I always wanted to believe. Believe in the stories, believe in the apparitions, believe in my father who convincingly and numerously recounted the tale of “the ghost on the back road” to his malleable young children. However, as convincing as he was, I always found myself suspended between belief and logic.
It wasn’t until October 2016 when the undeniable truth came barreling through my headphones. I was slowly making my way through all of the episodes of my favorite podcast, This American Life, when I heard a story which, in my mind, abolished ghosts from existence.
The episode begins with a 6 minute story where the host Ira Glass and guest Albert Donnay, read a true account from a 1921 medical journal. The story explains that after “Mrs.H” and her family move into a “rambling old house” a strange series of events begin to occur. The family, amongst other things, claim to experience all manner of ghostly activity. That is until, “Mrs.H” brother in law figures out what is happening.
It turns out the family were being slowly poisoned by gas. An investigation of the old house revealed that the furnace was sending carbon monoxide fumes directly into the house, instead of up the chimney. The symptoms can account for everything that the family were experiencing, thus ruining my belief forever.
I don’t think that all claims of ghostly existence are derived from carbon monoxide poisoning, however I do think it gives a good basis for their origin story.
Listen to the Episode: https://www.thisamericanlife.org/319/and-the-call-was-coming-from-the-basement
Source: This American Life