It’s that time of the year again where we cast an eye back over 2011 and depress ourselves by re-reading web and newspaper coverage of potential-but-not-quite ghost stories. We did the same last year. It’s been tricky, but we’ve managed to cut the worst stories out there down to just five and they are outlined below. Enjoy!
The Worst Ghosts of 2011
#5 – The Braunstone ghost
The Braunstone ghost haunted a family home, causing the family to live in fear as it allegedly started fires and punched family members. This spook and it’s antics made the newspapers, and even saw the investigators involved, G.S.I Paranormal, interviewed live on national television, so you’re probably thinking that is must have been a quality story, but you’re wrong. This ‘ghost’ and the ‘evidence’ that came with it was mediocre nonsense that we’ve seen numerous times before.
This case needed proper investigation – not only because of the nature of the reported phenomena, but also because of the potentially vulnerable people involved. What this case got instead were ghost hunters who are carbon copies of paranormal investigators from television shows. With an array of gadgets that don’t actually do anything useful and a lead investigator who claims ghosts talk directly to him, their investigation provided nothing we haven’t seen before, and nothing substantial.
The evidence they provided on ‘This Morning’ – a national television show aired in the UK, consisted of videos of orbs that the investigators refused to believe could be dust or insects. There was also an alleged ‘spirit vortex’ caught on camera by the this team too which, in all honestly, appears to be a piece of wire (like a mobile phone charger wire, perhaps) hanging in front of the camera. Nothing impressive or groundbreaking.
Orb video one
Orb Video two
The Spirit Vortex/Portal video
Then there was the most amazing evidence ever. Footage of a ghost changing the temperature on command… or, a ghost hunter unaware of how a laser thermometer works. As you will see in the video below, Don Philip believes that a spirit is changing the temperature as he asks it to, when in all reality, it is his misuse of the thermometer that causes such an effect.
Watch from the 03:00 mark
The saddest thing about this ghost isn’t the eye-witness reports from the family in residence, or the rubbish ‘evidence’ provided by the ghost hunters, but in fact the closed-minded and outdated way in which they investigated the case. They let down the people who live in the house greatly, and that’s why their temperature changing spook made it into our ‘worst ghosts of 2011’ list.
More from Don Philip further & GSI down the list…
#4 – The Coventry poltergeist
A Coventry council house played host to a ghost that allegedly pushed two pet dogs down the stairs – one of which sadly died through its injuries. This ghost story first broke on The Sun website where it was explained that the single mother and two children witnessed an array of odd occurrences ranging from chairs flying across rooms to doors being wedged shut from the other side, trapping the family.
Although unlikely to be paranormal in nature, the things witnessed by the family were interesting and worthy of research. Yet, their story was let down with the accompaniment of a rather dodgy video documenting questionable poltergeist activity.
See our recreation (enacted by Hayley with the help of Sharon) below:
The initial experiences may have been genuine, but the poltergeist video certainly isn’t.
It’s okay though, because The Sun got Derek Acorah in to sort things out…
#3 – The Thorpe Park Monk
The investigation took place in November 2010, but the ghost alleged to haunt Thorpe Park didn’t make headlines until February 2011. According to South West London Paranormal Group who were called in by ‘Thorpe Park bosses’, oddities witnessed by workmen building a new ride at the theme park were caused by the spirit of a headless monk, buried in the ground that the ride was being built upon. The team report of the investigation shows a clearly biased approach to their investigations, with several members claiming to be sensetive to ghosts/spirits. Not only that but their conclusions were questionable, with team founder Jim Arnold saying:
‘We carry out these kinds of investigations quite regularly, with medium to weak results being reported on a weekly basis. ‘Thorpe Park, however, was more striking as results were picked up immediately, with orbs, ghostly images in photography and ouija reaction results being strongest around the site where they were proposing to build Storm Surge.
‘The results were so strong, we felt the only explanation could be that an ancient burial ground or settlement was being disturbed, prompting the extra paranormal activity.’
Not only was the methodology used psuedo-scientific and dodgy, but so was the evidence provided. Our favourite is below.
It’s more likely that the evidence collected by SWLPG was the product of suggestion and confirmation bias, and Thorpe Park saw the chance to grab headlines off of the back of this. Readers may remember that they did something similar around the time they opened the Saw Rollercoaster. Spooky,
#2 – The Walton ghost horse
I first discovered the Walton ghost horse one day when visiting Professor Chris French’s Facebook profile to leave a message. There was a video posted on there by Don Philip, the lead investigator for G.S.I Paranormal UK.
