to the apparition. Additionally, such entities can be among the most difficult to interact with, for unlike the familial—who is here to comfort the grieving—or the historical—who consider themselves still a part of their environment—the anonymous frequently appears to be angry, frightened or confused, and often seems to be as afraid of the still living as the living are of them. While still capable of being documented and studied, they tend to be more difficult to get to ‘come out and play’ and so do not generally make as good ‘test cases’ as others.

It should be remembered that while these three sub-categories seem to be set, they are in fact largely relative and even, to some degree, interchangeable. For example, a familial personality may be someone else’s historic or another person’s anonymous, depending upon the relationship of the witness to the ghost (or lack thereof) and other circumstances, making each ‘type’ superfluous at best. These terms are really for the benefit of the observer, and have little to do with the actual reality of the situation. In the end, it is best to refer to all apparently human manifestation that appear capable of interacting within linear time and space simply as personalities and leave it at that.

The ‘Non-Interactive’ Personality
The second type of ghostly manifestation is known as the non-interactive personality. Also known as an ‘imprint’, this type of manifestation, while apparently human in appearance and mannerisms, gets its name from the fact that it appears and acts as though it is entirely oblivious to its surroundings. Further, and what specifically differentiates the non-interactive personality type ghost with the interactive—aside from this marked lack of awareness of others—is their tendency to repeat the same actions (such as walking down a set of stairs or sitting in on the edge of the same bed) as though they are actors in play that is being acted out over and over again. Many who have encountered this sort of phenomenon often describe it as being akin to watching a few frames of a movie being played out on a continual loop. And, of course, any efforts to communicate with such a manifestation or interact with it in any way is always met by silent indifference, as though the observer was the one who was invisible and imperceptible rather than the ghost.

This leads some investigators to questions whether such manifestations are ‘ghosts’ at all, or merely a reflection of a moment in time that has somehow been ‘inscribed’ or ‘imprinted’ into the environment. In other words, these may not be genuine disembodied personalities at all, but pictures or ‘snapshots’ of a once living human going about his or her daily activities that has somehow been recorded by the environment, only to be replayed when conditions are apparently ideal.

While this theory has some plausibility and is growing in popularity with paranormal investigators, it does leave a few questions unanswered. Aside from the question of what physical process might be involved in ‘imprinting’ a scene into an environment, it doesn’t address the question of whether such a ghost may be unable to interact or is simply choosing not to interact. Then there is the question of whether it is possible such a ghost may even be aware it is visible to the still living; in effect, it may not be trapped in a prerecorded visual ‘loop’ but may simply suffer from an inability to perceive the living any more than we are usually able to perceive the dead. In such a case, then, the tendency to repeat the same actions may be no more remarkable then our own tendency to repeat precise routines day in and day out in our own world; we often walk through our home via the same route, open and close the same doors in order, sit in the same chairs, gaze out the same windows, with similar regularity, so there is no reason an earth-bound ghost-especially if it wasn’t aware it was visible to the living-might not keep the same routine it had while alive.

Most paranormal investigators don’t accept this theory, however, preferring instead to retain the belief that these are not real personalities, but imprints embedded upon the environment the way a song is imbedded within the swirled indentations of a CD. The biggest problem with the ‘imprint’ theory, however, is that these manifestations not only frequently appear at different locales throughout a house, but may even appear outdoors in open meadows or fields. If we work from the premise that they are mere images engraved upon the environment, however, how do we explain this phenomenon? Even if there might be some process by which human energy is somehow imprinted into the very building materials of a structure, what might it be imprinted upon in an open field? For this theory to work, there has to be some medium upon which to ‘imprint’ in the first place, making these anomalies inexplicable.

In either case, the non interactive personality remains the most easily observed of all the ghostly phenomenon as they are frequently repeatable, usually confined to a particular locality that can be carefully monitored, and to some degree, even predictable. Whether they are true personalities or mere imprints of human energy, however, remains uncertain, and a continuing source of some debate.

The Living Ghost
Though extremely rare, there are a few anecdotal accounts of people encountering manifestations of a person-usually well known to them-who are still alive, but are at another physical location, frequently far away. These ‘ghosts’ usually appear at a time when the person the ghost is manifesting is in great distress or danger; for instance, a pilot flying through a bad storm might suddenly appear hundreds of miles away at his home, as though his spirit or soul has left the body and gone to a place of safety, sometimes to warn a loved one they are in peril and ask for their prayers or some other such plea for help. Such manifestations, however, are completely unexpected and so are not capable of being studied, and exist purely as anecdotal stories.

