Do Ghosts Fade Over Time?

Ghosts are complicated. Like I mentioned in my post about cold spots, in order for ghosts to exist, our fundamental understanding of the universe would have to change. There’s no getting around that.

However, there are other problems, and even some apparent contradictions.

For example, in How Many People Have Ever Lived and Died, I shared that current estimates put the total number of human beings who have ever lived on Earth at around 108 billion. That’s a lot of people. And, if we are to believe in the existence of paranormal entities, you would think that number should correlate to a lot of ghosts. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.


Assuming ghosts are real, there would have to be a reason why, despite that enormous number, relatively few ghost sightings or hauntings are ever reported. There are a handful of generic reasons I can imagine for this, and you’ve probably heard them before:

  • The majority of “souls” have moved on to another plane of existence (heaven, nirvana, etc), while others stick around for “unfinished business”
  • Only a few ghosts bother to make contact with the living, or have the ability to do so
  • What people experience aren’t ghosts of the once-living, but rather demons/angels/other entities that are of a lesser number
  • Only places of intense emotional/other energy provide a conduit for ghostly hauntings
  • Ghosts aren’t “intelligent,” and are the result of residual hauntings caused by strong lingering energy or anomalies in space and time

If I missed any of the other common hypotheses, let me know in the comments. However, there’s another possibility that journalist Adrian Berry raises in an article titled ‘The Ghostly Equation’ that I find intriguing.

Where Are All the Ghosts?

Berry’s article is just for fun, and it isn’t perfect; he says it’s “axiomatic…that the number of people alive today equals or exceeds the number who have ever lived,” which, as I’ve said, is false. But he raises an interesting possibility nonetheless, something that would provide a reason (albeit in jest) for why Earth is not overwhelmed by ghostly spirits at every turn:

Do ghosts fade over time?

In the vast majority of ghost sightings, how are the ghosts described? Maybe they’re modern, perhaps a relative. Maybe they’re wearing old-fashioned clothing, like the apparition of a girl who used to live in an old mansion.

Reports of hauntings tend to correlate to their location and the people who spent time or died there, and more often than not the ghosts described are at least somewhat contemporary. I know of no reports of caveman ghosts (well, maybe one).

Could it be that we only encounter “recent” ghosts, and that older spirits, especially those from ancient times, can no longer haunt us? Like an echo that grows fainter and fainter as time passes?

Here, we run into another contradiction: In the case of Harry Martingale’s sighting of the Roman legion at the Treasurer’s House in York, he saw spirits wearing ancient Roman armor. There are accounts of old ghosts haunting castles and other aged locations, as well.

So perhaps it’s not an absolute that all ghosts fade at the same rate, but rather depending upon the imprint they leave behind, or their emotional energies. If they do fade in this way (again, assuming they’re real to begin with), I’d be more inclined to believe ghosts are residual rather than intelligent.

But if they were intelligent, perhaps it’d be a case of them losing contact with the thin veil between our world and theirs. Or perhaps there are many types of ghosts, some stronger and more noticeable than others.

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. The possibilities are endless when pondering something that might not exist at all.

Anyway, I’d like to know what you think. Why are there so few ghosts, relative to the number of people who have ever lived and died? Do you think it’s possible they fade over time?


Rob Schwarz

Rob Schwarz is a writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.


  1. If my first post seemed to have gotten erased by a ghost. I’ve never seen a ghost or ever had a personal experience in the paranormal, well at least since I’ve given up those bad habits, but I am a believer base upon the preponderance of evidence. My thoughts are that they are lost souls not able for some reason to make the transition and are in some form of what we call hell. Possibly not able to because they’re souls are fractured, they weren’t accepting and quite possibly still not accepting they are not among the living and they are trying to get back on our plane. Or had there time not come when they expired? Causing them to not have the window to get out. Death and what happens after is the ultimate question that let’s face it, your not going to have the answer until you have the answer.

    1. Not sure what may have happened to your first comment, so apologies for that.

      I like your theory, though, that ghosts are people in “Hell” or some other in-between trying to come back into our reality. Not quite “unfinished business” but something a little more eerie. But you’re right; we won’t know until we get there!

  2. Well Hello there, Rob. Yet another interesting ghost related article!

    Since you’re interested in some feedback – I offer you my opinion.

    There might very well be an absolute set number of conditions or ‘rules’ for the entities we perceive as ghosts to appear or manifest. Our existence is based on certain constants that we can’t really exist without, natural laws and rules that govern our existence. Constants such as gravity etc. Perhaps it is the same with the ghostly side of things…

    As I’ve mentioned once before in a previous comment on another article – I believe it’s possible that ghosts are distortions in time flow. Visions of times past or yet to come.

    If this is indeed the case then it would also make sense that the time distortion itself will no longer be available in an area over the natural course of time since the ‘conditions’ might change and no longer allow it to exist.

    These changes might include alterations to the landscape, gravity shifts or other events that occur from time to time. Heck, for all we know we can alter these conditions in an area unstable with something as simple as standing in one place for too long.

    Alternatively it’s also possible that ghosts do exist as the stories tell us and that they might also age like us – since they choose to visit or at least partially exist in our reality/dimension they too must be susceptible to it’s laws and constants such as the natural flow of time and the effects it has on all beings occupying our planet/galaxy.

    This does raise the question…do ghosts age and grow old and then simply die to be no more and fade into nothingness and that is why they don’t outnumber us right now a 1000 to 1? Or perhaps when they reach the end of their existence they pass on to some other form of existence?

    It’s certainly worth a ponder….

    1. You raise some really great points, there, Werner.

      You also mention constants, like, say, the speed of light. And now I’m wondering if perhaps ghosts in another plane of existence (another dimension, even, in the actual sense of the word) would experience time differently than we do. Perhaps those higher planes have different rates of motion, or something that would effect the timing of their manifestations from our point of view.

      However, I’m pretty much with you on ghosts being time distortions/residual hauntings, if they were to actually exist.

      Oh, and your thoughts on the “conditions” for time distortion remind me of the “natural Earth vortices” that supposedly enable the Hyper Dimensional Resonator to travel through time.

      Yeah. This stuff is fun to think about, but it can be pretty weird!

  3. Interesting article Rob. I feel that the issue of 108 billion human beings can be also looked at as a case for reincarnation. Our physical energy has a way of recycling itself and changing form (example: skin cells falling off us, excretion which then decomposes into the earth, etc.), so then why wouldn’t our spiritual energy have a way of recycling itself, that being reincarnation. Energy recycling itself and changing form is a very common theme of the universe.

  4. What about Reincarnation? If souls are reused then the maximum number of souls would be 7.6 Billion. Which is more than there were 100 years ago. So where do all these new souls come from? Well, there are a lot fewer cows now than 100 years ago!

    1. I doubt human population has anything to do with this, most of them could be in different dimensions, parallel worlds etc. Earth is probably a small fraction.

  5. I really need to know how I can help my spirit friend from fading away. And she says that I can help her do that.