Wednesday, October 17, 2012


A Chat With Geoff, an Actual Ghost-Believer, in Which I Clearly Care About Ghosts a Lot More Than He Does

Esther: I've never done a chat interview before, so let's start. ASL? Just kidding! Maybe you could tell me about yourself, just so the readers can get an idea of the sort of person you are?

Geoff: OK, well, I’m 33, live in NYC, I work in advertising, running the gaming department across North America for one of the largest agencies in the world. I keep a very small, close, trusted group of friends. I like movies, sports, and entertainment, and prefer lightheartedness to serious or sad themes and topics.

E: SO!

G: SO!

E: Ghosts!

G: Ghosts.

E: Have you always believed in them? Or was there maybe an event or a series of events that led you to it?

G: Well, I think that the unknown has always been an area of curiosity for me, so at a young age, I would always find that sort of stuff to be interesting. I started to feel that there were so many stories out there, that they cannot all be false. 

E: Ahh. All this evidence! Do you remember a certain story that maybe seemed extra real to you?

G: Not really. Just all of the ones I’d read about in books when I was younger made me think that they probably exist.

E: What about other supernatural sorts of things? Or like, the Occult?
Or is that totally separate?

G: Someone said to me recently that they believe in energy “left behind”. I think that’s a good way to put it. In terms of the Occult, that’s not something that I think about as much.

E: Right. And when you were younger, were you scared?

G: Scared of ghosts? Oh yeah. Still am.

E: Yeah?

G: Oh yeah, I don’t want to encounter that stuff.

E: Have you ever?

G: No, knock on wood.

E: So are there specific situations where you might become worried about ghosts? Even though you haven't had a ghost experience?

G: I still find specific environments to be creepy. Old houses or apartment buildings, the woods, stuff like that.

E: Your own apartment, ever?

G: My apartment is definitely creepy, and I freak myself out. But ultimately, no, I feel pretty okay here.

E: If there was a ghost there, would you move?

G: Fuck. Yes.

E: I think the same thing about if I saw like, a mouse in my apartment. I would move.

G: Hahahaha

E: What specific things are creepy to you, in those houses and apartments? Or is it just a ghostly vibe you might get?

G: I’d say shadows and sounds. “Just a vibe” is a good way to put it.

E: Right. What do ghosts look like? How do you imagine them to look, or manifest physically or whatever.

G: Ummm, in the image of their physical being.

E: Can a ghost pass as a real person?

G: I dont think so, but then again, I’ve never encountered one.

E: Do you ever think about ghosts in maybe a positive way? Like a kind ghost or maybe the ghost of a deceased relative who just misses you, or wants to check up on you, or... TELL YOU SOMETHING(!!!)

G: Um, not really. And I don’t think ghosts necessarily have a bad agenda. Again, more just like an energy that I would just not prefer to even really come into contact with.

E: Is it ever like, sexy? Is there the idea of sexy ghosts?

G: I don’t think the idea is sexy.

E: It's funny, I don't believe in ghosts (I think?) but even so, within the IDEA of the belief, I believe in the possibility for all these kinds of ghosts.
Definitely nice and funny ghosts, things like that. And can I ask you another question? So, my background is a religious one, where it's a given that you believe in God, and that belief also comes with the belief of things like souls and angel and heaven, and things like that. A few months ago I sort of became fixated on the idea that MAYBE belief in all of that is exactly the same as believing in ghosts? So, do you believe in God?

G: Yes, I do. I believe in God as a guiding presence and judge of all people. I also believe that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people, be it here on earth or in the afterlife.

E: So for you, pre-ghosts, there already existed this idea of believing in other presences? Are those ideas connected for you, God ideas and ghost ideas?

G: Not really.

E: Why not? Like if maybe some guy died but had unfinished business here and ended up as a ghost, and that God made that decision or something? Or is the idea of God much more abstract and detached from that?

G: Yeah, for me it’s more detached.

E: Do you fear BECOMING a ghost?

G: Ummm, no, I don’t. Do you?

E: No. I mean, there are days when I totally believe in the whole system of God and an afterlife and spirits and the idea of being in a situation where you're dead but can look down on everyone still alive and maybe wonder about needing to tell one of them something, or just wanting to communicate, or whatever. I wonder if that’s just another way of saying, “I believe in ghosts!”? Semantics! Do you consider yourself a spiritual person at all, whatever that might mean to you?

G: Yes, very spiritual.

E: I wonder if believing in ghosts just comes along with believing in God??? Like if even though it's not the same thing, maybe it sort of IS all the same thing?

G: Perhaps. Though they are on two different levels

E: I guess I should wrap this up! Before we finish, I just wanted to know, even if you haven’t had any legit ghost encounters, have you had anything? Little moments, or specific fears of a time or place, or a sound or something? ANECDOTE.

G: Oh, I’m not a fan of the dark.

E: How do you deal with that? Like do you leave a light on at night, or something?

G: I do.

E: Is it in your room? OR is it the corridor outside your door or something, and you keep you bedroom door ajar to let light in? I just want to get an idea of your night light situation

G: I keep the bathroom light on and keep the door slightly ajar. brb!

E: Did you like THE 6TH SENSE?

G: Of course!

Thanks, Geoff!

Esther C. Werdiger wants to believe.

157 Comments / Post A Comment


Hmmm.... I think your questions were more interesting than his answers, as you hinted at in the title.


