We all have our views and opinions on the supernatural. Many people are highly skeptical regarding the existence of ghosts, ghouls, phantoms, and other supernatural entities, while believers will adamantly argue that the paranormal is very real, backing up their claims with countless stories and alleged sightings of the past. There are also plenty of people who find themselves somewhere in the middle, not quite sure what to believe.
No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum of skeptic to believer, the subject of spooky sightings and haunted houses is always an interesting one.
Leap castle in Coolderry, Ireland is reputedly one of the most haunted castles in the world
A Gallup poll from 2005 revealed that around 37 percent of Americans believed in haunted houses, and many people love to hear stories about these kinds of spooky old homes and eerie abandoned mansions. But it turns out that science might have a very rational explanation for these kinds of tales.
For years, people have attempted to debunk ghost stories and find logical explanations for so-called haunted houses. In many cases, creaky floorboards and strange bumps in the night really do have perfectly logical explanations and causes. Anything from faulty wiring to drafts and old pipes could cause the likes of cold spots and strange sounds, but what about ghostly apparitions and sightings of spooky figures?
Well, there might be a reasonable explanation for these instances as well. A Halloween-themed episode of the This American Life podcast began with the retelling of a story that had been documented in the American Journal of Ophthalmology back in the 1920s. On November 15, 1921, to be precise, a woman claimed that she and her family had experienced some very odd events in their home.
She revealed that she’d heard footsteps passing overhead when nobody was there. Her nights would be disturbed by loud noises like furniture being moved around, she experienced an eerie feeling like someone was following her as she walked along the halls of the house, her bed sheets would be torn away in the middle of the night, and, most distressingly of all, she once saw a man and a woman sitting right at the foot of her bed.
It all sounds like the perfect plot for a horror movie, but it was a very real and terrifying experience for the woman and her family. She spoke to medical professionals, friends and family members about her ghostly encounters and couldn’t seem to get any real answers or help — until one day, her brother-in-law suggested that the family was being poisoned and suffering from hallucinations as a result.
It turned out that the brother-in-law’s informed opinion was right on the money. The woman called in some experts to take a look around the home and it was quickly discovered that a faulty furnace was leaking carbon monoxide around the house, rather than expelling it up the chimney as it should have done. The family were being slowly poisoned every single second they lived in the house.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can cause all kinds of medical symptoms from headaches and dizziness to vomiting, chest pains, and even death in large enough doses.
It attacks the body by latching onto red blood cells, preventing oxygen from being carried around to the organs, muscles, and brain. Essentially, this is what caused the family’s hallucinations, as a lack of oxygen to the brain, combined with dizziness, drowsiness, and other symptoms, could make it very easy for someone to think they were hearing sounds or seeing shadowy figures.
NBC reports that a very similar case occurred in 2005. A terrified woman was found after allegedly seeing a ghost in her shower. It turned out that a new water heater that had been recently fitted was faulty, leading to a carbon monoxide leak.
This shows just how dangerous and scary carbon monoxide poisoning can be, proving yet again how important it is to get boilers and water heaters checked regularly and to have carbon monoxide detectors fitted around the home.
Of course, not all haunted house stories can be traced back to carbon monoxide poisoning, but these true stories show that there are some cases where ghosts and ghouls really aren’t all they seemed to be. There are still a lot of believers in haunted houses out there, and plenty of strange stories and grisly mysteries left unexplained and unsolved.
Some TV channels are obsessed with airing ghost shows. They are supposed to be reality based shows where the paranormal investigators come across strange things. Usually it is some quiet crack or thump that could be caused by anything, wind or pipes cracking etc. One of the most widely used gimmicks is “Did you hear that!?”
List of some shows: Ghost Mine, Haunted Hospitals, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Paranormal 911, Help! My House is Haunted, World’s Scariest Hauntings, Paranormal State, The Dead Files and My Worst Nightmare to name but a few. There are many more.
Sewer ghost creature
In folklore, a ghost (sometimes known as an apparition, haunt, phantom, poltergeist, shade, specter or spectre, spirit, spook, and wraith) is the soul or spirit of a dead person or animal that can appear to the living. In ghostlore, descriptions of ghosts vary widely from an invisible presence to translucent or barely visible wispy shapes, to realistic, lifelike visions. The deliberate attempt to contact the spirit of a deceased person is known as necromancy, or in spiritism as a séance.
The belief in the existence of an afterlife, as well as manifestations of the spirits of the dead, is widespread, dating back to animism or ancestor worship in pre-literate cultures. Certain religious practices—funeral rites, exorcisms, and some practices of spiritualism and ritual magic—are specifically designed to rest the spirits of the dead. Ghosts are generally described as solitary, human-like essences, though stories of ghostly armies and the ghosts of animals rather than humans have also been recounted. They are believed to haunt particular locations, objects, or people they were associated with in life. According to a 2009 study by the Pew Research Center, 18% of Americans say they have seen a ghost.
