Titanic Exhibits… Haunted or Not?

underwater diverSometimes, I’m more convinced by retracted “ghost stories” than those that get lots of publicity.

Here’s an example:

I was searching for fresh news reports about ghosts.  I use special software to filter out the stories that won’t interest me.  Then, I click on those that look interesting.

The following is a screenshot of one story that caught my interest.

HauntedTitanicExhibit

However, when I clicked to read the article… it had already been removed from the WOOD-TV website.

That’s not entirely weird.  After all, it looks like the story was from 2012.

On the other hand, I’m still not sure why it showed up on my feed of recent news stories. (Cue the Twilight Zone music…?)

Generally, when I see something that looks like a publicity stunt — a news reporter “locked in,” Ghost Adventures’ style — I sigh in exasperation.  Really, guys, that’s become a cliche.  Zak and his friends can do “locked in” investigations far better than amateurs.

What made this story different is that it’s the Titanic. 

Of course the artifacts from it could have eerie energy.  I’d be more surprised if this kind of exhibit wasn’t haunted.

Though this news story is old, my point is still current:

If you’re looking for creepy, haunted places to investigate, sometimes it’s better to look for reports that vanish almost as completely as the ghosts do.

Stories (and commercial sites) that shout “Look at me! Look at me!” are less likely to be the real deal.

It doesn’t take the Haunted Collector to spot a show or exhibit that could be truly haunted, and worth visiting.  In fact, if you can get to a display like this one, I recommend (discreetly) carrying an EVP recorder in your pocket, to pick up any odd messages you might hear while in the gallery or exhibit.

If you’re intrigued by the idea of a haunted Titanic exhibit, you’ll have lots of choices.  Check the Titanic Exhibitions list to find a site near you. (Personally, the Luxor would be my first choice.  That place is pretty creepy to begin with, with its massive Egyptian statues.)

Are Orbs ‘Paranormal’?

cameraNow and then, the word “paranormal” seems to take on a life of its own.  In a recent discussion about orbs, a couple of people insisted that orbs aren’t paranormal.

Well, I can’t argue with a skeptical critic.  He or she has already made up his or her mind.  The skeptical critic is usually a bottomless well of explanations, no matter how extreme or preposterous.  (But, to be fair: Anyone absolutely, positively determined to interpret everything as ghostly… he or she can be equally defensive.)

I think skeptical critics feel a little more secure in their uncertainties, if they think they have a nice, normal reason for everything.  (Since they simply want to argue with people like me, I’m not sure why they’re involved in ghost hunting.)

However, I’m not convinced that yesterday’s critics meant what they said.  I think they meant that orbs aren’t ghosts.

THE DEFINITION OF PARANORMAL

“Paranormal” does not mean “ghostly.”

Para-, the prefix, comes from the Greek.  It means beside (not part of) or beyond.  So, “paranormal” is something beyond what’s normal.

The Free Dictionary defines paranormal as, “Beyond the range of normal experience or scientific explanation.”

Dictionary.com says it’s “of or pertaining to the claimed occurrence of an event or perception without scientific explanation.”

Merriam-Webster says paranormal means, “not scientifically explainable.”

Most definitions refer to supernatural phenomena as an example, but the basic definition comes down to:

  • Para = Beyond or outside.
  • Normal = Standard, not deviating from the norm, or average.
NOLA - Pirates Alley, on a foggy, rainy night
New Orleans on a foggy night, after rain, with lots of lights & reflections. No orbs.

So, avoid using “paranormal” when you mean “ghostly.”

A photo of an orb can be paranormal. So can a photo of a flower, a cat, or your shoe.  It all depends on what’s normal, and what can’t be explained within the range of normal.

NORMAL AND PARANORMAL ORBS

An orb I can identify as pollen artifact is normal.  

An orb that I can’t reproduce by normal means (setting up the lighting, dust, moisture, etc., in a certain way) is paranormal.

  • It’s not necessarily a ghost.
  • It’s not necessarily energy.
  • It’s not necessarily an angel, your great-granny, or the Tooth Fairy.

It’s just an orb that — at the present time — can’t be explained, and can’t be reproduced using similar photographic staging.

I may apply other descriptions to that orb, but they relate to the experience at the time the photo was taken. I’m looking for other phenomena, what investigators were sensing at the time, EVP, EMF spikes, sensory phenomena, and so on.

The orb photo itself… it doesn’t prove anything.  All by itself, it’s supporting evidence, at best.

Here’s my story:

For years, I was guilty of insisting that most orbs are dust, pollen, moisture, reflections, insects, and so on.  And, fed up with saying that to people who just wouldn’t believe me, I decided to prove it.

I planned to create some great, convincing-looking, fake orb photos.  Frankly, I didn’t think it would be very difficult.

