But I have heard several very credible accounts from people I know (or know of) involving "otherworldy" encounters they had. So a better answer from me to the above question would be "maybe." In other words, I'm on the fence about the existence of ghosts.
A few weeks ago a woman named Tracee Blair made some comments on YouTube about the above video. The video, which I posted in 2010, is about Charleston's beautiful and historic Magnolia Cemetery, a premier example of a mid-19th century American Victorian necropolis (I've linked you to my 2014 book about Magnolia Cemetery).
Here are Tracee's first comments. You can see them also by looking at the comments portion of the video linked above. Click on the comments below so make them easier to read.
At first, I did not see what she was referencing. It wasn't until I shared her comments with my college class that morning, by showing it on a large smartboard screen, that a student saw it. If you look carefully at the video from 11 seconds in until my opening standup ends, you will see behind my right shoulder, against a small white headstone, that a shadowy figure emerged and moves left to right across the headstone.
Here are more comments from Tracee once I told her I saw the mysterious image myself.
Had to laugh at her "damn worm hole" description. And I needed to do some research to get her "slenderman" reference.
My wife Alesia circled the figure (above) in this screenshot. It certainly does look human(ish), right?
It amazes me that I produced this video seven years ago and have watched it many times since and never noticed this activity in the background. I have also shown this video to students during the past three years as part of my special topics course called "Beyond the Grave: What Old Cemeteries Tell and Teach the Living."
Soon after my exchange with the sharp-eyed and persuasive Tracee I went to Magnolia Cemetery and shared the story with the superintendent. She was understandably skeptical. She would later tell me that she and one of her assistants found the exact spot where I stood and were able to duplicate a shadow cast by a person onto the white headstone behind me.
While I do give credence to her debunking of Tracee's ghost story, there's another element to consider. I recalled on that weekend day seven years ago when I went to the cemetery to shoot my on-camera parts that I came across a woman who was walking around the cemetery with a voice recorder.
She came up to me (in another part of the cemetery) to say that she was using it to call out to the spirits interred for eternity here. She wanted to see if any wanted to speak back to her. And she played for me on her recorder what I remember to be a faint male voice responding to her call saying his name, something like "My name is Flanagan" (though that's not the name).
The woman was certain she heard and recorded a spirit. A man (as in real human) was with her that day, trailing behind, perhaps feeling kind of uneasy (or embarrassed?) about her efforts to contact those in the "other world."
They were the only two people I remember seeing that warm weekend morning. So perhaps it was one of them who cast that shadow seen in my video.
Or maybe it really was "Flanagan" she was able to summons from the great beyond!
(A footnote to this bizarre story: I was able to find the edited version of my video- the version before I posted it on YouTube. You see the shadowy image on this version so I was able to rule out the slight possibility of YouTube tampering. I was unable to find the raw footage that I shot that day. This is unfortunate because it would have been good to see what, if anything, happens with the image for the few or several seconds that I edited out as my standup ended).