Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Curious goings-on in Coventry

Most believers in an afterlife think that after death, righteous souls end up in heaven and unrighteous ones in hell, which seems straightforward enough.  However, there are apparently people who believe there's a third option:  if you're consigned neither to heaven nor hell, you can stick around and drive the living up a tree.

At least that's the contention of a couple who live in a rented house in Coventry, England.  They claim that their house is haunted by an annoying ghost who has broken crockery, thrown about silverware, moved blinds up and down, switched lights on and off, and, on one occasion, jammed a door, trapping the couple in the house and necessitating their escape through a window.  They even suspect the ghost had a role in the death of their dog, who died of injuries from falling down the stairs.

A priest who visited the house allegedly advised the couple not to stay, but blessed the house and gave the couple each a crucifix to wear.  And I thought:  That's the best he can do?  Say a quick prayer, hand out a crucifix, and hit the road?  The priest in The Exorcist stuck around even while the little girl was puking up pea soup all over the place, which I thought was pretty brave of him.  In his place, I think I'd have called it quits at that point.  I have a strong stomach -- I can dissect a fetal pig with one hand and eat a ham sandwich with the other, and I have no squeamishness about blood -- but when someone throws up, I generally join them.

More interesting still, a medium, called in to investigate, said the house was a portal.  "It's a bus stop for spirits," she said, after touring the house.  Evidently the house acts like a gateway for ghosts to get into the world of the living. This brings up a question:  if ghosts can get into our world through this house, could you contact any spirit you want just by making a trip to Coventry?  If so, I'd like to go there and ask my mom for some advice about making pie crust.  Hers were always awesome, and mine turn out like cardboard, and I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.

Anyhow, the couple aren't particularly excited about living in a haunted house.  Me, I'd be elated.  I've always wanted to go spend the night in a house that was claimed to have a ghost.  You hear all these anecdotal reports, and people say things like, "When I was little we lived in this house where weird stuff kept happening!  We heard noises!  And cabinet doors we remembered shutting would be found open the next morning!  And socks would disappear in the laundry!  It must have been a ghost."  Well, okay, that's one possibility.  Me, I'd like to see for myself, and rule out more prosaic causes, like mice in the walls, people forgetting to shut cabinet doors, and Magical Sock Gnomes, which are definitely responsible for the sock losses amongst the members of our family.

I don't think the Coventry couple is taking in guests, however, which is kind of a shame.  On the other hand, they say they have the next best thing to direct evidence: they have produced a video clip of the tricksy phantom doing his thing.  The video clip, available here, shows a door swinging open, and a pink rolling chair sliding across the room.  Firm proof, they claim, that the house is haunted.

Predictably, I'm skeptical.  I see nothing in this clip that couldn't be done with fishing line.  In fact, the chair moves more like someone pulling it with a string than it does like someone (or something) pushing it.  Plus, in the clip you can distinctly hear someone clearing his throat, and I'm doubtful that ghosts would have any particular need for throat-clearing.

The whole thing, in fact, screams "hoax" to me, and my personal opinion is that the couple in the house are simply after their fifteen minutes of fame.  Sad to say, but for those who believe in ghosts and were hoping for proof -- this ain't it.  Aficionados of the afterlife will just have to keep looking.  And I'll keep trying to get a photo of the Magical Sock Gnomes, because those things are freakin' annoying.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not dead, but any time you want a piecrust lesson let me know. It's one of my few useful skills. That and clearing my throat in a terrifyingly sepulchral manner.