How to haunt a house

Have you ever felt like you are being watched by unseen eyes? Had the sensation of chills running up your spine? Heard someone callling your name?

Well, according to this list of 101 Signs that you have encountered a ghost, if any of these things have happened to you your house may be haunted. My personal favorite is “A foul odor comes from nowhere and then disappears.” I have two dogs, this happens to me all the time!

All of the items of this list can easily be explained by natural phenomena. At least, the ones that have actually been reported by people who claim to have experienced a ghost. I get the sneaky feeling that many of these “signs” come straight off the horror shelf at the local video store.

Not ghosts

Not ghosts

One of the “signs” most often attributed to ghosts is so-called spirit orbs appearing in photos where none were seen with the naked eye. Due to the fact that neither the photographer of the orb, nor the person viewing the photo can think of an explanation, the theory that these orbs are spirits is driven by the argument from incredulity.

The professional explanation for these orbs is that they are reflections of the camera’s flash. Most orbs are photographed by amateur photographers whose cameras have a built in flash positioned directly above the lens. Any dust or moisture in the air will reflect off of the flash and this reflection is captured as an orb.

Professional photographers position their camera’s flash further away from the lens and usually to one side in order to avoid the imaging of spirits orbs.

If a photo is taken when there is a natural source of light, orbs can be attributed to lens flair, particularly from the sun.

Some of the just plain ridiculous things are;

57. Light bulbs blow out on a regular basis (maybe there is an electrical fault?)

66. There’s blood running down the walls (erm……)

And the next few can be explained by hypnogogia;

65. You’ve awakened to see misty people standing around your bed.

100. You wake and feel a pressure on your chest that doesn’t have a medical reason.

I wonder if this list would have helped Nicolas Cage when he purchased the LaLaurie Mansion in New Orleans. Nic paid $3,5 million for the most haunted house in New Orleans. Whilst the story of the sadistic Madame LaLaurie does make for some creepy reading (I would advise finishing dinner before reading it), there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of substance to this story.

The LaLaurie Mansion

The LaLaurie Mansion

I read a dozen different websites about this mansion and they all re-hashed the same story about the disturbed life of Ma’am LaLaurie, but that seems to be it. A few reports of shrill screams and sightings of apparitions are all the house has to claim.

I found this website run by “Haunted New Orleans Tours” which displays many photos of orbs and blurry lights, but there is nothing of any real substance. I tried in vain to dig up some real beef, but all I found was the same tripe, and in many cases the basic details of the story differed from one site to the next.

While I am thoroughly unconvinced as to the “haunting” of the LaLaurie Mansion, I do have a great scary story to tell around the bonfire…


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