@Sierra Interesting interviewers whose questions are 6 times more cool and lengthy than monosyllabic interviewee's answers FTW!


@Sierra Yeah, I was sorta like "C'MONNNN, Geoff, you're being a bore!" Which I guess is mean of me, it's not like anybody's approached me for an interview about...well, anything ever.

Esther C. Werdiger


tea tray in the sky.

Right?! Esther, it's like you were beating him over the head with opportunities to say something cool about a cool topic, and he's all "Enh. Yeah I guess" or something. Even after specifically asking for an anecdote?!

What kind of interviewee is this. The worst kind.

Ham Snadwich

As boring as Jeff was, "I believe in ghosts and never want to encounter one" is a much more sensible proposition than "I believe in ghosts so lets go hang out in a graveyard".




What if ghosts do in fact exist as an image of their physical being, so we all could be having all sorts of ghost interactions AND NOT KNOW THAT WE'VE ENCOUNTERED GHOSTS, eh?

fondue with cheddar



Inverse Sixth Sense!




@Dancercise whoops

fondue with cheddar

"I just want to get an idea of your night light situation." This was highly amusing.

I was the same way as a kid too, being fascinated by all the unknown stuff and believing that there were so many stores that they must be true.

I miss A Ghost.


@fondue with cheddar through the entire thing, i kept thinking of A Ghost.

evil melis

Check back closer to Halloween for a GHOSTLY SURPRISE

Jolie Kerr

Oh wow, I never really thought about becoming a ghost myself! What fun I'd have! (Actually I'd probably just clean people's apartments while they slept. Which would be fun for ghost-me, so!) How do I make sure that happens? Mallory?

fondue with cheddar

@Jolie Kerr Come to my house...I can help you with that! Nevermind the large, heavy object I'm holding behind my back.

evil melis

I think (part of) the reason writing about ghosts and inventing a weird parallel cosmology where meteors are flying jewel beasts who communicate through song (and whose bones eventually land on earth) and wizards run around getting trapped in icebergs is it's a total bummer that everyone just dies and stops existing forever. You won't become a ghost! You'll just stop being anything and everyone will forget you. :(

evil melis

@evil melis But then on the other hand, we have stuff like lunch and suchlike temporal consolations. If I have to recede back into oblivion I'm glad I at least get to have lunch.

fondue with cheddar

@evil melis Ghosts crying alone while women eat salad.

Jolie Kerr

@fondue with cheddar Ghosts laughing alone in binders.


Oh man, I definitely believe in ghosts. My husband always points out how odd this is since I don't believe in anything else supernatural or in religion/gods of any sort. But, like Geoff said, I think that ghosts are an energy/spirit of a person left behind, which means that they could be completely malicious or totally harmless. Plus, I know so many people personally that have had encounters with ghosts or ghost-like energy that I have absolutely no reason to doubt these people. Why would my high school best friend lie/make up a story about how she, her mom, and her aunt all saw her [deceased] grandma (her mom's mom) walk through a room when they were in there just hanging out? It's not like it's a scary or particularly interesting story, and she had no interest in the supernatural. Anyway. I think there's enough evidence out there.

Lisa Frank

@olivebee Yup, me too. I'm not a Believer in any sense, but I've definitely seen/ felt things that I can only describe as ghostly.


@olivebee: See the first law of thermodynamics: energy can be neither created nor destroyed!


@olivebee Yeah, that's how I feel about it. Why would my friends lie about certain things they've told me? It never seemed to be especially attention-seeking or manipulative when they've said things, and they're not otherwise liars, so.

Also, how else do you explain that weird moving shadow in the bathroom of our freshman dorm when the street was on the other side of the building??




@NeenerNeener Ok, got one for you. My husband has a friend (a male friend...this will come into play) who has lived in his apartment for a few years. Twice now, on two different occasions, with two different pairs of women, this has happened:

A couple of women (in their 20s..."girls" feels weird to say but women still feels too old) are at the apartment hanging out with the guy and his friends. The guys leave to run down the street to grab beer or pizza or something, so it's just the women left in the apartment. In the middle of the doorway (open, no door) between the living room and hallway, an old man's head/face appears, almost as if it's floating there. And he is smiling a lascivious, creepy smile. Just staring and smiling.

Both times the women naturally freaked the fuck out, but were too scared to walk through the doorway (the only way out of the room), and the head disappeared whenever the guys got back. The first time it happened, my husband's friend thought the women were making it up or joking around with him. But when it happened to two different women a year later, he was like, WTF.

ETA: I am telling this story third-hand, so some small details may be off, but mainly the part that stuck in my head was, of course, SMILING GHOST OLD MAN HEAD WHO CREEPS ON THE LADIES.

Does Axl have a jack?

@NeenerNeener Yes, a thousand times this!


@olivebee Oh no! This creepy old man is haunting me, literally.

I have one! But I'll have to post it when I get home from work tonight.


@NeenerNeener More stories, plz! I don't have any ghost stories to contribute, but I'd really like to spend the rest of my work day reading other people's.


I kind of have another one. I know a guy who experienced "the call is coming from inside the house." Basically, he and his girlfriend were house-sitting for the girlfriend's aunt, or someone...I forget. Anyways, they were watching TV, and the phone rang a few times, and each time they let the answering machine get it because, you know, not their house. Then her cell phone started ringing, and she looked at the screen. Then she totally flipped out because the number on it was the phone number for the house in which they were sitting. So then the guy checked the call log for the house phone, and it was the same number. So they ran out to the driveway, got in the car, and stayed locked in the car while they called 911. When the police came, they didn't find anyone or any evidence of a break-in.

