Phantom Voices and Sounds

Phantom voices and sounds are noises that appear to be coming from ghosts. Sometimes a phantom voice or sound is only heard once or twice, but other times it occurs over and over at a particular site. For example, the Queen Mary ocean liner, currently docked at Long Beach, California, has long been associated with phantom voices and sounds. In 1942 the ship was being used as a troop carrier when it collided with another vessel, and approximately three hundred people were killed in the accident. More than sixty years later, people continue to report hearing voices, shouts, and the sound of rushing water in the section of the ship where the collision damaged the hull. In 1988 parapsychologist William G. Roll even managed to record some of these noises on a soundactivated tape recorder he left on board overnight.

No one knows why such noises occur. Skeptics say they are ordinary sounds, misconstrued by people with active imaginations. Other explanations defy known physical laws. For example, some suggest that the sounds might be the “psychic residue” left by people who once occupied these places, or that some people are actually hearing sounds that are being generated during a different time period.

Another theory is that the sounds are caused by a ghost who is haunting a particular place in order to call attention to its presence. An example of a case that might be explained by any of these theories involves the ocean liner Great Eastern, which operated from the 1850s until 1887. Several men were killed during its construction, and one worker mysteriously disappeared. Afterward the ship was plagued not only with incredibly bad luck (including several more accidental deaths as well as collisions and other accidents) but also with a rapping sound, as though someone were hammering against its hull. Finally, in 1889, while the ship was being cut into scrap metal, someone found a human skeleton within the hull; next to it was a bag of tools. Many people believe that these were the remains of the missing worker, accidentally sealed into the hull during the ship’s construction.


  • Human Ghosts
  • Phantom Armies


The Greenhaven Encyclopedia of Paranormal Phenomena – written by Patricia D. Netzley © 2006 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning