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Across the Great Divide

February 1st, 2014

 

 

Paranormal Communication

            To exist is to communicate. Bees in a hive; a pack of wolves on the hunt; two women in a coffee shop; – even the phones we text each other with-; effective communication is occurring everywhere around us every day and in various forms both organic and artificial.

            Humans are quite egocentric when it comes to the physical world and their professed mastery of it. If they cannot hear it, see it, touch it, or understand it then it doesn’t exist or is laughed off as the illogical ramblings of the foolish. A common- and clichéd- axiom is “if a tree falls and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This naïve reasoning asserts that since no human was around to hear it, then it didn’t happen; that it is impossible to occur. The wildlife that scattered as the sound pierced the serenity might feel differently.

Humanity assumes that the only effective, real, communication between two sentient beings is in the verbal patterns of spoken language; but true communication occurs all around us every day without us even being remotely aware that it is happening or how. Just because we do not readily perceive or understand it does not dismiss this fact.

To effectively communicate with the world around us means that we have to let go of this arrogant mentality and realize that all things are different in the way they speak to each other and to the environment around them. This is the central canon when learning to understand and communicate with the world on a deeper level.

Why is it that emotionally-connected people can know exactly what each other are thinking or feeling without a single word being spoken? A look from a beloved dog or cat can elicit intense understanding in the same way. These are forms of paranormal communication.

When one knows how to listen, communication and understanding come easy.

            We saw last month that parapsychology researchers have made interesting discoveries about the possibilities of telepathic communication between two beings; and we’ve previously covered the topic of Electronic Voice Phenomenon with some intriguing examples that I personally captured. (It should be noted that Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) is the more general, accepted, term in parapsychological research for any variation of device and corresponding phenomenon collected.)

            Many believe that communication with the dead is a scientific fact and experiment with a variety of techniques for spirit communication to provide evidence of the continuation of life after physical death. Many parapsychologists and ghost hunting groups agree. That is why it is such common practice to attempt communication with spirits using devices such as voice recorders and cameras.

            Mainstream science has generally ignored ITC, finding the results less than credible, and references a percentage of recordings that turn out to be hoaxes created by frauds or pranksters. Many also regard the examples put forward by proponents as simply misinterpretations of natural phenomena, explained via a variety of known psychological and physical phenomena- the tendency of the human brain to recognize patterns in random stimuli and radio interference are respective examples. I am not arguing the validity of the recorded samples that I or others have collected over the years as absolute proof of spiritual communication nor am I completely debunking them but if anyone has sound, logical explanations for their origin then, please, enlighten us; if not, then take it with a grain of salt and an intellectually open mind.

            Pareidolia and Apophenia are the most common basis for arguments against the legitimacy of ITC.

Auditory pareidolia is a situation created when the brain incorrectly interprets random patterns as being familiar patterns. In the case of ITC, it could result in an observer interpreting random noise on an audio recording as being the familiar sound of a human voice. The tendency for a “voice” heard in white noise recordings to be in a language understood well by those researching it, rather than in an unfamiliar language, has been cited as evidence of this; and a broad class of phenomena, referred to by author Joe Banks as “Rorschach Audio”, has been described as a global explanation for all manifestations of ITC.

            Apophenia is related to, but distinct from pareidolia, in that it is the spontaneous finding of connections or meaning in things that are random, unconnected, or meaningless, and has been put forward as a possible explanation.

            Suppose, for example, that an English-speaking group such as Ghost Hunters International were in Germany on an investigation. Would it not seem logical that any samples recorded and cited be in German rather than English? If a group’s team members are walking around an Italian castle asking questions in English how do they expect any possible spirit to understand the question, let alone respond correctly and in English? When they analyze the audio, are they listening for English and Italian words, or perhaps another language entirely?

            I have developed a theory that attempts to explain Rorschach Audio.