Make of that what you will. Ghost? Burglar with excellent phone-number research skills? A total lie? No idea.


@NeenerNeener Yes! Agreed! I love ghost stories.


@NeenerNeener: I have a couple of ghost stories - convincing ones, even - but I'm afraid that if I tell you about them, the ghosts will find me. The red-handprint ghost would be bad enough, but the Creeping Sense Of Imminent Doom from Utah would be simply too, too much.


Not a real ghost story, but I once played a ghost in a Travel Channel documentary about haunted lighthouses called...Haunted Lighthouses of America. You know how they have to re-enact stories that people tell? I was a re-enacted ghost of an invalid woman who was bed-ridden in some lighthouse in the late 1800s. I wore a white, old-fashioned nightgown, had my long hair done in messy waves with white powder thrown in for good, spooky measure (it was edited in sepia-tone), and I laid in a rickety old bed with a cat on my lap. The cat was obviously my favorite part. It was a pretty sweet gig for a 17-year-old who was only there to tag along on a real-live video shoot since I wanted to go to college for film production.

ETA: I just did some research, and if I remember correctly, I think I was playing the lady in white from the Pensacola Lighthouse.


@orangeyouglad Jumping in so I can be alerted to all the stories.

My ghost stories are boring because they were mostly my friends telling me about things they've seen that were generally benign and brief. Although my mom once got chased around a room by a card table (don't use Ouija board, guys!).

the roughest toughest frail

@olivebee I wholeheartedly believe in ghosts, so I have a ton of ghost stories, both my own and ones told to me by my mother who lived in a very violently haunted building as a child. I don’t have time to write them all out, but here’s one of my most favourite stories to tell:

My first year at university, I lived in an old mansion that had been (somewhat) converted into student housing. The house (which had a Name – a fact that always delighted me) was built by a local newspaper magnate in the late 1800s and was used mostly as a summer home.
According to campus legend, the newspaperman had a disabled son who he was somewhat ashamed of – it was never clear if he denied his son’s existence or if the son was just some sort of open secret that no one really mentioned. Anyway, the story goes that one day, the boy drowned while in the bath – the story changed from “the nanny drowned him” to “he was playing and the nanny wasn’t paying attention”. Usually, no one claimed to know, what, exactly, happened, just that the nanny was to blame. The family supposedly stopped frequenting the house mostly because of ghostly sightings of their son, dripping wet and totally blue. Being creative types, the ghost of the dead child was called “Blue Boy”. At least one person either claimed to see or to know someone who had seen Blue Boy. Access to the top floor of the house was severely restricted, but a couple of us did get an R.A. to crack a door that supposedly led to the maid’s quarters where Blue Boy had died; I totally saw a bathtub, which gave me nightmares for months.

About a month into the start of the semester, a bunch of us thought it would be a total gas to play with an Ouija board in The Haunted Mansion. After a few minutes, we started asking specifically for Blue Boy to show himself or make himself known. The little planchette went fucking nuts. I remember asking how he died and the board spelled out “water” a couple of times before spelling out “water closet”. We asked if it was an accident and it pointed to “yes” and stopped moving, even though we asked it a couple of more questions.
I don’t remember why, but we started asking if there were any other ghosts who wanted to talk to us and the planchette slowly started moving again. We asked for a name (“Sarah)” and if she had lived in the house (“yes”.) Eventually, we asked how she died (“rope”) and where (“stairs”). The freakiest part was when we asked if she knew Blue Boy – whose name we asked, but I’ve since forgotten – and the planchette kept sticking on “yes”.
I remember we were going to move to the main staircase to see if we would get any more fun out of the Ouija board, but the consensus was that none of us were going to sleep well that night and we didn’t want to make things worse.

I have so many more stories about living in that house, but I’m going to stop, since this is already an essay. It actually reads kind of hokey, but it was scary as hale at the time, trust.


@abetterfate Interesting! I also had a campus ghost story about a "Blue Boy" who froze to death, but it was actually created as a fictional story by a creative writing student. It got turned into a legend when a certain author published it.


@NeenerNeener Um, so this is probably not the most satisfying ghost story ever, but when I was maybe 13 or 14, my aunt was moving out of the house she had lived in for a good long time. The house was built by my great-great-great-whatevers, and the family had lived in it in one form or another for a really really long time.
We were helping her clean out all the various cupboards and whatnot, especially the HUGE attic, which I guess could have just been a second story, but it was really creepy. There was a little landing on the stairs between the floors that, even though it was August, was FREEZING, and I hated standing there.
But what I remember most about the place was when I was upstairs in the attic with my dad, and I found this bottle of India ink that belonged to my great-grandfather. I felt/heard my dad walk up behind me, so I turned around to ask him where the bottle came from... and no dad. He wasn't even in the house at all, he was down in the driveway with my aunt. I think my great-grandfather's ghost(?) was standing behind me. My dad told me he thought that meant I should have the bottle, since I was a visual artist too. So I took it home.
I guess the best/least good part (for a scary story) was that it really felt like a member of my family was right there, so even though it was creepy that there in fact was NOT, it was kind of comforting.


