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

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions. Might be a robot.

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