An only slightly more common yet closely related phenomenon to the living ghost is the ‘moment of mortality ghost’ in which the manifestation of a person far away suddenly appears to a friend or family member at the precise moment of their death. A woman, for example, suddenly awakens from a deep sleep to observe her father, whom she knows to be residing at a nearby nursing home, sitting on the foot of her bed. Though surprised, she is even more amazed to see him suddenly vanish before her eyes, filling her with confusion and consternation. Finally persuading herself she has simply had a strange dream, she finally falls back to sleep only to be awakened a few hours later by a phone call from her mother telling her that her father had passed away during the night. Recalling that her phantom visitor had appeared at a quarter after two a.m., she asks her mother when father had passed, only to be told 2:15 a.m.—precisely the moment she had seen him in her bedroom.

Technically, such a manifestation is an example of a familial personality (as we defined earlier.) I only differentiate it because of its proximity to a particular moment of time, a place, and a particular person. Unfortunately, such phenomenon are, again, exceedingly rare and entirely incapable of being substantiated, and so remain of little value to the paranormal investigator. They do, however, strongly suggest that there exists a strong link between loved ones that transcends death, and can manifest itself in strange and unexpected ways even at a great distance.

Inanimate Manifestations
Not all ghosts are animate in nature. Inanimate objects such as ships, trains, automobiles and aircraft have been regularly reported, and remain among the most difficult type of manifestation to account for. 

Obviously, since inanimate objects do not possess consciousness and were never ‘alive’ in any sense of the word, their ‘survival’ after their demise seems to have no rationale. The best answer is that they are not actual manifestations of physical energy at all, but mirages or pre-recorded impressions of some kind, making them more akin to the ‘imprint’ variety of ghostly manifestations than anything else. The difficulty with this theory, however, is, as we touched upon a moment ago, the lack of environment upon which to imprint the object. A ‘ghost airplane’—for example—could hardly have been somehow imprinted upon the currents of air in the same way a person might be imprinted into the building material of a house. Air is not a stable medium like a solid object, making such a phenomenon all the more inexplicable (the same is true with ‘ghost ships’ as well, with the ever changing sea being a logically unlikely medium upon which to hold and replay the image of a ship.)

In any case, inanimate manifestations (sometimes also called apparitions) are uncommon and tend to be non interactive (though not always.) They are also usually ‘one shot’ affairs that rarely repeat themselves, making them difficult subjects to study or document. However, there are a few exceptions: long ago fought battles are reported to sometimes appear repeatedly, or at least the noise of that ancient battle is heard still rumbling off the horizon. Whether this is some kind of imprint or an example of a ‘time slip’ (an idea we will examine in more detail later) is unclear, but remains a good source for further study.

Animal Manifestations
The question of whether an animal—usually a family pet—might be capable of manifesting itself is a source for considerable debate. As we discussed in chapter two and the case for immortality, it appear that animals do not possess the prerequisite sentience necessary to be considered a conscious personality, so it is hard to understand how their ‘essence’ might survive death and be capable of manifesting in the physical realm. However, numerous anecdotal accounts and a few examples caught on film suggest otherwise, so we must take this possibility into account as well.
But if animals lack a personality or the type of consciousness that makes such a thing possible, what is happening here? Do animals, in fact, possess more of what we would define as a soul than we imagine, or is there some other explanation available to explain this discrepancy?

A couple of possibilities present themselves. First, since many people frequently form a very strong bond with their pets, it’s not remarkable then when ghosts of those pets sometimes enter into the mix. The question, however, is not whether these manifestations are being produced by the conscious, free-will actions of the deceased pet—as it is assumed human based ghosts or personalities do—but if they are produced subconsciously by the viewer. This is not to imply such encounters are hallucinations-though this may sometimes be the case-but that the human mind might hold the image of the beloved pet so tightly in its subconscious that it might be able to inadvertently manifest it under ideal conditions. The apparition, then, is not the literal spirit of the dead animal, but a type of ‘memory bubble’ produced by the observer’s own inherent but unconscious telekinetic energy. In this case, it is the owner’s love for their pet that keeps the pet’s spirit alive, not the inherent nature of the animal itself. The fact that the vast majority of animal ghosts are those of beloved family pets-manifestations of regular farm animals and wild animals are far less common-could be an important clue that this might be the case.

