Graveyard Shift
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12 Scientific Explanations Behind Paranormal Phenomenon

Updated June 1, 2017 22.4k views12 items

We've all felt the uneasy, spine-tingling feeling that someone or something is watching us - be it an intruder, a ghost, or something far more sinister. And the truth is, scientific explanations for ghosts really don't mean much when you're overcome with that creepy-as-heck feeling in the middle of the night. All the logic in the world couldn't disprove what you already know: your house is probably haunted and some sage or holy water isn't going to cut it.

On the other hand, most of the time there really is a normal, logical explanation behind seemingly paranormal experiences. Even an apparent demonic possession can be explained pretty soundly with science (sorry, Lucifer). There's a real science behind haunted houses, and the reason our bodies sometimes feel on edge is usually kind of anticlimactic. Listen, no one is trying to tell you to buy property on top of an Indian burial ground anytime soon, but before you pack up all your belongings and move out of your haunted mansion in the middle of the night, you should really consider a couple of facts.

These scientific explanations for haunted houses may ease your mind, but you should probably still burn your Ouija board just in case.

  • Photo: Warner Bros.

    Infrasound Makes You Feel Like You're Being Watched

    If you suddenly feel a sense of panic for no particular reason, it could be the result of infrasound - sounds that are too deep for humans to hear, but that we can still pick up on. Think of it like a dog whistle: we can't hear it, but dogs can. Does that make the sound any less real? Humans can only hear sound waves between 20 and 20,000 Hertz, but we can still feel the vibrations of everything else. This often manifests in the pits of our stomachs as strange, indescribable feelings. Ever feel awe-struck and happy for no reason? You can blame it on infrasound. The feeling depends entirely on the circumstances. If you're in a creepy house alone at night, you may feel panic rather than excitement.

    Infrasound happens for a few reasons - storms, wind, weather, and the like. Even your kitchen refrigerator can emit them. This happened to be the case for Vic Tandy, a scientist who was convinced that his laboratory was haunted after seeing what he thought was a ghost. Tandy, a scientist and fencing enthusiast, eventually noticed that his fencing sword had been vibrating on its own, and then understood what had happened: A new fan he had installed in his lab was emitting vibrations of about 19 Hz. Since eyeballs have a resonant frequency of 20 Hz, when the fan vibrated his eye, it caused him to see shadows because his brain couldn't interpret what was happening. When he turned off the fan, all the ghosts went away.

  • Photo: FilmDistrict

    Ghostly Orbs In Pictures Are Purely Camera Problems

    Many of us want so badly to believe that those floating, glowing orbs in photos are real-life proof of ghosts. The problem is that while ghosts may be haunting every inch of your house, they're probably never going to let themselves be caught on film. Even real ghost believers are skeptical about orbs because they're usually just the result of a faulty camera.

    Ever notice how orbs are mostly in flash photography? That’s because when a small bug or piece of dust gets caught in the flash, it reflects the light back - and since the camera doesn't have enough time to re-focus before the shutter clicks, it comes out like a blurry circle. There's also a high possibility that whatever paranormal photographer took the picture accidentally smudged the lens with his finger. Oops.

  • Photo: Universal Studios

    Automatism Makes Mediums Think They've Channeled Ghosts

    How sad would it be to live in a world where a medium couldn't actually contact the dead? While some mediums are able to expose details so specific that they can't possibly come from anyone but your dead relative, a whole bunch of mediums are shams. The worst part, though, is that many of them really, actually believe they have a gift.

    Mediums are often misguided by their spirit-channeling talents because of automatism, an altered state of conscious where people aren't aware of what they're saying or thinking. When mediums effectively clear their minds, readying themselves to be filled with other-worldly messages, they become filled with random ideas and images instead. Mediums often attribute this to channeling a spirit, but the reality is that it's all just random. It's the same science behind why your dreams are super strange, nonsensical, and sometimes super creepy.

  • Photo: Warner Bros.

    A Mold Infestation Can Make Your Home Feel Haunted

    Mold is a pretty boring answer to a really exciting - and terrifying - problem, but it's an answer nonetheless. Rather than burning some sage, you may want to invest in some quality bleach-based cleaners.

    The reason you may feel terrified for no explicable reason, or suddenly see things that aren't there, could be because of toxic mold growing in your home. Research shows that certain molds have somewhat ghostly effects, causing irrational fear and even dementia. Whatever you do, don't spray the area with holy water, as dampness just helps mold thrive.