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Thursday, October 25, 2007

You've got ghosts...

I saw an article about ghosts in houses yesterday by Keith Pandolfi of This Old House online. At first glance I thought it might be a tongue-in-cheek thing; but it turned out that he was serious, or at least trying to be. The article started out innocently enough by trying to explain away most of the creaks and groans and other things that go bump in the night in houses, especially old houses. Having fielded panic calls from new homeowners about strange noises in their new home, I could empathize with him in his efforts to explain away most of these “strange occurrences.”

He lost me in the opening paragraph of the second section however, when he wrote this –
“Once you’ve ruled out natural causes, you have a choice of what to do next. You can either learn to live with the novelty of a ghost in your house, or get in touch with a legitimate ghost researcher to help you understand what’s going on." WHOA! I had no idea that there were both legitimate and illegitimate ghost researchers running around out thee. According to Pandolfi, “there are hundreds of them out there with a varying degree of credibility.” If there are hundreds out, there they all have a credibility problem as far as I’m concerned.

As is common these days, Pandolfi advises the would be haunted homeowner to check out potential ghost busters on the Web. He states, “Avoid ghost hunters who dabble in magic, the occult or offer ‘magical cleansing’ of homes.” I’d almost go the opposite way. If you’re already believing in ghosts, why not go all the way and believe that Harry Potter could wave his wand and get rid of them. However, Pandolfi admonishes homeowner that “If there is any mention of them (magic, the occult, etc.) on the (practitioners) Web site, move on.” I Googled "ghost researcher" and got 992,000 returns, so there are more than a few of them out there. I did not go further to see how many mention magic.

He goes on to outline in scholarly fashion how the investigation should be conducted, including not letting the media in on the investigation (yeah, like I’m going to call a press conference and tell the media that my house is haunted), and making sure the investigators know how to use their equipment (Say, is that the Bensford Model 7000 Ghost Detector that you’re going to be using here? When did you have it calibrated last?). Apparently bad equipment might turn up false ghosts.

The kicker, of course, is the final section on Proper Ghost Removal. The part about getting your family minister to help you exorcise your house of the unwanted ghost is particularly cute. Can you imagine sidling up to the pastor after Sunday services and asking he if he can come over to your place on Wednesday night and help you get rid of a ghost? I suspect that he’ll be on the phone quickly trying to get you help, but not with your ghost. Pandolfi recommends using a sensitive medium to negotiate with the ghost to move on and stop living in your house. Perhaps, if that doesn't work you can hire a good lawyer and file a suit to have the ghost evicted. I wonder which court that would be filed in? Maybe Judge Judy could handle it, since she deals with odd cases every day anyway.

From a real estate point of view I suppose that ghosts can go either way. There is one school of thought that would classify a house with ghosts as stigmatized. Another school of thought might say that it just ads spice to the allure of a house. I guess it can’t cause too much harm, unless the ghost is that of Jimmy Hoffa and then the FBI will come and tear your barn down and dig up your yard. So, if you have ghosts, just think how much they will add to the fun of your house at this time of the year. Booo!

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