Posts Tagged ‘ghosts’

Fetal Ghost Busters

December 4, 2011

Haunted Abortion Cemetery? The BEAST Investigates

There are lots of stories of haunted places here in Western New York. Surprisingly, most of them are places with prices of admission: haunted theaters, haunted hotels, haunted gift shops, haunted pet stores, haunted haunted houses, haunted toll booths, and that sort of thing.

Being the poverty-stricken proletariat that we are, we decided to investigate a supposedly haunted place which is open to the public. So we went to Goodleberg Cemetery in Wales, NY, to investigate the local legend of fetal ghosts terrifying the populace by leaving tiny handprints on the windows of cars.

Here are the results of our investigation. Enjoy and Happy Halloween.

[bunting]

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Please buy our useless junk so you can find nothing

October 26, 2010

Last year around this time of year I made fun of a Sun article which was essentially an advertisement for a theme park which was allegedly “haunted” by the “spirit world.” Since I am apparently very un-creative, I am going to do pretty much the same thing again this year.

But there’s a twist! This year’s Advertisement For Ghost-Related Business Disguised As A News Article (AFGRBDAANA) is from what’s supposed to be a more reputable newspaper, the Boston Globe.  The first problem here is with the headline:

So the obvious question here is this: Why do these gadgets only seem to work for those who already believe in wandering spirits? If they really did reveal evidence of ghosts, then they should help both believers and skeptics alike to find them. The fact that the headline needed to be qualified to apply only to believers implies that these gadgets only provide rationalizations for what the ghost hunters already decided to believe instead of real evidence which would then inform a belief one way or the other.

In the evolution-creationism “debate,” no scientist offers evidence for evolution on the condition that the audience already believe in evolution. The same is true for any other similar controversy. The evidence is supposed to be the basis for belief, not something you search for only after founding an opinion based on emotional whims.

Amateur ghost hunters hope these gadgets, which typically cost less than $100 each, will help them spot ghosts in haunted houses.

Gosh, they’re “typically” less than $100? What a bargain!

That quote above is factually accurate. People who call themselves amateur ghost hunters (as opposed to the really seriously professional ones) really do hope that the equipment will help them spot ghosts. But it’s still another example of a journalist not investigating far enough for fear of appearing “biased.” The job of an actual reporter assigned to a story like this should be to actually find out whether or not the products do as they claim. When Mark Baard puts that question aside, as he does in this article, he steps outside of journalism and into the field of advertising.

“I don’t believe that they detect ghosts, per se,”’ said Belanger… “But they might detect something that’s happened before, during or after a paranormal event.”

Really? How do you distinguish between the two, Mr. Salesman? Baard fails to follow up on this distinction. He just uncritically accepts it at face value. But seriously, why hold back here? Is he seriously trying to inject nuances into his ghost hunting business? I mean, come one, let’s not be ridiculous and claim that we’re detecting ghosts here. That would be nuts! But yeah, sure, events leave paranormal evidence behind which my products can detect. Everyone knows that, right?

CNN’s “expert” advice on ghost hunting

October 26, 2009

It is available here.

I will go through the main points and translate them into normalspeak.

First tip:

“Nighttime is good for ghost-hunting because the absence of noise, people, and other distractions of the day helps your sixth sense stay in tune with your environment.”

-Garrett Moffett, tour guide and author

If you are reading this, your ancestors were good at Hearing Things Go Bump In The Night. Earlier in human history, it was better in terms of survival and reproduction that someone be more sensitive to sensory input than to be indifferent. Those hominids were better at hunting prey and escaping predators, and they were able to pass on their genes more successfully than others. There was no evolutionary consequence for overreacting to a faint noise or something in one’s peripheral vision, but failing to react to such stimuli could have life or death consequences. Because our species has lived for so long as basically nomadic hunters and gatherers in the wild, there is an asymmetry in our psychological evolution where instant fear pays off in the historically wider sense where critical inquiry does not.