@NeenerNeener I'm sure lots of colleges have stories about students dying tragically in fires and haunting their dorms forever... but my favorite part of the one about my college was that the dorm was rebuilt/refurbished after the fire about a foot higher than the previous structure, so the ghost is wandering around knee-deep in the floor.


@NeenerNeener I don't really believe in hauntings, but I do believe in spirits, particularly family spirits.

A few years ago, my Grandma was very sick. She had a knee replacement, then an infection and then pneumonia. My mom and Aunt M were at the hospital with her and at some point they had her on morphine and she was hallucinating and calling for her mother. This was strange because she didn't have the best relationship with her mother. Meanwhile, my other Aunt E was in another state and very distraught that she couldn't be there for my Grandma. After getting off the phone with my mom, she was really upset and just sort of yelled out to no one "She wants her mother! Why won't you help her!"
Now I was staying at my grandma's house at the time to be closer to a new job. That afternoon I was in the house alone and I walked into the kitchen. Suddenly, I was overcome with a powerful, horrible smell. It was so bad that I starting gagging and just ran into the dining room, but I still couldn't escape the smell. I almost started to vomit it was so bad. I ran into the next room and looked up. There was a photo of my great-grandmother and it was falling out of the frame. As soon as I saw it, the smell went away. I quickly fixed the photo and thought it was odd but nothing frightening. My mom hadn't told me about my Grandma calling out for her mother or what my Aunt E. was yelling. It was strange, so I told my Aunt M. and mom about it later that day. They both got really freaked out and filled me in. Then they said that my great-grandmother was known to have a sixth sense when it came to smell. She would start to smell something bad whenever something bad was going to happen and if good news was coming, she would smell roses.
I'm happy to report that my Grandma made an almost full recovery. I told her what happened when she was better, and I think she reconsiders my great-grandmother now.
And that is the story of how my Aunt E and Grandma called my great-grandmother back from the grave to harass me.

Bus Driver Stu Benedict

@NeenerNeener *taps obsolete non-existent (ghost) watch*


@NeenerNeener So, I am a serious believer, but my boyfriend is a dedicated skeptic. A couple summers ago, we spent a weekend at a delightful White Mountains inn I got a groupon for (shoutout to groupon!). Lovely place, owned by a gay couple from New York who dreamed of running a New Hampshire B&B and bought and renovated this place, which had been an old mansion. In the room was a bunch of history about the area, and the house itself; one story was about a lady who had had some nearby feature named after her (a cave? A waterfall? I can't remember specifically). Apparently she had fallen in love with some shady character, who took off on her, and she tried to follow him/find him in the dead of NH winter and had frozen (next to whatever natural feature bears her name). Well, our last night there we had a big romantic dinner, then had champagne in front of the fire, enjoyed some enthusiastic vacation sexytimes and passed out. In the middle of the night, I woke up out of the blue (unusual for me, I'm a pretty heavy sleeper) and there above the bed was a lady's head, floating and glowing. She was in an old-timey hat, and looked PISSED. I freaked, yanked the covers over my head and started grabbing at my boyfriend who is NOT usually an especially heavy sleeper, but wouldn't wake up no matter how much I pawed at him. Eventually I stopped hyperventilating and went back to sleep. When we woke up in the morning, boyfriend absolutely did not believe me and to this day insists I dreamt it. But I did not! I saw her! I totally think she was that poor girl who froze looking for her lover, bullshit that we were having a romantic night.


OK! Sorry for the delay. Some excuse about being unusually tired after staying late at work...
Sooo... When I was 13, my friend and I used to like to put on music and use my younger sisters' Playskool, um, karaoke thing and record ourselves singing. So, one night we were at my house, alone, doing that. I was blasting The Bodyguard soundtrack, specifically Queen of the Night, on my stereo, which was on top of my bureau in my bedroom. We were right outside of the door to my bedroom, sitting on the stairs and singing. Not like I had a super-powerful stereo, it was just one of those small units that the speakers can come off the side, but the song had some bass. Suddenly, my stack of cds that was sitting on one of the speakers flew off and crashed on the floor (we didn't see it happen, only heard it). So we stopped singing and went into my room, freaking out a bit. After a minute, I came up with the explanation that a particularly strong bass note must have caused the stack to fall. Good explanation, completely reasonable. So we're in my room, excitedly talking about it for a few minutes. We had left the recorder on the stairs. Now, if you're familiar with these recorders, you know that the way to get them to record is to grip the microphone, pressing on this button. So whatever, we go on with our business when we've calmed down and start playing music and recording our singing again. It must have been the next day when we listened to our recording. When we got to the part where the cds went crashing, we surprised to hear that the recording didn't stop when we put the recorder down and went into the bedroom. It recorded our whole conversation. Okay, fine, maybe the microphone was put down on the stairs in such a way that the button was being pressed (which actually isn't very plausible). Then, then we hear another voice on the recording! It wasn't one of us, because you could still hear us talking in the background. It was a high-pitched voice and hard to understand what it was saying. After listening to it a few times, it sounded like it said, "I'm here... don't worry... ...Calm down!"
It still gives me chills, but given what it said, I was never too scared. And I went on to never have another experience like that in that house.


@Does Axl have a jack? OFF TOPIC: best user name EVER.


Also, people posted some stories here a while back.