Of the video and recording, Don says:
its enclosed 4 walls no windows, in the middle of nowhere with no passing traffic, people or neibours[sic],that store room was a stable in the 1800s and its approx 2.45 am in the morning. The video camera caught it, the video camera then shows the digital recorder playing the evp and finally the evp from the recorder played at the end, now that would take some debunking or a hell of an alternative explanation considering the sound is obviously in the room with us and so clear and loud.
It is clear from the video that the people present believe it to be a horse, referred to as ‘Bubbles’ by one of the women present. Apparently this is because they found a grave marker close by for a horse called ‘Bubbles’. That’s a claim that requires evidence, but all we have is this odd noise that Don and his friends are claiming IS evidence. The problem here is that there are so many possible alternative causes for such strange noises (often referred to as ‘Electronic Voice Phenomena’) that before anyone can say ‘this is supernatural’ they have to be able to cross off every possible natural cause.
The G.S.I team cannot do this, and as they’re the ones who are making the claims about this recording, the burden of proof sits squarely with them. Also, Strangely, when I asked them to elaborate what they were claiming the noise was in our conversation on Facebook they all seemed to be very evasive and vague about it. Despite the fact that they identify it as a horse in the actual video (as you have hopefully just seen or heard above).
Professor French had posted in response to the video on his Facebook wall that he was busy but would be interested to hear my opinion on the video, so I had a good listen numerous times and came to the following conclusion:
To me it sounds like nothing more than something being dragged along a rough surface, such as a floor or worktop – the sound being interpreted as a horse braying or snorting is the sound of friction between the object and the surface.
I believe the link you are making with the sound being a horse is because you’ve accidentally primed yourself with the reputed haunting of the building – you call the horse by it’s name suggesting there is rumour the place is haunted, or associated with a dead horse called Bubbles. If you were to take away that association and listen to the sound I do not believe it would be linked to a horse by anyone present.
Electronic Voice Phenomena isn’t a sturdy method of paranormal investigation due to the lack of data involved, and the influencing factors at play beyond the control of the person conducting the EVP session.
I also played the recording to a friend of mine who keeps horses without telling her what the noise was thought to be. She didn’t recognise the noise, and when I suggested it was a horse she didn’t agree. The same happened when Chris French played it to his daughter who also rides horses. Take away the priming information – that it is a horse, or that a horse is buried there – and people don’t make the link.
In fact, this is something that happened time and time again. I downloaded the noise, you see, and played it at several ‘skeptics in the pub’ events that I spoke at. I played it at Edinburgh, Bristol and Westminster and nobody was able to identify the noise as a horse. That’s hundreds of people who listened to the recording who, without being prompted that it might be a horse, were unable to identify it as such.
Verdit: Not a horse ghost. Neigh.
1 – the ghost of ‘Nigger’
A team of paranormal investigators, Paranormal Lincs, claimed in November that they had made contact with the “spirit” of the dog owned by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the heroic pilot who led the Dambusters raids during the Second World War.
Wing Commander Gibson led the Dambusters raid in 1943 from his base at RAF Scampton, near Lincoln, just hours after his black labrador, called ‘Nigger’*, was run over and killed.
The first sighting of the ghost dog was reported in 1952, so what, you might ask, prompted a paranormal group to undertake such an investigation?
It was the photo below.
It was taken in the 80’s and shows shows a Labrador among a school group at a memorial to the Dambusters, close to where Gibson’s dog was buried. The photographer is said to have claimed the dog appeared from nowhere just as the photo was being taken, refusing to be shooed away and, as soon as the photo was taken, the dog disappeared, never to be seen again.
Of course, there is no proof that this happened – we only have the word of one person to go on, but that’s never stopped ghost hunters before. Not to mention the fact that those from the ‘Paranormal Lincs’ team didn’t even speak to the photographer directly. This is just a recycled story with no verification.
The paranormal team conducted their investigation and are convinced they not only detected the ghost dog, but also that they spoke to Guy Gibson himself.
After staking out the base at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, now the home of the Red Arrows, ghost hunters are convinced it is haunted by a ghostly Labrador. The lead investigator, Paul Drake, said:
‘There is definitely paranormal activity there. One of our investigators felt a cold spot and when we measured it, it was eighteen inches, which is about the height of a dog. The curator of the museum has told us that he has felt for years that he has had a presence following him and he definitely feels that it is that of a dog.’
One investigator who stayed overnight at the base last month even claimed she heard a dog growling when she entered Gibson’s former office.
‘I definitely heard the growl of a dog’, said Michelle Clements, 45. ‘Three of us heard it and we all agreed it was a dog. It was a really low growl. It wasn’t a happy yap at all. It sounded sounded like he was warning us to stay away.’
