Sometimes, when it comes to the world of ghosts and haunted houses and claims of paranormal phenomena, things are not as clear cut as they initially seem. Sometimes wrong and right aren’t options one can choose at ease and as a skeptic and a humanist, I sometimes find myself resisting the urge to head-butt my desk and over and over at the moral dilemmas I find myself facing.
I know of a man who lives in a building that is said to be one of the most haunted places in the entire world. I’m not going to name him or his home for reasons that will become apparent, but in the ghost hunter culture that has evolved after shows like LivingTV’s ‘Most Haunted’ hit the airwaves, the building in which this man lives has become infamous and hundreds of people have flocked to it to try to find proof of the ghosts that are said to live there alongside the living. The truth is a bit more different because all of the ghost stories attached to the building are made up, or at least, wholly over exaggerated. As many will know, it is easy for folklore stories to get changed over time, and for what was wild speculation and fictional to suddenly become fact when it is passed on a few generations or so.
The man who lives in the haunted house knows that the ghosts aren’t there with him and has shared this fact with some skeptical ghost researchers who live locally to him who have bought him a beer or two when they’ve visited. The man who lives in the haunted house also knows that where there are ghosts there will be people willing to part with their money to sit in the haunted house, and so for that reason he charges teams of ghost hunters to sit in his building looking for the ghosts.
He knows there are no ghosts, but they don’t know that and they experience very strange things there, but this is because the man makes the things happen when they’re not looking. For example, one of the ghosts knocks at the front door and, when the door is opened in response, the ghost is nowhere to be seen. That is, a ghost in the form of a big knotted rope that is lowered out of an upper window that happens to sit right above the door in question… a window through which the owner of the building leans out to use the rope to knock the door before pulling it back up inside.
When I first heard of this occurring I was outraged that somebody who owned a property that was alleged to be haunted would act in this manner and would trick people into thinking they were experiencing paranormal phenomena. I felt I should share what I knew with everybody straight away due to my past experiences with people who faked paranormal activity to try to fool me in a similar manner.
Then I thought about it and decided not to.
You see, I realised that although the man in question was knowingly misleading the people who were visiting his home because they thought it was haunted, the people who were visiting his home were actually taking advantage of the man who lives in a building that is slowly falling down around him because, although it is a listed building, it doesn’t get any funding to help with its upkeep.
The man lives in a small part of the building and the rest of it is filled with a clutter of random, but interesting memorabilia, and various artefacts that hint at the place being haunted. The man is getting old and, the last I heard, had no proper heating and a leaky roof that he can’t fix due to a lack of funds and graded building restrictions.
He asks paranormal teams for anywhere between £50 to £200 to visit his house to hunt for the ghosts and that money goes towards being able to live in a house that isn’t really suitable for him to live in, but a house that is the only home he knows.
Would it be right for me to reveal his tricks and take away a source of money that is, quite literally, keeping the roof above his head? I don’t think it would.
If it wasn’t him misleading the misled, it would be somebody else – or perhaps even them misleading themselves. There are so many places around the globe that cash in on the fact that they’re supposed to be haunted that exposing one seems futile. Especially when the tricks that are being pulled on unsuspecting Most Haunted wannabe’s are helping a man to eat.
Sometimes haunted houses are homes and sometimes there’s more than greed behind ghost stories. It’s important to remember that.