WriterBy Steve Higgins
What Happens When You Tell Someone Their House Isn't Haunted
Back in 2012, I was asked to investigate a haunted house by its owner. He wanted me and the team I was working with to get to the bottom of the strange goings on there. I feel we did this, but because our findings didn't match those of the owner, things got nasty.
As it's been a few years since the incident, I thought I'd share the story, as I'm sure it's something that is fairly common amongst paranormal investigators when they encounter someone who is convinced that their property has resident ghosts.
The thing to remember with a report of a haunting, as long as it's not totally made up, is that whether it is truly the result of the paranormal or not, the person really believes that they are experiencing something odd. Even if it's not really paranormal phenomenon, it is still totally real to them.
For this reason, it's not really my place to tell someone their house isn't haunted, because the fact I didn't experience anything or see any evidence of the paranormal there myself means nothing. If the owner has genuinely experienced what they deem to be paranormal activity, then who am I to argue with that?
However, this doesn't change the fact that at the end of the day a lot of people report that their house is haunted and it must be one of either three things:
1. Their house is genuinely haunted
2. They are mistaken
3. They are lying
When I investigated this particular house in Cornwall at the request of its owner, Mike, I found it to be quieter than my own non-haunted home, my conclusion was option number two, he is mistaken. This left me with the problem of trying to work out how to write about my time in the house, as I always write lengthy articles on investigations.
The thing is, I believed that Mike was mistaken, but I could be wrong and he might genuinely be experiencing hauntings in the house. There's also the chance I was wrong and option three is correct, that Mike is lying, but he seemed genuine, his stories were consistent and I had no reason to think he was lying.
So, I carefully considered what I was going to write about the investigation. I couldn't shy away from writing that I didn't experience anything unusual at the house, because that is the absolute truth. There is no point in me lying or pretending something happened when it didn't.
I summed up my article on the investigation by saying that, "if I knew nothing about the alleged hauntings in the house and spent a day there and experienced as little as I did, I would have no reason to think that the house is haunted. It was completely quiet and still, sometimes quieter than my own house where I often hear natural creaks and sounds."
I went on to say that, "despite this, none of us were willing to completely rule out the possibility that the house might be haunted. What was agreed upon however is that the house was much quieter during our time there than it seems to be for its owner, Mike."
Up to this point, what I had written about the house hadn't ruffled any feathers, but little did I know that my next paragraph was going to result in a backlash of insults and accusations.
I was still trying to be rational and honest, so I felt I needed to say, "I don't know Mike well. He seems like a genuine guy, but the truth is, I can't rule out the possibility that he is either imagining the activity or is making it up." Which is true, I can't rule it out because I haven't been in the house with Mike when it has happened. I went on, "if we're going to fairly judge this case and get to the truth, then we do need to question why Mike experiences activity in the house when others don't seem to. It could be that the haunting is focussed around Mike or that the spirits of the house simply chose not to show themselves to us during our time there."
I felt I was justified in writing this, it was in no way an accusation and it felt honest and necessary. I then wrote a little about how it might be that Mike is imagining the whole thing, "it could just be that sounds that we attributed to normal things like external noise, the fridge or central heating, Mike attributes to the spirits of the house." But I balanced this observation out by writing, "this is just my opinion and I can't take away from the fact that Mike is experiencing something odd in his house. The only thing I know for sure is that I didn't."
I thought that what I had written was fair and honest, but someone didn't. Mike was not happy and a couple of days after publishing the article I received a message from him saying "I saw your website and because of you I am being called a liar and a fake. You are calling me, my wife and my mother liars. You make me sick."
I was quite surprised by this response because he says that I called him and his family liars. I didn't. I literally wrote the words "I personally don't think Mike is lying or intentionally trying to mislead anyone." It was a very defensive response, especially as I didn't think my article was in any way provocative. In the message, Mike seemed to be blaming me for some kind of backlash that he was experiencing, "because of you I am being called a liar and a fake." I think I'm being given too much credit because at the time of his message, my article had only been read by about 40 people.
After reading Mike's message, I checked his Twitter account and found tweets publicly calling me a twat, a dickhead and an ass. So I sent a simple, polite and non-antagonistic reply saying "I think you've misunderstood, I said in the article that I don't think you are lying. If people have jumped to that conclusion, then I'm sorry." And I blocked him, it was childish nonsense as far as I am concerned and I didn't want to be drawn into a debate about it. It's a shame there were hard feelings, but I wasn't going to get involved in online name calling and petty bickering about who said what.
The incident was actually quite an interesting insight into what happens when you tell someone that a house they believe is haunted isn't. I didn't expect any backlash or retaliation. After all, we were called in to investigate the house and determine whether it was haunted or not. If I called someone in to investigate a gas leak in my house and it turns out there wasn't one, I can't get angry with the gas engineer for their findings. There either is or there isn't a gas leak. It either is or it isn't haunted.
But remember, I didn't state in my article that the house wasn't haunted. I never once wrote the words "I don't think the house is haunted," I didn't even say that I thought Mike was imagining it all. All I said was that I didn't experience anything myself and that I couldn't rule out that Mike was imagining.
Now, in truth, this was me being a respectful skeptic. The reality is, as you might have guessed, that in this case I don't think the house is haunted at all. I don't think Mike is making it up or lying. I do think he is imagining it all, but I didn't want to write this publicly or even say it to Mike, as it's not really my place to question or try to change his beliefs.
It turns out however, that Mike is the type of person to share his views on someone openly on the internet when he called me an idiot and said "you're talking crap, what would you know?" in a public tweet.
I held a lot back in my original write up on the investigation. Now sufficient time has past, I feel it's fair to share my true feelings. Not only did I think he was imagining the whole thing, but I actually think he was on the verge of having a breakdown fuelled by an obsession with the house.
Mike seemed to spend all of his spare time trying to prove the existence of spiritual activity in the house - this is what lead me so firmly to my belief that he wasn't lying. From the outside it appeared to be an unhealthy obsession and it's for this reason that he became so aggressive and defensive when challenged.
I don't think Mike will mind me telling you any of this now, because eventually he took a friend's advice and had a break from the house and wound down his relentless efforts to make the ghosts of the property perform for him and guests to the house.
As paranormal investigators, we need to be respectful and sensitive, but the problem is, if we've been asked to investigate a haunting, we are then obliged to share our honest findings afterwards. The findings might cause upset or offence, but it is the reason we have been called in to help. There is no point in lying.
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