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Ghost Story Themes & Origins

On a festive Thanksgiving evening, George Noory welcomed surprise guests coming in through the Secret Door. In separate one-hour segments, we heard from the well-known voice of esoteric ideas, Mitch Horowitz, research physicist and author Stan Deyo, paranormal researcher Rosemary Ellen Guiley, and multifaceted author Howard Bloom.

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Ghost Story Themes & Origins

Show Archive
Date: Monday - October 13, 2008
Host: George Noory
Guests: Brian Haughton, Richard Dooling

Appearing during the middle two hours, researcher of supernatural folklore, Brian Haughton discussed his work discovering the origins of the most popular ghost and paranormal stories. He explained that his research revealed that tales of hauntings are remarkable similar, regardless of location or culture, "I was looking at ghost stories from across the world and the same types kept coming up." He detailed such recurring themes as "white ladies," phantom battles, poltergeists, and headless horsemen.

He traced one ghost story back to the Roman period and a writer by the name of Pliny the Younger. Pliny had recounted a tale of a house haunted by a ghost rattling chains. This spirit eventually lead a philosopher to its unmarked grave, where a body wrapped in chains was unearthed. Upon being given a proper burial, the hauntings by the ghost ceased. Haughton observed that this same general story has been repeatedly told ever since, "This kind of ghost, certainly up the 19th century ... is quite a common motif and it's been there for 2000 years without much change."

Another supernatural sighting that has been reported all over the world, according to Haughton, is that of a huge black dog with glowing red eyes. He said that the dogs are often associated with a specific path or road and their intentions can be either good or evil, usually depending on the person reporting the story. Haughton speculated that the stories of the mysterious canines goes back to German folklore tales of packs of wild dogs and that, in contemporary times, the creature is mistakenly associated with the Alien Big Cat genre of cryptozoology.

The last hour of the show featured Open Lines.


First hour guest Richard Dooling talked about computer generated financial instruments and how they fueled the market meltdown. He lamented that the use of complex algorithms, called derivatives, by Wall Street has resulted in a situation where "we take something simple like human greed and we use computers to multiply it exponentially."

Bumper Music

Bumper music from Monday October 13, 2008

  • 1979
    Smashing Pumpkins