I set up my cameras — multiple film and digital cameras — and used things like:

  • Ragweed (pollen).
  • My Swiffer (dust).
  • Flour (denser dust).
  • Very fine, powdery sand and dirt from unpaved roads (more dust).
  • Spray bottles (moisture).
  • Mirrors, shiny glass, and chandeliers (reflections).
  • Stop signs, traffic cones, other street signs (reflections).

I trekked to swampy areas with wall-to-wall mosquitoes.  I walked down dirt roads at night, and waited for a car or truck to drive by, stirring up the dust.

I visited damp locations on humid and foggy nights.  I even went to New Orleans shortly after Katrina, when everything was pretty soggy.

NOLA-reflect-cone
Flash photo of shiny glass, lights and a traffic cone in New Orleans’ French Quarter… on a damp evening. No orbs.

Sure, I got photos that included orbs. The problem was, they didn’t look like the orbs I photograph at haunted locations.  They weren’t convincing orbs.

A beginner might be fooled by them… but not me.  Not after all these years in ghost hunting, after tens of thousands of photos.

But, after spending years insisting (with no proof) that most orbs were the product of the environment, I wasn’t going to eat crow quite yet.

In fact, I spent six years trying to stage photos that would produce orbs identical to the orbs photographed at haunted and spiritual sites.

The one and only thing that produced convincing orbs — orbs that looked like “ghost orbs” — was breathing (or talking with a lot of exhaling) while taking the photos.  And even then, I couldn’t get real-looking orbs in more than half my photos.  Most of them still looked fake.

Toulouse Street, New Orleans.
A street corner in New Orleans at night. Bright lights. No orbs.

Some researchers claim that all orbs — even those with logical explanations that you can see — are evidence of spirits.

I’m not one of those researchers.  Sure, maybe a ghost floated that particular fleck of pollen in front of my camera exactly when I was taking the picture. Maybe he did that just to get my attention.  I can accept that as a possibility.

However, I’m not going to state, categorically, that any orb represents a ghost.

It’s just something paranormal… and it seems to happen most often at “haunted” sites.  That’s all I can state with confidence.

That and the fact that believable orbs are amazingly difficult to fake.

Having been a skeptical critic of “ghost orbs” for many years, I’m regretting that — as the author of some of the earliest ghost hunting articles online — I led people to believe that most orbs can be explained by dust, pollen, reflections, and so on.

Sure, I can still spot an orb that doesn’t look right.  I know that, either inside the frame of the photo or just outside it, there’s a likely explanation.  If the photographer revisits the site, he or she will usually see what caused the lens flare or refraction.

But, there’s a different quality to the orbs we usually can’t explain.  And, to replicate those… well, except for breathing while taking a flash photo — and even that isn’t a “sure thing” — I can’t seem to create convincing-looking orbs with staging.

Fake-looking orbs are easy.  Real-looking ones… no.

But, my point in this article isn’t just about orbs.  It’s about how people misuse the word “paranormal.”

If you mean “ghostly,” say so. 

If you just mean something that — at this time — can’t be explained by anything normal in that setting, at that time… that’s paranormal.

There is a difference, and it’s an important one when we’re discussing research techniques and results.

Return to the Spalding Inn (2013)

Return to the Spalding Inn - ghosts 2013In April 2013, I visited the Spalding Inn for a ghost hunting event hosted by Jason Hawes.

It had been about two years since I’d last investigated the hotel.

Frankly, my earliest overnight visit to the hotel – in 2008, before the hotel opened – was alarming. Whatever I encountered there, it wasn’t just ghosts.

I’m in my comfort zone with ghostly phenomena. When weird things happen that I don’t understand, I get anxious.

So, I generally visited Jason & Grant and their families during the daytime. I liked sitting on the hotel porch, laughing and chatting about our adventures.

Then, in 2013, knowing that my husband and I were moving soon, I went back to the Spalding Inn to participate in one of Jason’s ghost hunting events.

Things had changed… really changed.

The ghostly energy confirmed what I’d discovered with my NH ley line map, shown later in this article.

But before I explain the ley line map, here’s what happened during my 2013 investigation.

My April 2013 report

The upper floor of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house seemed just as strange, but more had focused energy.

That is, many of us (including me) didn’t encounter the usual off-the-wall weird energy there.

It was… well, the word I’d use is “tidier.”

It was as if whatever’s there had a purpose for being there. 

If you weren’t useful to the ghost, and whatever his or her goal was, the ghost wasn’t around.

However, some investigators experienced profound encounters and spiritual confirmations.

Those seemed to be very quirky – and somewhat conflicted – experiences.

The “hottest” areas were in and near rooms 15 and 17.

