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.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Invitation to a haunting

If any loyal readers of Skeptophilia live in Texas -- or are willing to take a road trip -- there's an opportunity for you to do some empirical research and report on your findings here.

The destination is the town of Seguin, in Guadalupe County, in the central part of the state.  Seguin is the home to the Magnolia Hotel, which has been nicknamed "the most haunted spot in Texas."  Unfortunately for us paranormal-investigator types, the Magnolia has been closed for extensive repairs since 2013.  The building itself was built in 1840, and started out as a private home, but after renovation and expansion was turned into a hotel, in which capacity it continued until the mid-20th century.

Eventually, though, wear-and-tear and poor maintenance shut the place down, and it was on the docket to be demolished, but a wealthy family purchased the place and decided to restore it to its 19th-century glory.

This, apparently, did not sit well with the spirit world.

The Magnolia Hotel, Seguin, Texas

According to the reports, more than one contractor quit after "paranormal activity ramped up."  A psychic was called in, and she found that the place was rife with ghosts, including:
  • the original owner, James Campbell, who makes rocking chairs rock back and forth and stinks the place up with his cigars
  • a serial killer named Wilhelm Faust, and one of his victims, Emma Voelcker, whom he killed right there in the hotel
  • a friendly woman named Idella Lampkins who sits next to people while they're sleeping and strokes their hair and tries to hug them
  • two unidentified male ghosts who committed suicide in the hotel
  • a weeping woman who evidently is still distraught because her sweetheart told her he was going to come for her and never showed up
In addition -- if that's not enough -- people have seen faces in mirrors, had doors slam suddenly, heard disembodied footsteps and voices, and seen furniture move on its own.

Enticed?  The hotel is reopening on August 12, and since there are only two guest rooms in the place, it's going to be hard to get on the reservation list if you don't act quickly.

Living in upstate New York, Texas is a bit of a hike for me, but if there are any readers in central Texas who would like to do a little first-hand research, I encourage you to book a night or two.  Bring along a camera, not to mention any other ghost-hunting equipment you may see fit to take with you.  (In fact, there are bunches of apps you can get for cellphones and iPads for detecting electromagnetic field fluctuations, which are supposedly a sign that a ghost is near, or possibly the air conditioner just turned on.)

Let me know if you found anything (or even if you didn't), and in fact, if you're so inclined, you could even write a guest post about your experience here at Skeptophilia.  Yeah, I know the plural of
"anecdote" isn't "data," but I'd still love to hear about anything you might have witnessed.  And if lonely Idella strokes your hair during the night, please accept my apologies, because that's some creepy shit right there.


Richard Dawkins is a name that often sets people's teeth on edge.  However, the combative evolutionary biologist, whose no-holds-barred approach to young-Earth creationists has given him a well-deserved reputation for being unequivocally devoted to evidence-based science and an almost-as-well-deserved reputation for being hostile to religion in general, has written a number of books that are must-reads for anyone interested in the history of life on Earth -- The Blind Watchmaker, Unweaving the Rainbow, Climbing Mount Improbable, and (most of all) The Ancestor's Tale.

I recently read a series of essays by Dawkins, collectively called A Devil's Chaplain, and it's well worth checking out, whatever you think of the author's forthrightness.  From the title, I expected a bunch of anti-religious screeds, and I was pleased to see that they were more about science and education, and written in Dawkins's signature lucid, readable style.  They're all good, but a few are sheer brilliance -- his piece, "The Joy of Living Dangerously," about the right way to approach teaching, should be required reading in every teacher-education program in the world, and "The Information Challenge" is an eloquent answer to one of the most persistent claims of creationists and intelligent-design advocates -- that there's no way to "generate new information" in a genome, and thus no way organisms can evolve from less complex forms.

It's an engaging read, and I recommend it even if you don't necessarily agree with Dawkins all the time.  He'll challenge your notions of how science works, and best of all -- he'll make you think.

[If you purchase this book using the image/link below, part of the proceeds will go to support Skeptophilia!]

1 comment:

  1. No, thanks. I won't be going. But, I'm curious, if this is a hotel, why are there only two guest rooms? That bothers me more than the thoughts of ghosts.