Recently I was asked by the Huffington Post to create a list which people could use to tell if their house was haunted; I, of course, told them that such list could not be made and instead wrote them a brief little letter they could use in lieu of such a list. The Huffington Post article is located here Haunted House Myths Confirmed And Debunked – The Huffington Post | By Carly Ledbetter, and my original response is found below.
P.S. I liked the Huffington Post piece but I thought my original response should be out there. Thanks!
Re: How to tell if your house is haunted
Over the last 27 years, I have been asked by thousands of people how they could tell if their homes were “haunted.” My response is always tempered by the fact that, although anecdotal, people’s stories sometimes have similar characteristics, but each experience is unique.
The reality is that there are no “hard and fast” rules. It is actually quite a long and laborious process in researching and investigating what is thought to be a “haunted” location, and due to the transient qualities of the phenomena, real investigation is far more difficult than what most people believe it to be.
I jokingly tell people that if they need four really good signs, without doing any research, to know if their houses are haunted, here are four inarguable occurrences that something weird is going on.
1.Your furniture is constantly rearranging itself.
2.Your pets have started to speak multiple languages.
3.Your collection of antique dolls all have glowing red eyes.
4.Your bed doesn’t need a box spring or frame because it hovers three feet off the floor.
Of course, none of these events are actually happening in people’s homes, but that doesn’t mean something weird isn’t happening in some places. The experiences jokingly mentioned above are what people believe probably happen when they have a “ghost” in their home.
The truer nature of hauntings is that they are far more subtle and vary greatly. Sometimes the experience is as simple as smelling the perfume of a loved one who has passed away, or the feeling of a tap on your shoulder when no one is there. People believe that a death or tragic occurrence in a home means their house is haunted, but not even this has been a reliable indicator that strange manifestations must take place. Most homes have seen death or tragedy in some way and, indeed, they do not have what people call “hauntings.”
I have documented that most residents of homes that are believed to be haunted report strange sounds more commonly during the fall and spring seasons, and this is usually due to the temperature changes taking place inside and outside of the home, causing wood, steel, and other materials to shrink and expand.
Reports of frightening experiences taking place in a home are also mostly based around confining and dark locations such as attics, basements/crawl spaces, and closets. This again can be attributed to our own human psychological fear of dark and constrictive spaces.
A quick look back through my files over the last 27 years shows that close to 98% of the cases I’ve investigated have had normal, if not readily noticeable, explanations. Thankfully, we live in a world filled with experiences as yet still unexplained by the accepted scientific community, and there is room enough to speculate, theorize, and even still be a little jumpy when something goes bump in the night.