Thursday, October 01, 2020

Enfield Miscellany (Part 4)

(For an explanation of what this series is about, see part 1 here. Parts 2 and 3 can be found here and here. I'll be citing Maurice Grosse and Guy Playfair's Enfield tapes below. I'll use "MG" to designate a tape from Grosse's collection and "GP" to designate one from Playfair's. MG88B refers to tape 88B in Grosse's collection, GP70B refers to 70B in Playfair's, and so on.)

Unknown Precedent

One type of event to look for in paranormal cases is something that has precedent, but only in a context unknown to the people involved in the event. The precedent adds credibility to the claim that the event occurred, and the ignorance of the precedent on the part of those involved in the event undermines the notion that the event was faked based on that precedent. I noticed some incidents in the Enfield case that seem to meet those criteria.

Peggy Hodgson reported experiencing a sensation like a cat sitting on her feet and the bottom of her legs (GP5A, 4:44, especially 5:59). I've come across a similar report, but only briefly and in passing in a summary of a haunting case that occurred in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries (Alan Gauld and A.D. Cornell, Poltergeists [United States: White Crow Books, 2017], approximate Kindle location 3236). Gauld and Cornell refer to how a woman in the case reported "a feeling as if a cat were curling round her feet". In the Enfield case, on the tape cited above, Peggy refers to "a cat sitting on you…on your feet, [unintelligible] your legs". In all the books I've read on paranormal topics, articles I've read, podcasts I've listened to, etc., I don't recall anybody other than the woman cited by Gauld and Cornell and Peggy Hodgson reporting such an incident. And it seems extremely improbable that somebody like Peggy would have come across the obscure incident briefly mentioned by Gauld and Cornell or have been significantly influenced by somebody else who came across it.

Similarly, when Matthew Manning (who had experienced a poltergeist of his own) visited the Hodgsons' house, he reported having had unusual experiences similar to theirs. There's a striking example on tape GP26A. Manning is having a discussion with Playfair, and Playfair asks him whether he got sensations similar to Peggy Hodgson's premonitory headaches (sensations she would have in her head that corresponded with paranormal events, often beginning just before the events). Manning responds by differentiating his experience from Peggy's, commenting that "The only feeling that we got was a prickling sensation down the back of the neck" (8:35). It's clear that he's distinguishing between his experience and Peggy's, meaning that he wasn't just making something up to accommodate what Playfair asked him. He seems to be giving an honest answer. More significantly, though, there's a commotion on the tape at that point. You hear one or more of the Hodgson girls gasping, saying "Oh no!", etc. Grosse (who was only listening to the conversation without participating) loudly says "Excuse me. Just a moment. Excuse me. What did you say? They said it about half an hour before you came in this afternoon." Grosse goes on to explain that the sensation Manning described (during his only visit to the house, in response to a question from Playfair that Manning apparently had no way of anticipating) was something the girls had reported experiencing shortly before Manning arrived.

After Charles Moses of the Southern California Society for Psychical Research visited the next month, he noted a "striking" similarity between Peggy's premonitory headaches and the ones experienced by a man in another case (MG69A, 20:35).

This is an area that warrants a lot of further study, in the Enfield case and in other contexts. I've only discussed a few examples here. More should come to light as the Enfield tapes and other relevant sources are studied further.

A Green Face

In early 1978, a highly unusual incident was reported that I don't remember seeing discussed anywhere else. Janet said that her face had turned green for about three minutes (GP51A, 25:06). Peggy mentions that she saw Janet's face discolored shortly after Janet first noticed it, and Peggy explains that Janet's face didn't return to its normal appearance until sometime later that night. Peggy noticed that Janet's face was still discolored when she was lying in bed, but her appearance was back to normal when they got up in the morning. Apparently, the three-minute timeframe Janet referred to was when the discoloration started, when it was at its worst, but there was a lingering effect beyond those three minutes.

Margaret's Worst Experience

In a previous post in this series, I discussed what John Burcombe considered the most disturbing paranormal experience he had during the case. Margaret also commented on what she considered her most disturbing experience, and I don't remember anybody discussing it publicly before. It happened on October 1, 1978. The next day, she told Playfair about it (GP40A, 0:23). The Hodgsons often (most of the time, apparently) tried to avoid going upstairs alone, as I've discussed before. But on the evening of October 1, Margaret went up by herself to get something. It was about to rain outside, so it was unusually dark. She found what she was looking for and walked toward the bedroom door, which was closed, to go back downstairs. At that point, she heard a loud bang, and the door flew open, and she heard somebody breathing, though there was nobody there. She commented that "It's the worst thing that's happened to me." Reading a brief summary of an event like that doesn't convey everything that would be involved in living through the experience, but it's easy to see how that sort of event would be unusually disturbing, especially for a teenage girl. Even after living with the poltergeist for more than a year, its behavior could be so unpredictable and so upsetting.

Creaky Floors And Mattresses

I've mentioned before that one way for witnesses in the Enfield case to evaluate the incidents they experienced was to listen for the creaking of floorboards and mattresses that you would expect to hear if somebody had walked across a floor, moved in bed, jumped from a bed, or done something else to fake an event, for example. It was one way among others to monitor what was going on in the house. Watch here to see Graham Morris commenting on the subject. Morris wasn't the only person who reported the creakiness of the floors and mattresses. Peggy Hodgson also referred to it (GP54B, 42:27). So did Playfair (This House Is Haunted [United States: White Crow Books, 2011], 36). Alan Gauld referred to being able to hear the mattresses creaking upstairs when you were downstairs (in Melvyn Willin, The Enfield Poltergeist Tapes [United States: White Crow Books, 2019], 126). In my experience listening to Grosse and Playfair's tapes, my sense is that you can sometimes hear such creaking on the tapes, but often can't. For example, there's a tape on which Charles Moses refers to hearing people moving upstairs, but I didn't notice any sound on the recording (GP91B, 20:56). So, we have the testimony of multiple witnesses to the effect that you could hear noises like creaking floors in other parts of the house, but those noises won't necessarily be discernable on audio recordings. As good as the recordings are, we have to allow for the possibility that witnesses will provide information about sounds that can't be discerned on the tapes.


  1. Jason, how many hours would you say you've spent in the last two years studying the paranormal between reading books, listening to audio tapes/podcasts, reading articles/publications, research, etc?

    How does your time spent over the same timeframe studying paranormal topics compare to the time you've spent studying Scripture, reading books about Scripture, listening to audio tapes/podcasts about Scripture, researching Scripture, etc.?

    If your output here at T-blog is any indication it would seem to the casual reader who doesn't know you personally that you're severely out of balance, perhaps even obsessed with the paranormal. And it doesn't seem particularly connected to any apologetic purpose, although you sometimes mention the apologetic value of knowledge of the paranormal in passing.