Everything about life I learned from watching Star Trek. (Humour me for a moment.) Ever wonder how the intrepid crew of the Enterprise can travel the galaxy and always find alien cultures speaking perfect English? Well, they have an ingenious little device called a universal translator that puts the spoken words through a sound algorithm that searches for patterns and then correlates them to the correct English vernacular. Neat trick, I think. However, there’s often a fine line between science fiction and reality.

In Jungian psychology, there is a bedrock principle that part of the unconscious mind is common and accessible to a group, a society, or even all of humanity, which is the product of all the ancestral experiences of a people throughout time and shared by all, termed the Collective Unconscious. Based on this model, if- as many world cultures similarly believe- we are all related, and taking into account the scientific theory that we revert to pure energy after the death of the physical body, then it stands to reason that as we pass from the material world into the realm of pure energy we have access to all of the knowledge of our fellow man. Therefore, if one were Russian in physical life, then such a being would have knowledge of the English language after death and would thus be able to communicate freely and fluently with an English-speaking researcher conducting an ITC session.

            It might not be too hard to imagine the possibility. It is a known fact that the human body creates, stores, and uses electrical energy. Our neurology is much like a computer’s in that it transmits data in much the same way as a circuit board. This explains how ITC is possible because if, after death, we revert back to pure energy then that energy is quite capable of manipulating and being captured by recording devices that operate on the same principles.

            The old-style method of using cassettes to communicate with spirits is a testable theory because those mediums rely on the creation of electromagnetic fields to imprint the data on the magnetic strips. This is also why spikes in EM fields are of major interest to researchers and ghost hunters because it hints that spirits must draw upon the energy in the environment in order to be discovered. The modern digital recorders are similarly valid because of the means by which they retain information.

            In a recent conversation online, it was jested that if ghosts did exist, it was doubtful that they would be using Facebook as a means to communicate. Based on the points raised today I would have to disagree. The internet is a digital world, using electrical currents and electromagnetics to transmit data from one side of the globe to another in an instant, and is just one more avenue that a being of energy could manipulate in order to communicate- a literal “ghost in the machine” as it makes its voice heard.

            It is said that we have two ears but one mouth because listening is twice as hard as speaking. This is a universal truth. If we simply learn to listen to the world around us in a different way, we just might hear things that we were previously unaware were there.

            Until next time, quiet yourselves and listen carefully to the sounds of the universe. The truth- and understanding- are out there if we are simply willing to listen with an open mind.

© 2014 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

 

The Flight Home

The telephone rang at three o’clock. Barbara glanced out the window… dark as the inside of a pile of coal. Then she looked at the clock on the nightstand by her bed. Who could be calling at such an ungodly hour? The thought frightened her. Instinct told her that it just had to be bad news. She rolled over and glared at it for a moment or two and then groggily picked up the receiver, answering on the third ring…

“Hello?” She whispered sleepily.

Silence. In the background she could hear the muffled sounds that accompany large numbers of people packed into a small and crowded space.

“Hello?” She repeated… a little louder this time. There was a short pause, then a voice answered her.

“Barb,” came the reply. A tinny and distant voice echoed and reverberated slightly as it came through the receiver to her tired, and still sleepy ear. “This is Johnny… can you hear me?”

“Hey, Little Brother, wha-cha you up to? I didn’t know that they even had phones where you are”.

“Oh, they got ‘em all right… I’m not in Nam, Barb. I’m at some Air Force Base, in Maine for God’s sake. I got here over an hour ago. I’ll be home tomorrow. Can you meet me at DFW?”

She thought for a moment. Dallas was a good four hour drive, in the very best of conditions. It was pouring down rain. Conditions were not good. At least six hours, she thought to herself as she answered her brother… “What time?” she asked.

“I’ll be on flight 387. It arrives at 7:25 tomorrow night”, came the reply.

“OK…” she said cheerily. “I’ll have to get somebody to go with me, though. You know I’m due in about six weeks, and Roger’s still in Germany on that Temporary Duty. HEY… What are you doing home, anyway? I thought your tour ran another three months…”

“Things change, Sis. Got to come home early. Why don’t you get Jimmy to come with you? He’s in on leave, isn’t he?”