The overwhelming consensus of science is that ghosts do not exist. Their existence is impossible to falsify, and ghost hunting has been classified as pseudoscience. Despite centuries of investigation, there is no scientific evidence that any location is inhabited by spirits of the dead. Research has indicated that ghost sightings may be related to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Older reports linked carbon monoxide poisoning to ghost-like hallucinations.
Joe Nickell of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry wrote that there was no credible scientific evidence that any location was inhabited by spirits of the dead. Limitations of human perception and ordinary physical explanations can account for ghost sightings; for example, air pressure changes in a home causing doors to slam, humidity changes causing boards to creak, condensation in electrical connections causing intermittent behavior, or lights from a passing car reflected through a window at night. Pareidolia, an innate tendency to recognize patterns in random perceptions, is what some skeptics believe causes people to believe that they have ‘seen ghosts’. Reports of ghosts “seen out of the corner of the eye” may be accounted for by the sensitivity of human peripheral vision. According to Nickell, peripheral vision can easily mislead, especially late at night when the brain is tired and more likely to misinterpret sights and sounds. Nickell further states, “science cannot substantiate the existence of a ‘life energy’ that could survive death without dissipating or function at all without a brain… why would… clothes survive?'” He asks, if ghosts glide, then why do people claim to hear them with “heavy footfalls”? Nickell says that ghosts act the same way as “dreams, memories, and imaginings, because they too are mental creations. They are evidence – not of another world, but of this real and natural one.”
Benjamin Radford from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and author of the 2017 book Investigating Ghosts: The Scientific Search for Spirits writes that “ghost hunting is the world’s most popular paranormal pursuit” yet, to date ghost hunters can’t agree on what a ghost is, or offer proof that they exist “it’s all speculation and guesswork”. He writes that it would be “useful and important to distinguish between types of spirits and apparitions. Until then it’s merely a parlor game distracting amateur ghost hunters from the task at hand.”
According to research in anomalistic psychology visions of ghosts may arise from hypnagogic hallucinations (“waking dreams” experienced in the transitional states to and from sleep). In a study of two experiments into alleged hauntings (Wiseman et al. 2003) came to the conclusion “that people consistently report unusual experiences in ‘haunted’ areas because of environmental factors, which may differ across locations.” Some of these factors included “the variance of local magnetic fields, size of location and lighting level stimuli of which witnesses may not be consciously aware”.
Some researchers, such as Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Canada, have speculated that changes in geomagnetic fields (created, e.g., by tectonic stresses in the Earth’s crust or solar activity) could stimulate the brain’s temporal lobes and produce many of the experiences associated with hauntings. Sound is thought to be another cause of supposed sightings. Richard Lord and Richard Wiseman have concluded that infrasound can cause humans to experience bizarre feelings in a room, such as anxiety, extreme sorrow, a feeling of being watched, or even the chills. Carbon monoxide poisoning, which can cause changes in perception of the visual and auditory systems, was speculated upon as a possible explanation for haunted houses as early as 1921.
People who experience sleep paralysis often report seeing ghosts during their experiences. Neuroscientists Baland Jalal and V.S. Ramachandran have recently proposed neurological theories for why people hallucinate ghosts during sleep paralysis. Their theories emphasize the role of the parietal lobe and mirror neurons in triggering such ghostly hallucinations.
By Erik Van Datiken on February 28, 2019
Most aliens who visit Earth are dwarfs who stand less than 4 feet tall! So says physicist David Webb.
Dr. Webb analyzed nearly 2,000 close encounters and found that aliens fall into three classes.
“Most numerous are those in the dwarf class,” he said. “Generally, they wear helmets and metallic reflecting suits. Very often they are seen in pairs gathering samples from the ground and trees. They don’t generally communicate with humans.”
The second group is comprised of human-like beings from 5 to 6 feet tall, said Dr. Webb.
“They are seen in groups of three or more and involved in the so-called abduction cases. There is often communication with humans.”
In the final category are the giants that appear to be at least 7 feet tall, he said.
“All of these classes of aliens tend to wear one-piece coveralls or jumpsuits that are tight-fitting all the way down to the hands,” continued Dr. Webb.
“Not too many carry weapons but generally these extraterrestrials tend to control the situation.
“They are seen in groups of three or more and involved in the so-called abduction cases. There is often communication with humans.”
“Sometimes a witness is paralyzed by an apparent ray gun device,” he said. “But often he’s just paralyzed without any obvious weapon.”
Dr. Webb found that of the nearly 2,000 cases:
- 26 percent involved aliens seen entering or leaving a UFO.
