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There has been some absolute drivel coming over the wire recently, with several publications devoting far more copy space than necessary (ie some) to report this utter non-story from Gloucester.

Predictably, the Daily Mail has got in on the action (proving once again that the Mail newsdesk is a hotbed of ambition and integrity) but the Metro, MSN and Yahoo have also stooped to dangerous new levels of desperation in order to fill column inches.

To be honest, I try not to even bother writing about Ghost Photography anymore, which might explain why posts on Looking For Ghosts are less frequent than they used to be. Perhaps I’ve developed an immunity to them over the years but, as the old saying goes, there are only so many photographs of blurry, indeterminate objects you can look at before you start to feel your intelligence being insulted. Embarrassingly, my limit was 647. I’ve reached saturation point.

As I no longer have the energy to appear enthusiastic about some dubious picture you can clearly see is the result of double-exposure/photoshopping/dust on the lens/shadows/delete as applicable, this will be the last Ghost Photograph post you see on this blog. It’s beneath me to write them and it’s certainly beneath you to read them. I can’t even be bothered to be cynical about it anymore as it’s become far too easy to be rewarding. Think of it like kicking a sleeping puppy in the face; enjoyable at first, but the feeling of victory soon starts to wear off.

Anyway, here is it:

Stupid, isn’t it? This “apparition” was “captured” by John Gore, 43, whilst he was taking photographs of his pet cats (why?!) at his home in Cheltenham, Gloucester.

Despite the fact that it’s the easily the least convincing Ghost Photograph in existence, Mr Gore and his girlfriend have given the “ghost” the nickname Johnny Junior and have conducted the following intensive scientific research to find out the spirit’s identity:

“I showed it to a lady over the road who has lived here for years. She said somebody who lived in the house before us had a child who died of cot death.”

Right, so that’s settled then. It’s good to see a thorough investigation take place.

For the last time, there is absolutely no logical reason for ghosts to show up on camera. It does not happen. Please, let’s put this to bed for once and for all.

For the love of ghosts, can somebody, ANYBODY, give me something more interesting to write about?

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We all know that Americans love to sue. It’s what they’re famous for. Doctors, employers, plastic surgeons, fast food outlets; no one is safe from the ceaseless deluge of lawsuits across the pond. When Americans are not suing other people, they’re being sued themselves. It’s a right old sue-a-thon over there. I’ll probably get sued just for writing that.

Crass generalisations aside, this story in USA Today takes insanity to a whole new level even by American standards.

A couple in New Jersey are suing their landlord because they believe the house they rent from him is haunted. If you’re looking for further proof that mankind is doomed, read that sentence over and over until the degree of idiocy we’re dealing with here is fully absorbed. Ready? Great.

The couple, both in their mid-thirties, claim that they have been driven out of their home after being terrified by paranormal lunacy such as “lights that switch on and off by themselves, clothes and towels mysteriously ejected from closets, unintelligible whispering, footsteps in the kitchen and a mysterious force tugging at bedsheets during the night.” As such, they want their $2,250 deposit back and are going through the courts to get it.

They even have irrefutable proof that the house is haunted to back up their claims. Well, not so much irrefutable proof as just some people saying things, but still.

Marianne Brigando, co-founder of NJ Paranormal Investigators of Old Bridge (or Garbage Peddlers Extraordinaire), has conducted an investigation (ie stood around in their house for a bit) and supports the couple’s view that their home is the “site of an active or intelligent haunting, one level above a residual haunting.” An intelligent haunting? That’s ironic, considering that the house seems to have been an intelligence-free zone of late.  

Also, isn’t it kind of in her best interests to convince people that ghosts are real? After all, if people didn’t believe in ghosts there would be technically no reason for people like her to even exist. I’m not saying she has an agenda or anything (even though she absolutely does), it just seems a little convenient that paranormal investigators will invariably find some “evidence” of ghosts in any situation where they are called upon. Shouldn’t someone be regulating this madness?

Pastor Terence Sullivan of the Element Church in North Brunswick, who, to be fair, is an expert in things that don’t exist, has counseled the family through the ordeal and even blessed the house, before reaching the conclusion that “demonic possession” is at work. Right, that settles it then. Case closed. Give them their money back, pronto.

