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Ghosts are alleged to be disembodied spirits or souls that sometimes, at least in popular accounts or myth, appear as silvery or shadowy apparitions, or sometimes invisibly (these are alleged to make noises and/or telekinetically displace objects are known as poltergeists). Beliefs about ghosts have varied over time and place, with disagreement both as to what ghosts are (supposed to be) and whether such a thing exists. Recent studies indicates that many Westerners believe in ghosts and an afterlife, and belief in an afterlife is an essential part of Islam and Hinduism.

In the West, those who believe in ghosts sometimes hold them to be souls that could not find rest after death, and so linger on Earth. The inability to find rest is often explained by lingering, unfinished business, such as a victim seeking justice or revenge after death, or a criminal lingering to avoid Purgatory or Hell. It is sometimes held that ghosts reside in Limbo, a place, according to some Catholic doctrine, between Heaven and Hell where the souls of unbaptized infants go.

In the East (such as China), many people believe in reincarnation. Ghosts are those souls that refused to be 'recycled' because they have unfinished business similar to those in western belief. Exorcistss can either help a ghost to be reincarnated or blow it out of existence. In Chinese belief, besides reincarnation, a ghost can also become immortal and become demigod, or it can go to hell and suffer till eternality, or it can die again and become "ghost of ghost".

In most cultures, the appearance of ghosts are associated with a chilling sensation. Some believers claim ghosts are related to some kind of negative energy. But a natural animal response to fear is hair-raising which can be mistaken as chill. Ghosts are also associated with seeking justice or revenge almost in all culture. It serves as an effective scare tactic against killers in all society.

See also: Ghost (movie), Parapsychology, Exorcism, Undead, Possession, Spectre, Ghost dance, Holy Ghost.

People tend to perceive ghosts in old buildings , and are almost never making up their stories. Old buildings tend to be drafty, and one easily has a spooky feeling when in such a place. Ghosts also seem to congregate in places where truly unpleasant events took place, and anyone can feel spooky in such a place, realizing what happened there.

There is no evidence ghosts actually exist, but they have an active life in the arts.

Ghosts in Fiction

In many stories, ghosts are often depicted as haunting the living until a certain desire is met or some grievance was settled by the haunted.

In the Ghostbusters film and television franchise, the protagonists use special technology of their own design to hunt and capture/exile the ghosts they encounter.

In The Matrix, ghosts are explained as obselete or malfunctioning programss which choose to hide in the matrix to escape deletion. A program's other option is to return to "the Source," which is like the Heaven of the matrix.

In Ghost in the Shell, ghost is a word used to describe a person's inner being, similar to the concept of a soul.

In Shakespeare's play Hamlet, a ghost taking the form of Hamlet's recently deceased father appears to Prince Hamlet one night. The ghost says that he was in fact murdered by his brother Claudius, who now (by virtue of having married Hamlet's mother Gertrude) occupies the throne. The ghost exhorts Hamlet to take revenge on Claudius.

When Hamlet sees the ghost, he is not sure if it is in fact his father's spirit, or a demon whose aim is to deceive him.

One way to produce ghosts on stage is Pepper's ghost technique.

Other Meanings

In quantum field theory, ghosts are a auxiliary fields needed in non-abelian gauge theories in order to deal with the gauge freedom. Although they are real fields, ghosts follow fermionic statistics. They are only artifacts of the theory, and do not correspond to real particles.

A ghost is any image on a tv screen that doesn't belong to the programme in question.

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