Monthly Archives: May 2013
Frightening Trend: Ghost Tourism Booms
|Frightening Trend: Ghost Tourism Booms
Odds are your city or town is haunted.
Just about every city has some supposedly haunted mansion, cemetery or lunatic asylum (“if you listen carefully to thewind on moonless nights, you can hear the screams of the insane…”). Most cities, in fact, have at least one company offering tours of their spookiest places.
Ghost tourism has boomed over the past decade, propelled by the public’s interest in the mysterious and supernatural. There are hundreds of ghost tours offered across the country, from Hollywood (“Come see Haunted Hollywood and ghosts of the stars!”) to New England (“Visit Boston’s infamous haunted locales!”).
Some places have more historical lore to draw upon than others. Salem, Massachusetts, for example, exploits its infamous witch trials of the 1690s, while tourists, goths, wannabe vampires, and Anne Rice fans flock to New Orleans, Louisiana, with its reputation for mysticism and voodoo.
Many tours tout their guides as “Certified Ghost Hunters” or “Certified Paranormal Investigators,” though that’s like claiming to be a “Certified Kitten Petter.” For better or worse (usually worse), anyone can call himself or herself a ghost hunter; there is no accrediting institution, and “certifications” can be bought from online diploma mills for about $50.
Ghost tours can be a very lucrative business: It is a service with little overhead and start-up costs. Anyone can offer a ghost tour, and tickets often cost $10 to $30 or more per person. With a large group, a good storyteller can make $500 in one evening for guiding a walking tour and telling ghost stories. Everyone likes a good ghost story, and the tours can be fun. The best ones tell their audiences about fascinating local history, throwing in some spooky lore as well.
Tours are often run by self-proclaimed ghost hunters, but no one should confuse telling folklore with doing actual investigation. Ghost tours are one way in which the public learns about “real” ghost hunting, with many companies giving a “Ghost Hunting 101″ course or talk along the way.
Unfortunately, much of what is taught (such as that spirit voices can be captured on audiotape, or that ghosts can be detected using electromagnetic fields) is unproven theory without any scientific basis. Most guides invite participants to take plenty of photos on the tour, and see if any “ghost orbs” (white spots) appear in the images.
If enough people take enough photos, usually a few will show something that looks odd, fooling the photographer into thinking a ghost has been photographed. What the tours often don’t tell the customers is that these “orbs” could be any number of perfectly ordinary things such as insects, dust, or moisture on the camera lens.
So this Halloween, if there’s a chill in the air and you want a chill in your spine, check out the local legends and lore—for entertainment only!
Why We Love to be Scared
|Photo taken by Dave Dyet. There are no usage restrictions for this photo
For all of their stomach-turning gore, horror films and haunted houses attract people in droves. This ability of the human brain to turn fear on its head could be a key to treating phobias and anxiety disorders, according to scientists.
When people get scared, their bodies automatically triggers the “fight or flight” response—their heart rates increase, they breathe faster, their muscles tense, and their attention focuses for quick and effective responses to threats.
“It’s nature’s way of protecting us,” said clinical psychologist David Rudd at Texas Tech University.
If the brain knows there is no risk of really being harmed, it experiences this adrenaline rush as enjoyable, Rudd explained. The key to enjoying such thrills lies in knowing how to properly gauge the risk of harm.
“Young children may overestimate the risk of harm and experience true ‘fear.’ When that happens you see the child cling to a parent and cry, convinced there’s a very real chance of harm,” Rudd told LiveScience. On the other hand, “adults may well scream but quickly follow it with a laugh since they readily recognize there’s no chance for real harm.”
On a higher level
This phenomenon also explains why people can enjoy skydiving, bungee jumping and extreme sports.
“In these cases, those engaging in high-risk activities will tell you that the risk is lowered by their training and precautions,” enabling them to enjoy the experience, Rudd said. The key structure in the brain responsible for this effect is likely the amygdala, he added, which is key to forming and storing memories linked with emotions.
The ability to enjoy fear makes evolutionary sense, said environmental psychologist Frank McAndrew at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.
“We’re motivated to seek out this kind of stimulation to explore new possibilities, to find new sources of food, better places to live and good allies,” McAndrew said. “People enjoy deviations from the norm—a change of pace, within limits.”
Key to therapy
If exposed repeatedly to a fearsome stimulus, the brain will get used to it and no longer experience it as frightening. This is a key behind cognitive therapies for anxiety dysfunctions such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder, where a person’s system overreacts to perceive something as threatening when it is not, Rudd said. When such cognitive therapies are combined with medicines, their success rate at improving symptoms “is 80 percent,” he added.
