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Phantoms, ghosts, and spirits, oh my!

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A mysterious shadow appears and moves across the empty stage as the curtain ruffles. The temperature suddenly drops on the left side of the aisle as a woman feels her skirt lift. A child’s laugh is heard heading towards the back of the auditorium even though no children are present. It may be a faulty light, a draft, or a trick of the mind, but it is most likely a ghost; an apparition of a dead person that reveals itself to the living. Ghosts are more than make-believe creatures that make for good stories; they are as real as the mind makes them. A person’s energy lingers after death, and this is proven through both observation and measurement.

Ghosts are detected through human consciousness. Whether the remnants of a person’s energy go to heaven or remain on Earth, it continues to exist, and the energy appears in many forms to the living. After the death of a loved one, many people claim to still see, hear, or feel the deceased person’s energy or spirit. Others believe late loved ones send signs, such as a reappearing butterfly or a flower blooming out of season, to make their everlasting presence known. So many people deny the existence of ghosts that such occurrences are often discounted as a coincidence or given another unproven, more realistic explanation. If paranormal occurrences are given normal explanations, like the wind, a piece of dust, or a hallucination then people are not willing to see, therefore believe, that ghosts exist.

These ordinary explanations for extraordinary events have no more proof supporting them than there is proof for the possibility the event is caused by a ghost. A common excuse for supernatural phenomena is the person whom experiences the phenomenon is delusional. Even if several people observe the same phenomenon, like in the case of the Rialto Square Theatre, skeptics still claim the people are not really observing ghosts. Since there is not yet a widely accepted way to measure paranormal activity, people must trust their senses and stop denying what is right in front of them. Not every strange thing that happens is due to a ghost, but that does not mean that ghosts do not exist.

Reality is everything a person observes to be real, so ghosts are real to those willing to accept unaccountable observations as ghostly experiences. To a non-believer, the mysterious shadows, cold chills, and haunting laughs are a draft from the unopened window or an ear playing tricks, but to those who have confidence in their senses and open minds, they are the manifestations of a child killed in that very theatre eighty years prior. Paranormal activity is measured by electromagnetic field detectors, thermal imaging devices, and electronic voice phenomena. It is proven through these methods that the ghost of a young boy haunts the Rialto Square Theater in Joliet, Illinois. Along with the unexplained moving shadows and giggling voices, TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) discovered high electromagnetic field (EMF) levels in the aisle of the theatre. EMF detectors are generally the first devices paranormal researches use during an investigation (Gonsalves EMF).

Ghosts can be detected through electromagnetic fields because ghosts are a form of energy. A person’s actions “. . . are controlled by electrical impulses sent to [the] brain from [the] body’s different parts.

. .” (Bugera). According to physics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed, so when a body shuts down after death, “. . .

the energy is released into the atmosphere” (Bugera). EMF meters detect ghosts through sudden spikes on the meter after a base reading is determined. Household objects such as microwaves, alarm clocks, and outlets can also cause spikes on an EMF meter, but those spikes are consistent whereas ghost hunters find that “. . . it’s more common for spirits – – which behave in some respects like free-floating EMF waves – – to produce spikes in the EMF that seem to dissipate.

This may be an indication that a spirit is moving around the location” (Gonsalves EMF). When a person dies suddenly, the energy from the body is released all at once, and it is attracted to areas that already have high electromagnetic energy. Therefore, if ghosts are made up of electromagnetic energy, “. . . it is not the ghost that causes the electromagnetic energy, it is the electromagnetic energy that causes the ghost” ( Bugera).

This explains why places such as theaters, lighthouses, and hospitals are commonly said to be haunted; people die sudden deaths and there is already a lot of electromagnetic energy. While some people argue the high EMF readings TAPS detects in the Rialto Square Theater are due to the light and sound equipment and high electromagnetic fields are said to cause hallucinations, TAPS also detects video and audio recordings of the ghostly presence. Another way of generating evidence, or measurements, of ghosts is thermal imaging. Thermal imaging cameras detect fluctuations in temperature as they happen. These fluctuations identify present ghosts because “[i]f energy is being removed from an area for a spirit to manifest .

. . the thermal imaging camera will capture the cold spot left by the void or energy” (Gonsalves Thermal Imaging). These cold spots are why people feel chills or get goosebumps when a ghost or spirit is present. Experienced ghost hunters recognize the effect of their own body heat on the device to be sure that captured images are indeed ghostly energy.

Many people deny that these images, sometimes in the shape of human figures or faces, are evidence of ghosts; however, these people usually deny the existence of ghosts all together. They do not want to let something that is neither proven nor disproven serve as evidence against their beliefs. Along with thermal imaging, the existence of ghosts is proven through electronic voice phenomena (EVP’s). EVP’s are captured through digital recording devices and support a visual manifestation or other accounts of a haunting (Gonsalves EVP). Sessions are either conducted by setting up a stationary recording device or by conducting a question and answer session with the present spirit.

During a question and answer session, the investigator sets up the recording device, tags any otherwise explained noises such as a person walking or a running fan, and asks the spirit simple questions while allowing plenty of time for a response. Also known as a ghost box session, this is a common means of collecting evidence that a location is haunted (Gonsalves EVP). The sounds picked up on the recording device often match the background story of the location. In the case of the Rialto Square Theatre, a child’s laugh was heard to support the fact that a child died at the site. Considering the child died suddenly by being hit by a car, the theatre is already a source of electromagnetic energy, and people claim to sense the presence of a child, the idea that the child’s energy is still present at the Rialto Square Theatre is the most reasonable explanation for the strange occurrences. The basement door slams shut even though nobody is there to close it.

The freshly changed light bulb flickers and then goosebumps appear on stiffened arms. The television happens to be set to the late mother’s favorite channel and the sound of her soothing voice is heard in the background. It may be a coincidence, a draft, a faulty light, or a trick of the mind, but it may also be a ghost. Ghosts exist, and it is only a matter of time before new research and techniques develop to officially prove their existence just as they were developed to prove the Earth is round and the sun is the center of the solar system. Whether the abiding energy manifests through loved ones, the location of death, or some other entity, it is there nonetheless, and this is proven through observation and measurement. Kevin’s energy continues to roam the aisles of the Rialto Square Theater eighty years after his death.

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