What I don’t understand about ghost stories is why this alternative story I just explained doesn’t seem to be catching on as more satisfying in just about every possible sense, because it really gets down to who we really are. Sure, we sometimes hear stories about the dead closing doors and turning lights on and off and stuff like that; but it’s so much more interesting to learn about why we find those kinds of stories compelling in the first place.

A tour guide in Savannah, GA named Roger Edgerly pretty much made the case for an evolutionary psychological explanation for allegedly paranormal claims himself, but doesn’t seem to realize that any possible explanation for his hauntings other than OMG ITS A GHOST are possible:

“You feel a presence, your hair stands on end, you hear sounds or feel a touch, and then you turn around and nobody’s there.”

That presence you feel is a false positive, and the reason your hair stands on end is because you appear to be larger when that happens.

So CNN’s “expert” advice is to wait until nighttime when you’re tired and more subject to hypnagogia. You will be surprised how many things you will see which you wouldn’t otherwise notice. And make sure to be somewhere very quiet, where every little noise and motion will make you jump. That’s right, we really do have souls and they survive our physical death in some form – but it just happens to manifest itself in this half-assed way that appears to be nothing more than people hearing things going bump in the night and pissing themselves over it like they were primitive cave dwellers or something.

“When I go to a historic (and therefore possibly haunted) spot, I’m fascinated and ready for anything. I believe the ghosts sense that you’re sincere, that you want to see them.”

-Robert Edgerly, tour guide

I find it very difficult to believe that, with all the wildly diverse types of human personalities just amongst people I happen to know, ghosts of all persons who have ever lived would cling so tightly to this particular personality trait of only wanting to make contact with people who already believe in ghosts. Isn’t there even one who wants to prove us smart-ass skeptics wrong? Houdini said that he would try to break through from the other side, at least to contact his wife. But he never did. Maybe he got distracted at a really great party in Afterlifeland. Or maybe all people go through some personality shift when they die so that they suddenly don’t want to prove the existence of ghosts anymore. But if that’s the case, it would be difficult to say how Harry Houdini could be said to be the same person he was when he was alive.

And why is it that only historic places are “therefore possibly haunted?” Don’t people who live boring and mundane lives get to become ghosts too? Why do all these hauntings have to be by someone with a tragic life and death? Why are some ancient and “historic” places haunted while average places aren’t? People die everywhere, so the distribution of ghosts and hauntings and whatnot should be more or less uniform. With all the white trash rednecks who have lived, you’d think at least one of these ghosts would have left an old Buick on cinder blocks on someone’s lawn by now.

“Digital recorders are a really good, basic tool. Cheap ones are great because they generate white noise, which spirits speak within.”

-Nick Groff, Travel Channel TV

Wow. Yeah, he really said that. Make sure to buy the cheapest audio recorders possible because the ones that don’t generate white noise and really do record what’s actually there don’t seem to pick up the “ghosts.”

This is an example of something you see often with these people. As they’ll tell you, ghosts and other alleged paranormal phenomenon are limited in the physical world in one way, but not others – and the distinction is made post hoc in order to justify the evidence as compelling even though it’s pure failure. On the one hand, ghosts can speak in an audible (and therefore materialistic and detectable) manner, but they have to do it through noise generated by cheap audio recorders. A psychic can tell you the color of a kidnapper’s hair, but they can’t give you an address where the missing child can be found.

“You’re not hunting rocks. You’re not hunting seashells. Provocation is very serious. Things can follow you home.”

-Zak Bagans, Travel Channel TV

Ghost hunting = SERIOUS BUSINESS. SRSLY GUYS.

Expecting “things” to “follow you home” becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s vague enough that it could apply to pretty much anything, and so whenever you notice some “thing” – whatever that might be – and remember that “things can follow you home,” you’re likely to put the two together.

