10 Hauntings with Real World Explanations

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Mankind has been fascinated by the idea of an afterlife for thousands of years. The mystery of what awaits beyond this life is one none of us can ever have a definitive answer to. But there’s lots of speculation, and even a few sightings of things that may have come from beyond. Unfortunately for those who want to believe, some ghosts have real world explanations

10. The Snake Haunting

In 2014, a Canadian couple had slowly come to the conclusion that their home was plagued by a mischievous spirit. It was the only explanation they could come up with for why objects in their house were getting moved in the night when no one else was around.

Glasses were smashed on the floors, picture frames knocked over. Other items were shifted from one place to another. The couple were not pranking one another, so it looked like the paranormal might have been the best explanation. 

The answer to what was going on became clear one day when the couple’s 10-year-old son, hanging out at home with his mother, spotted something real but arguably as frightening. Hanging down from the ceiling was a 10-foot long reticulated python.

A neighbor of the couple had lost his pet snake and not informed anyone. Snakes of that size are illegal, so when it got away the owner must have just hoped it would come home on its own. Instead, it had made its way into the couple’s walls and was coming out in the night to search for food.

Animal control came and rescued the snake, while the owner faced a fine. The snake, along with a second one the neighbor had, was sent to a local zoo.

9. The Squatter Haunting

More than one horror movie has included a twist at the end in which it’s revealed the ghost was just a real human the whole time. That’s not just Hollywood goofiness, that really happens. When you think about it, any potential haunting makes more sense if it’s just a real person tricking you. But not every would-be ghost is actively trying to trick you. 

Some Ohio State University kids had moved into a three-story building and become convinced that one of their roommates was from the spirit world. Cupboards would be left mysteriously open and unexplained sounds filtered through the building. Bangs, and knocks, and more. 

When the students decided to investigate further, they headed to the basement to check a maintenance closet. Demonstrating why it’s a good idea to actually open all the doors in a home before you move in, they discovered the maintenance closet was not a maintenance closet at all. It was an entire room and another student had set up residence there. He had a full bedroom and access to a bathroom. And, obviously, he was helping himself to the rest of the house as well. He was just living rent free down there.

Amazingly, other people in the house had even seen him before. However, being a three-story student home, there were over one dozen students paying rent so he just said he lived elsewhere in the house and no one paid him any mind.

8. The Trapped Woman Haunting

You likely wouldn’t be surprised to hear a story of someone calling for help and being ignored. It’s common these days that many people don’t want to get involved in someone else’s problems. In fact, in real emergencies, it’s often recommended you shout “fire” when you need help because that will get people moving faster since their own safety is in jeopardy.

Less expected than strangers not willing to help each other is the reason some people won’t help others. A woman in China was trying to find a shortcut home when she cut through an alley. For whatever reason, the alley was very poorly designed and the passage became so narrow she could not squeeze through. Unfortunately, by the time she realized this, she was too far in and became stuck.

The woman called for help for seven solid hours. No one came to her aide because, according to the people living in the area, they assumed she was a ghost. When a neighbor woke up the next morning and heard the woman still calling for help, they realized it was perhaps not a spirit and called in emergency crews to help free the woman. 

7. The Catfish Haunting

An old-timey staple of any good haunting is the noises a ghost is supposed to make in your home. Footsteps in the attic, rattling chains, and of course banging in the pipes. This was at the heart of a haunting in China that had terrified residents of one building for years. Owner after owner left the property in fear, haunted by the ghostly sounds that echoed through the walls.

Neighbors had spread stories, and the house had developed a reputation. No one wanted to live or work there until a pair of brothers were convinced they could figure out what was going on. The house was sold far under value since no one wanted it, so it seemed like a good deal.

True enough, the brothers soon discovered that, late at night, the building would come alive with disturbing sounds. But they managed to trace them to a source: the first floor bathroom. They pulled up the bathroom floor and found the sewer line. That led them to a septic tank in the back. 

When the septic tank was opened, aside from the obvious grossness, they discovered movement. The tank was home to a family of leather-beard catfish

It turns out a previous owner had been a big catfish fan and cleaned them in the bathroom regularly. A few spry fish had slipped from his grasp and gone down the toilet. Leather-beard catfish can live in just about any conditions, no matter how rancid, so they not only survived but thrived in the septic tank. The noises everyone had heard for years were the fish becoming active at night and splashing about.

6. The Cellphone Haunting

Blame horror movies for making the laughter of children something terrifying. It’s happened enough times on film that the sound becomes eerie if you don’t see a readily available child chuckling at some SpongeBob. So maybe it’s no wonder that an Indian family confronted with the sound of a baby laughing from their coconut tree immediately thought a doorway to some manner of toddler Hades had appeared. 

The laughter began to occur regularly every evening, so the family consulted an astrologer who assured them that yes, they were being haunted by evil spirits. So they performed a ritual to make them go away and no dice. The laughter continued.


