Can Science Explain the ‘Dude, Run!” Impulse?

MagnetMost ghost hunters are familiar with EMF. It has to do with magnetic forces.

That’s not news.

But… today, I saw a video that might explain our “must get out of here” reactions at some haunted sites.

The video showed a floating disk. It was cool.

I also saw a connection to paranormal research.

After reading about the floating disk, I dug deeper. I looked up the Meissner effect.

That’s where I saw a description of a familiar physical reaction, described as a pushing away effect.

Skipping past the confusing technical information, it means this:

Your body is creating a low-level magnetic field, and your body also responds to the magnetic energy of the earth.

Some people are more sensitive to that than others.

(More info for geeks: As I understand it, our bodies’ chemical reactions within the cells and the ionic current of the nervous system, generate a magnetic field.)

So, here’s what I’m pondering today:

What if something paranormal is generating an unseen physical field that has a Meissner effect?

What if our bodies are responding on a such a low level, we sense that we’re being pushed away, but we interpret it as something psychic?

Or, what if spirits (or whatever “ghosts” really are) are deliberately creating fields that repel us?

Maybe the Meissner concept has nothing to do with that “let’s get out of here” (or, “Dude, run!”) reaction.

But, when we feel that impulse at a haunted site, maybe something physical is going on… whether it’s deliberately created by unseen forces, or not.

If you have some thoughts about this, I hope you’ll share them in comments, below.

Here’s what I was looking at, that started this line of thinking:

Quantum Levitation

Additional, related news articles:

Ngrams as Paranormal Research Tools

This started when I watched the recent TED talk about Ngrams (or N-grams).

Tip: Unless you want to sit up half the night with “ah-HA!” ideas flashing like neon signs in your brain, do not watch new TED talks right before bedtime.

At some crazy-early hour this morning, I was awake and at my computer.  Let’s start with the first graph I created.

Ghosts 1800 - 2000

That shows me two surges of interest in ghosts, between 1800 and 2000.  (The terms “haunted house” and “ghost hunting” don’t really have an impact when I’m looking at this broad time frame.)

If you’re blinking and wondering why this is so cool, here’s the geek goodness:  Those spikes tell me when the word “ghost” was most popular in published books.  (It’ll also apply to periodicals.)

Since much of my research is based in historical records — looking for supporting information for (or the folklore roots of) “ghost stories” and reports of hauntings — this tells me where to look for the largest amount of information related to ghosts.  (If I’m going to be digging through dusty old books, magazines and newspapers, I want to be fairly sure I’ll find lots of information… not just a few blurbs here & there.)

So, let’s narrow it some more.  I searched using a narrower time frame, based on what looked like an 1895-ish spike in the graph, above.


That tells me that my time is best spent looking in records with copyrights between 1895 and 1900. If I am choosing among several resources — and especially if I have a limited amount of time at that particular library — those are the years to focus on.

Now let’s look at more modern resources.

In this search, I added the plural (“ghosts”) to the search, just to see what happened.

Ghost and ghost trends 2000s

“Ghost” out-performs “ghosts” throughout that time period.

That means each of most of the references are talking about a single ghost… not ghosts in general.  That is, they’re saying, “the ghost,” and describing a single entity rather than a generic reference to ghosts in general.

To me, that looks like more people are telling first-person stories, or recounting folklore, as opposed to talking about a group of ghosts at a haunted site.  (For example, the difference between when I describe a single ghostly encounter at The Myrtles Plantation or the Falstaff’s Experience, as opposed to talking about their ghosts, in general.)

Of course, I’d need to do more research into the Ngram trends to be sure of that.

The following was my final Ngram search before writing this article.

Ghost - ghosts - haunted -2000s-ngrams

In that search, I changed some of the words.

What I see that people use the word “haunted” about as often as they talk about “ghosts” (plural)… but nowhere nearly as often as they use the word “ghost.” I’m not sure what that indicates, but it’s interesting and a little odd.

(Note: The phrase “ghost hunters” is pretty much flat-line at the bottom of the graph.  Interesting.)

At the current time, Ngram searches only include books through 2008.  So, we can’t yet use Ngrams to study recent trends.  (I’d also argue that the emergence of Create Space, et al, will skew more recent numbers.)

So, what have I learned from this…?

