The Problem of the Poltergeist
".................................................And yet – in a large number of cases, apparitions appear to correspond with actual physical effects. Objects move, doors open and close, and stuff gets thrown about, etc. Parapsychologists usually differentiate between “haunts” (where an apparition is seen in a building many times by different witnesses) and “poltergeists” (where physical effects occur), but there is an overlap. And if ghosts are effecting physical objects, they are clearly not hallucinations, which are purely mental phenomena, unless something else si involved, a point I shall return to in my speculative conclusion.
Now it could be that these physical effects are in fact hallucinations, or mis-perception in themselves. Film exists from the Rosenheim poltergeist case where the lights swing, and there are a few other pieces of alleged poltergeist footage – but the evidence is hardly overwhelming. However smashed items, weird electrical disturbances, peculiar flight and impact characteristics seem to be consistent across many of these poltergeist cases. Why? Physical phenomena are an embarrassment to many psychical researchers – but we find them so often I have to concede they have some basis in fact. The same kind of things have been reported for 2,600 years, across many cultures. Yet in the 1890’s the poltergeist was a highly disreputable creature, with SPR member Frank Podmore ascribing the poltergeist to nothing more than naughty children playing tricks, an analysis that many modern readers may be sympathetic to.
Yet the poltergeist cases are really just as acceptable, if in some cases not better attested, than the apparitional cases. So why were they ignored in the Census? Well partly the clue is in the name: the Census of Hallucinations was just that, and it is clear from the early Proceedings that the SPR group who analysed the cases were deeply committed to a telepathic/hallucinatory model. Physical phenomena were, as Rebecca Smith has pointed out, an embarrassment, and were therefore outside the scope of the research project................................"
Edited by KlaineyGStudy, 31 October 2019 - 05:51 PM.
To change text colour to "automatic"