Anyway, if you’re really planning on hunting “ghosts,” try to incorporate a realistic perspective into the fun of being scared of things. And don’t be a jackass who does something stupid and hurts themselves, and don’t run to the media with every little anomaly that happens around this time of year with a “ghost story.” No matter how pro-establishment they might seem (like, for instance, CNN), there is apparently no depths to which they will not sink for “news” like this.

Stupid theme park management is stupid, even by those standards.

October 16, 2009

I think I’ve been somehow sent back in time to the 12th century, except it’s in a different possible past since this one appears to have things like working computers which erroneously report the current year as 2009. It can’t possibly be 2009, because of this:

“SPOOKED bosses at a theme park have suspended six members of staff and called in an exorcist after a late night seance on their top horror ride sparked a string of ghostly happenings.”

It’s like a Monty Python skit. OH NO YOU EVIL ONES HAVE SUMMONED SPIRITS ONTO THIS PLACE, BEGONE YE, THOU ART BANISHED WITHOUT PAY. QUICKLY, FETCH THE EXORCIST SO THAT WE MIGHT ONCE AGAIN KNOW PEACE.

Here’s some of the alleged evidence collected by those fine journalistic minds at the Sun:

“Lights started to go on and off with no explanation”

Do lights going on and off ever explain themselves? Am I missing something?

OK, that was pretty lame, but seriously – “no explanation?” They might not know with absolute certainty, but surely there are explanations. Someone could be playing a prank. Or it could be that sometimes shit just happens. How’s that for an explanation? Nothing works perfectly, including lights. And in a scary place like Thorpe Park (you can tell it’s scary because the picture in this article has a guy in a mask apparently about to attack the photographer, and they used some green tint on it), it’s not surprising that people would make more of this sort of fuss about an electrical issue than in, say, an office workplace.

That quote above is attributed to “a Thorpe park insider.” They must protect this crucial informant’s identity. I don’t blame them, really. If it’s one of those suspended workers, their drooling, knuckle-dragging bosses might lock them up in the stockades.

I wish it ended there. But it doesn’t. Oh, the stupids, it burns so very badly:

“Thorpe Park in Surrey has now called in Rev Lionel Fanthorpe, the UK’s leading authority on the unexplained, who is currently examining the ride for evidence of paranormal activity.”

The bold print here is my own emphasis. How does someone become an authority on the unexplained? Doesn’t being an authority on a subject involve being able to explain it? Rev Lionel Fanthorpe is the leading authority on absolutely nothing, in the UK or anywhere else. That’s what the quote above really means. Because if he could explain the unexplained, it WOULDN’T BE UNEXPLAINED ANYMORE. But they’re claiming he has expertise on something when they say that. What could it be?

“[Ouija boards open] a gateway to another dimension and when people who are not experienced spiritualists play with Ouija boards, mischievous entities can get through as may have happened here.”
-Rev Lionel Fanthorpe

Here’s what this “authority on the unexplained” looks like:

Oh no, my bad. That’s actually his fellow GhostBuster Bill Murray.

There is a bit of a resemblance, though:

Oh and just in case you were wondering, these people are totally not doing it for the publicity or anything like that. They are taking the feedback “very seriously.” Not seriously enough to shut the place down though. Just seriously enough so that they can get what amounts to free advertising in the Sun. Oh and here, apparently, too, but I doubt anyone reading this would or could go there if they wanted to, and I hope they don’t.

Ghost hunting woman becomes ghost

September 10, 2009

So there’s this man and this woman in Toronto, around the University area (College / Spadina) and they were looking for ghosts. For some reason, they found it necessary to jump from one building to another. Something went wrong (actually something probably went wrong initially in their heads when they decided there were ghosts), the woman falls three stories, and is pronounced dead at the hospital. Probably she was ‘slimed’ and she slipped in the ectoplasm.

Hey, I heard a rumor that this unnamed woman’s ghost is now haunting that very building. Ghost hunters should note that they will need to make the same jump she attempted in order to summon her from the realm of the dead. Story is here.