Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ghost town

There is a strange article on the front page of Explore Howard with a picture of some spooky-ass former church that is eerily lit with an orange glow under a dark and foreboding sky. I was disappointed not to see a black cat and a jack-o-lantern out front.

Karen Griffith is not the type to spook easily.

As curator of the Howard County Historical Museum, in a former church dating back to the 1800s, she knows the sounds and sensations a building steeped in decades of history can make.

Creaking wooden floors.

Random knocks and pings.

Unexpected drafts blowing coolness past her.

But footsteps when she's in the building alone, after closing time?

"That was a little unnerving," she says. "And I have had other people hear it too, so I know I am not hallucinating."

Griffith says she was working in her office in the basement of the museum when she heard footsteps on the floor above.

She went upstairs to investigate and saw no one.

The article then talks about how the building is being investigated for paranormal activity, because a likely explanation for these strange noises is that the building is haunted. Yeah, right.

It is fascinating what people can convince themselves and others to believe, be it paranormal activity or anything else. Using the power of suggestion and other psychological tricks commonly used by charlatans, tricksters, con men and even pickup artists, most people can be led to believe in or even to do some surprising things.

One of the best examples of someone who is well versed in these kinds of tricks is Derren Brown. Thanks to the power of the internet, we can watch some of his awesome videos on YouTube, like this one.

Update: Derren Brown has written several books that are available on Amazon, but none of which are available at the Howard County Library.