- 17 percent involved aliens observed in a UFO.
- 17 percent involved an alien near a spacecraft.
- 16 percent involved seeing an alien but not a UFO.
- 10 percent involved witnesses who were actually taken aboard a UFO.
- 7 percent involved an alien seen in the area where UFO sightings have previously occurred.
- 2 percent involved communication with the alien.
The remaining 5 percent don’t fit into any categories.
In folklore, a werewolf or occasionally lycanthrope is a human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf (or, especially in modern film, a therianthropic hybrid wolf-like creature), either purposely or after being placed under a curse or affliction (often a bite or scratch from another werewolf) and especially on the night of a full moon. Early sources for belief in this ability or affliction, called lycanthropy, are Petronius (27–66) and Gervase of Tilbury (1150–1228).
The werewolf is a widespread concept in European folklore, existing in many variants, which are related by a common development of a Christian interpretation of underlying European folklore developed during the medieval period. From the early modern period, werewolf beliefs also spread to the New World with colonialism. Belief in werewolves developed in parallel to the belief in witches, in the course of the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period. Like the witchcraft trials as a whole, the trial of supposed werewolves emerged in what is now Switzerland (especially the Valais and Vaud) in the early 15th century and spread throughout Europe in the 16th, peaking in the 17th and subsiding by the 18th century.
The werewolf folklore found in Europe harks back to a common development during the Middle Ages, arising in the context of Christianisation, and the associated interpretation of pre-Christian mythology in Christian terms. Their underlying common origin can be traced back to Proto-Indo-European mythology, where lycanthropy is reconstructed as an aspect of the initiation of the warrior class. This is reflected in Iron Age Europe in the Tierkrieger depictions from the Germanic sphere, among others. The standard comparative overview of this aspect of Indo-European mythology is McCone (1987). Such transformations of “men into wolves” in pagan cult were associated with the devil from the early medieval perspective.
The concept of the werewolf in Western and Northern Europe is strongly influenced by the role of the wolf in Germanic paganism (e.g. the French loup-garou is ultimately a loan from the Germanic term), but there are related traditions in other parts of Europe which were not necessarily influenced by Germanic tradition, especially in Slavic Europe and the Balkans, and possibly in areas bordering the Indo-European sphere (the Caucasus) or where Indo-European cultures have been replaced by military conquest in the medieval era (Hungary, Anatolia).
Various methods for becoming a werewolf have been reported, one of the simplest being the removal of clothing and putting on a belt made of wolfskin, probably as a substitute for the assumption of an entire animal skin (which also is frequently described). In other cases, the body is rubbed with a magic salve. Drinking rainwater out of the footprint of the animal in question or from certain enchanted streams were also considered effectual modes of accomplishing metamorphosis. The 16th-century Swedish writer Olaus Magnus says that the Livonian werewolves were initiated by draining a cup of specially prepared beer and repeating a set formula. Ralston in his Songs of the Russian People gives the form of incantation still familiar in Russia. In Italy, France and Germany, it was said that a man or woman could turn into a werewolf if he or she, on a certain Wednesday or Friday, slept outside on a summer night with the full moon shining directly on his or her face.
In Hungarian folklore, the werewolves used to live especially in the region of Transdanubia, and it was thought that the ability to change into a wolf was obtained in the infant age, after the suffering of abuse by the parents or by a curse. At the age of seven the boy or the girl leaves the house and goes hunting by night and can change to person or wolf whenever he wants. The curse can also be obtained when in the adulthood the person passed three times through an arch made of a Birch with the help of a wild rose’s spine.
The werewolves were known to exterminate all kind of farm animals, especially sheep. The transformation usually occurred in the Winter solstice, Easter and full moon. Later in the 17th and 18th century, the trials in Hungary not only were conducted against witches, but against werewolves too, and many records exist creating connections between both kinds. Also the vampires and werewolves are closely related in Hungary, being both feared in the antiquity.
Most modern fiction describes werewolves as vulnerable to silver weapons and highly resistant to other injuries. This feature appears in German folklore of the 19th century. The claim that the Beast of Gévaudan, an 18th-century wolf or wolf-like creature, was shot by a silver bullet appears to have been introduced by novelists retelling the story from 1935 onwards and not in earlier versions. English Folk-lore, prior to 1865, showed shape shifters to be vulnerable to silver. “…till the publican shot a silver button over their heads when they were instantly transformed into two ill-favoured old ladies…” c. 1640 the city of Greifswald, Germany was infested by werewolves. “A clever lad suggested that they gather all their silver buttons, goblets, belt buckles, and so forth, and melt them down into bullets for their muskets and pistols. … this time they slaughtered the creatures and rid Greifswald of the lycanthropes.”