After scouring the base with infra-red lights, proximity sensors and video cameras, the team say they picked up activity which suggests the pilot was trying to speak to them.
‘I do believe we spoke with Guy Gibson,’ Miss Clements, a school dinner lady from Leicester, said. ‘We asked him if he was with his girlfriend Margaret and he said yes. We also played some old music from the 40s and there was a response to that as well.’
It isn’t specified what activity they picked up, but a quick look at this BBC article shows that the team used K2 meters to talk to the ‘spirits’ which is quite ignorant.
A quick look on the teams website forum sheds light on the sort of evidence we are dealing with.
‘…we got loads of orbs and one that looks like a face and an arm. The Atmosphere felt strange as if their was people in there watching us.’
‘…the K2 meters were going crazy. I played some vera lynn to get things started. it looked like he was singing along to the song which was sweet of him :).. he also just wanted us women in their we found out as he didnt like the men.’
‘…about 9pm we got all the equipment set up in both guy Gibson office and the hanger ( museum ). we had alot of orbs in the hanger.’
‘…we went into the next room to his, his agented ( personal secretary). ha ha i dont think he was impressed by us because the k2’s were going mad as we werent standing to attention.’
‘It was wierd that i took pics showing an orb above the reporters head as well as other strange things considering we were not doing a full investigation.’
To summarise once again, this investigation took place because of a ghost story associated with a photo that is decades old. The investigators used ghost hunting gadgets that don’t do as claimed, and accepted things such as orbs and cold spots as evidence that a ghost was present. They presumed these ‘ghosts’ they were communicating with, or detecting with their gadgets were that of Guy Gibson and his dog simply because of the ghost story they were chasing.
Worst. Ghost. Ever.
*we used the name of the dog in context and mean no offense.
It’s fair to say that some of the ghost stories that grace the newspapers and news websites often leave the more rationally minded of us staring at our screens with sheer horror. Horrified, not by the latest ‘spectres’ to have been caught on camera or film, but by the fact that anyone could have thought what was caught was news worthy.
BARsoc researchers have touched upon such news stories in past articles and will continue to do so throughout 2011, but here at BARsoc HQ* we thought it would be fun to look back at the ghost stories covered by the media through 2010 and choose the 5 that made us weep the most. Again, not weep with horror, but with despair, despair that these ghosts made the news and gained so much attention and helped to mock the field of paranormal research (and in turn, people like us!)
The 5 Worst Ghosts of 2010
#5 – The Savannah Cemetery Ghost
This video came to our attention in November and it is claimed that a ‘ghost child’ can be seen running through the Colonial Park Cemetery in Savannah Georgia. The image is seen running in the distance past some tombstones. We then see some object, which many think is also the ghost, shoot up a tree and moments later drop down.
It’s difficult to tell what could be the cause of the supposed ghost, but we all agree at BARsoc HQ* that this probably, in all reality, isn’t a ghost. It’s too vague because of the distance between the supposed ghost and the camera, as well as the fact that the person shooting the film didn’t bother to go towards the object to investigate.
Jumping to the conclusion that something odd, or something that cannot be explained must be a ghost is quite a leap of logic and doesn’t make sense because we can’t actually be sure of what a ghost is – after all, there is no testable definition of what a ghost is.
So, although we cannot explain away what the ghost in this video could be, we’ve included it because of the assumptions being made and the questions not answered by people making wild claims.
#4 – The Gwyrch Castle Ghost
It’s likely that at some point in 2010 you saw this ghost photo, if not, lucky you. The photo was taken by Mr. Kevin Horkin who claimed he did not notice the spooky figure while taking the shot and that it was only when he had downloaded the photos that he noticed it. Building the oddness to this tale, he claimed that the spot in which the girl is standing in the photo is a place in the building where it is impossible to stand.
The figure appears to be on the first floor, in what used to be a banquet hall where the floor crumbled away years ago, meaning there is nothing for a person to stand on. Weird, right?
Until you see this photo that shows a floor…
This is where the doubt started to set in for many who were following this particular story, Why lie about there not being a floor when there is? It may have been a simple mistake that Kevin Horkin made but, if we were going to the newspaper with a ghost photo (which is likely…) we’d make sure we had all the details first to avoid making such a mistake and looking a bit suspect.
After some digging it turned out that Kevin Horkin is the managing director of a ‘Psychic Management’ company in the U.K. called Parallel Management. According to the company’s website:
‘His wealth of experience encompasses expertise in artist management, events management, sponsorships, public relations, media relations, marketing and artist liaison.’
