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“Do ghosts smell?” and 25 Other Questions that Haunt My Brain

As I explained when I wrote about  why it is I’m drawn to the paranormal like I am, I’m truly more of a skeptic than a believer. Our recent jaunt to Turkey has challenged a lot of my beliefs about the paranormal even more.

Their history is as vast, storied, and as full of bloody conflicts as any of the countries with the best paranormal tourism. Yet, just try to find a ghost story in Turkey. They’re super hard to dig up. And much of that is because of what the Turkish believe about ghosts. Which is that they don’t exactly believe in them. Yet, they don’t exactly not believe in them either.

My experiences over there discussing paranormal tourism with those who worked in their tourist industry got me thinking along lines I hadn’t thought of before. It added to the list of questions I already have.

Instead of letting them haunt my brain any longer, I figured I’d list them.

DISCLAIMER: Not responsible if, after reading them, these questions begin haunting your brain too.

  1. What makes a ghost a ghost? Beyond the fact that ghosts are thought to be the spectral remains of people who once lived. Is it something in a person’s DNA that makes them more (or less) likely to become a spirit and remain behind? (This is something I’ve written about before. See: Is There a Law for Becoming a Ghost?)
  2. Why do some people’s spirits supposedly stay behind after death when others don’t? I’m not just talking about something bad happened, like they were murdered or had unfinished business. Plenty of people have been murdered and are never heard from again. I’m sure many more haven’t accomplished all they would’ve hoped in their lifetime. Yet, not everyone comes back. Take battlefield ghosts, for instance. Why do some soldiers manifest and others don’t?
  3. Does it matter if you believe in ghosts when you die? Does that influence whether or not you’ll return as a ghost? Or is it something having to go with #1 that “creates” ghosts?
  4. Does a belief in ghosts create some sort of energy that makes it possible for ghosts to happen? For instance, if enough people believe in ghosts, does that provide fuel for ghosts to feed on to even been “born” in the first place and then to stay “alive”?
  5. Why do some ghosts smell and others don’t? By smell, I mean generate odors, like the smell of perfume or cigars. Why wouldn’t all ghosts have a scent of some kind when they manifest? (Aside from a personal smell associated with them when they were alive.) Or do they? Can animals, like perhaps dogs, sense them via smell?
  6. Why are more investigations not being done during the day yet? This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I know people say they don’t want to contaminate the scene, can’t get off work, can’t get access to places until after hours, etc. However, non-paranormal researchers and hunters both make an effort to experience phenomenon when it happens. You wouldn’t find a bird watcher out at night trying to spot a species who only flies during the day. Nor would you see a hunter stalking their prey at night when whatever they’re hunting is not nocturnal. There are many ghost sightings that happen in broad daylight. No one is ever going to get to the truth thinking investigations should only take place at night.
  7. Why try to fix this investigation style when it’s not broken? My #6 question reminded me of a comment someone named Jeff left on another post I once wrote complaining about investigation procedures. His argument was if this investigation style is not broken, why fix it? Especially for TV shows. (He was mainly referring to my suggestion that I’d be interested in a show that featured a location as the star rather than the investigators.) He said an investigation of the same place over and over would be dull. Perhaps for ghost hunters who are all about ratings. But for honest people pursuing actual answers, perhaps not. Because tell me: who’s find something new and startling lately?  As Einstein so succinctly put it, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I’d argue there’s a lot of “insanity” going on the in the paranormal community right now thanks to TV shows that are more about entertainment and less about finding anything real. We need to adapt our thinking every now and then to try and find new things.
  8. Why do people “hunt” ghosts? I was talking with Steve from Ghost Eyes once who brought up a pet peeve of his: the term “ghost hunter.” As Steve so brilliantly put it, “People don’t hunt people, so why would they hunt ghosts?” Good point.
  9. Are there different “species” of ghosts? In the same conversation with Steve that I referenced in #8, he brought up that he subscribes to the notion presented by Hans Holzer that there are different definitions of entities: ghosts, spirits, and “stay behinds.” (Basically, residual, otherworldly beings, and intelligent souls trapped on Earth after death.) I think that’s too limited. Look how many different species exist on earth. Why wouldn’t it be the same for the paranormal and ghosts (to use a broad term)? Shadow people may be a different species than what we now think of in general terms as ghosts. Maybe they’d come out of the shadows if we didn’t treat them as spooky ghosts? I like to think of it like this: cats react to different stimuli than dogs do versus bunnies, etc. (When you try to interact with them.) Just try to get a cat to do anything by dangling a carrot in front of it. (Except for maybe at at it.) See where I’m going with that? What motivates a ghost versus a shadow person? Why are we not trying to find out things like that?
  10. Are ghosts nocturnal? This goes along with #7 and #9 above. Some “species” may be. If we can identify various species, we’ll be better able to track them and figure out what makes them active and when.
  11. Does a country’s age have anything to do with its ghosts? I’ve also asked this question before, but it’s worth including on this list. The U.S.’s history is rather short compared to someplace like Turkey, yet you can find all sorts of paranormal over here. It really makes me wonder if attitudes towards ghosts help them “live.”
  12. What if EVPs that say “Get out” are really warnings? As I’ve also pondered before, I’m not convinced all are just ghosts mad about being disturbed and want to be left alone. I think some may be warning of something about the environment that can trap a person’s spirit, or perhaps something in the environment that can be harmful to a person’s afterlife.
