What makes an atom more real than a ghost is not that the former exists as a real state of affairs and the latter only in our minds. Instead, what makes the atom more real is that it has more allies, including allies stretching well beyond the human realm. Experiments testify to the atom’s existence; instruments stabilize it and make it indirectly visible; the scientific profession is transformed by it; generations of children learn about atoms and pass the word along; Brownian motion shows that particles of water are moved by atoms…. By contrast, the ghost has only a paltry number of allies bearing witness to its reality, such as hysterical children and a few old legends. But it might also happen that the atom’s allies desert it one day too.
Harman, Graham. 2009. Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour
and Metaphysics. Anamnesis. Prahran, Vic.: Re.press.