Well, not so fast. In response to the lawsuit, USA Today reports that landlord Dr. Richard Lopez has filed a countersuit claiming that the couple is using “the specter of paranormal activity as a cover for personal financial troubles. In short, he claims they can’t afford the place and want their money back.” Seems plausible enough to me.

His attorney also says that no one else has ever claimed before that the house is haunted.

So who to believe? Some chancers who have seen too many horror films for their poor brains to process, fed a load of horseshit by crackpot “experts” of questionable merit, or an exasperated landlord who is just trying to earn an honest buck? Clue: it’s the landlord. Definitely believe the landlord.

Hilariously, some people commenting on the message board beneath the story have had the temerity to disagree with me and seem to support the couple. Some have even mumbled something about “Full Disclosure laws”  and how the landlord was obligated to disclose that the house haunted before renting it to the couple. Yes, that makes a lot of sense:

“So this is the second bedroom…”

“Okay…”

“And this is the bathroom. As you can see, it’s a good size.”

“Mmm.”

“Oh, and the whole place is swarming with malevolent demons who will mercilessly tear your life asunder.”

“Sounds perfect. Where do I sign?”

Anyway, why should he have to declare something that he doesn’t even believe in? He might as well warn them that the Tooth Fairy lives in the loft and that they share the communal garden with a family of leprechauns. It’s total fantasy.

Reading the comments was, in fact, more alarming than the premise of the story itself, full of worthy “you don’t know them so please don’t judge them” types with their silly “unexplained things do happen, ghosts could exist” views.

Look, let’s be absolutely clear on this: there is nothing wrong with judging people who have already proven beyond all doubt that they are total morons. It’s what separates us from primates. If we all just went around giving people the benefit of the doubt and accepting their deranged theories about ghosts and aliens and God knows what else, then who knows where we would be? People like this couple would probably rule the world, at which point we’d be better off praying for Armageddon so that the human race can start all over again.

The story even ends on a delightfully tenuous link to the The Amityville Horror, revealing with triumph that the film was filmed in the same town as the house in question. Coincidence?

Yes. A thousand times yes.

If running this blog has taught us anything, it’s that there is a certain stigma attached to being a paranormal enthusiast. As a topic most people take about as seriously as Morris Dancing, telling people you have even a fleeting interest in ghosts immediately invokes looks of pity or contempt. Either way, you’ll probably find yourself invited to far fewer parties. With your social status diminished to a low you never imagined possible, you might as well have told your friends you were a child molester.

One of the many problems we imagine paranormal enthusiasts often encounter is the lack of evidence to support their beliefs. “If ghosts exist,” many will scoff, “show me the evidence.” And then when you do try to show them some form of evidence, they’ll simply refute it with reasoning and logic. And, most likely, punch you in the face.

Frankly, when stories like this surface, it’s difficult to feel much sympathy.

This report from the expertly written and definitely not racist Daily Mail claims that a young family from Coventry (I know, but bear with us) have “fled their house in terror” after capturing poltergeist activity on video. Seriously, the Daily Mail again? We know it’s always looking for new and inventive ways to scare the life out of people, but it’s fast becoming the paranormal rag of choice. Who’s the Editor over there these days; Derek Acorah?

The Mannings, pictured here looking terrified.

Anyway, the story drones on about phantom footsteps, doors slamming, lights flickering – the usual generic ghostly crap. Read it here if you’re interested; it’s far too dull to talk about at any length. Except for the bit about a dog flinging itself down the stairs. That was fairly amusing.

One thing you must do, however, is watch the accompanying video. This is the “evidence” the paranormal world has apparently been crying out for, and it takes the form of shaky video footage of a chair being pulled across a room on a piece of string.

“It’s like living in a scary movie,” wails Lisa Manning, mother of the family, although as a resident of Coventry this is presumably a sentence she’s uttered many times before.

Perhaps that’s the problem: knowing that this event took place in Coventry reduces the story’s credibility by approximately 98%. The other 2% is reduced by the canine suicide.

I think we can all agree that if, one day, irrefutable proof of ghosts does surface and there is to be a world-wide media storm,  it isn’t going to happen in the Midlands.

Looking For Ghosts

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