Most haunted county in England? — Yorkshire (based on number of reported hauntings)
Most haunted province in Canada? — British Columbia (based on Canadian consensus)
Most haunted state in the United States? — Well, maybe Texas (based on the findings of Ghosts of America) or perhaps California (based on “how many times our paranormal teams have been called to investigate”), but neither Texas nor California is one of the five most haunted states (based on Twitter and YouTube data).
Casting a much wider net, one might consider enjoying a tour of the 20 Most Haunted Places in the World. Disappointingly, the method of measuring hauntedness used to make these 20 choices is unexplained.
There’s a proud history to declaring “most haunted” status. In the early 1900s, Borley Rectory won in the category of Most Haunted House in England while, in the late 1800s, Ballechin House was considered the Most Haunted House in Scotland. A few decades earlier, my beloved Washington Irving referred to Sleepy Hollow — the real place in New York State — as “still one of the most haunted places in this part of the country.” Again, the yardstick for measuring hauntedness in these three cases is left behind in the work shed (or wherever else one leaves one’s yardstick behind).
Of course, the claim of “most haunted” is more hyperbole or a way to grab attention than an actual measurement based on objective and empirical quantification. Despite this, I thought I’d take a shot at inventing a scale to measure such things. It’s pretty straightforward. One records the points of specific manifestations at any given haunted site, then adds them up. Most points = most haunted. I call it the Prasil Scale of Hauntedness, and you’ll probably hate it.
Orbs caught on camera: 1 point. Okay, maybe it’s not just dust.
Lights flickering: 5 points. Hopefully, just faulty wiring.
Witnessing doors opening and closing on their own: 10 points. Fingers crossed for drafts.
Spotting human-shaped figure: 25 points. Add 5 points for walking or comparable movement. Deduct 5 points for shadow figures because “the pareidolia is strong in this one.”
Knocking or rolling: 5 points. Could be rats. Yeah, that’s it. Rats playing bocce ball.
Crashes: 5 points. Could be rats again. Now, they’re just messing with you.
Footsteps: 10 points. Oh, classic stuff!
Snippets of conversation caught electronically (i.e., EVP): 15 points. Probably nothing more than bleed-through from a parallel reality.
Music boxes or other music: 20 points. Yeeesch!
Whispers or muttering heard without special equipment: 30 points. Add 10 points for screams.
Laughter: X points. Seriously? You’re hearing disembodied laughter, and you’re concerned about accruing points?
Tactile and Olfactory Sensations
Spider-web feeling: 5 points. Probably those rats again. They conspire with spiders.
Weird smell: 10 points. Might be supernatural, but it might be the cheap cologne of that investigation team member who gets peeved when someone suggests everyone smile for the promotional picture. You know — the guy who thinks everyone has to scowl like you’re on an album cover of a 1980s hair band. Honestly, don’t get me started…
Cold spots (or warm/humid spots): 20 points. Another classic, but what if it’s something like being in a spectral swimming pool? I’ll stop there.
Touched by a clammy hand: 100 points. Get OUT! Get out NOW!
Other Freaky Stuff
Writing discovered on the mirror: 10 points. Have I mentioned those pesky rats? They’ll stop at nothing.
A ball bouncing down the stairs into view: 15 points. Proceed with caution — you might be in a horror movie.
Objects (re)moved from last known location: 25 points. You know, toddlers do that. Move things from place to place just because they can. I sure hope we don’t all become toddlers in the Afterlife.
Pets responding to something “invisible”: 30 points. Definitely creepy, but — if it’s a cat — check to make sure the focus beam of your camera is off.
Well, this is a start, even if it’s a really bad start. Feel free to scribble it all out and start over. My thanks (and apologies) to the good folks at the Big Séance Parlor, a Facebook group, for helping me come up with specific spectral manifestations.