Also, the spirits (ghosts, energy, whatever) at the main level (ground floor) of the Spalding Inn’s carriage house were far more responsive to the various electronic devices in use.

Kris was eager to talk about the ghosts

During that 2013 visit, Jason Hawes’ wife, Kris, shared many stories.  They were fascinating, because she was describing encounters that complemented mine.

Generally, Kris seemed more eager to talk about the hotel’s ghosts than Jason was.

But, I appreciated Jason’s decision to say less. As a high-profile ghost hunter, he needed to remain as objective as possible. Or perhaps he didn’t want to prompt visitors, but let them make their own ghostly discoveries.

What happened in 2008

I’d visited the hotel late in 2008. That was immediately after the Ghost Hunters International team investigated, but before the hotel was officially opened.

At the time, I preferred to keep a low profile. Another guest at the hotel was eager to claim the spotlight, and I was happy to let him do so.

In general, I’m fairly shy, especially in a predominantly male setting.

Also, unless asked for details, I usually keep many of my observations to myself. I like to think about them for a few days.

That gives me time to evaluate my experiences, away from the turbulence of the hauntings.

So, I didn’t talk much about what I’d seen and felt at the hotel. It included:

  • An apparition in the coach house
  • An astonishing collection of dead flies in another room in that building
  • And a voice – heard aloud – that mimicked me.

Then there was the figure that was dragging itself along the floor in the main building. And the haunted mirror on the first floor. And finally – back in the coach house – the completely unplugged old-school phone with the “call waiting” light blinking.

So, yes, what I’d witnessed in 2008 was very weird. I just didn’t say much about it at the time.

I may write more about this, later.

Oh, I slept soundly at the hotel. But what I witnessed during my investigations…? It was one of the strangest combination of phenomena I’ve ever encountered.

Then, Kris Hawes described what she’d seen

Five years later – in 2013 – Kris Hawes confirmed many of my experiences, without knowing about them ahead of time. After all, I’d never said much about them.

I was delighted. (And a little creeped-out, if I’m honest, especially about the unattractive figure crawling on the floor.)

As of 2013, it seemed like the ghosts were learning from visitors. The ghosts’ responses were more specific, more consistent, and involve more senses.

In other words, the Spalding Inn had become a more useful research location.

Paranormal “hot spots” at the Spalding Inn

In 2013, in the main building, the dining room felt like more of a “safe haven” from intrusive ghosts.

That was a relief. We could get away from the entities… whatever they were.

But, the perimeter pf the dining room was odd. It was like walking through spiritual jello, if that makes sense.

The extended corridor (where the sleeping rooms are) was far more active than it had been.

Previously, I’d categorized most of the activity there as fae and perhaps Native American, not ghostly.

Now, several ghosts in that hallway – and sleeping rooms along it – seemed interested in contacting us.

(I’m not sure what words to use for that. Maybe those ghosts were there all along, but fairly silent. Maybe they’d migrated to that part of the hotel, where they had a bigger audience. I have no idea.)

It was time to sell the hotel

As we chatted in 2013, Kris confided that Jason and Grant were thinking of selling the hotel.

The hotel’s massive repairs had cost far more than Grant and Jason had expected. Competing with neighboring hotels – that offered more amenities for seasonal tourists – was a challenge.

And, I think Jason and Grant had started out with a different vision for the hotel.

I told Kris that selling the hotel was a good idea.

I did not tell her that – during that 2013 investigation – the energy at the hotel seemed angry.

It was a somewhat nasty, drain-everything-from-you kind of energy.

This wasn’t just a spiritual attack.

I had no doubt the malicious energy wanted to destroy the hotel’s business, crush morale, and generally tear things up.

I was happy not to spend another night there.

Why did the energy change?

Maybe the ghosts didn’t like the idea of dealing with yet another set of owners.

Or maybe the ghosts had enjoyed the attention of Jason & Grant’s ghost hunting overnights.

I’m glad Jason & Grant and their families sold the hotel. I wish the new owners very good luck with it.

And yes, I’d cheerfully return there, out of curiosity. I’d love to see if the ghosts and other entities remained there.

My northern New Hampshire ley lines map

NH ley lines mapFor the 2013 event, I’d created a special information sheet that featured ley lines at and near the Spalding Inn. It also showed “hot spots” in northern New Hampshire in general.

The illustration is at right. If you draw these lines on a larger map, you can see where they extend into other states. All locations along the lines are worth exploring.

The ghost figures indicate locations where ghosts have been reported. The star-in-circle marks indicate other paranormal reports (UFOs, etc.) and anomalies.

If you’re researching in NH, check sites on either line.

Choose the northern one if you’re interested in ghosts. Choose the southern one if you’re eager to find Bigfoot (yes, there are reports along that line) or want to see UFOs.