    As a long time reader of T-blogue I think your unhealthy fascination with the paranormal is harming the blog. You often complain about how unbelieving Americans spend (i.e. waste) their time, as well as how Christian Americans don't live up to your expectations, yet you apparently expend a significant amount of your personal time reading and writing about old ghost stories. Is that habit more spiritually healthy than binge watching mindless sitcoms on Netflix?

    John's mini-series on the alleged negative effects of Romanism on the current socio-political climate today - which you apparently shut down - may have seemed an odd theory, but it's certainly no less odd than your apparent fixation on poltergeists, PK, psi, and whatever other paranormal topic du jour that grabs your attention.

    Please return T-blog to a Christian theology/current events/philosophy blog and stop hijacking it for your weird hobby horse. *Please*.

    1. I addressed some of the issues you've raised and similar ones in a discussion with you earlier this year, which people can read here. You responded by saying, "That makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your detailed reply." But now you're raising some of the same issues as if I haven't addressed them, you're suggesting that what I'm doing doesn't "make a lot of sense", and you're acting as if my previous "detailed reply" doesn't exist.

      What's changed since then? We've discussed some disagreements we've had in threads on various topics, including the recent one here, and those discussions haven't gone well for you. Maybe that doesn't have much relevance to what you've just posted in this thread, but the timing seems suspicious.

      You write:

      "If your output here at T-blog is any indication it would seem to the casual reader who doesn't know you personally that you're severely out of balance, perhaps even obsessed with the paranormal."

      There are good reasons for specialization. It's commonplace for people to give dozens of hours a week to a particular career field, different Biblical scholars specialize in different aspects of the Bible, different philosophers specialize in different areas of philosophy, etc. Some people commit a large percentage of their free time for decades to specializing in a Christian approach toward Mormonism, Roman Catholicism, atheism, Islam, politics, evangelism, missions, or whatever else. People publish books and web sites on such issues, often without discussing anything other than one area of specialization in that book or web site. Somebody who's writing a book on a subject will often be highly focused on the topic of that book for years. The same is true with people focusing on the topic of a doctoral thesis, a class being taught in a church, etc. If you think that sort of specialization is inherently wrong, you should explain why.

      There are Christians who are known for specializing in one field for decades, often a field far narrower than the paranormal, or some other small number of fields. They're seldom, if ever, criticized for it, much less criticized to the extent to which you're criticizing me. I could discuss nothing other than the paranormal here and be justified in doing so, especially given the importance, largeness, and neglect of the field. But I also have hundreds of posts here and thousands of pages of material here on other matters (Reformation issues, Christmas issues, Easter issues, prophecy issues, patristic issues, etc.). I'm under no obligation to post on that sort of variety of topics. I could post on nothing but paranormal issues and be justified in doing it, as I mentioned above. But given how much I do address other issues, your objections are all the more unreasonable.

    2. You wrote:

      "And it doesn't seem particularly connected to any apologetic purpose, although you sometimes mention the apologetic value of knowledge of the paranormal in passing."

      The second half of your sentence doesn't sit well with the first half. And I've explained the importance of the paranormal many times (here, here, here, etc.). There are many non-apologetic reasons for addressing the paranormal, in addition to reasons of an apologetic nature. I've given examples in many places, such as in my Enfield tribute posts earlier this year (Peggy Hodgson, Maurice Grosse, Guy Playfair, John Burcombe). Given how easy it is to see the relationships between the paranormal and Christianity, scripture, providence, prayer, theology, apologetics, the afterlife, loving other people, etc., and given how often and in how much depth I've explained these things, it doesn't make sense for you to make comments like the one quoted above.

      You wrote:

      "As a long time reader of T-blogue I think your unhealthy fascination with the paranormal is harming the blog."

      You need to make more of an effort to argue for your conclusions instead of just announcing them.

      You wrote:

      "you apparently expend a significant amount of your personal time reading and writing about old ghost stories"

      That's an unsupported and ridiculous description of paranormal work. You aren't interacting with the explanations I've provided for the significance of the paranormal and the work I've done in that field.

      You wrote:

      "Is that habit more spiritually healthy than binge watching mindless sitcoms on Netflix?"

      Yes. The fact that you're asking the question doesn't reflect well on you.

    3. You wrote:

      "Please return T-blog to a Christian theology/current events/philosophy blog and stop hijacking it for your weird hobby horse."

      I started addressing paranormal issues before I joined the Triablogue staff. I was invited by Steve Hays to write for Triablogue about fifteen years ago. I've been doing paranormal work at Triablogue from the year I started here onward. Steve and others on the staff have written on paranormal topics as well. I'm not "hijacking" the blog, and I don't determine its contents by myself. The other people on the staff are free to post what they want.

      One of the factors people should take into account when deciding what issues to address in a context like a blog is how much a topic has been covered elsewhere. Given the large amount of attention current events get in our culture, including in Christian circles, it's remarkable that you would want more discussion of that subject while dismissing a field as important and neglected as the paranormal as a "weird hobby horse". Have you done any research on the percentage of people who have experienced apparitions of the dead, near-death experiences, and other paranormal phenomena? Have you given much thought to what issues are raised by those experiences and how often they're discussed in books, on television, on YouTube, etc.?

      I plan some of my posts well ahead of time, but others come up on short notice. I had planned, long before you put up your post above, to begin discussing Reformation issues next week, as I've been doing every October for years. I'm saying that because I don't want anybody to think I'm changing the subject in response to your post. There's nothing in your post that justifies a change, and I'm not changing any of my plans for posting more paranormal material in the future.

    4. So you're incorrigible, got it.

  2. My curiousity is spurred: what is the authority structure of Triablogue-who decides what is relevant to discuss on here? Is there a board, is it up to more than one person? Are there posted guidelines? I’m trying to understand how the flow is steered...
    I enjoy reading the blog and comment sparsely but I want to make sure I’m within bounds for the future.

    1. See here for the Rules of Engagement, which are linked on the sidebar.

    2. I think reality is much richer and stranger than we give it credit for. Jason's investigations into things are another small piece of evidence towards this surmisal of mine.

      I myself speculate (and this is loose speculation, almost in the realm of sci-fi) that the human mind (which I take to have a physical and non-physical component) has powers or capabilities that we're not well aware of. Speculating even more, perhaps some of these capacities were lost in the fall.

      Ghosts, spiritism, occult stuff etc is interesting to me because the stuff I see is consistent with a biblical worldview. Some of the exorcism accounts I have read are absolutely chilling, and so are some of the NDEs I have read. In a certain sense, it encourages a mere mortal such as myself to "stay in his lane" and see why the scriptural prohibitions against spiritism are there.

  3. I regard Coram Deo's comments as regrettable. As Robert McLuhan commented in his book 'Randi's Prize': 'Psi is an extraordinary and little understood aspect of consciousness and has much to tell us about the human situation'.