“Yeah, he is… I hadn’t thought of that. He’s got a new car, too. Maybe we can pick you up in style”.

“Don’t worry about that, Sis… just be there to meet me, OK?”

”You know it Little Brother. You wouldn’t believe how glad I am to hear you’re home. The news says things are getting pretty bad over there”.

“Yeah, they are, but I’m outta it now. See you tomorrow, OK?”

“OK… see you tomorrow”.

There was a click at the other end of the line, and then the hum of a dial tone. Barbara went back to sleep. A little later in the morning, she called her cousin Jimmy, who was in on leave from the Marines, and asked him to drive her to Dallas to pick up Johnny. Two hours later, just before noon, they were sitting in Jimmy’s new Ford Mustang headed up U.S. Highway 59 toward it’s intersection with I-20 leading to Dallas. Three packs of cigarettes, eight “pit stops” and six hours later, the two arrived in Dallas. Rain was still pouring down in sheets when the rolled into the metered parking lot of Dallas-Fort Worth Intercontinental Airport… the biggest Airport in the World. In spite of the weather, they had made it early, and settled into the lounge to wait for the flight.

The lounge was packed. But when Flight 387 taxied into view outside the wall-sized picture window that overlooked the tarmac and the loading ramp, Barbara and Jimmy squeezed to the very front of the crowd that was gathered in front of the double doors leading to the newly arrived Boeing 727. They looked expectantly toward the door as each passenger entered the lobby, but… Sergeant John D. Lightfoot, USMC, failed to appear.

Gradually the stream of incoming passengers changed from a flood to a trickle, and finally stopped altogether. The two looked slowly and expectantly back and forth, between each other and the door…

“Maybe he missed his flight,” Barbara commented.

“That’s not like him,” Jimmy answered. Johnny’s too anxious to get home. The last time I talked to him, he was about ready to try and swim it…”

“I know”, the nervous looking woman replied. “I’ll go to the desk and see if they know anything”.

Just as she started to move away, toward the information desk, the double metal doors opened one last time. This time, they were held open by two uniformed marines. A few seconds later, six more marines entered the lobby. They were carrying Sergeant John D. Lightfoot’s coffin. He had been dead for just over a week.

Barbara fainted.

This story in memory of my cousin, Sgt. John D. Lightfoot, USMC (16 July, 1951-21 August, 1972). One of the few, the proud… the Marines. Your name’s carved on the wall, Johnny, but it’s carved even deeper in the hearts of those who knew and loved you. HAPPY BIRTHDAY JOHNNY!

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Investigation Procedures (Part 1 of 5)

By R. Wolf Baldassarro

If you’ve been following my column for some time, by now you should have a pretty good grasp of the history of paranormal research and with the tools, tech, and spiritual workings associated with the field.  So now it’s time to go out and put all that into practice.  In this series we’ll discuss the steps for a successful and professional investigation.  There are five major components to an investigation- group design and organization, research procedures, the investigation, the analysis, and follow-up.

First of all don’t be overeager.  It’s okay to have fun and enjoy the experience but keep your thoughts and emotions in check, and the foolishness to a minimum.  You don’t want a teammate’s recorder to pick you up laughing or goofing off in another room and mistake it for something paranormal.  Not only is it disrespectful to the home or business owner, the spirits which may be haunting the location, your teammates, and the field of parapsychology in general but you are in someone’s home for a serious and scientific study not in a carnival funhouse for a good time.

Resolve your fears and preconceived notions of the paranormal and look at each investigation with a clean slate.  Every case will be unique because individuality is just as much a part of the other side as it is here in the physical world.  Don’t expect anything or compare every little event to previous investigations.  Let things occur and flow naturally because in a calm and natural atmosphere you’ll have the best chances for capturing quantifiable evidence.

