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At haunted hotels, hunt for ghosts but leave your cameras at home

Posted by Rob Anderson  October 31, 2011 08:01 AM

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I’ve spent many hours online looking for evidence of ghosts; a video, a photo, a sound, anything that wasn’t debunked (isn’t that a string on the rocking chair leg!) or flawed (seriously, why would a ghost choose to haunt a tiny pantry?) or over-edited. But, nothing. How can this be? In a world saturated with all kinds of recording equipment, shouldn’t there be reams of evidence proving the existence of something that, if not universally accepted to exist, seems to be universally fascinating as a possibility?

That’s why Travelocity’s list of the ten most-haunted hotels in the United States is so satisfying. If spooky places can’t produce proof, at least they can be acknowledged as producing entertainment. At least their alleged ghostly denizens, though long dead, can still participate in a very flesh-and-blood pastime: competition. And what’s even better is this competition of unproven apparitions produces something very real and provable: money. Massachusetts' own Hawthorne House in Salem made Travelocity’s list (No. 4!), which is great news for that town’s paranormal-based economy. Maybe those phantom hands in room 325 can help count the tourist dollars.

Hopefully, though, one of those tourists won’t achieve the holy grail of the paranormal world: a verifiable real video of a phantom, the kind of video that would end my online evidence search once and for all.

Because what is more fun about ghosts is not that they exist, but that they might exist. Because the “maybe” of ghosts is fun and even funny, but real proof would just be scary. Not in an amusing fake-zombie-in-the-corn-maze way but in a hovering-face-in-the-bathroom-mirror kind of way that would cause many of us to be much less functional as living human beings. And that’s not fun for anyone, dead or alive. So, please, visit Hawthorne House but leave the camera at home. Our love of the unexplained depends on it.

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ABOUT THE ANGLE Online commentary and news analysis from the Boston Globe. The Angle is produced by Rob Anderson and Alan Wirzbicki. You can follow Rob on Twitter at @rcand.

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