Another possibility is that animals do possess some very basic consciousness and may attach themselves to physical places in the same way some humans do; the manifestations, then, may be temporary residual energy bursts unconsciously created by even the most primitive animal consciousness for a brief period of time, and one that lasts only until the basic energy of the creature fades and it eventually winks out of existence. The analogy would be that of a glowing ember that continues to glow for a time after the fire has gone out; the animal’s consciousness may initially survive physical death for a time before eventually dissipating into nothingness or, perhaps, being absorbed into some form of greater ‘animal consciousness’. 

On the other hand, since most animal manifestations are of higher order animals such as dogs, cats, and horses, it’s entirely possible that even low-levels of consciousness—that state of awareness just below full sentience—might actually be capable of surviving death just as a human’s may. The fact that manifestations of more primitive animals such as reptiles, amphibians, fish, and birds are almost unheard of also strongly suggests such a possibility. Of course, this is all purely speculative, but then the intricacies of consciousness and just were one might draw the line between sentience and non-sentience is not always easily defined. As such, while I personally find it hard to imagine how an animal’s consciousness—even that of a more advanced one—could survive death, the possibility that it might has to be at least considered.

Non-Human Manifestations: The ‘Extra-Celestial’
Next we come to one of the more controversial and, in some ways, more fantastic type of ghost. This type not only is interactive and apparently intelligent, but, like the interactive personality, also frequently manifests emotions and sometimes seems to be on a mission. The only difference between it and the personality, however, is that this ghost is not of human origin.

If we work from the premise that the universe is a very large place likely home to countless races of intelligent, sentient beings-both physical and spiritual-it would be erroneous to presume that all ghosts are necessarily human. In fact, the ghosts of human beings (personalities) may make up only a tiny minority of all the spiritual beings in the universe, so another category is needed to differentiate this group from the purely human personalities. Frequently referred to simply-and somewhat vaguely-as an ‘entity’, I prefer the term ‘extra-celestial’ for these varieties of intelligent energies that either once existed as physical creatures on another planet, or are creatures that have lived all their life in the spiritual realm as a being of pure spirit. Unlimited by the restrictions of either human mortality or the vagaries of linear time and space, they are the free roaming and often ancient intellects which may well constitute the majority of all conscious and sentient non-corporeal life that make up the universe. They may even be inter-dimensional beings who exist on another plain of existence far outside of our venue or comprehension, and who occasionally choose to interact with us for some specific reason. What those reasons might be are as varied as the stars in the sky, but probably have something to do with humanities’ spiritual development (although, of course, this is purely speculative.)

Extra celestials are distinguished from personalities in the markedly different ways they interact with the living when compared to human based ghosts: whereas personalities tend to do and say very human things, extra celestials operate on a different level. They are frequently spiritual masters or teachers dispensing tremendous wisdom, or angelic beings willing and able to intervene in human affairs. Additionally, extra celestials are extremely difficult to document, as they normally interact in more subtle and non-perceivable ways than do personalities. For instance, they rarely appear to the naked eye (though some mediums claim to be able to see them) preferring instead to work behind the scenes. They may also function essentially as guides for lost or confused personalities that are still caught in the earth plain, or as overseers of the spiritual realm sent basically to keep order. Further, just as there are malevolent humans to contend with, it is possible that there are malevolent extra celestials as well. Could these entities serve as the foundation for many of the demon mythologies inherent in most religions?

The Poltergeist
Probably the most famous type of ghost is the poltergeist (German for ‘noisy ghost’). These are the most linearly interactive types of ghosts known for their tendency to move-and, in many cases, hurtle-objects about a room, hide small trinkets from the living, and produce a cacophony of noises (usually loud and persistent rapping). Though generally harmless, they are also capable of more dangerous stunts such as pushing people over and even starting small fires. Though instances of someone being injured by a poltergeist are rare, their ability to frighten people could lead to traumatic problems in the more feint hearted or injury in the cases of people fleeing such entities in panic.

Until recently, poltergeists were thought to be typical personalities-that is, the ghosts of angry or mischievous individuals-but this idea has been challenged and, to a large degree, discarded. Once it was noticed that poltergeist activity normally centered around a single person—usually a young prepubescent girl or a high strung teenager—it was hypothesized that it was not ghosts that were doing the damage, but intense levels of highly charged telekinetic energy the victims themselves were putting out that were responsible for the phenomena. In essence, a stressed youth was unconsciously moving objects through telekinesis (the ability to move objects with the power of the mind) which, in effect, made them both the perpetrator and the victim of a haunting at the same time! This explained not only why poltergeist activity abruptly ceases when a certain individual was no longer present, but why it sometimes followed them to other locations as well. It also neatly explained why poltergeist hauntings rarely produced visual manifestations of ghostly apparitions, and why most activity stopped once the teenager reached adulthood.

