My friend Jade Walker asked me not too long ago, “What makes a place officially haunted anyway? Is there even such a thing?”
Since this is a question I’m asked all the time, and since tonight is the big premiere of Syfy’s newest show, Fact or Faked, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to officially address the topic.
The answer is: yes and no.
LISTS OF HAUNTED PLACES
There are places that have haunted reputations. There are sites, such as the ones listed on my Find Haunted Places page, that list such sites. There’s also William Hauck’s always popular Haunted Places: The National Directory.
But is there an organization that makes an official determination about a place’s haunted-ness?
The Department of Commerce’s List of 20 Official Haunted Places. (Or 30. It’s sometimes also referred to as that.)
THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE’S LIST OF OFFICIAL HAUNTED PLACES: FACT OR FAKED?
William C. Uchtman, who sometimes guest blogs here as Thor2000, brought the Dept. of Commerce’s List of Official Haunted Places to my attention. He made reference to it in his guest blog about the Whaley House.
Since I had never heard of it before, I immediately started checking into it. I scoured the Department of Commerce‘s site for the list. I turned up zilch.
If I’ve learned anything from my idle, Javier Ortega at GhostTheory, it’s this: if it sounds official but you find no evidence, be skeptical. That’s advice that hasn’t failed me yet.
When I couldn’t find the Dept. of Commerce’s list, I asked Thor where he’d gotten the info. He told me from a news clipping. Luckily he’s uber diligent about documenting his haunted places too and was able to scan the clip to share with me. (Exhibit A below.)
FAKED: NO OFFICIALLY HAUNTED DESIGNATIONS
There is no such thing as the Department of Commerce’s List of Haunted Places. Or, as I found out via another article about “authenticated” ghosts, there is no government agency of any kind which has ever made such a declaration. Apparently to give a haunted place more weight, some authors take liberty about putting in an impressive sounding name of an organization that authenticates ghosts. Little is more impressive sounding than a governmental agency.
WHAT MAKES A PLACE HAUNTED?
You’re not going to believe me of all people is stating this but: there is no such thing as haunted places.
There are stories of haunted places. That’s about it.
There are those instances, like the Brown lady ghost pic taken in 1936 of a ghost floating down a staircase. No one has yet been able to debunk it. The verdict on whether it’s fact or faked might never be reached.
Then there are the paranormal investigators who claim to catch evidence in the form of orbs, EVPs, meter readings, and (mostly) questionable pictures and videos.
It’s interesting. It’s kind of weird. But no one has caught legitimate, irrefutable proof of ghosts –yet. True proof won’t come until an “actual” ghost (whatever that turns out to be) is “captured” (via film or some other as yet unidentified means) and the results can be consistently replicated.
Until that happens, all there is are stories. Pure and simple.
Which means people like the ones on “Fact or Faked,” as well as the rest of us who love paranormal mysteries, will have plenty more evidence to review.
And all that means is there’s a whole lot more haunt jaunting to allegedly haunted places in search of possible answers!