    Speaking as someone who is not a votary of organized religion and who does not believe in the existence of a Supreme Being, I think it a positive thing that Jason has done such sedulous work on the Enfield case. Given the myriad issues involved in the Enfield case - such as the potential evidence it offers for post-mortem survival - I'm surprised that any religious person would regard the study of it as being 'unhealthy'.

    In relation to unknown precedents, I think this is an important point. In the South Shields poltergeist case (the investigator's book on which is shortly to be reissued - see link below), the young child in the case - who, like Billy Hodgson was not known for his loquacity - suddenly turned to one of the investigators and remarked: 'I used to have a boyfriend you know, but he died'. The investigator was quite candid about the fact that the remark caused him great disquiet and perplexity. Now in the Enfield case, Billy Hodgson one day suddenly and uncharacteristically swore at John Burcombe. True, the incidents aren't identical, but they are similar and perhaps suggestive of some sort of external force at work. Such seemingly minor parallels are perhaps the most telling evidentially.

    1. I'm not a "religious person", I'm a Christian.

    2. I appreciate the encouragement, Anthony!

      I wasn't aware of the reissuing of the book on the South Shields case. I'm glad you mentioned it.

      The incident with Billy Hodgson that you referred to is significant, especially as part of a larger pattern. The poltergeist voice manifested through every member of the Hodgson family. Hostility toward the Burcombes was expressed by the voice through four of the five Hodgsons, all of them other than Johnny. I don't have much information on the nature of the voice manifestations through Johnny, for a variety of reasons. He isn't on the tapes much, and I don't recall coming across much information about his voice manifestations on the tapes. So, the lack of evidence for hostility toward the Burcombes through Johnny's voice doesn't have much significance. But Janet's voice is much more hostile toward John Burcombe than Janet seems to be. Billy's voice shows hostility toward both John and Paul Burcombe that seems uncharacteristic of Billy. And Peggy's voice swore at John when Peggy and John were in a store together, which is something I doubt Peggy would have done. So, there's a pattern of the voice showing hostility toward the Burcombes that's uncharacteristic of the individual through whom the voice is manifesting.

    3. Coram Deo wrote:

      "I'm not a 'religious person', I'm a Christian."

      You are a religious person as that term is commonly used today. It's standard practice for modern Bible translations to render passages like James 1:26-27 with "religious" and "religion". And objecting to Anthony's use of the term "religious person" doesn't adequately address the point he was making.

    4. I'm not defined by the world or by you.

    5. Saying that we don't define you doesn't address whether what we've said about you is true. You're still not interacting with Anthony's point.

  4. No problem, Jason. I believe your study of the Enfield case will acquire greater significance in the years to come. Not only will it be a highly valuable resource for students of the case, skeptics too will surely have to engage with it.

    Yes, the reissue of the book should make interesting reading, and I believe that the sequel – ‘Contagion’ – is also soon to be updated. I plan on contacting the author for more information, not least because his co-author – Mike Hallowell – has for some reason opted to have his name from the book on the case removed. There might be a simple explanation here though, and I don’t think it undermines the case evidentially. Anyone reading the book will see that the case has many of the hallmarks of classic poltergeist phenomena. Plus, the book contains a number of affidavits from witnesses of the phenomena.

    What you say about the manifestation of the voice at Enfield is most fascinating. I wasn’t aware that the voice manifested through Peggy Hodgson on occasion. Are there any clues as to why the voice was so hostile to the Burcombes in particular? Discussion of the voice has also reminded me of Colin Wilson’s interesting comments in his book about the poltergeist phenomenon. Wilson opines that the voice ‘had an odd quality, as if electronically produced’; and that it reminded him of a recording he had that was made by an electronic brain. I don’t recall anyone on the ground at Enfield making a similar comment, as the consensus seemed to be that the voice was produced by the false vocal folds, but I wonder if Wilson is referring to the strange segment in which the voice pronounces Maurice Grosse’s name, not long after it barks? That *does* sound like it has an electronic quality to it – but perhaps it is an effect of the audio.

    There’s some other interesting aspects of the poltergeist phenomenon that I’ve noticed in a number of cases – one of which is the way in which some sounds appear to be manufactured and staged. Sometime after visiting the South Shields house, TV producers Bob and Marrisse Whittaker had a bizarre experience in their own home. One night, a tremendous crash suddenly sounded right in their bedroom, as if a large wardrobe had suddenly collapsed. Except, there was nothing out of place in the room or anywhere else in the house. In fact, although it’s a few years since I read the book, it may be that there was no wardrobe or anything else in the room at all that could have caused such a cacophony. So it seems that while the phenomenon is capable of physically moving and hurling actual objects, it is also able to artificially produce sounds that usually occur when objects are indeed physically moved. Have you noted this aspect of poltergeist cases, Jason? I seem to recall there may have been one or two similar instances at Enfield, but I am certain I have noted it in other cases too. It is therefore interesting that the Whittakers – who, so far as I know aren’t experts on poltergeist phenomena – experienced an event which, although it has precedents, aren’t widely known.

    1. I appreciate your encouragement, Anthony.

      Please let me know if you find out why Mike Hallowell wanted his name removed from the book on the South Shields case.

      The Enfield voice seems to have manifested through Peggy less than through any of the children. She may have gotten it more than Johnny, but probably not. It started with her in March of 1978, but with noises rather than speaking. The store incident I referred to apparently occurred in May of that year. In August of 1979, John Burcombe referred to how there had been "a lot" of voice activity from Peggy lately. He doesn't provide many details. (This is an example of how problematic the focus on 1977-78 has been. Though the poltergeist was less active in later years, there's some significant activity in those later years that gets much less attention than it should.)

      The voice's hostility toward the Burcombes might have been due to mechanical factors. The Burcombes may have interfered with what the poltergeist wanted to do. They, especially John, were around so often and provided another location where the Hodgsons often lived. It would sometimes follow them to the Burcombes' house or go there on its own initiative, but it was substantially less active there than at the Hodgsons' house. We don't know much about the mechanics of poltergeists or the psychology of this particular one, but it could be that the frequent presence of the Burcombes interfered with the poltergeist's activities in some way, and relocating to the Burcombes' house may have involved some difficulties for it or may have placed limits on its actions, limits that it didn't want. (I discuss some potential explanations of how that would occur in my article on the voice.) It could also have been something of a more psychological nature. The entity behind the poltergeist disliked one or more of the Burcombes, for whatever reason. Or it may have been picking up on a dislike of one or more of the Burcombes on the part of one or more of the Hodgsons and escalating it. The poltergeist would sometimes reproduce things it seems to have gotten from the mind of Janet or somebody else, but would reproduce it in a distorted form. On the tapes, the Hodgsons occasionally make negative comments about one or more of the Burcombes, but not often and to much less of a degree than the voice did. The evidence I'm aware of strongly suggests that Peggy thought highly of her brother, and I doubt the store incident I referred to originated with her. (It's uncharacteristic of her in multiple ways, not just in its hostility toward John.) Grosse referred to how deliberate and calculating the poltergeist was and compared their interactions with it to a game of chess, in which the poltergeist makes a move and they make a countermove. Grosse thought the poltergeist was involved in "a deliberate attempt to cause dissension between the two families [the Hodgsons and the Burcombes]…a very calculated move on the part of the entity to cause dissension" (MG19A, 17:38).

