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The Science of Why You Have Ghosts on the Brain

Most people believe in some aspect of the paranormal (at least in the US). According to recent polls, a full third believe in ghosts and 18% of Americans have reportedly seen one. That’s a lot of sightings for a phenomenon that as far as we know shouldn’t exist. So what is going on here? Well, human psychology is weird.

In my latest episode of Because Science, I do a little ghost-busting of my own, suggesting a few ways to make ghosts work in the real world. For me, it comes down to just how hyperactive our pattern-seeking brains can get. When we are scared, that fight-or-flight response overcharges the bits of your brain that pick out signals in the noise — you quickly go from A to B to FATAL DANGER. In the same way that we are hard-wired to recognize faces in everything, there are many psychological quirks that can give rise to something strange in the neighborhood, like a ghost or phantasm.

Need more scary science? You can watch my last Halloweeny Because Science on nature’s real monsters here.

Have you had your own unexplainable paranormal experience? Let’s delve into some spooky science in the comments below or hit me up in the twitterverse @Sci_Phile!

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Comments

  1. Eric says:

    I’m really digging this series.  Interesting that your blog post about GMOs had a string of hostile comments and conspiratorial accusations…the video that explains why…not so much. These are great, Kyle, but I must confess, in all probability, I am biased.

  2. Mason says:

    Type A is a false positive and type B is a false negative right. If they correspond to type I and type II which I’m guessing they do

  3. Albert says:

    I wish you would have explained Type A vs Type B error a little better, but overall, great video. Loving the series. I hope for many more.