I loved your questions about connecting believing in God and believing in ghosts. I also grew up with a religious "it's-a-given-that-you-believe-in-God" background, but in my house it was always, "God is real, angels are real, and demons are real, but ghosts? That's just nonsense!"

evil melis

@Dancercise It also gets into some really thorny theological questions. "So God decides who becomes a ghost and who gets blorped up to heaven?" "Ah...yes." "Is there a checklist or something that determines which happens to you?" "That...sounds likely."


@evil melis and YOU get to go to heaven and YOU get to go to heaven and YOU get to go to heaven! blorpblorpblorp (tickets to heaven are subject to state and federal taxes; audience members who decline tickets or fail to pay taxes shall become ghosts. Oprah and affiliates not liable for hauntings or creepy vibes)


@Dancercise I also find that connection really interesting. I don't believe in ghosts/demons/scary supernatural things and I'm not very religious, but I very frequently find myself frightened of ghosts/demons. Most of the praying I do happens when I'm scared of something, because the part of my brain that's convinced that demons are going to come and eat my soul is the part that can be convinced that the virgin Mary will intercede on my behalf.


@evil melis It seems to me like believing in a God who rules all heaven and earth AND believing in ghosts is a way to hedge your bets. It create a pretty wide line between the secular and the non-secular, where you can have ghosts (Holy and otherwise) romping about and taking part of earthly matters and still have the option of heavenly paradise.


@evil melis I'd tell you C.S. Lewis' theory of ghosts, but I'm not sure I'm up for another fight tonight.


@evil melis the process of ascending to heaven will now be forever described by me as 'blorping'


@Bittersweet Girl you realize I hate Lewis because I'm familiar with his work and not otherwise, right? I'm aware of what he thinks!


@melis Girl I do realize that. You might even know them better than I do.


So I guess it's bad that I just got excited when I read "advertising agency"? Geoff! Where do you work!


@cosmia Agreed! Any time I meet someone else in advertising I need to get the 411.


Esther asking about sexy ghosts kiiiiind of makes me believe she is being sexy haunted.


@cmonster That part reminded me of Tina's sexy zombie dreams. And here I was going to link to a video or gif of it, but the only one I can find is on Funny Junk, and I refuse to link there, so you'll all just have to go watch episode 2 from season 1 of Bob's Burgers. I'll wait here.


Reminds me of Paul Mooney's bit about white people and ghosts. PAUL MOONEY I WILL NEVER STOP WATCHING "I SLEPT WITH A GHOST".
(And yeah there are never slave ghosts. Maybe because white people are mainly the entitledest and totally would come back to haunt over not living to see the iPad 3 etc.)



@Inkling I know someone with a slave ghost story!

I have this friend, and her uncle swears to this day, many years later, that he was babysitting and the following happened:

It was football season, and Carolina was playing NC State (which is a Big Deal). My friend and her cousin had been left in the care of her uncle - they were babies at the time, and were sleeping on the bottom floor of the house, while her uncle watched the game upstairs. One of them started crying, but it was a tied game and like 3rd and goal in the 4th quarter or something, so her uncle ignored them as long as he could. Finally, after a few minutes of incessant crying, he started to make his way down the stairs when the crying suddenly stopped. At this point he hauled ass to the bedroom, where he swears he saw a black man wearing ratty, Civil War era clothes soothing my friend's cousin (his daughter) back to sleep. Apparently he felt nothing but peace. And promptly went back upstairs to watch the end of the game.

The end.




evil melis

@C.SanDiego why would a slave who was presumably killed in battle wander the earth soothing strange children instead of setting fire to every plantation on the Historic Homes registry

evil melis

is he sure it wasn't a local Civil War reenactor who got lost and disoriented after living the entire weekend off of hardtack and hypothermia


@evil melis
Not to mention caring for other people's (white?) children is a kinda loaded expectation for that time period.
Probably it just the first time your friend saw a black hipster.


@evil melis I don't think we have hypothermia here in coastal North Carolina, but I'll look into it.


@Inkling Ha. My friend is, in fact, not white (they're Persian but, you know, NC, so everyone thinks they're Mexican) but that is still a valid point.


I love talking about ghosts and ghost stories and ghost movies, but when people start talking about "bad energy" and actual ghost encounters his or her cousin had when she was 12 (always a little gril/old woman/sad woman/angry woman in old fashioned clothes standing at the foot of the bed), I just get SO uncomfortable. When my otherwise brilliant ex (a PhD! in Science!) disclosed to me a belief in ghosts based on nothing other than a friend's anecdote from when he was 7, I nearly broke up with him. Can't we just keep ghosts in the fun category! Fun!


Can I tell you what I love? I love the Celtic idea of "thin places," where the veil that separates the physical world from the spiritual world is, well, thinner. Call them holy, haunted, whatever....it's a thin place.

Jolie Kerr

@SuperGogo [sharp intake of breath]

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@SuperGogo I was just at a thin place in Scotland! It was the entry to the fairy kingdom in this gorgeous green glen. The legend goes that the fairies live there, and might choose you to join them on the other side. All you have to do is walk backwards through a spiral of stones, and, if they pick you, they take you when you reach the middle. Otherwise, you better leave them a gift.


@SuperGogo Is it shameful that much of my knowledge of thin places comes from the Outlander series? If so, please tell me where I can read more about them!

Amanda Webber@facebook

I heard that when most people think they're seeing ghosts, they're actually being carbon-monoxide poisoned. Or something. Seems plausible.

