We all have our views and opinions on the supernatural. Many people are highly skeptical regarding the existence of ghosts, ghouls, phantoms, and other supernatural entities, while believers will adamantly argue that the paranormal is very real, backing up their claims with countless stories and alleged sightings of the past. There are also plenty of people who find themselves somewhere in the middle, not quite sure what to believe.
No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum of skeptic to believer, the subject of spooky sightings and haunted houses is always an interesting one.
A Gallup poll from 2005 revealed that around 37 percent of Americans believed in haunted houses, and many people love to hear stories about these kinds of spooky old homes and eerie abandoned mansions. But it turns out that science might have a very rational explanation for these kinds of tales.
For years, people have attempted to debunk ghost stories and find logical explanations for so-called haunted houses. In many cases, creaky floorboards and strange bumps in the night really do have perfectly logical explanations and causes. Anything from faulty wiring to drafts and old pipes could cause the likes of cold spots and strange sounds, but what about ghostly apparitions and sightings of spooky figures?
Well, there might be a reasonable explanation for these instances as well. A Halloween-themed episode of the This American Life podcast began with the retelling of a story that had been documented in the American Journal of Ophthalmology back in the 1920s. On November 15, 1921, to be precise, a woman claimed that she and her family had experienced some very odd events in their home.
She revealed that she’d heard footsteps passing overhead when nobody was there. Her nights would be disturbed by loud noises like furniture being moved around, she experienced an eerie feeling like someone was following her as she walked along the halls of the house, her bed sheets would be torn away in the middle of the night, and, most distressingly of all, she once saw a man and a woman sitting right at the foot of her bed.
It all sounds like the perfect plot for a horror movie, but it was a very real and terrifying experience for the woman and her family. She spoke to medical professionals, friends and family members about her ghostly encounters and couldn’t seem to get any real answers or help — until one day, her brother-in-law suggested that the family was being poisoned and suffering from hallucinations as a result.
It turned out that the brother-in-law’s informed opinion was right on the money. The woman called in some experts to take a look around the home and it was quickly discovered that a faulty furnace was leaking carbon monoxide around the house, rather than expelling it up the chimney as it should have done. The family were being slowly poisoned every single second they lived in the house.
Carbon monoxide is a deadly gas that can cause all kinds of medical symptoms from headaches and dizziness to vomiting, chest pains, and even death in large enough doses.
It attacks the body by latching onto red blood cells, preventing oxygen from being carried around to the organs, muscles, and brain. Essentially, this is what caused the family’s hallucinations, as a lack of oxygen to the brain, combined with dizziness, drowsiness, and other symptoms, could make it very easy for someone to think they were hearing sounds or seeing shadowy figures.
NBC reports that a very similar case occurred in 2005. A terrified woman was found after allegedly seeing a ghost in her shower. It turned out that a new water heater that had been recently fitted was faulty, leading to a carbon monoxide leak.
This shows just how dangerous and scary carbon monoxide poisoning can be, proving yet again how important it is to get boilers and water heaters checked regularly and to have carbon monoxide detectors fitted around the home.
Of course, not all haunted house stories can be traced back to carbon monoxide poisoning, but these true stories show that there are some cases where ghosts and ghouls really aren’t all they seemed to be. There are still a lot of believers in haunted houses out there, and plenty of strange stories and grisly mysteries left unexplained and unsolved.