By Stephen Wagner via paranormal.about.com
How do you know if that persistent rapping on your walls is bad plumbing or a mischievous spirit? Here are some of the signs of a haunting
You hear heavy footsteps in the upstairs hallway when you know no one is up there. Doors slam unaccountably. Commonly used items disappear and reappear without cause. The kitchen light turns on by itself. There’s the unmistakable scent of a strange perfume in the air.
These may be indications that your house is haunted. True hauntings are rare occurrences, and it may be difficult to determine whether or not any strange phenomena you are experiencing in your home might be due to a haunting. For one thing, no one really knows what a “real” haunting is – what causes it or why it starts. There are many theories, of course, which we have discussed in this space in the article “Ghosts: What Are They?” But if you think your house may really be haunted, what can you do about it?
THE SIGNS OF A HAUNTING
The first step is to determine, as best you can, whether or not you truly have a legitimate case of a haunting. Not all hauntings are alike, and they may exhibit a variety of phenomena. Some hauntings feature a single phenomenon – such as a particular door slamming shut that occurs repeatedly – while others consist of many different phenomena, ranging from odd noises to full-blown apparitions.
Here’s a partial list of phenomena that might indicate that your house is haunted:
- Unexplained noises – footsteps; knocks, banging, rapping; scratching sounds; sounds of something being dropped. Sometimes these noises can be subtle and other times they can be quite loud.
- Doors, cabinets and cupboards opening and closing – most often, these phenomena are not seen directly. The experiencer either hears the distinct sounds of the doors opening and closing (homeowners get to know quite well the distinctive sounds their houses make) or the experiencer will return to a room to find a door open or closed when they are certain that it was left in the opposite position. Sometimes furniture, like kitchen chairs, are perceived to have been moved. Very rarely will the experiencer actually witness the phenomenon taking place.
- Lights turning off and on – likewise, these events are seldom seen actually occurring, but the lights are switched on or off when the experiencer knows they were not left that way. This can also happen with TVs, radios and other electrically powered items.
- Items disappearing and reappearing – this phenomenon, which we have dubbed “the DOPler Effect” (DOP = Disappearing Object Phenomenon), has been examined in the article “The DOPler Effect.” Others have called this “the borrowers” phenomenon, and it’s the familiar experience of not being able to find a regularly used item – say, your set of car keys – which you believe you placed in a spot you routinely place them. But they’re gone and you look high and low for them with no success. Some time later, the keys are found – in exactly the place you normally put them. It’s as if the object was borrowed by someone or something for a short time, then returned. Sometimes they are not returned for days or even weeks, but when they are, it’s in an obvious place that could not have been missed by even a casual search.
- Unexplained shadows – the sighting of fleeting shapes and shadows, usually seen out of the corner of the eye. This phenomenon has also been discussed in some detail in “Shadow People.” Many times, the shadows have vaguely human forms, while other times they are less distinguishable or smaller.
- Strange animal behavior – a dog, cat or other pet behaves strangely. Dogs may bark at something unseen, cower without apparent reason or refuse to enter a room they normally do. Cats may seem to be “watching” something cross a room. Animals have sharper senses than humans, and many researchers think their psychic abilities might be more finely tuned also. (See “Animals and Ghosts” )
- Feelings of being watched – this is not an uncommon feeling and can be attributed to many things, but it could have a paranormal source if the feeling consistently occurs in a particular part of the house at a particular time.
Those are some of the most common experiences of those who think their houses are haunted. Yet even stranger things can happen…
Next page: Stronger Evidence
While in recent weeks stories of “mystery noises” filling the air have captured the attention of many, sometimes the less easily discernible sounds around us could hold the key to unraveling strange secrets of time and space. This is particularly the case with Electronic Voice Phenomenon, also known as EVP.
I’ve always been fascinated with EVP personally, because unlike a number of other elements that are often associated with paranormal research, there seems to be a long history of interest in the recorded sounds of inexplicable voices that have provided tangible proof, according to many, that something strange is indeed going on. But if claims of EVP can be believed, what is the real basis for the phenomenon; how does it occur, and what, if anything, can we hope to learn from it?
Interest in electronic means of gathering voices of unknown origin dates back to the early days of electricity and its use in powering devices within the home. Thomas Edison was even asked whether popular spiritualist practices might be further augmented with the use of sensitive recording equipment that could discern the soft voices of the deceased. Edison agreed that doing so might present a more plausible approach to studying parapsychology of the day, as opposed to the sorts of table-tapping and séances that were so popular around the turn of the last century. This acknowledgment of the “spirit potential” likely contributed to the sense that Edison himself might have attempted to build such a device, though there is little evidence that this actually occurred.
In all likelihood, if EVP does exist, it is capable of being recorded via of one of just a couple of processes. One possibleway this is achieved is by the recording of sounds that may be sub-audible to most natural human hearing; in other words, while an individual with very acute hearing may do better in terms of detecting such noises in real time (something which a few mediums claim to be able to do), these noises would remain almost inaudible to the average listener. (more . . .)
via Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids
In a nutshell: Ghost hunters are people who use lots of scientific equipment when they look for ghosts. Scientists don’t think the equipment will do them much good.
Ghost hunters look for ghosts or evil spirits (demons) in haunted houses, graveyards, old hotels, and other places. It’s likely that some of the first stories cavemen and cavewomen told their little cavechildren were stories about ghosts and demons. It seems just about everybody loves a good ghost story or a scary tale about some wicked demon’s nasty tricks.
Are the ghosts and demons real? So far, scientists haven’t found proof of a single ghost or demon. But that fact hasn’t stopped many people from throwing a bunch of equipment into the trunk of a car and heading out to see if they can find proof that at least one ghost or demon exists.
You may have seen some of these ghost hunters on television. They load up with things like flashlights, EMF detectors, Geiger counters, Gaussmeters (more about these later), tape recorders, video recorders, motion detectors, thermometers, and sometimes even things like Ouija boards and dowsing rods.
These ghost hunters bring flashlights because they seem to always work in the dark. We don’t really know what a ghost or demon is, but for some reason people who look for them are pretty sure they only come out at night. One problem with looking for something at night is that it’s harder to see and easier to trick ourselves into thinking we see something that isn’t really there.
Keep Reading: ghost hunters – Skeptic’s Dictionary for Kids.
I used to believe in ghosts, an afterlife, and that people had the ability to talk to the dead; these beliefs were fuelled by an information overload. As a curious teenager, I had the internet at my fingertips and I wasn’t really taught how to critically examine claims like these at school. Thus, when I joined web forums dedicated to discussing paranormal experiences and the proof of these experiences, I wasn’t able to distinguish between the plausible and the implausible.
In addition to the forums, there were numerous television shows catering to aspiring ghost hunters that championed spiritual and pseudoscientific methodology, and many magazines in the shops that encouraged the belief that paranormal ideas were real because others had experienced them.
I could get psychic readings in person, online, over the phone, on television, or by writing into my favorite magazines. Having paranormal beliefs validated is easier today because we are constantly bombarded with information that we can then cherry pick to suit our particular ideas.
Falling into the trap of illogical thinking is very easy.
Keep Reading: CSI | The Consequences of “Stupid”.
APPARENTLY, SOME MOVIE STARS didn’t get enough attention from press and fans while they were alive. Their ghosts keep showing up, perhaps for one last performance. Hollywood is full of glamour, ambition, craziness, sordid tales – even talent. And while ghosts and other tales of the paranormal have always been great movie material, Tinseltown also has its own real-life ghost stories. The envelope please… Hollywood ghosts – Ghosts of Hollywood Legends.