    2. I don't remember any electronic quality to the voice. You're right about its sounding unusual on the night it originated. I discuss the unusual quality of the voice during that night in my article on the voice. That unusual quality seems to make the most sense if the voice was paranormal.

      Some of the people who were nearby when the voice spoke commented on how it had a quality of seeming to come from different parts of the room than the location of the person it was manifesting from or seeming to be present without coming from any particular location. The voice often manifested in a disembodied way (far more than you'd think from reading Playfair's book or from other sources that have been widely disseminated to the public). It could be that some of the embodied voice was occurring alongside manifestations of the disembodied voice. That would be well in line with the mischievous nature poltergeists often have and the one this particular poltergeist had.

      Regarding the artificial production of sound, there are some incidents of that nature in the Enfield case. There were occasions when footsteps were heard where nobody was walking. What John Burcombe described as his worst experience during the case originated with his hearing a baby crying upstairs, where there was no baby, and he saw a light on the steps that terrified him as he was on his way upstairs to see what was going on. There were some occasions when the poltergeist imitated other people's voices. It sometimes did that sort of thing to get people to go to some other part of the house where it wanted them. I'm away from home at the moment, so I can't look up the passage I have in mind, but there's a book from the 1980s that discusses Enfield, written by an author who interviewed some of the people involved in the case. As I recall, he cites John Burcombe discussing an incident early in the case in which they heard what sounded like a large number of people marching upstairs while nobody was up there. But regarding events more similar to what you referred to, in which there were sounds of objects being moved without anything appearing to have been relocated, I also have the impression that it happened in the Enfield case. It's just a vague impression, though, and I don't have my notes with me. It could be that both of us are remembering something from Playfair's book or some other source without recalling more of the details.

  5. Jason

    As a long time reader of Triablogue, I have greatly benefited from your contributions on the paranormal. Keep it up.

    I was gonna ask you to create a list of your best reading suggestions on the paranormal. Have a great day.

    1. Thanks, Federico!

      The paranormal is a large and complicated field, which is part of the reason why we need a lot more people doing a lot more work. There are many paranormal issues I don't know much about. Even where I've done some research, I haven't always kept up with the latest developments. I did some work on near-death experiences (NDEs) several years ago, for example, but I haven't been following NDE issues much lately.

      I recently recommended some resources to another commenter. In that discussion, I mentioned a book by Stephen Braude. His work in general is helpful. He's not a Christian. I disagree with him on some significant issues. See my recent Amazon review of his latest book for a discussion of some of those disagreements. But you can get a large amount of useful information from his books and his other material (e.g., he publishes articles, he's in many YouTube videos).

      The Society for Psychical Research has a lot of helpful information. Their Psi Encyclopedia provides good overviews of many topics, for example.

      The Library of Exploratory Science is a good collection of resources (back issues of relevant journals, etc.).

      Those are just a few examples, and you can find many more within the books and web sites I've mentioned. A lot depends on what subject you're studying. When I was more focused on NDEs than I am now, a standard work in the field was Janice Miner Holden, et al., edd., The Handbook Of Near-Death Experiences (Santa Barbara, California: Praeger Publishers, 2009). On the web, I found some useful material at the site of the International Association for Near-Death Studies. You can also find many other books and web sites I've cited on NDEs over the years in my posts on the subject. Or if you want to research poltergeists, Alan Gauld and A.D. Cornell's Poltergeists (United States: White Crow Books, 2017) is good. I'll be putting up a post later this year on how to go about studying the Enfield case in particular. And so on. So much depends on which subjects you're interested in and how much depth you want to go into.

  6. Anthony: You mentioned you don't believe in a Supreme Being.
    Yet you seem to be open to the idea, given all the evidence from paranormal investigation, that theres something going on.
    From my point of view as a believer in a Supreme Being, i wonder what you believe this something is...

    1. Hello Eyezayah. You raise an interesting question.

      I am not anti-religious in the way some thinkers like Dawkins and Harris are, and I doubt that their reductionist weltanschauung accounts for the plurality and multiplicity of phenomena. Dawkins has written that those involved in cases like Enfield should be packed off to a good psychiatrist, but I believe that cases like Enfield do - prima facie at least - suggest that materialist and reductionist explanations fall short. Do the events at Enfield point to post-mortem survival of humans? Well, possibly, though my reservations about this notion have grown over recent years. Do the events at Enfield point to the existence of an incorporeal realm of some sort, or the existence of incorporeal, non-human intelligences? I think this is more likely, and I would recommend Anthony Peake's book 'The Hidden Universe: An Investigation into Non-Human Intelligences' in this regard. So yes, I emphatically believe that 'there's something going on'. That there is something more to be said than just changes in allele frequencies in populations.

      On the other hand, I cannot reconcile in my mind the accounts of the creation of life and the universe and its destiny found in the Abrahamic religions with evolutionary history and evolutionary biology. The evidence so far suggests that biological evolution - while non-random - is goalless. For me, biological evolution only makes sense in a non-religious context, since I cannot believe that a Supreme Being would elect to employ such a method of creation. I should stress that this is a personal belief; I know a man much smarter than I who subscribes to 'theistic evolution', and he actually advances some cogent arguments for it. But for my own part, while I don't feel that reductionist explanations, evolutionary psychology and evolutionary biology can account for the events at Enfield and the panoply of life and consciousness, I do feel that they probably account for the origin and ultimate destiny of life and the universe.

    2. Regards evolutionary history and biology, I have read Triablogue writers mentioning that there are notable secular evolutionists who argue against the dominant evolutionary theory of Neo-Darwinism. James Shapiro at the University of Chicago is one I remember mentioned. There are many others. But I believe you can search the Triablogue Archives to see more good arguments against Neo-Darwinism and other evolutionary theories.

      Regards theistic evolution, an entire book, over 1,000 pages in length, was published against theistic evolution only few years ago. It is called Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical and Theological Critique. It contains essays by many intelligent scientists, philosphers, and theologians arguing against theistic evolution. Their criticisms are also generally relevant to evolutionary theory.

      Hope it is helpful for you to consider.

    3. Hello Gerald. I'm afraid I don't have much truck with those who seek to argue against, or undermine, evolutionary theory, since I think they're fighting a losing battle. I don't think evolutionary theory is reconcilable with theism, but as I said, a number of intelligent people think otherwise.

