Although ghosts and apparitions have been reported for thousands of years, surprisingly little information is available with regard to their nature or essence. Ghosts are elusive and unpredictable, and the ways in which they manifest are surprisingly diverse.
Contrary to popular belief, most ghostly encounters are not visual, but rather consist of noises, smells, sensations, voices, cold spots, electrical disturbances such as lights switching off or on, and displacement or movement of objects. Much of the available data is anecdotal and is therefore prone to exaggeration, embellishment, and sometimes outright deceit.
Although studies suggest that approximately 1 in 10 of us has the ability to perceive ghosts, those of us who are actively looking for them are apparently the least likely to have a ghostly experience. Children seem more apt to experience manifestations, suggesting that adults develop some kind of blocking mechanism as they mature. Women seem more attuned than men, and it appears that the higher your IQ, the less likely you are to experience ghostly phenomena.
Animals also seem to be quite sensitive to this type of odd phenomenon, and many very reliable reports of them avoiding certain rooms, chasing unseen prey, or sitting contently as if being stroked and petted have been recorded throughout history – another indication that this type of phenomena is quite interactive.
Many witnesses report ghostly apparitions in a variety of ways. Some are seen as ethereal or almost mist-like, while others seem to be very solid, with features as sharp as if they are actual people. But other times, only the sound or even the smell of a ghost is reported. Most apparitions do not appear to be conducive to photography, though EVP recordings are occasionally successful.
Other apparitions however, appear fuzzy or misty, luminous and wispy, loosely resembling the person they once were. Sometimes they are only described as strange lights, rods, streaks blobs or patches of light. Apparitions seem to materialize at will and disappear just as quick, but some are known to just softly fade away.
But whatever form they may be, they can still move through solid objects or walk round them, be seen as reflection in mirrors, some can call for the attention of the percipient, some are accompanied by a certain smell or sound. Some just want to let the percipients know that they are there by moving objects.
Feelings of “magnetism” are often reported, as are sensations that the hair is “standing on end,” a common occurrence around fields of high electricity. Temperature fluctuations have become the litmus test for detecting activity, as have vague feelings of the area being “energized” by some unknown process.
Legends of ghost ships have existed since the 18th century; most notable of these is the Flying Dutchman. This theme has been used in literature in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge. There are also many urban legends about phantom trains or cars such as the movie Christine from Carpenter