Ngrams can be used to identify what time periods to focus on when I’m in dusty libraries (real or virtual), conducting historical research about paranormal topics.

Though that may interest only the most hard-core research geeks (like me), I think it’s a resource to keep in mind.

Let me know if you have additional ideas of using Ngram research, and if you find anything quirky and interesting in your own Ngram searches.

Here’s the Ngram search URL I used:

[If that URL isn’t working — and, as of November 2016, it seems broken — try this one: ]

Here’s the TED talk I referenced:

Here’s a more recent TED talk on a similar topic:

Homemade EVP Devices?

Image from the Instructables article.

I’m fascinated by things that are emerging from mad scientists’ labs… or at least the kitchen tables of kindred spirits (no pun intended) who think like I do.

Here are a few odd, recent discoveries:

I’m not sure what to think of the Super Beacon Auto-mapper Crystal Quantum Radio.

(I try never to dismiss anything that might help us figure out what anomalies really are.)

Well, the price tag on that tool is a little steep for my experiments.

Then there’s the Beta-Blocker Spirit Radio, at that same website.

As Alice said, “Curiouser and curiouser!”

I recommend cruising through that website.  If you’re an electronics geek, you may get some ideas for tools we can actually use in this field.

But wait… there’s more!

The photo at left shows a homegrown variation.  It might just work. It’s the Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio.

The complete directions are at Instructables:  Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio.

The following video… well, the guy sounds pretty snide at times. However, the tests he demonstrates are worth noting.  Be sure to listen to the sounds produced by the color yellow. What is the radio reacting to?


The “lost journals” of Nikola Tesla might be someone’s clever work of fiction.  Nevertheless, Tesla’s life may need closer investigation.

In those “lost journals,” it says:

Around 1918, Tesla started to receive what he considered to be voice transmissions, except the voices he was picking up were not human. Instead, Tesla wrote that, “The sounds I am listening to every night at first appear to be human voices conversing back and forth in a language I cannot understand. I find it difficult to imagine that I am actually hearing real voices from people not of this planet. There must be a more simple explanation that has so far eluded me.”

This is consistent with Tesla’s comments in Talking with the Planets, publishing in 1901:

“My first observations positively terrified me, as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night; but at that time the idea of these disturbances being intelligently controlled signals did not yet present itself to me. “

If you build this radio and test it, please let me know about your results.  I’m very interested in homemade devices, and in voice-related ghost hunting tools in general.

Haunted House? Free Checklist

Every day, people write to me about their haunted houses.  They want to know if they have ghosts or demons, or if they’re in danger.

Haunted houseI’m not at the house, so I can’t diagnose the situation, no matter how clear the descriptions, photos and EVPs.

The only person who can tell what’s really going on is someone right there. (If anyone at a forum or website tells you differently, stay away from them.)

But, anyone with a possibly haunted house can get help, right away.

Free: Is Your House Haunted? Checklist

Here’s the rest of the story…

Around 2009, I created a free book and checklist to help people find an answer to their haunted house questions… usually within a short amount of time.

That’s when I wrote my classic how-to guide, Is Your House Haunted? Over the next few years, I updated the book a few times. For a few years, my book was free at Jason’s Author Club.  Last time I checked (Sept 2017), that site was no longer online.

In addition, my 2009 version (and updates through 2014) is now outdated. I need to rewrite it, update it, and expand it.

Oh, the original book is still valid. It’s just not complete, and I no longer recommend some techniques for dealing with hauntings that are problems.

As soon as I hear that Jason’s Author Club is back — or whatever he replaces it with — I’ll post the link here.

Meanwhile, as far as I know, the old version of the book can be downloaded at any one of the following links. (If any link stops working, please use the Contact form to let me know.)

Is Your House Haunted?

Important reminder: You can share the checklist (as a PDF or a link) with others, as long as you don’t change anything on it, take credit for it, or use it in a commercial project.

[Thanks to Joanne W. for helping me restore this article.]

The Banshee – Ghost, Faerie or Something Else?

Banshees are unique in paranormal research.  The following is from an article I wrote in 1999.

When someone mentions a ghost, most of us think of cemeteries, haunted houses, and transparent figures draped in sheets.

Likewise, the word “faerie” is usually linked with cute little figures with wings, and merry mischief… like Tinkerbell.