      I also repudiate the term 'evolutionist', since I surmise that it was coined by creationists. No one ever speaks of 'gravitationists', for example. In any case, I don't wish to get into this age-old debate. Suffice to say that while I feel compelled to accept that biological life came about through Darwinian evolution, I don't see how it could be that whatever force was at work during John Burcombe's bizarre experience as he fetched an alarm clock could be the result of a biological process; or how a biological process might confer the ability to shape-shift.

    4. Thank you Anthony for replying. I have scientific backgrounds and degrees. I do not know what you have read regards evolution but it does not sound like you have studied it very deeply based on your reply. There are several modern evolutionary theories but clearly the predominant one is what I said above, Neo-Darwinism. Secular atheists Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Bill Nye and most others are Neo-Darwinists. And in the scientific literature, the term evolution and evolutionists are often used by Neo-Darwinists. There is no controversy in the use of the term. Interestingly you bring up gravitation because it is not fully understood and there is debate but it is another debate. You can search for yourself. Neo-Darwinism is a theory that has been challenged significantly by secular scientists. I mentioned James Shapiro. He is not religious. He is an esteemed professor at a prestigious university. He wants to maintain a different theory of evolution, not Neo-Darwinism. Have you read his book Evolution A View From The Twenty - First Century? It is not ignorant or from a Bible Thumper Redneck. It is based on strong scientific evidence. There are many other secular not religious scientists who believe Neo-Darwinism is a failed theory but they do not wish to give up evolution as such. I recommend that you study it further if you are interested.

    5. I don't wish to get drawn into this debate Gerald (though mind you, the scientific community doesn't think there's anything to debate, except issues that have arisen between evolutionary biologists like Gould and Dawkins). However, one might equally say that anyone who seeks to undermine Darwinian evolution hasn't studied it very deeply - or is blinkered and is distorting it. True, my knowledge of evolutionary theory doesn't go beyond the introductory level, but I am satisfied that micro- and macro-evolution happens and that all life on earth is related. How that process got underway is another matter, but there's no reason to suppose it was by the machinations of some kind of Supreme Being. In fact, the idea that any Supreme Being would conceive of and implement such a red in tooth and claw process alarms me.

      In any case, as I've hinted already, one of my chief preoccupations is how we might reconcile is quite how we might reconcile the events at Enfield and theories like panpsychism with biological evolution.

    6. Thank you Anthony. Out of respect for your statement about not wishing to be drawn into debate, please do not feel need to reply. I am already grateful you have engaged me. But I do want to say some things.

      First, scientific truth should not be based mainly on scientific consensus. There are many instances throughout history where scientific consensus has been mistaken. See Thomas Kuhn's The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions for examples.

      Second, if we should always accept scientific consensus, then the scientific community does not believe in panpsychism, parapsychology, paranormal, psi, etc, so you should not believe in these things either. But you do believe in these phenomena, and I do too, despite the fact that the scientific community is against us. The same can be applied to Neo-Darwinism. Therefore even if Neo-Darwinism has scientific consensus, it does not mean scientific consensus is correct.

      Third, but it is not true that there is a scientific consensus for Neo-Darwinism. There are sharp divisions and significant disagreements among evolutionists. The skeptics or critics of Neo-Darwinism are in the minority, but they are a significant minority. They are not religiously motivated but scientifically motivated. There are many secular scientists who are skeptical of Neo-Darwinism.

      Fourth, the issues between Gould and Dawkins (punctuated equilibrium vs phyletic gradualism, spandrels vs natural selection) are debates from decades ago. These are not the most recent debates, though they exert ongoing influence today. I hope you do not believe Gould vs Dawkins represents the latest scientific arguments and data on Neo-Darwinism.

      Fifth, scientific consensus should never be the final test for the truth or falsehood of a scientific theory. The best test for the truth or falsehood of a scientific theory is the science itself, scientific experimentation, scientific evidences and scientific arguments.

      Sixth, we can allege each of us is "blinkered" or "distorting" the scientific evidences and arguments for or against Neo-Darwinism. But the best way to settle this is to engage in the scientific evidences and arguments. You do not wish to do so. That is fine. But we cannot move forward without engaging the science.

      Seventh, if you are not sufficiently familiar with the science, then I do not see how you can be so confident that the science supports Neo-Darwinism. You are relying on the scientific community, but the scientific community is not united on this. Therefore it is more logical for you to be undecided than to be so confident about Neo-Darwinism or even other evolutionary theories.

      Eighth, your statement that "the idea that any Supreme Being would conceive of and implement such a red in tooth and claw process alarms me." This is an argument against theistic evolution (Neo-Darwinism), but I do not hold to theistic evolution. But if you are implying the problem of natural evil, then you will have to formulate a specific argument for me to respond. It is not evident to me without a specific argument that animal predation is necessarily morally evil if that is what you are implying.

      Eight, panpsychism has its own philosophical and scientific problems, but I will say no more unless you wish to debate this. Thank you again.

    7. You make some cogent points, Gerald. I wouldn't speak of scientific truth, actually, and if I have used that term I shouldn't have. I'm on friendly terms with a professional biologist, and he has cautioned me that all scientific knowledge is provisional, as you also imply. Evolutionary theory, he averred, could be overturned tomorrow - and I think by that he might have meant if, say, Haldane's Precambrian rabbits were found after all. But as the professional biologist has also said, evolutionary theory is currently the best explanation for the observable facts. Creationism holds no explanatory power for me.

      To some degree, I can appreciate why the scientific community rejects psi, so I can't accept your comparison. Scientists complain about psi's lack of replicability and the fact that, unlike other sciences, psi isn't building on an established base. For my own part, I don't feel that we should apply these standards to psi, as it might be preferable to apply the standards of the law court instead. Psi seems to be a quixotic and ephemeral thing.

      Well, my point about the Supreme Being and biological evolution was an argument against theism itself. I can't intellectually reconcile the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient deity initiating such a brutal, haphazard process. I can't reconcile the idea that after aeons of mass extinctions and cataclysms and the emergence and highly precarious existence of humans, a Supreme Being decided to stage an intervention a mere 2,000 years ago. I can't believe in the idea that the bizarre and exotic Loa loa filariasis is ultimately the product of intention and design on the part of a deity, as presumably it must be according to Christianity. I can account for and believe in these things, however, in the context of an indifferent and goalless biological experiment.

    8. Thank you again Anthony. Sorry for long wait because it was busy week. Please allow me to respond:

      I wouldn't speak of scientific truth, actually, and if I have used that term I shouldn't have. I'm on friendly terms with a professional biologist, and he has cautioned me that all scientific knowledge is provisional, as you also imply. Evolutionary theory, he averred, could be overturned tomorrow - and I think by that he might have meant if, say, Haldane's Precambrian rabbits were found after all. But as the professional biologist has also said, evolutionary theory is currently the best explanation for the observable facts. Creationism holds no explanatory power for me.