On the surface, this seems an ironclad explanation for poltergeist activity, though it doesn’t account for it all. While ghostly manifestations are rare at poltergeist hauntings, they are not unheard of, and there have even been cases of communication being made with spirit energies at a poltergeist site. In fact, poltergeist activity is often an element of many hauntings, suggesting that at least some of it may be the manifestations of malicious or mischievous spirits and not all of it the work of subconscious telekinetic energy. 

Additionally, it doesn’t account for why such a phenomena isn’t more common considering how many stressed teenagers there are in the world, making its extreme rarity the best argument against the ‘nervous’ teenager theory. Finally, it doesn’t answer the question of why if some living humans are potentially capable of moving objects through the power of the mind alone, there shouldn’t be ghosts who are similarly capable of doing the same thing. In other words, if I am capable of telekinesis in the flesh, I should be capable of it from the ‘other side’ as well. As such, there is no real rationale why a ghost shouldn’t be able to fling objects around as well as our earthbound mind can. 

Despite these problems, however, it is enough to know that most paranormal investigators do not consider poltergeists to be actual ghosts, making the poltergeist less a ‘type’ of ghost than a form of telepathic anomaly. However, I think this is an issue that deserves more consideration by the parapsychology community before a final verdict is rendered, for the standard explanation poses as many questions as it attempts to answer.

Types of Visible Ghostly Manifestations 
Of course, every paranormal investigator is trying to get one thing and one thing only: a photo of a ghost. However, what constitutes photographic evidence of a ghost is not always clear, for one person’s ghostly image may simply be another person’s speck of dust. It is necessary then, that we look at the various types of ghostly manifestations investigators are looking for when they take photos at a ‘haunting’ and what each is supposed to represent.

First of all, it is something of a misnomer to assume a ‘ghost hunter’ traipses about a darkened house in the middle of the night until he spots a ghost and then aims his camera and shoots away the way one would were they stalking hyenas. Ghosts are almost never that obvious. Further, investigators rarely if ever actually see a ghost manifest before them; manifestations are often only noticed later when they appear on the developed film. More often than not, investigators wait-often for hours-for some anomaly in the environment (such as a sudden ‘cold spot’ or heightened electro-magnetic readings to appear on their instruments) and begin taking a series of photos in the general area of the aberration. Usually they have no idea if they will capture anything on film (usually they do not) which is what makes photographing a ghost such a lengthy and difficult process. Like playing the slots in Vegas, it can take many hours to hit the jackpot, but once success is achieved, it can be an exhilarating feeling.

Ghostly images are generally divided into three categories: orbs, vortexes, and full body manifestations. We will look at each in turn-and in order of rarity-as well as look at the most common explanations for each usually forwarded by the skeptical community.

Orbs: An orb is basically a ball of light that appears unexpectedly in a photo. Normally white or bluish in color, one or more may appear on an otherwise normal photograph, and are occasionally captured on videotape as well (in which case they are usually moving, often at a high rate of speed.) They are hypothesized by some researchers to be basic manifestations of spiritual energy in its simplest and most primitive form. In other words, it is thought by some that an orb is a ghost that is in the most early stage of manifesting, its essence being contained within a tiny globe of pure energy like air inside a bubble.

Many researchers, however, reject this notion. Even some ‘ghost hunters’ do not accept the ‘orb as energy’ theory, dismissing the little balls of light as lens flare or merely reflections of light off airborne particles such as dust, snow, drizzle, or even insects that have wandered in front of the camera just as the flash goes off. They correctly point out that many times pictures are taken in dusty, dark rooms where the smallest particles of airborne material can reflect the flash of a camera to stand out in stark contrast to the darkness of the background. In the hands of inexperienced or overly enthusiastic ghost hunters, then, every blob of light on a photo thus becomes a ‘ghost’-much to the chagrin of their more careful and somber colleagues.

That most orbs are flash reflections off some airborne particle of dust is probably valid and, like the overwhelming majority of UFO photos, most orb photos undoubtedly can be explained away as such. However, there are those who insist on accepting at least some orbs as ghostly manifestations, pointing out that they are sometimes found on photos that did not use a flash or are taken during the day. It is also difficult to understand why, if orbs are simply reflections of particles of dust, they don’t appear on every picture taken in the same area by the same camera. If one is dealing with a natural phenomenon such as dust or flying insects, orbs should be seen on nearly every photo. Also, it doesn’t explain why they so frequently appear on photos taken at ‘haunted sites’ but are so seldom seen on other photos taken under similar circumstances. The author, for example, has taken or seen literally thousands of photos over the years shot under all kinds of lighting conditions, both indoor and out, and has never found even a trace of an orb or other inexplicable reflection. While that my not be particularly significant, the fact that they seem to only appear on photos taken at haunted locations must be considered at least interesting.