It gets even better because at the time the photo was taken and released, he and his team were scouting different locations for a “Psychic retreat”. In the Lancashine Telegraph an article reports how:
A RIBBLE Valley businessman is bidding to buy a huge castle to open Britain’s first ‘psychic school of excellence’. Clitheroe-based Kevin Horkin has put in an offer of £850,000 to buy the derelict Grade I-listed Gwrych Castle in Abergele, North Wales.
Mr Horkin, who owns psychic management company Parallel, wants to spend ’several millions’ renovating the 19th century castle, installing a hotel and facilities for psychics to connect with the spiritual world.
During an 18-month search for a base of psychic school of excellence, Mr Horkin and his staff at Parallel, based in Waddington Road, Clitheroe, visited around 20 houses and castles before deciding on Gwrych.
Mr Horkin added: “It is something different. There’s a risk with opening it but I just feel strongly about it.
“I love the place and I feel that people will love it too. There’s just something about it.”
Earlier this week, Mr Horkin revealed how a ghostly image had shown up on mobile phone photographs he took at Gwrych Castle.
What a big fat coincidence… right? Right guys? …guys?
#3 – The Wolfe Pub Ghost Video
You didn’t see this ghost video? WHERE WERE YOU?!
The Wolfe Pub in Little Dockray, Cumbria used to be a funeral parlour according to the landlord which is why it is haunted. Which makes sense… possibly.
The 35-second sequence recorded by a CCTV camera shows a supposed apparition that descends through the ceiling of the room. Numerous newspaper articles (like this one) claim the apparition then polishes a table before zooming upwards and going back through the ceiling – momentarily assuming the likeness of a face which is pretty spooky stuff!
Well, no, actually, it’s not spooky because it is a fly on the lens of the CCTV camera that is out of focus. See:
If you watch the video it’s really easy to see how it is a fly, you can even see the wings moving. The thing that makes this whole case a little frustrating is the claim that strange happenings have also been caught on the CCTV of the travel agents next door to the pub, such as a computer turning itself on, a computer mouse being thrown from a desk and a sign in the window falling down. Yet we’re just expected to believe that this happened because the footage has never been supplied.
When you add the anecdotes to the fly in the video it doesn’t make a convincing ghost story really, does it? Our theory is that the landlord is either credulous, or trying to raise the number of people who walk through his door – or both.
#2 – The Pint Glass Poltergeist
The New Inn, Gloucestershire, made the headlines earlier this year when an unattended pint of beer was caught on CCTV sliding off of a table all on its own, which is pretty impressive at first glance.
However, the story gets pretty suspicious, pretty fast. The video was featured on The Sun Newspaper website where it quoted Landlord Mark Cooke:
“I’d heard all these stories before we arrived and was pretty sceptical, like most people.But the moving pint was something else. When I saw it on the CCTV it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. You just can’t explain it — the table’s dead steady, the floor’s not uneven, and no-one’s near it.”
We disagree with Mark because there are several ways in which a glass can slide from a table on its own. Those who drink alcohol, and more specifically beer will know that sometimes the pint glass in which your drink is served is wet from overspill at the pump. Sometimes different surfaces in pubs are also wet because they’ve had wet glasses on them.
In the video you can clearly see the customer take a full pint to the table where an empty pint glass is standing, chances are that the empty pint glass was wet (and thus, the table was slippery) and the new pint glass was wet which could have resulted in the glass sliding off of the surface – especially as the glass isn’t very far from the edge.
We also don’t know if the pub is on a slight hill or if the table was sloped/wobbly, Mark says that it isn’t, but we’re not quite ready just to accept that as a fact because people do tend to over exaggerate in such stories to make things seem a bit stranger than they actually are.
Another cause could be trickery, and numerous people have commented that the person sitting at the back of the room, to the right in the video happens to move their hand just as the glass falls. This could be a coincidence and to make a fake ghost video people normally need to have a motive.
Enter ‘Gloucester Ghost Walks’ run by the ‘Gloucester Active Paranormal Society’ who have been conducting paranormal investigations at the premises in question for a while. In fact, a member of the team was actually in the bar when the glass fell off of the table. They also charge £25 for a ticket to one of their paranormal events at the pub in question.
We cannot be sure that it is a case of trickery, but this certainly made us rather cynical of the situation and video. Media coverage of this venue, the team and their ghost events would certainly be good for business…
Something like this would be easy to set up with a bit of wire and as it stands it is more likely that this alleged poltergeist is actually just the work of a slippery surface, a wet glass and gravity, or some sneaky tricksters with some wire.