Lisa Frank

@Amanda Webber@facebook That's really interesting, because I used to live in an apartment that I was convinced was haunted. It had this janky oil-burning heater bolted to the ceiling and my dad was always convinced I was going to get carbon-monoxide poisoning. But there was a carbon-monoxide detector, and it never went off so...


@Lisa Frank clearly the ghosts kept removing the batteries


@Lisa Frank Just fyi, most carbon monoxide alarms are pretty stupid because landlords stick them to the ceiling like a fire alarm, when CO is actually quite dense and scuttles around on the floor near your bed trying to kill you.

Amanda Webber@facebook

@christonacracker Well I think this proves it then.


@Amanda Webber@facebook Carbon monoxide also wears old-fashioned clothes and stares at you when you're sleeping.

Esther C. Werdiger

@Amanda Webber@facebook
YES! This was on one of the best This American Lifes (sic.) ever! One of my favourite ghost stories ever!!! It is actually the thing that makes me most not believe in ghosts. Thanks, Ira!


@christonacracker Carbon monoxide is actually about as dense as air. If anything it is slightly lighter. Air as about 1.2 kg/m^3 while CO is about 1.15.


@TheUnchosenOne oh that is horribly embarassing! I have a scientist friend to go glare at.


@christonacracker but I bet it still scuttles


@christonacracker It turns out it's a pretty common misconception! I don't know where it comes from but I've seen LOTS of people repeating it. I mean it doesn't actually matter, the detector is going to pick it up regardless.

It probably does still scuttle tho.


@TheUnchosenOne Probably comes from the same source that told me that microwaves cook things from the inside out (then why is my frozen burrito still frozen in the middle, hmmmm?) Please confirm/deny.


@TheUnchosenOne A day later so no one cares, but: I think that misconception arises because people confuse CO with CO2, which is in fact denser than air. In 1986, 1,700 people died of asphyxiation from a ground-hugging cloud of CO2 outgassed from Lake Nyos in Cameroon. It's also a common component in pyroclastic currents flowing from volcanoes and can easily smother any life in a valley.


A professor told me that some large, old buildings give off inaudible, very low-frequency sound vibrations simply because of their structure. The sound vibrations give an instinctive feeling of dread, paranoia, or being watched, which can lead to hallucinations. This phenomenon is what many "hauntings" are attributed to.
It is speculated these low vibrations have this effect because they are similar to the inaudible growls from big cat predators.
I also believe in ghosts.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Bloodrocuted Really? That would make entirely too much sense. I prefer the explanation that supernatural beings are watching me when I sleep.


@Bloodrocuted I was JUST listening to a podcast about that, but I can't remember if it was This American Life or Radiolab, nor can I remember what episode.


@Bloodrocuted Science: weirder than you think!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose I think both are true. The low-frequency effect could explain impersonal ghosts, who haunt everyone without logic and are attributed to having "unfinished business", usually mortal justice, or an obsession with alive people.
My thought is ghosts are of emotional energy, the same kind that manifests in mental disorders. I believe they feed off emotions like fear and are repelled by emotions like bravery.
Ghosts generally frighten people and not attempt communication, so I think finishing business is not their goal, and exorcisms of all religions work, so it seems the act of belief itself banishes them.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Bloodrocuted I am sort of ambivalent on ghostly existence, but I feel that I should allow for their existence so as not to upset them. It's an ouroboros argument, but whatever.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Wow, sorry for the outburst ^^ I really, really like ghosts.

Judith Slutler

@meetapossum Yes, I definitely heard that too. And it was definitely either TAL or Radiolab.


@Emmanuelle Cunt If anyone remembers the name of the podcast, do tell! Because that is like the coolest thing I've heard this month.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Bloodrocuted What? Why are you sorry? It was cool!

Judith Slutler

@bibliosaurus I can't find it! But here is an article on infrasound that might creep people out and make them feel spooky feelings: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2000/jul/11/highereducation.chrisarnot


@bibliosaurus Oops! I actually read about it on Cracked.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Haha, thank you!
@meetapossum If my professor read it on Cracked also, it is a little less cool.


@Emmanuelle Cunt Oooh, thanks! Science! \o/


@Bloodrocuted What about older buildings gives off the frequency? Is it a certain architectural feature or style of building?


@KatnotCat I think it depends on the style, especially in large styles. It may depend also on materials (like stone), but I'm not sure.


Missed opportunity to talk about Anne Rice and ghost fucking. "Soo what if you had sex with a ghost, and then you got pregnant, and then the ghost POSSESSED YOUR BABY and when it came out it was like this half child half adult thing, would you have sex with it immediately after it coming out? Cuz that happpened in an Anne rice book once."


@Megano! Chapter 1 in Ethics for Ghost-Believers


@Megano! Wait, what?!


I am a fraidy-cat who has creeped herself out so, so many times, but I've never had a genuine encounter. Not sure if I should be relieved or disappointed. (Never mind that I don't believe in ghosts or God or anything--somehow whether I believe in them or not seems irrelevant when I'm taking the trash out at 11pm and have to bolt back to the light of the house before something gets me.)


It doesn't really happen where I live now, because it's the city and there are lights glowing from places other than my house, but if I'm in the country and outside at night, under a light - you know, something in the darkness can see you, but you can't see it? similar to when you look out the window at night when the lights are on inside into the darkness (but then you can only see your reflection)- my imagination convinces me that I might be being stalked by a large cat, and I have to run in the house.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@NeenerNeener Living in the country as well, I've developed a pretty sincere phobia of being inside a lit structure (house, car, etc..) with clear windows while it's dark outside. I prefer to have the shades down or be part of the shadows. Something - or someone - could be watching me!