      I am a professional biologist in Canada if a researcher with advanced degrees in the biological sciences and working in an academic lab will count as professional. :) But I would respectfully disagree with your professional biologist. I will also say I know several professional biologists and other relevant scientists who would disagree with your professional biologist on his point about Neo-Darwinism. But as I said that is why there is debate over Neo-Darwinism as to whether it is or is not "the best explanation for the observable facts." If the professionals disagree, though I will grant most do accept Neo-Darwinism (but many accept it uncritically too), but simultaneously there is a significant minority who disagree. I am again not talking about people in Intelligent Design or other religiously motivated organisations or individuals. I am talking about secular scientists. They believe Neo-Darwinism is flawed and some critically flawed. They propose alternative evolutionary theories.

    9. I would not say all scientific knowledge is provisional. If I have implied that, I apologise, but I would not say this is what I believe. I instead believe there is much scientific knowledge that is established, but some scientific knowledge can be provisional. Simple example is I believe in the existence of different types of cells. I would not state their existence is provisional but I would say existence of cells is scientific knowledge that is established scientific knowledge. Cells exist. We have observed different types of cells under the microscope. These are the observable facts. I do not see how these observable facts change. The observable facts might become more clearer or sharper over time with more discoveries, but the fundamental existence of an object that we call the cell is established. Cell theory might need fine adjustments over time but the existence of the cell itself is established, I believe.

      I believe in scientific laws. Scientific laws can be challenged but most are laws for good reason. I can pick famous examples (such as the second law of thermodynamics) but perhaps it is more fun to pick slightly less famous examples. I pick Bernoulli's principle and as Hagen–Poiseuille equation as examples. Both are in field of fluid dynamics (and aerodynamics). More fundamental examples are fundamental forces of the universe such as the strong and weak nuclear forces. Perhaps our understanding of the strong and weak nuclear forces is not perfect, or that there is a more fundamental force, but the existence of these forces seems as established as can be.

      But if all scientific knowledge is provisional and it is possible to overturn tomorrow, then that does not of necessity justify your confidence in an evolutionary theory like Neo-Darwinism. If all scientific knowledge is provisional and could be overturned tomorrow, then it seems like this is a better argument for neutrality regards evolutionary theory. Even "the best explanation for the observable facts" does not mean it is true explanation, especially if it is provisional and can be overturned tomorrow.

    10. A deeper question is what is relation between scientific truth and scientific knowledge if we cannot speak of scientific truth and if we live in a universe where all scientific knowledge is provisional? At most extreme, it seems to be a recipe for radical skepticism. We can't know anything with sufficient confidence or certainty. Best is we can use probabilities to say some knowledge is more probable than other knowledge. But a problem is where do the mathematical and logical laws that probabilities themselves are based come from? If mathematical and logical laws are "provisional," too and if all scientific knowledge is provisional, then we can be skeptical about the foundations of knowledge. That is a recipe for disaster. We will be like Alice in Wonderland falling down and down the rabbit-hole.

      Regards Precambrian rabbits, some evolutionists have said it is unfalsifiable in the context of falsifiability being a criterion for what science is. Other evolutionists have pointed to creatures such as Haikouella, Nematostella vectensis and Pikaia (Stephen Jay Gould was full of wonder about it and its place in the evolutionary time line) as potential evidence of Precambrian rabbits. And still other scientists even reject fundamental ideas like gradualism from beginning. I do not always agree myself with these criticisms, actually I disagree with some criticisms, but it is notable there is debate over even Precambrian rabbits. This debate is again between secular scientists and not between religious scientists.

      I would not say you need to accept creationism in order to reject Neo-Darwinism. As I have said, many secular scientists reject Neo-Darwinism without accepting creationism.

    11. To some degree, I can appreciate why the scientific community rejects psi, so I can't accept your comparison. Scientists complain about psi's lack of replicability and the fact that, unlike other sciences, psi isn't building on an established base. For my own part, I don't feel that we should apply these standards to psi, as it might be preferable to apply the standards of the law court instead. Psi seems to be a quixotic and ephemeral thing.

      But if you can reject psi because of lack of replicability, then Neo-Darwinism is also not replicable. Microevolution is replicable, such as bacteria developing antibiotic resistance. Microevolution is accepted by everyone including creationists. Microevolution is not in question. But I am speaking of macroevolutionary tree of life levels. Macroevolution is not replicable. To paraphrase Stephen Jay Gould, we cannot run the tape of life again, not on our planet Earth at least (but possibly we can observe other planets over millions of years if we can find life to observe elsewhere in universe, but obvious problem is we have not found this kind of life yet). Question is whether macroevolution is or is not microevolution with enough time (millions or billions of years). That is point of contention. But regards replicability, we cannot replicate macroevolution. We accept it is scientific on other grounds, but not on replicability.

      I believe standards of the law court can include scientific evidence.

    12. Regards scientific community and psi comparison with scientific community and Neo-Darwinism. This will depend on exact points of comparison. My earlier point only was to criticise the idea that scientific truth should be primarily based on scientific community as a consensus. Truth should not be decided by consensus. Truth should be decided by facts, evidences and arguments. Consensus of scientists is not unimportant. But consensus is important because we assume most scientists agree on the scientific facts, evidences and arguments. If 99% of expert scientists agree, then the matter is settled. But what if 60% agree, but 40% disagree? Or 80% agree, but 20% disagree? Or 90% agree, but 10% disagree? Where do we draw line? I believe this is closer to what is happening with consensus on Neo-Darwinism presently. Therefore, the only way to settle the science is to look at the science. Maybe the 10% or 20% who disagree are wrong, but that is settled by the scientific facts, evidences and arguments. It is not settled by consensus because consensus has been broken or is breaking. My comparison with psi was based on most of the scientific community doubting psi is real phenomenon, but there are a minority of scientists who do believe in psi. But I would claim the scientific case against Neo-Darwinism is stronger than the scientific case for psi, but I still accept psi is real phenomenon with real scientific basis.

      Well, my point about the Supreme Being and biological evolution was an argument against theism itself. I can't intellectually reconcile the idea of an omnipotent, omniscient deity initiating such a brutal, haphazard process. I can't reconcile the idea that after aeons of mass extinctions and cataclysms and the emergence and highly precarious existence of humans, a Supreme Being decided to stage an intervention a mere 2,000 years ago. I can't believe in the idea that the bizarre and exotic Loa loa filariasis is ultimately the product of intention and design on the part of a deity, as presumably it must be according to Christianity. I can account for and believe in these things, however, in the context of an indifferent and goalless biological experiment.