Finally, there are others who are quick to point out that true orbs do not ‘sparkle’ the way reflected light would off a dust particle, but are instead more generally more opaque and, in some cases, even appear to have rings within them. Additionally, some that have appeared on video cameras are occasionally seen to abruptly change direction or make other ‘unnatural’ movements that would seem to argue against them being natural objects. That doesn’t prove they are paranormal energies of course, but they do imply that the light refraction theory doesn’t seem to go far enough in explaining all of these anomalies with any degree of thoroughness.

Vortexes: Somewhat less common than orbs are those little clouds or wisps of light that sometimes appear in photos known as vortexes (or, sometimes, vortices.) Usually appearing as a swirling spiral of light (though they can also be more substantive as well, sometimes taking on the form of an apparently opaque shape, often of considerable size) they, like their cousin the orb, are also thought to be spiritual energies in the process of manifesting themselves, but ones that are closer to achieving that goal than are their spherical cousins. In other words, a vortex can be thought of as an orb that is in the process of moving ‘outside’ the confines of its energy bubble in an effort to take on a more human-like form. 

Like orbs, vortexes too are usually dismissed as reflections of light off either exhaled breath or cigarette smoke, while the more substantive opaque shapes can be explained away as camera straps or some other object that has inadvertently fallen in front of the lens (human hair makes for especially good and ‘spooky’ vortexes). Again, like the ‘orbs as dust’ theory, this explanation probably does account for the majority of vortexes caught on film (especially those taken by amateurs.) It’s extremely easy to forget about objects inadvertently placed in front of a camera lens and then enthusiastically proclaim the resultant anomaly a ‘ghost’, so this explanation does carry considerable weight.

However, vortexes have their defenders as well, who maintain that ‘true’ vortexes look nothing at all like exhaled breath or cigarette smoke, but instead have an eerily unique and unusual pattern all their own. Additionally, they also point out that vortexes shot by careful investigators need to be taken seriously, since such people are usually meticulous about ensuring that camera straps are removed and people are not smoking in the vicinity at the time the photo is taken. Then there are even those vortexes that seem to be forming limbs and other recognizable human features to consider. Though these can be the result of the eye wanting to bring order to a random swirl of mist (a type of rhorsach effect) some of the best vortex photos truly do appear remarkable, so it would be unwise to dismiss all of them as simple tricks of the eye or ham-handed incompetence.

Full Body Manifestations: The ‘holy grail’ of all spirit photos is the rare full body manifestation. These are images of a recognizable human (or, sometimes, an animal) in which the subject appears either partially or fully formed and usually transparent (at least in part.) In some cases, the figure is clear enough to be readily identifiable by the deceased’s friends or family, making them even more valuable as evidence of paranormal activity.

Full body manifestations usually appear quite unexpectedly on photos, most commonly in the background of a portrait. In some of the more remarkable examples, they can even appear quite solid and seem to be interacting with the cameraman, just as a person often does in life. It is almost as if they are posing for a picture, as though they are either unaware or unwilling to accept their own death, or wish to continue to do the same things they did before death. There are a number of instances where the image of a dead soldier or airman appears in a group photo standing behind his still living mates, as if he refuses to break those close bonds that often exists among men who have been through combat together. Still others, however, seem oblivious to the camera, and often appear to be about much the same routine they maintained while alive. This leads one to speculate whether the ghost is aware the camera is capturing their image, or is simply choosing to ignore it. While it certainly seems that some ghosts are quite aware they are being photographed, there is no way of knowing whether this is true of all ghosts.

Only about a dozen really superb full body manifestation photos exist, and these constitute some of the best evidence of paranormal phenomenon on record but, as I said earlier, they will never constitute proof of ghosts simply because even the very best spirit photos are capable of being hoaxed. They are tantalizing tastes of what sophisticated equipment might be capable of recording, but seem forever fated to remain just outside the realm of empirical evidence. That’s not to say that one day a few seconds of clear, crisp footage of a full color apparition walking down a stairs in front of a room full of witnesses may not earn a very close and serious look; it’s just that scientific standards of what constitutes proof are unlikely ever to be met by a bit of flickering celluloid or magnetic tape, no matter how convincing it might be.