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The Worst Ghosts of 2011

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

The G.S.I Team

#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,

A still from the Walton Horse video

#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.

Paul Drake, the man who hunted the ghost dog

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.

The Daily Mail reported: 


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.’

Convincing….

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.

There you have it. The worst ghosts of 2011. If you think we missed a story why not post it in the comments below? You can also follow us Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

*we used the name of the dog in context and mean no offense.

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An open letter to Thorpe Park

Dear Thorpe Park,

Here at the ‘HQ’ of the British Anomalistic Research Society (or BARsoc for short) we’ve been made aware of several news stories that are popping up about you having to move the latest ride that you are building because people working on its construction have been witnessing strange things. Things that, it seems to have been decided, are ghosts.

This must have been very inconvenient for you at the park, especially with the Tourist season soon to begin…

As one of the founding members of BARsoc I felt I must write to you to let you know that the ‘paranormal detection agency’ that the Thorpe Park bosses called in are, quite frankly, talking out of their arses.

You see, there is no testable definition for a ghost, thus, one cannot detect ghosts, or anything that is defined as paranormal. Afterall, the word ‘paranormal’ basically means ‘that which cannot be explained using the known rules of science‘. If someone can detect something paranormal, that thing is not paranormal anymore. You can probably therefore see why calling yourself a ‘paranormal detection agency’ is misleading in the extreme.

Also, I would like to take this moment to try to dispel your fear about the ride being built upon a burial ground. The ride may very well have been built upon the site of an ancient burial ground, but there is absolutely nothing to worry about because, you see, the people who used to be buried there are dead.

They don’t know that you are building upon their old burial ground as their brains no longer work.

It seems to me that the people who believe that building upon such burial grounds causes spiritual unrest may have watched Steven Spielberg’s ‘Poltergeist’ one too many times, if you see what I mean.

I noticed that the ‘paranormal detection agency’ the Thorpe Park bosses called in are quoted as saying:

“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.”

I would like to take this moment to let you know that everything this person has said shows that ghosts are at your theme park have actually been shown not to be paranormal in nature by people who typically know what they’re talking about and don’t copy what they see off the telly.

Orbs, for example, are actually what professional photographers call ‘circles of confusion’, and they are typically out of focus objects in front of the camera. You can read a great summary of this by visiting the ‘Orb Zone’ website that shows how orbs are really not spooky at all. The ouija board is also an outdated piece of equipment that people use to (not always knowingly) reinforce their personal beliefs. You can read more about that on our very own website, and I think your paranormal detection man may have fooled himself as well as you.

We would also be interested in seeing the photos he claims show ghosts because, quite frankly, they might be an actual scientific breakthrough which, as you can imagine, is rather important and significant.

You may now be thinking something similar to:

“‘Oh darn, we have gone to great lengths to get this paranormal detection chap into our humble theme park and he has really made us look rather foolish because now we are moving this huge ride which is costing us money to do so, and in all reality there is nothing really to suggest that the odd things going on were ghosts at all. Oh bother, oh bother!”

Well don’t fear because BARsoc are here! We would like to offer our services to you, for free. Our researchers are more than happy to come and talk to the people who have witnessed strange things at the construction site and see if we can work out what is causing the strange things that have been reported.

We don’t use ouija boards, we don’t think orbs are ghosts, we don’t call ourselves a ‘paranormal detection agency’ and we will not mislead you. We will even do things in complete confidence because we know how terrible it can be to have such negative press – what with it coming up to that time when people are going to be visiting your theme park soon.

What with all this hoohah about ancient burial grounds and unsettled ghosts, the last thing you want to happen is for people to have pictures in their minds that equate your theme park with that poor house in ‘Poltergeist’, right?

You can email us if you really want to get to the bottom of the spooky things that are happening in your theme park.

You know where to find us and we look forwards to hearing back from you.

With kindest regards,

Hayley Stevens Founder of the British Anomalistic Research Society. (BARsoc)