Friday, May 11, 2012

Borley Rectory - Harry Price and Brian Dunning

I love ghost stories.  If you love ghost stories too, but also like getting the facts straight, then this is the project for you.

I came across this Skeptoid episode tonight "Borley Rectory: the World's Most Haunted House?
Were the events at Borley Rectory a real haunting, or the product of a hoaxster" and started looking into the Wikipedia pages for the Rectory as well as for Harry Price whom Dunning claims made it all up. 

 The Rectory Wikipedia page is full of stories and even a ghost picture.  The "hauntings" and "investigation" make up the majority of the article.  No mention of anything that Dunning discovered in his research.  

The Harry Price Wikipedia page is the same.  He is listed as a paranormal investigator and author.  The only mention of "hoax" was under his picture, and that was because the portrait was taken by William Hope who was a hoaxer.  (who is also listed as a paranormal investigator at his page)

There seems to be some disconnect with all these pages and the research Brian Dunning did on his article. 

Guerrilla Skepticism on Wikipedia is just that, we need to make sure that Wikipedia is correct.  If Dunning's research is incorrect then he needs to be told and I'm sure he will retract.  If Dunning is correct then these Wikipedia pages are in bad need of an over-haul.  

I do remember listening to a much more recent episode of Skeptoid when Dunning answers the question of why he loves doing these podcasts week after week for so many years.  He mentioned the Borley Rectory episode as one of his favorites because he was able to discover that the "spirit writing on the wallpaper" was actually people writing on a roll of wallpaper spread out on a table.  He also discovered that there was no evidence of the stories prior to Harry Price.  

Reading through the comments on the Skeptoid website I noticed one from someone who lived near the Rectory that said that the current residents are sick and tired of people trampling all over their property looking for ghosts.  That is really true, these stories are fun, but real people are harmed by them.  Can you imagine living in a really neat old house and having people standing outside your windows at night with EVP recorders and tossing stones at your windows?  That just isn't right. 

Brian Dunning offers several citations on his blog showing where he got his research from.  Good skeptics should never accept anything at face value.  Science tells us we should replicate findings and see if we get the same results. 

Surely there is one lover of ghost stories out there that would like to make a project of this?  Look into Dunning's research and see what conclusion you come to, keep an open mind like all good scientists should.  If the Wikipedia pages need to be rewritten, then we will take care of that.  Just let me know what you discover. 

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