Meanwhile, McAndrew is exploring what makes houses feel haunted in the first place.
“We’re focusing on what architectural features make houses appear haunted or not,” he said. “We’re finding they tend to be laid out in a confusing way, so that you’re not sure where you are in the house. They’re high in ‘mystery’—you can’t see very far in the house. And there are all kinds of sounds and smells not usually found in a house that can make it seem creepy.”
5 Most Haunted Places In America
Stories of Ghosts, Spirits and Haunted Houses for Halloween
By Joe Oesterle October 29, 2009
5. The LaLaurie House, New Orleans, Louisiana
4. The Former Home of Redd Foxx – Las Vegas, Nevada
3. The Comedy Store – Hollywood, Ca.
2. The White House – Washington D.C
1. The Whaley House – San Diego, California
- YMCA in Illinois gets money from ghost hunters (doubtfulnews.com)
- An assortment of shows this week for TV ghost hunters’ fans (Video) (examiner.com)
- Ghost guides return to haunt us (ttrweekly.com)
- LIVE Ghost Hunt, Haunted Amusement Park (livescifi.tv)
- Who ya’ gonna call? In Tacoma, this ghost buster (q13fox.com)
- So you want to be a Ghost Hunter? (kevinderosen.wordpress.com)
- Ghost Hunters Make Use Of CCTV Cameras To Catch Spooks (scadaprotection.wordpress.com)
- Ghost Adventures (scumbagscarlett.wordpress.com)
- Castle owner fed up with ‘ghost hunters’ (stuff.co.nz)
- Ghost Adventures (6mosthaunted.wordpress.com)
A first time experience!
I’m convinced my place is haunted. No real big deal there and I don’t mean to sound all cavalier and cool about it but no big deal there. Most places where I have taken up residence for more than a few months comes around to being haunted. Usually it is just bump in the night kind of stuff, but I’m sure it is only a matter of time until I finally catch one of the little buggers in the other room nibbling on a doughnut.
Oh, how badly I miss my cat. Klick Klack Kitty Cat feared nothing, except lightning and loud noises. In fact, Klick Klack would get ornery an hour before a storm, giving that glaring “if you don’t do something I am not going to be happy” look I knew only too well. But it took only one nearby lightning strike and an explosion of thunder and…
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(Encounter # 1) I posted about a ghost that has been haunting the house a while back. Let me go over and refresh a couple of things about this ghost. At first it was haunting outside the house. When we first moved in we didn’t have any furniture and we only had one neighbor on the whole block. We only had an air mattress to sleep on. My husband didn’t feel comfortable sleeping with all the lights off since it was our first day sleeping in the house. I on the other hand did not mind. So I left the lights on for him. Around 3am we started to hear footsteps and leaves crunch right outside our window. At first we thought it was our neighbors so I texted her and she said it wasn’t them. I fell back asleep and ten minutes later we heard it again. I woke…
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Sadly, I must admit that I, too, am Addicted to Ghost Adventures…
So i’m addicted to a show called ‘Ghost Adventures’ which is an American ghost hunting program which is just so fascinating to me for some reason. Basically, all that happens is; Zak Bagans (Above) travels to paranormal locations and gets locked down from dusk until dawn. He is joined by his fellow investigators Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin, who both make the show so worth while. Zak Bagans is the macho man of the group, he’s a muscly, confident man who wears tight tops and saves dogs – what more can you want? Nick is great, however he’s my least favorite but he does have some good qualities. Aaron is my second favorite, being the immense joker of the group. He seems to be the most down to earth member of the Ghost Adventures Crew being more active on twitter and instagram with his fans than Zak or Nick…
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New Renaissance is a wonderful New Age bookstore and gift shop in NW Portland. You can find all kinds of great things there – from sage bundles for smudging to Christian literature to Tarot decks to clothing. It’s one of our favorite places to go when we are on that side of town. It also happens to be about a block away from a most excellent sushi restaurant.
We’ve visited several times now and every time I walk into the place I am sure of one thing – New Renaissance is haunted.
Now one would think that a place like this – which gets a lot of traffic from mediums, tarot readers, witches and other folk who are more aware of the spiritual realm than most – would have some kind of reputation by now. But I haven’t found any mention of spirits residing there. Yet every time we…
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Some neat musings about cemetaries in Salem!