I work at a small community-funded children’s theatre in Centerville, Ohio called Town Hall. Yesterday, one of my young actors brought in a printed copy of the above image of Town Hall’s ghost, which was taken by Ohio’s elite “paranormal investigators” from Paravizionz. Of course, I was curious and rushed over to the picture. If this was an actual photo of a spirit roaming the lobby of the theatre, it would truly be an unprecedented miracle rewarded with a Nobel prize.
And yet, I was sadly disappointed to see that the apparition in question was merely a human’s shadow cast onto the main exit of the theatre. I quickly abused my authority and power over the children to tell them the truth – not a ghost. My demystification of the phenomenon was met with a lukewarm response… that I was no longer cool.
I didn’t like being uncool! So, I went to work sleuthing the truth. Perhaps this ghost really was a dead phantom roaming toward the theatre’s pay phone. Maybe it was I who was blind to the greatest discovery of our generation.
So, I investigated further to find out that one of the theatre’s managers had been hanging out upstairs in the office while the Ghostbusters were waving their ectoplasm scanners around and setting their traps for Slimer investigators were investigating. According to her, the investigators left different cameras video cameras to take pictures randomly (maybe while they scored a free meal free sides at City Barbecue?).
Anyway, she went on to explain that the “ghost” is almost certainly the shadow of her 6’6″ tall husband waiting for her to get out of the bathroom. She’s positive of this fact because the shadow’s shape is consistent with the way her husband slouches and the cargo pocket shorts he wore that day. In addition, her husband remembers the flash going off. When she tried to explain this to Scooby Doo and the gang the investigators, they ignored her and placed another check in their arbitrary column of proof attempted to recreate the shot, failed to do so, and took a leap of logic to declare the image a ghost.
I’m told that Paravizionz’ theory is that the ghost is wearing knickerbockers, which are coincidentally about the same length as… cargo shorts. How anyone can decipher any article of clothing from a shadowy figure is beyond me, but I would wonder how a ghost could appear with clothes in the first place. What outfit would they choose? Their favorite? The one they died in? What about modern clothes? Surely the ghost is starting to get hip to the fashions after being dead for a century or more. Maybe the ghost just materialized cargo shorts to match the awesome guy hanging out with his wife during a paranormal investigation. Anything’s possible when science is not part of the equation.
Do I think that paranormal investigators are frauds trying to hoax the public? Not really. I think they are friendly fantasy-prone folk who tend to look for any proof of a haunting they can find, like shadows and random noises, and they will manipulate misinterpret that nonsense as “evidence” to validate their agenda. They get sucked into this lifestyle, they become invested in their own belief, and then they start to paint themselves into a world without logic. A cold spot is no longer a blast of air conditioning from the vent – it is now a ghost. An electromagnetic signal is no longer emitted by the ghost hunter’s own camcorder – it is now a ghost. The shadow of a guy waiting for his wife to get out of the bathroom – is now a ghost.
I’ve known a lot of people who have claimed to have seen ghosts, heard them banging on pipes, watched them float from room to room. It’s no surprise that these people are all imaginative dreamers. And before you think that I’m a cynical bastard, I was once one of those dreamers. I thought the pipes banging were ghosts, I thought a random glowing grave was a ghost, and I thought the spirits in the ouija board really told me that Jennifer liked me in 6th grade. Now, logic and common sense tells me that furnace pipes bang for all kinds of mechanical reasons, that a glowing grave is probably the reflection of a streetlamp, and that perhaps it was my buddy or my subconscious mind moving the planchette to spell “Jennifer” (not a matchmaking spirit).
I know it’s fun to believe in ghosts. I’m sure the X-Files Gang investigators love plugging in their expensive gizmos, but eventually somebody must be there to keep them in check. Somebody has got to be the one that says, “You can’t measure something that doesn’t exist.” Ghosts aren’t cold because ghosts aren’t real. Ghosts aren’t electromagnetic because ghosts aren’t real. You can’t take a picture of a ghost because ghosts aren’t real.
Do you think ghosts are real?
*updated with corrections from Paravisionz