A recent opinion poll suggested that as many as 45% of Americans believe in ghosts or spirits of some kind. Certainly, people have been telling each other ghost stories since the dawn of time. We seem to have a natural inclination to believe that there is a shadow world in which departed loved ones, repentant sinners, or those who have a message for us dwell.
Perhaps this belief simply shows that we need an explanation for everything. When we lived in small groups of vulnerable hunter-gatherers, a sound in the trees at night might mean danger. Something caused it. But what? The noise might be nothing important, or it might be a predator. For survival, it’s better to assume that it could be something dangerous. Add a dash of imagination, and it becomes easy to assume something paranormal exists.
Here are ten explanations for the “creepiest” ghost-hunting encounters we found on YouTube.
10 Weird Worley
The hospital in Worley opened in 1928 and closed in the ’70s when it ran out of funds. In 2002, a woman named Carol Peet bought it intending to turn the building into a ministry center. She aimed to create a place where vulnerable individuals could learn life skills. For some reason, the project never came to fruition, but Peet spent a lot of time at the building and said she never saw anything strange.
In our video, the new owner, Chelsea, has a different opinion. Her contractor says that there are demons behind the walls. Notice that the investigator sees a shape on his thermal image camera. He calls the shape “a figure,” this is a little misleading as it’s not a figure—it’s simply a shape. Dust in the air, moved by a draft, has high emissivity and can show up on a thermal imager as the shape we see.
The rest of the video does beg some questions. Is anybody there?
In our next video, a ghost hunting expert visited the Ancient Ram Inn in Wotton, Gloucestershire, England. The house is spooky enough—in fact, it looks like a movie set for a film about a haunted house.
The investigators swap observations that have no objective value. One of them says that he hears a cat. Probably the best explanation for hearing a cat is that there is a cat. After all, if it walks like a duck and sounds like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.
A serious investigation into the paranormal should have to meet higher standards than what is shown in the video. Unfortunately, many similar videos play on our imagination at the expense of rigorous research.
8 Mom, Are You Here?
Our next haunting has the house owner comforted that his deceased mother is still around and fulfilling her last promise to “always look over him.” After the investigation, the owner is no longer scared and deals with the fact of his mother’s presence calmly and with humor.
Naturally, we should want to believe that our departed loved ones are still with us in some way. But does this sentiment lead us to believe that they certainly are? The sound on the tape is not clear and is very brief. Could it be that the son is hearing what he wants to hear?
7 A Shocking Encounter
Land of mists and long winter nights, Scotland has a long history of paranormal phenomena. With typical good humor, our investigators here are using sophisticated equipment to track down Archie, the ghost.
One of the investigators reports that something (Archie?) touched him on the arm, a touch that he describes as being like an electric shock. Could this be simply a nervous reaction to the spooky surroundings? Or maybe wishful thinking?
Certainly, the building looks like an ideal candidate for a ghost haunting.
6 Hauntings x 3
One of the investigators here makes an interesting observation. He says that a place might be haunted, as we would expect, but also a person might be haunted or an object. You might have, he says, “a creepy teddy bear,” or I instantly think of dolls. Yikes.
The three possibilities have different qualities:
- The Location: A ghost has a special attachment to a place. Once you leave the place, you leave the ghost behind.
- The Person: A ghost uses a real person as a vehicle. Interestingly, a location can be haunted by good or bad spirits, but a person is usually haunted only by the bad.
- The Item: An object must have had special significance for the departed. Though, it’s difficult to imagine how a ghost could haunt an inanimate object.
And how can we really know? Sometimes, people, places, and things are simply… people, places, and things.
5 Flicking Streetlights
In this piece, our guide takes us to a haunted town. One of the first events the guide films is a streetlight that flickers before it returns to normal. To be fair, the narrator immediately says that he doesn’t know whether this was paranormal. Probably not. It was simply a flickering streetlight.
This shows that people can be predisposed to interpret evidence as they wish to. It is a sort of confirmation bias where you give more credence to evidence that supports your view than to evidence that might contradict it. In other words, someone who believes in ghosts will readily believe that a flickering light is evidence of paranormal activity. The city maintenance department would be more likely to consider a faulty connection first.
4 Prisoner Ghosts
Well, if they’re looking for ghosts, any evidence is hidden by the fact that the investigators in this video spend a lot of time spoofing each other. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this, but it can obscure any serious purpose behind their investigation.
The Ohio State Penitentiary defiantly looks the part of hosting ghost hauntings. The word “creepy” often pops up in these videos, and here we find a building that deserves the term. One wonders why this penitentiary hasn’t been converted or demolished.
3 The Willow Weep House
“If it wasn’t evil, it wouldn’t be hurting people,” says the owner of Willows Weep, a house that some say is the most haunted place in America. Whoever built this unassuming house in 1890 constructed it in the shape of an inverted cross. Our narrator, William Shatner, signs off by asking, “Was Willows Weep really built to attract evil spirits?” and asks himself why anyone would want to do this. The answer he offers is that perhaps the idea was to entrap the visiting demons.
The house owner is convinced that there is something inside the place. She points to four suicides and three poisonings that have happened during its history and adds that she and her son had accidents while they were doing some renovation work. Hmm, accidents while renovating. I’ve never heard of that happening. *eye roll*
Without more evidence, we might be tempted to believe that this is a case of having expectations fulfilled. The owner’s comment, “If it wasn’t evil..” presupposes that there is an “it” there.
2 School Is in Session
For this investigation, why the investigative team included four ballerinas is a mystery to me. Their role seemed to be to look decorative and squeal whenever necessary. The rest of the team seems to prep the girls and lead them to expect that this old reformatory school must be haunted.
We’ll leave the ballerinas who don’t seem to add much ghost-hunting expertise alone. But everything else is here. A dark, abandoned place, the word “creepy,” and the essential EMF meter. Why an electro-magnetic field necessarily means that there are ghosts around is a mystery. But these meters seem sufficient for many to believe that paranormal activity exists. (On Amazon, you can buy a meter specifically advertised as a ghost-hunting device.)
The whole atmosphere the narrator creates leads the team to presuppose that there are phantoms in the school. His repetition that nothing is faked is no doubt truthful but irrelevant.
1 Hollywood Hotel Hauntings
I find this one a little difficult to explain away. We will have to assume that the hotel guests are acting in good faith and are not trying to pull the wool over our eyes.
To start, there are scientific explanations of how an ouija board works that rule out the occult (it’s called the ideomotor effect if you want to find out more). But I can’t find an easy explanation for the voice heard in the video. I suppose that even a cynic like myself will have to accept that some things are not easily explained away.
In most of the videos on our list, the viewer can explain most of the phenomena—you just have to watch them with a skeptical frame of mind. Most of these videos lead you to jump to a conclusion and believe what you are expected to believe.
This last video seems a little different; the setting is not “creepy”—it’s a well-lit, modern hotel room in Los Angeles, California. Yet, the history of the Roosevelt Hotel is sinister and full of haunting ghost stories. I’ll just wait for more definitive evidence, I guess.