Judith Slutler

@NeenerNeener I am pretty sure those are straight up Stone Age instincts raising their head.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
Me too. Relatedly, I can remember this one night when I was in 3rd grade. I was up late (always been a night owl), and was really scared for some reason. I thought there might be something outside, so I creeped over to underneath the window, being well aware of the aforementioned phenomenon, and when I tried to quickly peek out of the window - OMG! What was that?! Heart beating 1000x a minute. Yeah, turns out it was my reflection.


@NeenerNeener If it makes you feel any better, I'm 30 and I did that to myself last night. I wasn't even scared at the time - I was just thinking about how this weekend I will watch scary movies, and was anticipating being scared afterwards, and then I saw my reflection move in the turn-off TV screen and freaked out. Oy.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@NeenerNeener Ha! Mine didn't really develop until later in high school, when a bunch of pals and I were driving around the back roads of eastern Montana and checking out old, abandoned homesteads. At night. In the snow. Some of the places had one, solitary light bulb on a pole outside, illuminating the distance between the house and the barn, and I did not ever venture into that pool of light. It was so creepy.


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Oh my god the single fluorescent light on a pole on a farm is the WORST THING IN THE WORLD. They creep me out so much. I would 100X rather walk down a street in East New York at night than walk through one of those farm light pools alone. THE COUNTRY )))):


@NeenerNeener One time when I was about 11 years old I was getting ready for school early in the morning, but it was still dark out because it was winter. The phone rang, and I ran to answer it. Some guy was on the line and all he said was "I can see you." I said "what?" and he just repeated himself. I was standing in a lit room, in front of all-glass French doors that opened on to our large, semi-wooded backyard. YOU GUYS. I didn't know what to do so I just hung up the phone and sortof slumped to the floor: still clearly visible from the doors, but somehow I felt less exposed than standing up? My mom was slightly skeptical when I told her this story but it totally happened. It was also probably just some random creep who had no idea I was standing somewhere clearly visible to the outside, but still. It was so terrifying, I'm actually a little scared again just typing this story out.


@jamielee OH MY GLOB



@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose My mother tried to cure me of that as a kid by getting me this story-on-tape about a dwarf with red glowing eyes that just really wanted friends so he'd look in windows at night but it'd scare people and he was sad until some little kids realized he wasn't scary blah blah blah. It had the opposite effect of what she hoped.


GHOST BOOK RECCOMENDATIONS? I just read Wait Till Helen Comes and it was a riot of mid-eighties YA unintentionally(?)-campy melodrama, complete with dialogue that nobody would ever say and terrible parenting and evil stepsiblings.

raised amongst catalogs

@frigwiggin The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

And I believe this will be the second time I've given a shout out to Richard Peck's books on The Hairpin -- The Ghost Belonged to Me, Ghosts I Have Been, The Dreadful Future of Blossom Culp. All so good, and all so ratty and dog-eared from my childhood readings and re-readings.


46 comments & no one's mentioned Happy Phantom yet?!


Is this a safe place to talk about my latest "ghost show" obsession, Paranormal Witness?


It's better than The Haunted!
PS What else ghosty do you like on Netflix?


@Inkling EVERYTHING. I got so into Paranormal State that I was reading blogs that exposed its fakery (which, duh). I LOVE Destination Truth and have a schoolgirl crush on Josh Gates. Fact or Faked, I occasionally watch Ghost Hunters and Ghost Hunters International, but I love watching Ghost Adventures because Zak Bagans is the frat boy of the ghost hunting world. Then there's old school ones like Haunted History, but I don't know if they're on Netflix.


GHOST ADVENTURES. That show isn't even scary because you want that dude to be haunted. I gotta check out the other ones! I spend all of ghost shows staring at the screen and chanting E-V-P, E-V-P!
I love a Haunting (which is on Youtube)--reenactments with much hotter actors. Also The Haunted, like I mentioned, has animals in it!


@meetapossum Did you find episode one to be strange? The self-harm of intentionally falling down the stairs, destroying her mother's and her own possessions, the paranoid father, and her mention about being hurt in the bathtub... I thought Isabel had been molested, possibly by her father, and she created Emily to cope.

Edit: This is my main area of study. I may be projecting.


@Bloodrocuted Oh, wow, I didn't even think about that.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Bloodrocuted Humans can be prone to blame imaginary monsters for atrocities, because it's easier than thinking another person could do something so horrible. http://forums.randi.org/showthread.php?t=177481


@meetapossum YAY GHOST ADVENTURES (in my household we refer to them as "The Ghost Bros"). I always enjoy when one of them gets "possessed," which generally seems to mean "sulky and like maybe he has low blood sugar from being locked in this haunted building without snacks all night."


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose When children create an imaginary friend, it often has characteristics that a child wishes they could have (such as being very tall, or strong, or an animal). It is healthy for a child to play and get into mischief with the friend.
Children's imaginary friends do things the child wishes they could. If a friend is a troublemaker, this is often indicative of the child wanting to act out against a thing that bothers them, which they feel no control or understanding over. This could be bullies, financial problems, divorce, or abuse. The friend is wish-fulfillment and relieves tension by misbehaving, but it is indirect (not attacking the problem) because the child lacks control of the problem.
Also, self-harm and harm of possessions (especially gifts or favorite dolls) is common when the child has been made to feel shameful. They want to punish themselves and feel they don't deserve nice things.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Bloodrocuted Can we be friends? You are full of very interesting information!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Usually this information causes me to have no friends at all!