  13. Why aren’t there more reports of dinosaur ghosts? My husband always asks me this. He can’t understand why just humans, and maybe some cats and dogs here and there are reported. Why not dinosaurs. I wonder if this is what Nessie might be.
  14. When plants die, can they become ghosts? Why not? They’re living and breathing things too. And can other plants sense them? (I bet I have a few ghost plants that serve as an ominous warning for newbies introduced to my garden.)
  15. How does all the “waves” bouncing through the air these days impact our perception of the paranormal as well as possibly affect anything paranormal? One thing you’ll often hear paranormal investigators talk about is the effects of EMFs on people’s perceptions. I’d argue that with the amount of EMFs most people are exposed to, it could deliver false positive ghost sighting results even more than we realize. (I’m not talking about super high EMF results either. I’m talking exposure to general level ones possibly influencing.) Then again, EMFs could also provide juice for manifestations too.
  16. Why do people insist on calling places haunted when there’s no proof? Writing for Haunt Jaunts has made me more leery than ever of using the word “haunted” to describe any location with high levels of paranormal activity. Actually, Lewis Powell IV summed up exactly why this bothers me so greatly when he wrote about why the term “most haunted” bothers him in his post on the Gonzalez-Avarez House. Until anybody has a ghost in captivity or can make one manifest on purpose, “haunted” doesn’t really exist. There’s only evidence of strange activities that can’t be explained.
  17. When a historic place is brought back to its period life by reenactors or shows like Downton Abbey (link to post) what do the ghosts think? Does it make them nostalgic for their past lives or frustrated when details aren’t gotten quite right?
  18. How can anything be certified haunted? It dismays me that people buy into such a claim. A very nice person  left a comment on HJ’s facebook page about their location, making sure to describe it thusly: “Yes, it is certified haunted by “” International Society on Paranormal Research”. Hope they didn’t pay for that.
  19. When’s the last time you heard of a ghost described wearing a sheet or rattling chains? A hundred years ago this was the common phenomenon thought to accompany paranormal activity. Will how we describe activity  now vary greatly a hundred years from now?
  20. What color are ghosts? Some say glowing white, others describe them as glowing green, some describe them looking like regular flesh and blood people. Maybe different species come in different colors?
  21. How can anyone who believes in the New Testament denounce the paranormal? Catholics are usually pretty good about believing in spirits and not being too freaked out by it or thinking it’s “bad,” but some other Christian-based religions? Whoa. Watch out. I’m going to hell for my haunt jaunting ways. When they come at me, I always like to ask them if they believe in Jesus. Of course they say yes. I like to remind them that their Savior and the basis for their beliefs is essentially a ghost. When they get all miffed about that, I also like to throw in Jesus might also be a zombie or an alien but at the end of the day he’s supernatural and they don’t see anything wrong with worshiping that so…what’s their point in harassing me and calling me wrong?
  22. Why would no video cameras be allowed in an allegedly haunted location? You’ll often run into a “no cameras allowed” policy inside historic old buildings. The flash and such can lead to deteriorating the lifespan of the paint, wallpaper, furnishings, etc., but inside a cave? Makes me super suspicious. (Incidentally, this is the Bell Witch Cave’s policy and is among the reasons I don’t like that as a site for paranormal tourism. It’s shady.)
  23. Has anyone ever given a ghost tour and made shit up? Jessica Penot once wrote about a ghost tour experience she was trying to have, but couldn’t make happen. She arrived at the designated meeting place, but no guide ever showed. I joked if she’d been unscrupulous and others had shown up, she could’ve taken their money and led them on a tour and improvised stories. Sometimes when I’m on ghost tours I wonder about that. How much of the material is really based on research like they say? (I’m sure it is, but if tours have gone to the lengths to fake ghost sightings it makes me think some of have surely had no qualms about concocting stories too.)
  24. How do disasters affect ghosts? Linda Moffitt got me thinking about this based on her experience with being evacuated from her home in Bastrop, Texas and watching her city burn. She wondered how spirits behave in such situations. It made me wonder if fires “cleanse” active areas? Although, it can also create activity if people are killed during them so…how does fire play a part? Sucks up energy ghosts can use to manifest, thereby killing them? Cleanses the area? Fuels activity?
  25. What’s the ratio of B.S. to truth when it comes to accounts of paranormal activity? A friend on StumbleUpon asked me how many people do I think have had experiences but keep quiet about them. We both thought it was probably higher than people who don’t really have an experience but say they have. (I don’t think many people actually outright lie. I know some do, but I like to believe for the most part people are just mistaken about what they’ve seen, or are so eager to have a story they don’t take the time to examine all the facts.)

What kind of questions haunt your brain?

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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3 thoughts on ““Do ghosts smell?” and 25 Other Questions that Haunt My Brain

  1. As far as point/question #21 goes, the Catholics accept the existence of only one benevolent spirit. Everything else is the demonic at work. They may know a great deal about exorcisms and the demonic, but they stop short of accepting that deceased regular folks may be hanging around. In their teachings, that’s a sign that a demon has taken on the appearance of a familiar to worm their way into getting closer to you.

  2. Very interesting. I did not know that. I just know most Catholics seem more accepting of the possibility of ghosts than some other religions. Although some also see them as “bad” more often too. I think you just explained why that is and helped me understand that. Thank you!

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