Just as we would be cautious of the spirits’ intentions, we must also be cautious of who we invite along on the hunt.  Your teammates must be chosen with the expectation of honesty and integrity.  Choose wisely when interviewing members for your organization, as unfortunately there are many dishonest people that may cause more upset in a client’s home than the unwanted spirit.  Furthermore you don’t want your group’s reputation to hinge on the actions of a fool.  The Deep Forest Paranormal Society has a specific application that hopeful candidates must fill out if they want to join our team.  This can go a long way toward weeding out potential problems.  Every member of DFPS must have one of these and a signed agreement clause on file before they are allowed to participate in any official group activities.  You can download an example of the MS Word document at this link: DFPS Member Application

Beyond the paperwork and red tape, members should be extensively trained in safety, technology and protocol requirements.  Establish basic parameters and guidelines for central ghost hunting procedures.  Also of great importance is the establishment of a leadership structure or chain of command.  Create departments like technology, case management, transportation, research, analysis teams, spirituality, and so forth.  The knowledge individuals bring to the group may benefit specific departments or talents.  Someone with extensive training and knowledge in photography is best suited on the analysis team where they could help debunk anomalous photos, not doing background research.  In addition you don’t need the team to be on investigation and have everyone acting like they’re the boss.  With everyone playing top dog no one will follow and there will be no cooperation, no format, and no professionalism.

I’ve said many times that the main issue I have with many so-called “ghost hunting groups” is they’re run like an after-school hobby group with no organization, code of conduct, or guidelines.  To make sure everyone is on the same page- literally- it’s wise to have some kind of written document explaining command structure, job descriptions and responsibilities, and procedural notes.  Everyone in my group is given a 30-page manual that was drafted by my lead investigator that explains all that including attendance requirements and disciplinary steps.  Again this is a serious scientific field and a job.  Granted it’s all done on a volunteer basis but to not look at it as you would a paying job and to have no real control over the way you operate in someone’s home spits in the face of science and it’s no wonder the general scientific community doesn’t take us seriously.

Many groups say to start with cemeteries.  There are pros and cons to this, but mostly cons.  These groups do nothing more than go to cemeteries and abandoned buildings and think they’re ghost hunters just because they sneak into them in the dark of night on a regular basis and snap a few pictures and audio recordings.  The first obvious con is that most cemeteries are closed at dusk, making you an illegal trespasser if you’re stomping around after dark.  You are free to roam around cemeteries during normal operating times and do as you wish but you must still be respectful of those who lie in them as well as the rules of those who run the grounds.  It is NEVER okay to go into an abandoned building, whether day or night, without the landowner’s permission.  End of story.

In many cases contacting the city or church that owns the cemetery or building and presenting your honest and objective intentions goes a long way toward garnering permission.  You should also have a client contract that explains what each party’s legal and financial responsibilities are.  Often having a clause that releases the building’s owner of responsibility due to injury puts their mind at ease.  For an example of such a contract here is a download link to the very client contract that DFPS uses: DFPS Client Contract

Secondly, cemeteries by design are in urban areas close to well-traveled roads and residential homes.  This can seriously pollute any evidence due to a large amount of X factors.  Even abandoned cemeteries in secluded and neglected locations have environmental and noise pollution levels that are known and unknown at the time of investigation that could skew your results.

It may be a good idea to look at cemeteries as training grounds.  Go there during the day with new members to get them acquainted with your group’s procedures and techniques.  As we know, ghosts don’t just come out at night and you or they might actually catch something.  While investigating a new cemetery during the day I actually captured a legitimate EVP.

This is also a great time to build connections between members and see which people work best with each other.  Often the personalities of members will compliment another in the organization making for a solid duo for official investigations.  This is also a perfect time to familiarize everyone with all the various tools at your disposal- and try out that new full-spectrum camera you just purchased.  (Sorry, I was day dreaming again…) Every member should have a fully trained understanding of all the tools used during an investigation so that everyone can get their hands dirty and join in the hunt.

Every city and county around the world has local legends and folklore about famous residents, traumatic and dramatic events, and haunted buildings.  Start with some of the more well-known locations and approach the owners or management in as professional a manner as possible.  Dress and act like you would for a job interview with a high-end business firm.  You’ll want to put your best foot forward.  Not only will this help you come across as trustworthy but will gain you respect as well.  Positive reviews and word of mouth are the best advertisement you can get, and best of all it’s free.

