Victorian scientists thought that they had found an evidence for ghosts, but the general public didn't need to hear it

Victorian scientists thought that they had found an evidence for ghosts, but the general public didn't need to hear it
23 March 2024 J.W.H

As the movie Ghostbusters showed, true believers within the supernatural rarely make it within the scientific community. Throughout history, scientists with theories about ghosts, magic, and the afterlife have been discredited by their peers and condemned for destroying the rational basis of the discipline. Even Isaac Newton was careful he downplayed his interest in alchemy to keep up his repute as the daddy of contemporary science.

Victorian Britain experienced the golden age of the literary ghost story – when the imagination ran wild on the very considered the supernatural. But at the identical time, there gave the impression to be no dark corner that a rational, scientific mind couldn’t illuminate. Researchers comparable to John Ferriar and Samuel Hibbert desired to make clear any discussion about phantoms.

Thanks to a scientific treatment for hauntings and apparitions, the Ghostbusters were capable of find a good audience in Victorian Britain.
Urko Dorronsoro/Wikipedia, CC BY-SA

These pioneering physicians interpreted ghost sightings not as external entities, but because the product of disturbances within the brain or “afterimages” from overstimulated optic nerves. For such theorists, the supernatural has its source within the darkest recesses of the mind, with all its illusions.

The apparitions weren’t the dead appearing to the living, but fleeting illusions forged by an unpredictable psyche, often brought on by ailments and poor health. How – said Ebenezer Scrooge to the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol:

You might be an undigested piece of beef, a dollop of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a chunk of half-baked potato. There's more gravy in you than grave…!

But many individuals liked to play with these illusions. Spiritualism – the assumption that the spirits of the dead could communicate with the living – spread across Britain within the 1850s, with its origins in upstate New York in 1848. One of its strengths was that it appeared to offer observable, empirical evidence of the influence of the spirit world on our material surroundings.

During séances – meetings during which individuals tried to contact the deceased through a medium – spirits could allegedly cause furniture to be lifted and moved. The outstanding physicist Michael Faraday decided to clarify these strange events.

Séances were successful in Victorian Britain.
Louis Le Breton/Wikipedia

Knocking down a tumor at night

An avid experimenter, Faraday invented it ideomotor effect to prove that these phenomena don’t have anything to do with ghosts. Instead, it was the results of unconscious muscle movements of the people collaborating within the session.

Scientists from various fields have engaged within the “march of the intellect” – an attempt to cut back the truth of human experiences with ghosts to “tricks of the mind”, i.e. other quirks of human perception. But many Victorians weren’t glad. As mine own research As it has shown, ghost stories and supernatural folklore continued to flow into widely amongst urban and rural communities in Victorian Britain.

Even some scientists were curious. The Society for Psychical Research, founded in 1882, believed that nothing should transcend the sphere of scientific research, including the supernatural. The society's members, led by respected scientists comparable to Henry and Eleanor Sidgwick and the physicist William Barrett, were willing to stake their reputations on their discoveries.

Michael Faraday was a famous theorist of electromagnetism – he even handled paranormal phenomena.
Alexander Blaikley / London Illustrated News

Various subcommittees investigated this hypnosis, telepathy, séances and hauntings). Their work helped expose fraud, and so they fastidiously applied scientific controls to their investigations. However, critics complained that their willingness to present credence to such ideas would have a corrupting effect that would only revive credible belief in ghosts.

As the Pall Mall Gazette of October 21, 1882 put it:

The scientific attitude is such a brand new and unsettled phenomenon that it could actually only be preserved by fastidiously refraining from dangerous lines of thought. Even the brightest and most scientific observers, once they take step one of “inquiring,” may sink to the underside of the pond before they’re finished.

Despite the efforts of Nineteenth-century scientists, ghosts were never convincingly brought into the realm of scientific explanation. Still, it's not unusual for TV ghost hunters to read words amid screeches and crackles of static on high-tech recording equipment in supposedly haunted houses – the fashionable equivalent of moving furniture in candlelit living rooms. The enchanting allure of the unknown seems to ensure that ghosts will live ceaselessly.

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  • J.W.H

    About John:

    John Williams is a Reincarnationist paranormal Intuitive freelance writer...he is living proof of reincarnation existence, through his personal exploration, he has confirmed its authenticity through visits to the very lands where these events transpired.

    Through guided meditation/s using hemi-sync technology he has managed to recollect 3 previous lives to his own, that go back to the Mid to Late 19th century.

    JWH - "You are the GODS! - Inclusion of the Eternal Light of Love and you shall never die”.

    “Death is Just the Beginning of Life”