"a certain story" that made you believe? "sexy ghosts"?! There was perfect weird ghost story bait tossed around all over here that this poor fellow just was not having. Tragic.

Also the RA's room in the dorm I lived in last year was haunted, by a ghost that only made a fuss when the room was messy (she made the blinds go up and down)

Esther C. Werdiger


and do you assume it was a girl because it was in a girl dorm? AU CONTRAIRE, perhaps. #sexyhaunt


@Esther C. Werdiger As much as I want sexyhaunt stories, alas! I called it "she" because a few years back a student moved out of the room after freaking out and calling security about a woman telling her she didn't want her there, and the girl and the security guard both witnessed a ghost-butt imprinting on the foot of her bed. Which I now realize is the more interesting of the two stories of this same lady ghost, WELP.


@LordHennyson GHOST BUTT


Fact: The average person is in contact with at least 5 ghost butts at any given time.


@LordHennyson UGH Why are you telling me this? I am an RA, and I'm in my room, which is currently messy. There goes my sleep...


I have noticed that a lot of hauntings end in divorce, and lots of hauntings begin in renovation, and lots of couples who purchase things to renovate houses end up divorcing. That's my only ghost tidbit.


@Inkling Okay, so now I'm anxiously awaiting the next Ask a Lady when LW says, "My husband is awesome and kind and really adores me and we are a perfect match in every way. There's only one little problem: we have a ghost in our vestibule...."

Judith Slutler

@Inkling Maybe the ghostie is just trying to say hello, and the couple projects all of their negativity and uncertainty about the renovation and relationship onto the ghost? Like a sad unwanted housemate who is only begrudgingly accepted and doesn't even help out with rent :(


I think the ghost is manifested as stress that is also manifesting in the couple being unsatisfied with their environment when they're really unsatisfied with their marriage, OR the ghost causes the stress when they wake it up with renovations and only haunts one of them so they'll break up and leave!

Reginal T. Squirge

Quick question: Where do I find a ghost so I can break up a relationship. Asking for a friend.

Reginal T. Squirge

That should have a question mark in it somewhere. Sorry, work uses IE and I can't edit comments.


@Reginal T. Squirge This comment reminds me of a letter we got at work once. I work for a reference publisher, and we published an encyclopedia of ghosts and spirits. The letter read as such (all sic):

Dear [author],

I am writing to you to ask you one question and that question is can a person rent a ghost?

The reason that I am writing you this question is because I read an ad in a special newspaper some years ago that said a person can rent a ghost. And there was a number to call but I did not call the number.

I understand that you are the author of [book title].

Reginal T. Squirge

And what was your reply!? Did you tell them to just say "Beetlejuice" three times? Because I tried that and it didn't work.


@Reginal T. Squirge Unfortunately, I am not the author, so how would I know?

I've been really interested in that "special newspaper" ever since, though.


For those of us who live in city apartments with lots of background noise and overheard neighbor noise, if we were haunted by a very quiet ghost, would we even notice?



@potatotoe@twitter I feel like no. But I don't know, because my building is new and I can't really imagine ghosts being in it. If it was like, an old brownstone or something with dark hallways and creaky floorboards I feel like it could be a lot more ghostly.

Michaela D@twitter

I feel like a spoilsport when I point out to people telling ghost stories that our brains love to complete sensory information for us and are biased to "recognize" faces, voices, and movement.
This is why we see a face in the moon, why creaky wind can sound like someone crying upstairs, until you are halfway up the staircase and something goes "ah, so" in your brain, and it's now the sound of the wind, duh, so obvious. I have yet to hear a ghost story where someone saw a ghost in, like, daylight, at noon, completely awake and relaxed. "I met a ghost the other day, walking the dog. I moved to the left to let him by, but we did that awkward shuffle thing for like a minute, and then he smiled and floated off down the street."


@Michaela D@twitter That's also the explanation for EVP "results". When you listen to white noise, your brain tries to make sense of it, so you end up hearing words or phrases.


Although I've never had my own ghostly encounter, I have two good stories from friends who have:
The first friend worked during college as a tour guide in a historic house. When people asked if the house had ghosts, she said, the rule was to tell them no, of course not. (The house had belonged to a historic personage, and ghosts were thought to be undignified). One day, while she was with a group in the front parlor, which had a prominent fireplace with large, heavy andirons, she was asked about ghosts and gave the standard answer. After the last group of the day left, she and another guide were alone in the house in another room, getting ready to lock up and leave. They heard a loud thump from the parlor. They went in and found one of the huge andirons lying on its side, several feet from the fireplace. She said there were also several occasions when they saw a mysterious "mist" move from the hallway and into that room.

Another friend lived in a house that was built in the early 1800s. She and her husband had no children, but they had a small antique cradle that sat beside the fireplace in their living room. Over the course of several weeks, my friend kept finding the cradle moved into the center of the room. She assumed her husband was moving it when vacuuming or something. She'd move it back, only to find it out of place again a few days later. When she finally said something to her husband, he said he thought SHE had been moving it. They did some research into the history of the house, and discovered that a baby had died in a fire there many years before. Their theory was that their ghost was just trying to keep their (nonexistent, but still) baby safe.


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