You’ll want to have certain safety items such as a first aid kit, plenty of flashlights and batteries, water bottles, 2-way radios, and name badges before you start any investigations.  Keep these items at center command and readily accessible.  Make sure procedures are in place should anyone get injured while investigating and have local emergency numbers handy.  Also make sure you familiarize yourself with the address and specific location (major crossroads) of your area of interest so that in the unfortunate case that emergency personnel need to be called they can get to you as fast as possible.

Most items like water, first aid, and radios are common sense safety items but I’d also like to mention in detail the reasons for badges.

A seasoned paranormal research group will require all members to wear identification while investigating or representing the group in public- even when just doing research.  Not only does this present a more professional image but it helps clients, law enforcement, and others know who is and is not part of the group.  Remember that law enforcement has the right to request identification and trespassing on private property can lead to fines, imprisonment, or worse- I’ve known of ghost hunting groups getting shot at when trespassing in areas at night!

Set up your rules and procedures how you see fit for the specific needs and goals of your group’s activities.  Just keep in mind that the more structured and professional you are in your design, the more professional you will come off when investigating and word of mouth can make or break your success.

Join me next month as I probe farther into investigations with a look at the wonderful world of research and documentation.  Believe it or not good background research is critical to an accurate analysis.

 “Haunted House for Rent”

Haunted houses have been the stuff of local legend for generations; often these stories are exploited by Hollywood. Sometimes, though, there’s nothing fun about the experience, as the thought of sharing a home with an unexpected guest is no laughing matter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Josue Chinchilla and Michele Callan, of Toms River, New Jersey, filed a lawsuit against their home owner, declaring that the rental property is also the residence of at least one paranormal entity and that this was never disclosed to them before moving in.

They believe they had no choice but to flee the property, along with their two children, only one week after moving in. The couple is demanding the return of their $2,250 security deposit because they claim to be witness to such activity as moving doors, flickering lights, and recorded voices whispering, “let it burn.”

The family moved in on March 1, and immediately felt that they were not alone. By March 10 they’d had enough. That was the night that Chinchilla says that blankets started inexplicably sliding off his bed, and he felt an invisible grip on his arm; Callan added that she saw a “shapeless dark apparition” nearby.

The family checked into a hotel on March 13, where they have been staying ever since.

They at first laughed off the activity as a trick of the senses, then tried to ignore the recurring events, but according to a report by the Asbury Park Press, when the entity began to pulling sheets off the bed, and a dark apparition appeared in the bedroom, they knew they had to leave.

The home’s owner refutes the entire “haunted house” lawsuit is a ruse, and are making up the story because can’t afford the $1500 monthly rent; he defends that he has rented the home for the last ten years without any issues.

In a report by the Huffington Post, the Shore Paranormal Research Society, based in the same town, investigated and later classified the activity as “paranormal,” but that it did not indicate a haunting, according to the group’s website. They have released a video showing a bowling pin reportedly falling over of its own accord.

Marianne Brigando, an investigator from New Jersey Paranormal Investigators, says that the home is indeed haunted and states that the home is “the site of an active or intelligent haunting.” She based her conclusion on the results of the oft-maligned “flashlight test, which involves communicating with an otherworldly presence via a flashlight. When Brigando asked questions, she claims, an unseen force would turn the flashlight on and off- two flashes for “yes,” one for “no.”

To add to the controversy, the couple’s pastor, Terence Sullivan, reported that he is certain a “demonic possession” has visited the house, raising the possibility that Chinchilla and Callan may have brought the ghost with them.

Or it is possible that the house does have a history, which the owner is refusing to disclose to tenants.

Consumer interest laws have arisen in recent years demanding that landowners disclose the history of a property including any reported paranormal activity, or cases of murder and suicide. If the landlord knew about the haunting, he had a duty to disclose the information before the lease was signed.