      Much of this regards theistic evolution, but I am not theistic evolutionist. But other aspects I am sorry I do not follow exactly. Christianity does have good arguments for problem of moral evil, problem of natural evil, problem of animal suffering, arguments for design and arguments about dysteleology or bad design and other arguments. Some of these arguments Triablogue have explained. Example here:

    13. Word choice "brutal" is interesting. Is "brutal" assuming a moral judgement or value? If so, and if atheism and evolution are true, then "brutal" is subjective judgement or value from human perspective. It is in the end meaningless. More like a feeling or emotion that we feel like "disgust," but without fundamental value. A lion chases and kills an antelope, mass extinctions occur, Loa loa filariasis diseases, but these are only "brutal" in the sense that humans do not like them. But it is no different than if humans do not like the colour red or prefer the colour black. Nature is red in tooth and claw and that is how it is. This is simply nature at work. Nature is just nature. Famously, we cannot derive what "ought" to be from what "is." We cannot say it "ought" to be brutal or not brutal. Nature is just how it "is." Richard Dawkins said sk best: "The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored. In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference." If Dawkins is correct, then life is meaningless, valueless or purposeless. What we do or how we live does not fundamentally matter much in big schemes of life and universe. Only to us it matters for a short time, then it is all over. That to me is many more fearful to consider than Christian religion. But these are only my thoughts. Thank you again for stimulating discussion Anthony.

    14. I want to add Charles Darwin's famous Darwin's doubt: "With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of the lower animals, are of any value or at all trustworthy. Would any one trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?"

      Darwin is talking about if atheism and evolution are true, then it is difficult to rationally believe atheism and evolution are true! It is a dilemma.

      The famous Darwinist J. B. S. Haldane said the same: "If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true . . . and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms."

  7. Thanks Jason.

    I will notify you if I find out more information about Hallowell. His erstwhile partner, Darren Ritson, has noted on his social media page that after a considerable number of years in the field and because of some health issues, Hallowell is taking a backseat. In the few years after the publication of ‘The South Shields Poltergeist’, Hallowell was a vigorous defender of the case, and engaged with reviewers on Amazon. In ‘Contagion’, which I thought was a very thought-provoking read, Hallowell and Ritson formulated the idea of there being an ‘arch-poltergeist’. Dr Peter McCue, who has written some interesting works on the paranormal himself, noted in his review of ‘Contagion’:

    ‘In the light of the many commonalities and synchronicities that the authors have noticed, they suggest that poltergeists may not be individual entities, living independently of one another, but rather a "hive-mind" or collective - which, to all intents and purposes, is one "arch-poltergeist" (p. 200). This accords with my own view that many paranormal manifestations (including a good many UFO phenomena) may be the orchestrations of a tricksterish higher intelligence.’

    At any rate, I haven’t heard or read that Hallowell has sought to distance himself from the legitimacy of the South Shields phenomena; and although I have some doubts about his judgement in the light of what appears to be a predilection to accept conspiracy theories, his investigative methods at South Shields seem to me to have been thorough and the views he expressed about the case sensible. Guy Lyon Playfair also provided an introduction ‘The South Shields Poltergeist’.

    I share your vague impression about the artificial production of sounds in the Enfield case. I’m particularly intrigued as to why the poltergeist would on the one hand upend a heavy chair, then on the other hand artificially produce a similar sound, when it has no need to do so. There are a number of interesting instances of phenomena that has a curiously manufactured and staged quality to it. Shortly after his investigation of the R.M.S. Queen Mary, in which he detected nothing untoward, Tony Cornell learnt that just after his departure from the ship, a man who had been occupying cabin A141 was suddenly woken up in the dark and saw a luminous figure of a man which did not move but just stared at him. Cornell comments: ‘He told me that what puzzled him most was the fact that the figure seemed to be suspended about two feet above the cabin floor *and it looked like a cardboard cut-out’* (my emphasis).

    I thought this remark was interesting and that, in the same way that auditory phenomena can be artificially produced, apparitions can sometimes be too. As ever though, the phenomena merely obfuscate matters, rather than elucidates them.

    1. The cardboard cut-out quality of the apparition reported to Cornell is unusually strange. I don't remember hearing of any other apparitions with that characteristic.

      I think you're right about a pattern across paranormal cases involving events that are genuinely paranormal, but have an aspect of artificiality to them. It does seem to be a recurring theme. I'll have to keep that in mind as one of the categories to look for in the future.

  8. I don't remember either ever having read of an apparition that resembled a cardboard cut-out. I mention it here of course because the comment is germane to our discussion of the artificiality of some phenomena - though Cornell doesn't expand on it himself. It's also curious that Cornell didn't encounter anything strange aboard the Queen Mary, as the Most Haunted team had rather the opposite experience. But of course, paranormal phenomena doesn't work to order.

  9. Jason,

    I’m a longtime reader of Triablogue, but this is my first comment. My mom also has been a regular reader of the blog for a while. We greatly appreciate the work that you, Steve, and the rest of the blog team have done for years now, including your work on paranormal issues. One of the many things I appreciate about Triablogue is its willingness to tackle neglected or unusual issues from an orthodox Christian perspective and address them in a serious, detailed, well-informed, intelligent manner.

    The paranormal is an important subject to us, because for a period of three years when I was a young child, we lived in what I believe would best be described as a haunted house. We experienced many significant paranormal occurrences (some being the same types of things mentioned in this comment section) for which I can think of no plausible naturalistic explanation, and it has left a lasting impression on us. Perhaps most significantly from an evidential standpoint, I saw and spoke with apparitions of the previous resident, who had died in the house. My parents had never met or seen this man and knew next to nothing about him; they were not even aware until later that he had died in the house. I knew nothing of him at all, yet I was able to describe him accurately, relay accurate information about him (including some unusual or insignificant details about his appearance and behaviors), and tell my mom his name (while missing one consonant of his last name, perhaps due to mishearing or mispronunciation on my part). My mom spoke with others who had known the man, and she was able to confirm with them the accuracy of the information I had relayed to her. We experienced many other paranormal occurrences in the house throughout the time we lived there, including some of a more sinister nature, and much of the activity seemed to center on me.

    Unfortunately, there seems to be something of a dearth of material addressing the paranormal from a Christian perspective, and when Christians do address the topic, they often do so inadequately. We have observed that many Christians seem to become dismissive, uneasy, or even combative when paranormal issues are discussed. I find these sorts of reactions somewhat puzzling, although I have some ideas about why they may occur in some cases. (I believe you have put forward some theories on this before, if I remember correctly.) As you point out, there are many good reasons for Christians to study and address the paranormal, and the paranormal can have apologetic value. I believe that God has used our personal experience of the paranormal to bolster my faith, since it has made it very difficult for me to doubt the existence of the supernatural. We were not churchgoers at the time of our experiences; but the responses we received from pastors when we later began attending church were simply to tell us that the things we had experienced were demonic in nature, and not much else was said. The work that you and Steve have done on these topics has been much more thorough and has given us more explanatory options, which has been greatly beneficial to us in thinking through and trying to understand our experiences and the paranormal in general.

