Some people are naturally skeptical when it comes to claims of paranormal activity.
Whatever occurs, they will never accept that anything paranormal is occurring.
Others are more open-minded about these possibilities, and various methods can be used by unscrupulous people to fool them.
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the methods that can be used to fool the public into believing that paranormal activity is taking place.
Table of Contents
Methods Used To Fake Paranormal Activity
For the sake of this exercise, we are assuming that someone is setting out to make someone believe that paranormal activity is taking place at a certain location.
We are not unduly concerned with why they would do this, but solely interested in the methods they might use.
We will look at motives later.
Methods may be simple ones that involve no advance planning or could be tricks that have been planned and set up in advance.
We must also take into account the type of people we wish to fool.
For example, a group of enthusiasts who have come to a place in order to experience the paranormal is far easier to fool than someone who is naturally skeptical.
Imagine as the group approaches an old unoccupied house and they look up to see faint greenish lights moving around the house, visible through the windows.
Shadows can also be an effective way of creating effects that could appear to be paranormal in origin.
A moving shadow can be noticed in the “corner of our eye” and suggest movement.
Knowing where the light source is, that creates the shadow can allow an individual to suggest movement while standing a long way from where the movement appears to take place.
Changing colors of light can also induce feelings that something is happening.
Lighting is such an easy thing to play with as lights can be connected to timers programmed in advance.
There is a lot that can be done with magnets, especially electromagnets.
Embed an electromagnet in the wall above the mantel over a fire.
Place a metal object on display on the mantel, adjacent to the object.
When the electromagnet is switched on remotely, the object will fly off the mantel shelf apparently for no reason.
Immediately switch off the magnet and if someone replaces the object it will appear that there was no reason for its movement.
To overcome any suggestions that magnetism might be the course, embed metal in a wooden object so that it cannot be seen.
Knocks on the wall
This, of course, can be achieved very easily by having someone on the other side of the wall physically knocking, but that is so easy to caught by a savvy audience member.
A better method is back to our electromagnetic device that can be embedded in a hollow wall and set so that an arm will swing when the magnet is turned on, making a knocking noise. This can be triggered remotely, and unless anyone physically takes the wall apart will not be discovered.
Alternatively, a simpler method is to place a speaker inside the wall, and you can play any noise you want.
Creaking, Footsteps, and Voices
Any sounds you want can be pre-recorded and played back to order.
Speakers can be embedded in walls, under floors, in ceilings, etc.
With the technology that we have today, anything is possible.
If someone wanted to set up a haunted house or a location to hold seances then with some advance planning it would be possible to produce a very convincing “haunting.”
I doubt that any serious investigator would be fooled by these “tricks” but the average person would probably not question too much.
Of course, if a serious investigation were called in after people told what had occurred, then you would first need to remove all the technology.
Change of Temperature
This is perhaps one of the simplest effects to fake, with pre-programmed heaters hidden under the floorboards to make temperature increase or they can be on when people arrive and then switched off to make it suddenly feel colder.
Smells can be introduced by simply emptying a phial of a concentrated material onto the floor when nobody is looking, or once again you can use technology to blow perfumes from some hidden location in the house.
Programmed to work at a set time.
In much the same way a mentalist will place an idea into someone’s head, a skilled practitioner can make people believe they have seen things that never occurred or experience other phenomenon connected with the senses.
In this case, none of the technology would be required.
Remember, how certain illusionists can have the audience leave the theater convinced they saw something happen when in reality it never occurred at all.
Through distraction and their sleight of hand, they can create illusions where people have no doubt they saw something and will argue with anyone who disputes the fact.
Pre Select the Audience
As I said in the introduction, many people have a belief in the paranormal and would love to have that belief confirmed by experiencing some sort of phenomenon.
These people will more readily be convinced that something has occurred than it has not.
If you get one or two people believing that the paranormal is happening, then the rest of the group are more likely to go along, not wanting to be the only person to not see what is happening.