We’ve often seen the flip side of this, with restaurants, hotels, and other businesses, reaping the press and rewards of having ‘big name’ groups like The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS, claim on air that a place is haunted and then sit back and watch their customer base boom.

It’s arguably a material fact, but if they brought the ghost with them, then it’s a haunting of another level, and the non-disclosure lawsuit would most certainly fail.

A hearing was scheduled for the end May, the results of which were not available by press time.

 

Sources: Reuters, USA Today, CBS News, Huffington Post, ABC News, Asbury Park Press

Image © 2012 ABC News

© 2012 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

In The Shadows
 
     We’ve all had it happen, you see a dark shadow from the corner of your eye, but as soon as you turn to look at it straight on, it’s gone.  Almost as if it dove out of sight on purpose, but how could that be?  There is an even more alarming experience.  Something startles you awake in the middle of the night, you see a dark shadow standing at the foot of the bed, watching you.  This has to be a trick of the light or maybe you’re not fully awake and your eyes need to adjust right?  Not necessarily.
     There have been numerous reports of these shadow beings, also called shadow people or shadow men.  Even more numerous are the theories regarding their intentions for visiting us.  Sightings differ; some witness a thin wispy shadow, barely holding a form that seems to float away quickly, into the darkness.  Some even seem to go through walls or up into the ceiling.  These appear to be the most common sightings.  They seem to avoid contact at all costs and are not happy about being spotted.
     Another type that is commonly seen is much more confident.  They are human like in form, usually appear to be male as most of these beings, yet they do not seem to hide so quickly.  Some have reported coming face to face, or shall I say “faceless”, with them or seeing them standing very still in the corner of a room, barely noticeable at first.  Then you see it, this shadow is much darker than any other shadow in the room.  There have been sightings of a much more sinister type of shadow being, usually appearing in a fedora type hat or even a cloak at times.  Some have even said they’ve witnessed glowing red or green eyes, or no eyes at all just vacant black holes.
     So many different types of these beings but what are they?  Once again, theories abound.  The most common is these beings are from another dimension and come in and out to simply learn and observe.  Another very common suspicion is that these are a type of alien, visiting from another planet, but again just to watch, as if we were their own personal reality show.  Less talked about is the theory that these beings may be the result of someone else’s astral projection trip.  If someone does manage to have an out of body experience would their astral body appear as a dark faceless shadow?   The more sinister “hat man” or “cloaked” beings have been called demons, or even omens, warning someone that they are of ill health or about to pass on, especially since the cloaked form resembles a grim reaper .  Even the size of the shadow can differ usually from three feet to six feet and how often they appear can also range.  Some people will see them almost daily for a few years and then not at all.  Children may see them often but never as adults.
     When they choose not to ignore you, the actual encounters are rare but leave a lasting impression, people report feeling frightened and drained of energy, as if the being is absorbing your emotions into themselves.  If touched, these shadow entities can feel like pure electricity or even several degrees colder.  The rare malicious ones will try to intimidate the “victim” making them feel as if they are surrounded by darkness, suffocating, or even brief paralysis such as Old Hag Syndrome.  Bite wounds, and scratches have been reported in these attacks but so few of them have occurred or have been brought to the public’s attention.   One of my favorite explanations are these shadow people are a type of “men in black” who appear after a UFO or alien sighting to intimidate the witness to forget what they saw .
     Whatever they are, they have been a huge topic of conversation in the paranormal community.  Very few have actually been photographed and though they are human-like but not human or known to vocalize, EVPs cannot be taken.  Hopefully more solid information will be available one day, we can learn just as much from them as they can from us.

 “Haunted Hotels”

 

 

Most fans of horror know that the backdrop of Stephen King’s classic The Shining was prompted by the wordsmith’s stay at the famous Stanley Hotel. Contrary to popular belief, King was living in Boulder at the time and did not write the novel while staying at the hotel- unlike the character of Jack Torrance, immortalized on screen by Jack Nickolson. He had the idea after staying in room 217 of the almost-empty hotel on the night before it closed for an extended period.

