What is a Ghost? An Explanation Based on Logic

What is a Ghost? An explanation free of religion & superstition

What is a Ghost

– – Written by Daniel Cumerlato

What is a Ghost?  Simple question right?

I know what you’re picturing… a spooky, see-through, white figure floating up and down inside an abandoned house.

It’s the stereotype used by outsiders looking in.  They see it and laugh.  Think anyone who believes has to be crazy.  Thinking, thanks to mainstream TV and movies, it’s ridiculous.

I’m here to tell everyone,

“I’m not religious and a scientific thinker… and I believe in ghosts!”

So, What is a Ghost?

Focused on the above point of view, the best way to answer “What is a ghost?” is to focus on what the outsider believes.

What people believe is… a ghost is a human dead person.  Grandma Sue dies, her ghost stays inside the home, she walks around upstairs, slams doors, turn on lights and whispers while you sleep.  She’s trapped.  Positive energy means she’s happy, negative energy means she’s sad or angry.

A psychic can communicate with Grandma Sue like you talk with friends on Facebook.

Victorian time double exposure - What is a Ghost
Victorian time double exposure – What is a Ghost

Her memories, feelings and thoughts remain.  She’s the same Grandma Sue.

Why we disagree —

Disclaimer… this is a theory in something called the “unknown” for a reason.  Nobody can know for sure and what we’re left with is personal experience.

Hear enough ghost stories and patterns emerge.  I’ve been witness and told countless experiences.  From this a strong belief has emerged, void of superstition and religion.

What remains is, ghosts are energy


Ever wonder what makes you move?  I have.

There’s an energy all around us.  It keeps me alive, my organs pumping, my fingers typing on this keyboard.  An unseen force powering the universe.

And when someone dies we can see it, feel it.  Something has left their body.  Looking into the coffin at a funeral and knowing nothing’s there.  The person or loved one is gone.  This is only a shell.

What’s missing is the energy of life.


Science can see reality’s molecules through a microscope noticing the germs on our skin.  More advanced methods are invented all the time seeing down to atoms.  Atoms make up everything, vibrating at different frequencies to create matter.  Reality is matter forming into objects.

I’m not a scientist, but am pretty sure there is no concrete reason for why atoms choose specific forms.  Why a tree is different from a car.

And if this is correct, then couldn’t it be possible conscious energy controls it.  The point… if consciousness makes form out of energy, then why is it so crazy something could be left behind.

Residual Energy

Residual means “a remaining piece of a departed whole”.  Unconscious, brainless, disconnected, but familiar.

9 out of 10 ghost experiences can be explained away as residual energy.

Victorian time double exposure - What is a Ghost
Victorian time double exposure – What is a Ghost

For example —

The Butler Ghost in Canada’s most haunted town, as told to the Ghost Walks of Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2005.

In a townhouse off King Street, a little girl wakes up in the middle of the night.  A man stands quietly in the corner hidden by shadows.  The girl pulls the covers to her face but not over her eyes as he steps from the darkness.

Tall, serious, one arm held up with a white towel draped over, he walks across the room.  Stares straight ahead to the far wall and never looks at the girl.  He doesn’t hit the wall, but passes through it.

Morning, the little girl tells her mom.  Mom thinks it was a dream, pats her head and sends the daughter off to school.

That same day, mom is having coffee with a neighbor in the kitchen.  “Do you know what my daughter told me…” conveying the experience.  The neighbor now silent, turning white. “What’s wrong?”, the mom asks.

“My daughter saw a man in her room last night.”

The story remained a local legend for decades.  The townhouses then demolished for a new elementary school and the two units once occupied by the moms are taken down.  They reveal a secret chamber underneath.  A wine cellar belonging to the stately home predating the townhouses.

The mysterious man was a butler.  He walked the route from that wine cellar to dining room every day.  Over and over for years, creating energy repeating long after his death.

Is the Butler really there?  We say no.  Because he didn’t react to little girls and never swayed from his task.

It’s common ground for many ghost stories.

Can a ghost be conscious?

And that’s the remaining 1 out of 10.

Stories featuring a witness who communicates with the ghost.  This does exist, but true experiences are rare.  Disown stories from the overtly religious or folks who seem a bit off.  Talk only to those who live normal lives and react calmly to the paranormal.

And you’re left with 2 outliers…

  1. Confusing experience with interaction
  2. The Ouija Board

Experience vs. Interaction —

1, Two hats are left on the floor in the sacred room of a Freemason lodge.  It happens three times in a row to a tour guide for The Ghost Walks.

2, A little girl stares down from a grand staircase of an old mansion.  Seen only by kids in the group.  They believe she wants to play with them.

Both are valid experiences and both can be mistaken for interaction.  The missing piece is communication.

No witnesses communicated with a ghost through voice or body language.  Instead we have actions being witnessed with the assumption it was just for us.

When hearing this story, always ask, “Could this be just a random occurrence?”

Hats left on the floor of a sacred room as part of an ancient joke or mistake.  The little girl sat on the stairs anxiously waiting the local doctor to bring her horrible tasting medicine.  Neither were communications.

The Ouija Board–

Not going to get into the details or controversy of this ancient divination tool.  If you wish, read How to Safely use The Ouija Board where you you might notice the term “talking to ghosts”.  It’s used for simplicity’s sake.

In summary, the Ouija allows people to combine their energies for what’s believed to be communication with the dead.  Energy is raised around the board and connection happens.

Rockwell saw couples using the Ouija at a local dance
From The Saturday Evening Post cover in 1920

However, this may not be conscious communication.  A divination tool works off your energy (pendulum) or that of the earth (divining rods).  Communication on a Ouija may seem like a talking ghost, but could just be an impression translated into words by our minds.

Think about the origins of each thought randomly popping into your head as if out of nowhere.  The illusion of free was talked about by Sam Harris in his book Free Will.  A Ouija could be energy bursts of a connected mind being converted to thought.

Have I answered the question? —

I’m sure the answer is “no”.  In the end it’s called the unknown for a reason.  Nobody can know.

But what I can say without a shadow of a doubt… ghosts, whatever they may be, are real

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