Debunking Common Myths

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Debunking Common Myths

Even the most avid ghost lover is a little suspicious of some of the paranormal sightings reported on by ghost hunters. As I wrote in Haunted Flagstaff, every ghost tour I’ve been on has a lady in white who’s seen dancing across a barroom or floating down a hotel hallway. Ditto the ladies in red. I find some of these sightings legit, especially if the venue is historic and some eerie stories are attached. We all know that bars and/or taverns are full of high spirits and, as such, are attractive to those on the other side seeking earthly excitement.

With that being said, my ghost-busting detector sounds like a warning to slow down when I come across reports of “women in white” and “murdering bridegroom.” Not that it doesn’t happen or the stories aren’t real. It’s that these sad tales and ethereal sightings are so universal in the world of the paranormal that they may be stretching local history pretty thin.

I asked Dr. Karen Renner, Associate Professor of English at N.A.U. and lover of the macabre, to write an afterword for Haunted Flagstaff. I wanted someone who’d actually studied hauntings to debunk the more egregious ghost stories. She graciously consented and included examples of shared myths found across the United States.

My favorite takeaway from her writing was good advice for the researcher. If one notices a sudden and popular narrative emerging around a specific time period (for example, murder-suicide among newlyweds in 1944) look to the national news. Did such a tragedy actually occur and was it broadcasted and/or published? This trend has been behind more than one local ghost story, and Karen explores this phenomenon in her afterword. I hope you get a copy of Haunted Flagstaff and learn more about our town’s historic–and freaky– past.