The legend continues, though, and many believe it to be haunted, reporting any number of ghostly encounters- primarily in the ballroom- during their stay.

The Ghost Hunters television show was invited to investigate at the hotel, where the manager gleefully showed them the various places where these alleged activities have occurred.

To their credit, TAPS discovered some rational reasons for the various phenomena, such as wind and old pipes. However, they could not decipher incidents in the ballroom.

The Stanley Hotel was also on call for the Ghost Adventures show in October of 2010.

After hearing claims that paranormal activities at the hotel are due to the geological makeup of the location, Rocky Mountain Paranormal Research Society (RMP) contacted the USDA for information on the site. The scientists’ conclusion, based on a satellite survey of Colorado, showed “nothing unusual about the aeromagnetic data in the area of Estes Park as compared to that general area of the Rockies.”

The Skeptical Inquirer’s Naked Skeptic column, by Karen Stollznow, discussed RMP’s investigation: “During the investigation, The RMP researched popular beliefs and claims; they solved some mysteries, they performed valuable outreach, and they maintained the historical integrity of the Stanley Hotel. However, they didn’t discover any anomalous phenomena. They found a leak in the ceiling but no ghosts.”

It would seem that the science doesn’t back up the fantasy, as most of the activity is dismissed.

Nevertheless, the legend has helped keep The Stanley in business as a result and they perpetuate the excitement (or feed the imagination/sensitivities of guests) by showing the uncut R-rated version of Kubrick’s The Shining on a continuous loop on Channel 42 of guest room televisions.

In the movie 1408 John Cusack plays an author who travels to supposedly haunted hotels and then writes about the paranormal activity, providing both the hotel’s guest list and his book sales a boost in the process.

Hollywood continues to affect reality as haunted hotel investigations and tours have seen a dramatic increase in recent years.

It’s big business for all involved- paranormal groups get to come in and do their thing, guests are intrigued by the promise of a spooky encounter, and the hotels get free marketing out of it all, no matter what the results may be.

Entire packages are sold to groups, or individuals, who can come stay at a reportedly haunted hotel and go on “haunted” tours. Try typing in “ghost tours” into a search engine sometime. I did and instantly received 6.3 MILLION results. Big numbers; big business; and folks naïve enough to shell out cash for a thrill- a recipe for success.

Here in Detroit we have the famous Whitney mansion, now a posh restaurant, which has an exclusive agreement with a specific paranormal group. Isn’t that advantageous for both parties? The Whitney gets to perpetuate their “haunted” history, the group gets to claim bragging rights, and no one can come in to back up or refute the claims. That’s a brilliant marketing strategy that the public eats up- literally and figuratively. That helps explain why the Whitney can charge so much for their dinners and desserts.

The USA Today posted an article last year highlighting Travelocity’s Top 10 Haunted Hotels and part of my web search landed me on the steps of the Crescent Hotel in Arkansas that reports to be haunted.

Staff members receive regular reports from guests revolving around Room 424 and Room 202. The most famous haunted spot is Room 218, where several guests and employees have encountered strange sounds and sensations in the room such as doors slamming shut and some people have claimed to be shaken awake at night.

In a clichéd tourist attraction of “guests who checked out but never left,” the Crescent holds ghost tours nightly at 8 p.m. Ticket prices at $18 for adults and $7 for children 12 or under.

If you’re in a professional ghost hunting group, or just a traveler that wants a fun adventure, make sure you thoroughly investigate a location before spending your hard-earned money.

Places like the Marbella Hotel have received terrible reviews by former guests about the less-than-stellar conditions including AC leaks, nasty, old furniture, dirty floors, wall tears, and debris throughout the hotel; not to mention rare cases of any actual paranormal experiences. One might have to consider that the haunting stories are just a ruse to gain business.

The 16th Century British poet and farmer, Thomas Tusser, was quite correct when he penned the famous line, “A fool and his money are soon parted.”

 

Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, USA Today, tripadvisor.com

© 2012 R. Wolf Baldassarro/Deep Forest Productions

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