However, mention a Banshee, and people squirm.

The Banshee, like a ghost, can represent death, but that is not her actual role in folklore or in our lives.

She can appear transparent, usually the size of a living person. Nevertheless, like her fae counterparts, she is associated with a more magical Otherworld.

She reminds us that the Otherworld is a vast place, inhabited by many kinds of beings, including faeries and ghosts.

The Banshee — in Irish, the Bean Sidhe (pronounced “bann-SHEE”) — means “spirit woman” or sometimes a spirit (perhaps a faerie) dressed in white. She is usually described as a single being, although there are many of them.

Your Irish Family’s Banshee

According to legend, one Banshee guards each Milesian Irish family. These are the families descended from the “Sons of Mil” who emigrated to Ireland long ago. Often, those families’ surnames start with O’ or Mac, and sometimes Fitz. Remember, many of those prefixes have been dropped, particularly by American families.

In other words, if your ancestors lived in Ireland for a couple of generations, your family — and perhaps your household — probably has its own Banshee.

There is a Banshee for each branch of these families, and the family Banshee can follow the descendants to America, Australia, or wherever the Irish family travels or emigrates.

The Banshee protects the family as best she can, perhaps as a forerunner of the “Guardian Angel” in Christian traditions. However, we are most aware of her before a tragedy that she cannot prevent.

Traditionally, the Banshee appears shortly before a death in “her” family.

The Banshee is almost always female, and appears filmy in a white, hooded gown. (The exception is in Donegal, Ireland, where she may wear a green robe, or in County Mayo where she usually wears black.)

However, if she is washing a shroud when you see her, she may merely signal a major life-changing event in your future. The way to determine this is to go home and burn a beeswax candle after seeing her. According to folklore, if it burns in the shape of a shroud, her appearance does foretell death.

The Banshee’s Wail

The night before the death, the Banshee wails piteously in frustration and rage. Her family will always hear her. Many others in the area will, too. For example, Sir Walter Scott referred to “the fatal banshi’s boding scream.”

One of the largest reports of this wailing was in 1938, when the Giants’ Grave in County Limerick, Ireland, was excavated and the bones were moved to a nearby castle.

The crying was heard throughout central Ireland. People said it sounded as if every Banshee in Ireland was keening.

That collective Banshee wail was unusual but not unique. When a group of Banshees are seen, they usually forecast the dramatic illness — and perhaps death — of a major religious or political figure.

In Irish mythological history, the Banshee tradition may link to the fierce Morrighan as the “Washer at the Ford,” a legend of Cuchulain. In that story, the Morrighan appeared as a young woman who prepared for an upcoming battle by washing the clothing — or perhaps the shrouds — of those who would fight and lose.

Does the Banshee Cause Death?

Despite her grim reputation, seeing or hearing a Banshee doesn’t cause the death. Traditionally, the Banshee is a very kind woman. As poet and historian W. B. Yeats commented, “You will with the banshee chat, and will find her good at heart.”

Perhaps her appearance and wailing before a death are efforts to protect her family from a death. or other tragedy that she foresees.

This is the clearest link to what are popularly called “ghosts.” In many stories, the spirit appears to warn the living about danger, illness, or death. Many gothic novels feature a ghost whose appearance forecasts death.

Likewise, in the Sherlock Holmes story, the Hound of the Baskervilles howled before a family death.

In real life, my maternal grandmother and her siblings were individually visited by the spectre of their mother, to warn them of her imminent death in a hospital many miles away, and to say good-bye.

This level of concern for the living is consistent with many ghosts, as well as the Banshee.

Whether the Banshee is a “ghost” or a “faerie” may never be resolved. However, the Banshee provides clear evidence that the lines separating ghosts, spirits, and faeries are vague at best.

For more information about the Banshee, one of the best studies is The Banshee: The Irish Death Messenger by Patricia Lysaght (paperback, © 1986, Roberts Rhinehart Publishers, Colorado).

Note: Most of this article originally appeared as “Banshee – Ghost, faerie or something else” – in October 1999 at Suite 101, when I was one of their consulting editors, writing about paranormal topics.

Photo credit:
Menlo Castle, photographed by dave gilligan, Limerick, Ireland (Eire)