Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ghost Hunting: Debunking

Debunking has 3 categories:

1. Physical.
2. Psychological
3. Mental.

When we go to debunk a case of supposed haunting, these three areas of explanation must be addressed.

In the category of "physical" we confront the potential mechanisms in the environment that could explain activity. This can be anything from street sounds filtering through the duct work, plumbing, loose hinges and more.

The only way an investigator can understand what is going on in a location is to go around and test out the sounds the witnesses described to find out what the ice maker sounds like, the door opening and closing, the floorboards being stepped upon, and the window being open. I can't tell you how many times someone has contacted me who was experiencing a tree limb on a window, a cat hiding under the bed or a door that closed when one walked down the hall and applied pressure on the floorboards. The same goes for visuals. There are many conditions in a home involving car lights, reflective prisms and shadows being cast that help to recreate the scenario.

In the category of "psychological" we bring into the mix such things as religious background, belief in ghosts and demon, hauntings and possession. We need to know the ongoing conflicts and emotions in the home and with each occupant to see the dynamics. I have seen people who lost a loved one often believe when they hear sounds or see things in their home and that their relative is visiting. I also run into a lot of people who need their home to be haunted simply to explain why things at home are uncomfortable.

A ghost is the greatest scapegoat because you don't need to blame a bad marriage or a troubled child for ongoing tension and anxiety, you can turn to the unseen, bringing a family that was fractured and not addressing problems to coming together to deal with what they see as the real issue.

Some people, either because of attention-seeking or other issues in their lives like anger, grief or sadness, need to be in a haunted place. It provides them something they are missing and perhaps makes them feel special.

In the category of "mental" we have a person's explanatory style. One time, I was walking into a very creepy old abandoned dome-shaped building. It looked like a good hangout for squatters. My mind was filled with fear of "what if I run into a squatter?" I had run into one there the prior time I'd gone to the location. I was ready for something scary to happen. I was talking with a friend and entered the dome and I heard a loud racquet that scared me so much, I turned and rushed out. It ended up being that my voice echoed in the hard building so loudly that it sounded like gunfire. If I hadn't have gone back to see if who might be in there, I wouldn't have realized the sound issue and explained the situation.

If we don't got a step further in figuring something out and jump to a conclusion based on our belief system or the setting or the scary movie we just watched, then we have arrested our mental debunking skills. It happens to the best of us from time to time. The persistent, though, go back and try not to assume anything.

Ultimately, an effective debunking is to try and yield explanations. If there are none, then an investigation is going to expose possibly true haunting features.


  1. There's the fourth category


    If you were drunk... It's moot and therefore debunked.

    Just a little humor.

  2. Good point--substances, mental illness, grief....they all fit in psychological, but the giveaway for drinking is usually that the ghosts look like pink elephants. :-)

  3. Great post...and yes, there really should be the whole chemically enhanced category!

  4. I am very interested in the Photo ( it is one of a series by the title of "the Invitation") I have not been able to find out more on these images...
    ...the Doctor

  5. If it helps, I found it used here - http://hereticalnotions.com/2011/07/28/why-a-poltergeist-wont-hurt-you/
    I think these spiritualist-era looking poltergeist shots would make an amazing photo arrangement on a wall. Very stylish, very cool.

  6. The best ghost debunking article can be found in a most curious place: Cracked.com (http://www.cracked.com/article_18828_the-creepy-scientific-explanation-behind-ghost-sightings.html)

    The article's science is sound, but still does not explain the things I experienced in Death Valley Junction; full body apparitions, intelligent response EVPs, demonic possession and inappropriate touching...that last part may have been my traveling companions and not paranormal in nature.

    The entire experience is told in glorious detail here by actors I hired to portray me: (http://whispersofthedead.weebly.com/index.html)