#1 – The Dorset County Museum Ghost
If you have been following BARsoc since we were formed earlier this year then chances are that you knew this would be the case we put in 1st place. It was the first story that we really took to pieces and explored. You can read our entire article on the story here.
It started when this story was featured on the BBC website claiming that:
A group of investigators from Weymouth have released the findings of their investigation into paranormal activity in Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.
They have photos which they believe to be of “hanging” Judge Jeffreys and local fossil collector Mary Anning in the museum’s main hall.
The article also states at one point that the fundraising officer for the museum, Nel Duke, is “unconvinced” that the place is haunted.
The team in question were ‘The P.I.T08’. The first thing that we noticed was that the image featured in the BBC article was heavily cropped. A cropped image provides little context for what it is we are looking at. Realistically it could be anything at all, from an out of focus light, to a drop of water on a sheet of glass. We contacted “The P.I.T.” to ask for the full uncropped version of the image and they kindly obliged.
We showed the photo to most of the members of BARsoc who all reached the same conclusion. The ‘ghost’ was simply an illusion caused by light reflection – the cropped picture used in the newspaper articles simply didn’t show the source of the reflection – it emphasised something that shouldn’t have been emphasised at all.
The images taken that night at the Dorset County Museum, are simply reflections of the camera flash, on a glass fronted display case/mirrored surface. You can clearly see this display case illuminated by the flash, to the north position of the “anomaly”.
We even managed to find other photos that showed the case the camera flash was reflected off, and it wasn’t very hard to do. It would also be safe to presume that people who worked at the museum would know that the display case was there which makes it odd that they would fail to mention this possibility, it may have been an oversight though and we always like to give people the benefit of doubt.
We were told by Steve from the P.I.T that The BBC had contacted the museum after seeing the photos on the P.I.T website and that the museum had then put them in touch with the team. In an email to us he said:
“I can confirm that the P.I.T as a whole do not state these photos are paranormal and only after trying to prove they where not did we as a team ‘stamp’ them as ‘possibly paranormal’. As a team we did not go to the press with it and instead quietly released the images on our website for review by its users. The BBC contacted the Museum directly who then gave the story and passed the P.I.Ts details.”
Something didn’t sit quite right with this whole situation, it didn’t make sense to us at BARsoc HQ* that a museum where staff are unconvinced it is haunted would be so keen to get such a story published by the BBC. As far we could tell there was nothing to gain financially other than a slight raise in the number of visitors who might be interested in visiting a haunted location.
However that didn’t seem likely to us after a BARsoc member phoned the museum and they wouldn’t comment about what happened or what activity had been witnessed by staff members, that just didn’t seem right for a place that was happy for news websites to feature the ghost photo taken by a paranormal team and wanted to attract people by using their supposed ghost.
It all clicked into place though about a month after our article on the case was published when Steve, the member of P.I.T that we had been in communication with posted a comment on the article. You could say that ‘the penny dropped’.
The Dorest County Museum are now charging £300 for paranormal teams to enter the building to conduct paranormal investigations to try to find the ghost that was in a photo that the British Anomalistic Research Society showed was actually just an illusion caused by a light reflection.
Yep. You can see why this made the #1 spot on our list.
…and there you have it.
The worst 5 Ghosts in 2010 according to BARsoc. It’s likely that you might have a different ghost related news item in mind that you thought should have made the list, and it was difficult to choose which ones to feature. Why not link to your own bad ghost story as a comment (it has to be a 2010 story).
The one downside to news articles that report ghost stories without any critical thought is that is makes it easy for such avenues of publicity to be abused by those who have something to gain from having a ghost at their premesis.It also makes the paranormal research field look a bit daft, which in all reality, doesn’t need any help in doing so.
Happy new year!
*no really, we have a HQ. Maybe.
As somebody who used to fully believe in life after death and the existence of ghosts I can understand how easy it is to accidently introduce these beliefs into a paranormal investigation without realising you are doing so.
There seems to be some general confusion about how involving your personal beliefs into a paranormal investigation an be a problem, people often question ‘What’s the harm?’ and don’t understand were I am coming from with my thoughts on this.
Basically, I think people need to step back and asses what it is that we are dealing with; ghosts – something for which there is no proof. Sure! Many people have witnesses things that convince them personally that ghosts are real and it’s their right to be convinced in this manner. However there is a difference between you believing what you do because you have been convinced and entering a location as a paranormal investigator to study the supposed haunting at that location.
I’m not claiming that those who believe in ghosts shouldn’t investigate but what I am saying is that people who hold a belief in ghosts, spirituality, an afterlife or whatever is it that they choose to believe should not allow this belief to have an effect on the investigation.