Tuesday, December 13, 2011

My Haunting Formula

In the summer of 2009, I sat down and studied 50 randomly picked famously haunted locales in the US and then proceeded to look for commonalities. These are the results that I got (below). This study started me looking at lots of factors in hauntings and will be the basis for Julie and I's upcoming book "Spirit Vessels: Why Some Buildings Are Haunted."

Here's how it looks so far in the 50 random haunted places I've studied in the past few months:

Geology (in order of most potent geology and then descending in importance)
1. Limestone: 13 of 14 sites with limestone ranked a 5 or 6 on the haunted scale
2. Shale: 12 of 13 sites with shale ranked a 5 or 6 on the haunted scale
3. Sandstone: 20 of 22 sites with sandstone ranked a 5 or 6 on the haunted scale
4. Granite: 1 of 2 sites with granite ranked a 5 or 6 on the haunted scale.

Sedimentary is a rather vague title for a type of geology and just about all the 50 sites had this kind in one way or another, but then a great majority of the land in the US is sedimentary, so that's not necessarily significant, except that volcanic areas seemed to be very devoid of activity, except mining towns.

WATERWAYS: (I considered if the site was within a mile of running water, stream, river, ocean)
41 of 50 sites had this feature--that is very significant. It's also hard to discover whether or not the other 9 sites had underground springs, so it's a very hard one to judge. Also, people tended to build homes near waterways long ago before we had wonderful plumbing and such. I did not, however, find one super haunted site that did not have water nearby.

TRAINS: This one intrigued me because of the strange correlation, but now I am leaning more toward it being an incidental finding and considering removing it from the formula all together which might alter a few things, but statistically it wasn't horribly impressive and, as I said, people tended to build older homes near trains and trains tended to be built near towns.
32 sites had train tracks nearby, 18 did not.

42 of 50 sites.

All 50 sites

Masonry/block/brick were 43 of the 47 that could be judged (one place was a sign, one place was a ship, and one place was a cemetery, so construction could not be included)
Frame were 4 of 47.

As I haven't yet started to look at the "hard" proof of hauntings of these places to decide what factors might be most important, such as geology or waterways, I can say that by eliminating trains, I will be having to shift the scoring of many places. I'll keep you updated. This will be quite the tangled process, but well worth it. I think all of us instinctively go to a haunted site and feel these features and know it's haunted, now we have a way to perhaps measure just how haunted it can be with what necessary features.


  1. That is frick'n cool. I've been working in Excel and SQL for the past few weeks, and already imagining charts, graphs. Linear progressions. fun stuff for dorks like me.

  2. Leo, I could seriously use someone like you to make sense of all the findings. It's a mess for my mind.

  3. Interesting findings. I'm sure this data could be made into an interesting cross-reference, kind of a 'what to look for' guide for finding haunted areas.

    I think you need to temper the geological findings against each mineral's commonness. Limestone will often be found simply because it's so abundant world-wide.

    Same thing goes with the water data, since water (in one form or another) can be found within a certain radius of almost any location.

    I'd like to see a diagram displaying how much these features overlap.

  4. I posted this on G+ and someone asked if you have a mailing list. She want's to know when the book comes out.

  5. BTW, I can help you with the graphs and charts. It would be fun.

  6. Thanks, Leo. Should be coming out by August. I will do over the top publicity on the blog and elsewhere before then. It's pretty groundbreaking some of the things we've found since I did the formula.

  7. I don't think you should eliminate train tracks from the list...maybe shorten the range to a half mile or something like that, but not eliminate it altogether. Where I live, the most famous local 'haunting' is a little spook light or something that appears around a train track. It also just so happens to be around an area that is somewhat swampy. At least maybe leave it on as a footnote or something. :)