A local coconut picker had the answer to the mystery, and it was less paranormal and more slapstick. The man had been to the farm in the past to pick coconuts. Last time he was there he stashed his cell phone in a bag to keep it safe, but he forgot it up the tree. Later, when he noticed his phone was missing, he called in the hopes someone had it. Every day after work he called it. And, for reasons that are creepy in a different way, his ring tone was just the sound of childrens’ laughter. 

5. The Goat Haunting

The art of the obituary is a curious one. Not everyone can be commemorated with the same poetry and style. Sometimes this is because the person writing the words doesn’t have a grasp on what to say. Sometimes it’s because the departed didn’t have quite enough wild stories to make them stand out in memoriam. But every so often you’ll hear about someone who passed on and left a remarkable legacy. James Harwell Wilson was one of those people.

Wilson died back in 1865, and he owned a plantation during Civil War times, so it’s possible the man had a problematic history. But one story that survived him was detailed in a book called White Columns in Georgia, which chronicles tales of antebellum houses.

Wilson had apparently fled his home as the North was progressing into the area. He hid wheat in the support columns so that no one would steal it. But when they returned after the war, the family thought the house was haunted. Strange noises from the attic caused a panic until Wilson investigated and discovered the true culprit. Someone, in the middle of the Civil War no less, had stashed a goat in the attic. 

4. The Radio Haunting

Voices that seem to come from nowhere at all often indicate one of two things is happening. You either have a haunting situation, or a radio. One is certainly more plausible than the other, and it looks like the radio may even be the cause of some hauntings.

You may have heard in the past about people picking up radio signals in their teeth fillings. Turns out, there are plenty of other places where a radio signal can pop up outside of a radio. And when voices come from these mysterious locations, many people are inclined to think of the paranormal.

One of the best examples of this in the world came from Canada. Sackville, New Brunswick was home to some massive radio towers built for the Second World War. They were strong enough to broadcast around the world. After the war they didn’t have much purpose, but they did stick around until 2014. Thanks to the size and power of them, they had a continual effect on the local population.

Townspeople had long reported radio signals coming through toasters and fridges. For an added creep factor, sometimes a sink would pick up signals, recreating that bathroom scene from IT minus the blood.

Since the towers were dismantled, the phantom signals stopped but for quite a while many townspeople, and especially children, had to be constantly on edge and fearful that there were either intruders or ghosts in their homes.

3. The Toxic Mold Haunting

Most people would dismiss the idea of a haunting out of hand. Someone sees or hears a ghost in a spooky old house, they must be mentally unwell, or faking it. But at least one researcher had the idea that this may not be the case. Especially given some of the common elements haunted houses share.

Since many hauntings are alleged to take place in older buildings, a professor of civil and environmental engineering got to thinking. What if there’s a real explanation for this outside of ghosts or fakery?

One thing many old buildings are known for is poor air circulation. Factor in old building materials, maybe a history of moisture or leaks, and you have prime grounds for the growth of mold. Certain fungi, like rye ergot, are known to cause hallucinations and other similar symptoms. So what if all, or at least some, hauntings could be traced back to poor air quality caused by fungus and mold? What if spirits were just hallucinations brought on by exposure to these toxic spores?

Their research has concluded that a number of potentially haunted locations, places infamous for ghost activity, do have exceptionally poor air quality. It’s by no means definitive proof of the theory, but it definitely lends some credence to it.

2. The Prostitute Haunting

When you hear strange noises from an abandoned warehouse next to a cemetery, there are only so many explanations that are going to come to mind. The superstitious will assume ghosts right away. That’s what happened with one man in Wenzhou, China, when he heard unexplained noises from an old warehouse at night.

The man had seen lights and shadows and heard voices in the building. Others had similar experiences, but the doors were always locked during the day. So, fearing the worst police were called. 

When police arrived, it was not ghosts they discovered on the scene. A prostitution ring had been set up to use the building for business purposes, with two women and one man bringing clients to the warehouse late at night. 

1. Charles Bonnet Syndrome

Rational minded people believe there is a scientific explanation for everything. Others insist that if you see something unexplainable with your own eyes, then that must mean the supernatural is real. But there is at least one case when what you see with your own eyes is fooling you. Such is the case with Charles Bonnet Syndrome.

When you start suffering vision loss, you may be afflicted with Charles Bonnet Syndrome along with it. It’s characterized by vision hallucinations. When your retina is no longer able to process images properly, your brain can actually start filling in missing information with things it expects to see. Sometimes even things you remember seeing. And, in some cases, a mixture of all of this. That can lead to sufferers seeing, quite clearly, ghostly images or people who are not really there.

Sometimes the hallucinations are very mundane, maybe only simple shapes. But other times they can include animals, people, even fantastic creatures that can’t possibly be real. For some this is just offputting but for others it could be nightmarish. 

The length of the hallucinations may be mere moments. But some can last for hours. It’s easy to see how this could convince some people they’re being haunted.


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