What is real?
Surely we'll agree that what we see with our eyes is real. Reality is the world around us. Our five senses tell us all about the world around us.
We'll agree that facts and statistics are real, or at least a good approximation thereof. As a civilization, in this modern age, we tend to share facts, post information online, and from ghost stories to our best understandings of reality, we'll come to the conclusion that there are no REAL answers, no way to determine what is real. It's all a matter of belief.
Scary, isn't it?
We determine what reality is by communication with others.
"That car is red."
"Yes, it is."
Then we get into a sticky area about reality, called perception.
"That car is red."
"No, it's orange."
"Swear to God, that car was red."
"Nope, I say it was orange."
Perception of reality is subjective term. In the ancient past, our ancestors began to look at the sky, and wonder. One individual asked another about what they saw, and soon it was decided that Earth was the center of reality. Everything revolved around the earth, at one point in time. Our perceptions of reality grew, and due to a few brave individuals throughout the course of history, we adopted new perceptions, and more people agreed to newer paradigms, eventually, a SLOW process.
Our perception of reality is produced from what we are taught as children. We are taught what to believe, our minds as children a blank slate, awaiting programming. Our parents, those people that raise us, teach us about what they believe in most cases, and leave little room for alternate realities. Remember, we all have to agree what is real. People who don't accept the consensus are labeled accordingly by other's perceptions of what you say.
Depending on your geographic location, you were taught a different belief system, as my opponent has mentioned:
Buddhism Shintoism Hinduism Islam Christianity Shamanism
There are more that I could add to the list, as well. The point is:
Sentience creates a problem for reality. When we believe in something, we are forced to reject alternate possibilities, and accuse others of being wrong. Shouldn't reality be smooth and consistent? If it's real, everyone's opinions would be the same. There should be no different beliefs, but everyone's perception is a bit different, and therefore, reality is not the same for everyone.
This difference of perception is what creates the belief in the supernatural. Anything outside the agreed realm of belief seeds the need for different explanations. It's what humans do to explain the nature of the world around us. We revise, we adapt, and we reluctantly change our views.
Nobody knows what happens when we are removed from this existence, via death, but there are plenty of conflicting reports, evident in all the major world religions, but honestly, that is what religion is for, to explain the afterlife, right? If there is truth, why doesn't the explanation of the afterlife coincide with every religious belief? There's that pesky perception of reality problem again.
My opponent would lead us to believe that ghosts are disembodied souls, but I'll offer a logical conundrum to consider:
Current statistics place the worldwide death rate at 8.2 per thousand people per year. At a current world population of 6.7 billion, 56 million people die per year. That's a lot of disembodied spirits per year, really. Our reality should be rife with ghosts floating around and encountering people. But wait, there's more.
I'll set a rough, really rough backdrop, and say that people have believed in the afterlife since 3000 BCE, more or less. That'd be 5012 years of disembodied souls joining the afterlife at a rate of 56 million per year. I can't average it out, because during the dark ages and the crusades millions more died per year, and worldwide plagues are not factored in, so my figure, for the sake of argument, is very conservative. On a global scale, that's 2.8 trillion souls for the past 5012 years. There should be 417 ghosts for every individual alive today, technically, but I'll await for my opponent to give me a ratio of the souls that join the afterlife as opposed to the souls that remain to haunt us as ghosts.
It would appear to me that a belief in ghosts is strictly bound to the belief system you adhere to, but that doesn't necessarily make them real.
Has a ghost ever been captured, and put on display, such as animals in a zoo? Nope. You can't capture an imaginary object, nor can you cage your own beliefs. Our beliefs are constantly changing, as we accept better paradigms to explain our mysterious existence. To believe in ghosts denotes a rigidity of the mind, a lack of understanding. Ghosts are simply a figment of our imagination, and not a part of reality.
To which now I yield to Skyfloating.