Real Case of Fraud
There are many cases where a fake paranormal activity happened all around the world.
With sensations and attention that is related to any paranormal activity, this will continue to happen most probably forever.
Let’s take a look at a real case of fraud.
The Enfield Poltergeist
In this case, there were reports of poltergeist activity at 284 Green Street, Brimsdown, Enfield England.
This took place between 1977 and 1999, and the two principles involved in the case were sisters aged 11 and 13.
Members of the Society for Psychical Research were split on the authenticity of the case.
In August 1977 Peggy Hodgson called police to her home claiming to be large pieces of furniture moving of their own accord.
She also claimed that two of her children had heard knocking on the walls.
These children were Margaret and Janet.
The police constable said she saw a chair move slightly but was unsure how it moved.
Two researchers Grosse and Playfair announced that they had caught the two girls playing tricks, but they still thought there was some genuine element (hardly a resounding endorsement).
Methods used by Janet included
- Bending spoons
- Banging on the ceiling with a broom handle
- One of the disembodied voices associated with Janet had key speech elements that were the same as Janet, like constantly changing topics.
- Later Janet and Margaret admitted pranking journalists, but researchers made them retract that statement. Not once did anything ever happen under controlled circumstances, despite the involvement of the researchers.
Later claims were of disembodied voices, loud sounds, toys thrown around, chairs that overturned, and children that levitated.
Many researchers attended, but there was no consensus about what was happening.
But why would the investigators not tell the truth?
We are told by later skeptics who investigated the “haunting” and the earlier investigators, that much of the evidence was very weak and the investigators seemed to have an agenda that was to prove the haunting was real.
They bent the facts to suit this.
Two of the earlier investigators were Ed and Lorraine Warren who made substantial amounts from writing a book and selling the story to the movie company that later produced The Conjuring 2.
A lot of their other investigations which also lead to books have also been debunked.
So, here we have a reason why creating a haunting can make a lot of sense.
Books that are said to be based on a true story typically sell a lot better than pure fiction.
So setting up or investigating a haunting can generate a lot of money from subsequent deals.
Natural Causes Can be Mistaken for Paranormal Ones
So far, we have looked at ways of trying to convince people that a paranormal event has occurred fraudulently.
There are also a second set of reasons why people believe the paranormal is to blame for events.
It is only in recent years that these have been fully understood.
Coventry University, UK
We will start with a paranormal location that was NOT caused by an intentional fake.
It turned out to be a natural phenomenon; not a human-made fake or genuine paranormal event.
On the university campus, there is a building from the 14th century that had a ghost story attached to it.
People who went into the cellar, including a self-professed witch, reported paranormal events and experiences.
Some even claimed to see the ghost of a woman (although not all).
Few people felt able to stay in the cellar for long.
Vic Tandy, a lecturer and part-time student of the supernatural, investigated and discovered a naturally occurring frequency in the cellar that was at a level that promoted hallucinations, get chills, and to see what was not there.
This case was one where a legend at built up, that was based on a naturally occurring frequency that nobody understood.
The cellar was reputedly haunted and the frequency induced hallucinations, and this then re-enforced the legend.
Only when the real cause was discovered was the haunting explained.
The H Family
Way back in 1921 a family moved into their new house and not long after the family started to feel weak, hear strange footsteps, get headaches, and seeing apparitions.
All very frightening stuff and it was getting worse.
One night the husband woke to the feeling of someone trying to strangle him.
Like any family, they initially put it down to the fact their house must be haunted.
However, Mrs. H consulted a doctor and it turned out that the boiler in the house was releasing Carbon Monoxide into the home, and the gas-induced all of the events.
Banging on ceilings with a broom handle, photographic trickery, and having a helper shouting and banging on walls, are simple ways of adding to an already charged psychological situation.
Using modern technology takes it into a new dimension and allows for much more complex deceit.
Why? Quite simply to make money, become famous, and to promote self-interest.