    Thanks again for all the work you do, Jason! Your in-depth writing on the paranormal (and other topics) has been very beneficial to us. My mom has also mentioned the empathy that she feels for the Hodgson family, having experienced some similar (though less severe) occurrences, and has said that she can particularly relate to Peggy Hodgson and the fears she must have had for her children. She noted her appreciation for the tributes that you have been writing to those involved in the Enfield case. We miss Steve and his posts. (There are many positive things I could say about Steve and the influence he has had on me through his writing.) We’re glad to see you continuing the good work that you have been doing for years. Triablogue has had an immeasurable influence on me and has been a great help and learning resource. Keep up the good work!

    1. Thank you! That's highly encouraging.

      Your point about the difficulty of doubting the existence of the supernatural after going through an experience like yours is important. As bad as that kind of experience is to go through, it makes it harder for you to be deceived by the secularizing, trivializing nature of the culture.

      I suspect the large majority of Evangelicals haven't given much thought to the harm that's done by being overly dependent on the demonic hypothesis as an explanation for the paranormal. The inaccuracy involved is a problem. And it suggests to other people that we don't have as much concern for accuracy as we ought to have. It hinders research into the relevant issues. It causes fear, grief, shame, and other problems in the lives of people who experience the paranormal. Etc. The demonic hypothesis has to be one of the explanatory options on the table for a Christian. It ought to be on the table for non-Christians as well. But there's a large gray area between having it on the table and resorting to it as often as Evangelicals do.

      I hope what you've posted here will be helpful to other readers for years to come.

      Thanks again for the encouragement and for telling us what you and your mother went through.

  10. BPL's post is fascinating, and he is to be commended for sharing his experiences, given the opprobrium many experients face.

    Would you be willing to expand on your experiences, BPL? For example, what did you discuss with the apparition? Actual interaction with apparitions is a comparatively rare paranormal phenomena. And what paranormal events of a more sinister nature happened?

    1. Thank you, Anthony. I’ll try to expand a little on some of our experiences.

      My parents and I moved into the house when I was 3 years old. The activity started before we had even moved in, when we were at the house getting things ready for the move. My mom was in the kitchen, and I was in the living room, in her sight. I suddenly began talking, and she asked me to whom I was speaking. I told her that I was speaking to a man in the room, and I began asking her, “Can’t you see him?” She couldn’t see or hear anyone, so she asked me what the man looked like. I told her that he was an old man with black hair. She thought that odd. If a child were to make up an imaginary old man, wouldn’t he be more likely to say the old man had gray hair, rather than black? She then told me to ask the man his name. I asked, and then told her his first name. Later, when we were outside and about to leave the house, I asked the man, much to my mom’s consternation, if he wanted to go with us! I then relayed that he had said that he couldn’t, because he had to work on his car. After we left, my mom asked me his last name, and I told her (but missed one letter).

      Later, my mom spoke with others who had known the man and his wife, one of whom was an older woman who lived next door. Through them, she found out the man’s name. The first name that I had told her was a nickname that he went by with those who knew him. In addition, my mom was told that the man had been a barber, and that he dyed his hair black until the day he died, which matched the description I had given.

      After we moved in (my mom did so reluctantly), my encounters with the apparition of the old man continued for a while. On one occasion, I told my mom that he was driving me crazy, and that he kept counting, “1, 2, 3, 4, 5; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5….” She was puzzled by this, and mentioned it to the neighbor who had known the man. The neighbor said that when her children were young, they would go and visit this man and his wife, and the man would always count out five pennies to each of her children. Once, I told my mom that the man was “saying bad words.” My family was quite strict and sought not to expose me to foul language or anything inappropriate, so this incident was somewhat strange. On another occasion, I was sitting on the side of the bed in the master bedroom, and my mom was helping me get my shoes on in preparation to go somewhere. I told her that the man was standing behind her in his underwear and bedroom shoes. On still another occasion, I told her that the man was holding a little girl, and I told her the girl’s name. She asked someone who had known the man about this, and they told her that the man and his wife had a young daughter who had died, and had no other children. They did not know the girl’s name, however.

      (Continued below)

    2. (Continued from above)

      I do not personally remember my encounters with the apparition of the old man; they stopped while I was still quite young. I do remember some other things that happened in the house, however, and some were quite terrifying. Once when we were getting ready to leave the house, my mom went out to do something at the car and left me standing at the back door in the kitchen. Suddenly, I flung myself against the glass of the back storm door, screaming and crying. When she ran in to see what was wrong, I was so upset that I couldn’t tell her, so she had me draw a picture of what I had seen. I drew what appeared to be a piece of furniture of some sort, with eyes. I believe I remember this event, although my memory of it is not entirely clear on all points. I believe I remember a piece of furniture, with large, cartoon-style eyes, appearing in front of me, running toward me, and then vanishing. In another incident that I remember, my parents and I were in the master bedroom when I began to walk out into the hallway. The bathroom door was next to the bedroom door, at a right angle to it. As I recall, when I was about to walk out, I saw a green hand reach out of the bathroom and grab the doorjamb, then pull back into the bathroom. I froze, and my parents asked me what was wrong. I told them, and they checked the bathroom, but found nothing.

      We experienced many other things in the house, and some visitors had experiences as well. On several occasions, we heard loud noises or crashes without any apparent physical cause, and once my grandmother was over and also heard a loud crash. One of these occurrences was quite interesting. My dad and I were in the master bedroom, and my mom was vacuuming in the living room, on the other side of the wall. We began to hear loud banging on the wall. At first, my dad and I thought that my mom was banging on the wall, and she thought that we were. None of us had. Interestingly, the house had been remodeled before we moved in, and a door in this wall had been closed off.

      I also remember hearing low, murmuring voices when I would wake up in the mornings. Once, a cousin of mine came over and spent the night, and she heard voices while in bed. Earlier that evening, she and I had been playing (I believe we were playing hide-and-seek with my mom), and at one point, we went into the master bedroom and opened the closet door. It was a small closet with a light in the ceiling that was little more than just a light bulb. When we opened the door, the light was turning on and off by itself. On another occasion, I was sitting on the bed in the master bedroom, and my parents were in another room. There was a TV in the bedroom, and the remote was out of my reach. Suddenly, the TV turned on by itself, and the channel had changed from the one that it had been left on the last time it was used.

      Once, my mom was in the bathroom with the door pushed together (but not closed all the way), and the door opened. Some doors have a tendency to swing open on their own, but that was not the case with this one. The door swung open so abruptly that she thought my dad had opened it, but no one was there. She would also sometimes smell bacon and eggs when she would get up in the morning, as if someone were cooking. Someone who had known the man who died in the house told her that he would cook breakfast for his wife every morning.

      This is a summary of some of the more significant or interesting activity. My dad worked until late at night at the time, and my mom was afraid to be in the house at night without him there. Thus, we spent much of our time away from the house, often at my grandparents’ house nearby. I’ve often wondered if subsequent residents of the house have experienced anything paranormal and, if so, what those experiences have been.