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Spooky footsteps, faint figures, the feeling of being watched – these unsettling signs of a ghost are as familiar to us as the goose bumps on the back of our arm (or neck).
But are there physiological explanations for those things that go bump in the night?
Absolutely, says Joe Nickell, a senior research fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, an organization that promotes scientific inquiry and critical investigation of paranormal and other extraordinary claims.
“I’ve investigated haunted houses, inns, theatres, graveyards, lighthouses, castles, old jails, and even office buildings,” says Nickell, who’s researched stories of ghosts, vampires, werewolves, sea monsters, psychic phenomenon and other unusual phenomenon for 40 years. “And I’ve never found a paranormal explanation.”
Instead, Nickell says “ghosts” are often the result of pranks, environmental phenomenon, or physiological conditions such as sleep paralysis and the hypnogogic and hypnopompic hallucinations that accompany it.