History, Non-Fiction, social commentary, True strange Happenings, Zoehfeld-Kathleen Weidner

#586 Ghost Mysteries: Unraveling the World’s Most Mysterious Hauntings by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Ghost Mysteries: Unraveling the World's Most Mysterious Hauntings by Kathleen Weidner ZoehfeldGhost Mysteries: Unraveling the World’s Most Mysterious Hauntings by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Who doesn’t love debunking a good ghost story?

In this book, Kathleen mentions a passel of famous ghost stories, the stories she mentions have been debunked. She mentions the Amityville Horror and famous mediums. She speaks of ectoplasm and seances. The people in this book were all proved to be false, but sometimes reputations stuck.

Most of the things Kathleen debunks in this book are pure trickery. There are no “swamp gas” explanations in this book, even though Kathleen does mention similar causes of hauntings.

What I liked

I don’t think ghosts are “woo-woo.” This means I don’t think the idea of ghosts is out of the realm of natural possibility. Ghosts could be an actual thing as far as I’m concerned. Now, that doesn’t mean people don’t fake it. People fake ghosts and mysteries all the time. Are all ghost sightings fake? No, probably not, but are some of them fake? Definitely. People have used wires and machines that make little bumps on the underside of tables. People have made up elaborate stories and developed entirely new personas based on their elaborate stories. It’s a thing. Despite these people being frauds, it’s always neat to learn about them and how they tricked so many people. What made their stories so plausible? How did they pull it off?

What I didn’t like

Kathleen does not dismiss the existence of ghosts. She simply says some people faked it. What she fails to mention are other possible causes. Most of the people in this book, all of them probably, were faking it. What about swamp gas? What about psychosis? What about radon? What about sleep paralysis? Going deeper and darker–what about possible demonic possession because of an overall fostering of bad feelings in a location? Does a location have to have suffered a terrible death for there to be something bad there? These things are not viable explanations for everyone, but to some, they are.

I happen to know that the whole Amityville thing was a fraud, at least from what I’ve found through research, but I also happen to know that an acting crew who was doing a movie based on the original story was plagued by unexplained phenomena. Were they all crazy? Or did some bad spirit decide to feed off of the fear from the false story?

I mention these things to point out that there are further explanations besides “someone made it up.” Maybe it was just the wind and everybody involved wasn’t a bunch of big fakers. Honestly, I think these people were all big fakers, but that’s not the case with every ghost story a person comes across.


This was an interesting little book about the fakers of the supernatural.

Weigh In

Do you think false ghost stories could foster a real ghost?

Do you think some of these fakers believed what was going on?


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