Monday 26 January 2015


I was asked what my thoughts were on the press reporting different types of phenomena which appear to follow a theme.

As some of you know, I recently exposed the `black eyed ghost girl/child` ghost hoax which, if the press were to be believed, had almost reached plague proportions in sightings across the UK and elsewhere.

Add a few years before that, the `Shadow People` ghost phenomena, and now the `Slender Man`.
All of these stories collectively are just that, stories. Before I give a more fuller explanation, it`s better if I show by example how the media works.

The media is all about selling newspapers and news stories. It isn`t about telling the truth.

The `Vicious German Shepherd` Hoax
A long time back German Shepherd dogs (according to the media) were seemingly attacking people across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom. In fact, so many reports were shared by the media that people became genuinely frightened of seeing these dogs - even on a leash, and the inevitable backlash ended up with  thousands of this breed being put down by owners, or by the courts as `dangerous dogs`.

But, were they so dangerous?

No they weren't, in fact there were more cases of small dogs attacking humans rather than German Shepherds or other large breed dogs. But the media were ignoring these reports, and instead only sharing dog attacks by German Shepherds - and all at a national level rather than in local news where these stories are often found. After a few weeks the media obviously became bored of the crazy German Shepherd phenomena, and the news reports died away.

It was all hype and sensationalist journalism.

The British Salt Hoax

On another note.  Years ago, Britain literally ran out of domestic  table salt. This was because of a deliberate media scare that salt supplies were running low (which wasn't true).
The word soon got around, and everyone ran out to buy as much salt as they could before it disappeared.  The result?  Through panic buying, Britain did run out of table salt.

Everyone was hoarding it.

So, let`s return back to the media reports of different types of phenomena. Most of any newspaper campaigns are based around a source material. In the case of `unique ghostly beings`, they are largely derived from urban legends, or simply ghost stories picked up from certain areas of the country.

The `Black Eyed Ghost Child` Hoax
 A classic case being that of the `black eyed ghost girl` from Staffordshire.  After the press pumped up alleged, `sightings`, the rest was left over to peoples imagination - which the media knew fully well was likely to happen, and especially on the advent of Halloween.
Very soon, she was being spotted in the South of England, and was reportedly `haunting` the London Underground!

Soon, further reports of her were spotted across the West Midlands. In fact, she was manifesting everywhere! And yet by the beginning of November, (after Halloween) she had completely disappeared.

Another hyped campaign had simply come to an end.

Before the popularity of the internet, these stories were largely confined to the countries of the reports origin.  But since the media now share their `news` across the web, phenomena campaigns run by the press have become global.

A recent example is that of the `Slender Man`.

Now `The Slender Man` Hoax
This phenomena has been reported across the internet world with many thousands of people believing it to be true.

The interesting fact is that the `Slender Man` was a fictional character created as an Internet meme  by Something Awful forums user Eric Knudsen (a.k.a. "Victor Surge") in 2009. It is depicted as resembling a thin, unnaturally tall man with a blank and usually featureless face, wearing a black suit. Stories of the Slender Man commonly feature him stalking, abducting, or traumatising people, particularly children.

It has no base in the etymology of any language or culture, and is pure fiction.

But regardless, no sooner than the name was known, people started to report seeing this creature.
It`s present popularity however is more due to online horror magazines than mainstream news, but as can be seen (left), the very same `news report` of the `black eyed ghost girl` has now been regurgitated as the `Slender Man` - So the media are now obviously hoping to exploit another myth which attacks the credibility of paranormal research, and by definition debases those that believe in this phenomena.

The important fact to bear in mind with any of these `manifestation reports` is that there is not one shred of evidence that supports these sightings as being true. Many alleged images are poorly made fakes, or misconstrued imagery, and the rest is left over to human gullibility , and vivid imaginations. If proof be necessary, read this famous account of what was later proved to be a hoax, but regardless even to this day, people still believe to be true.

The Vicar of Wapping Hoax
In the 1970s, a magazine printed the story of a famous ghost that haunted the Wapping and Limehouse riverfront known as the `Phantom Vicar of Radcliffe Wharf`. He was supposed to have run a seaman’s mission in the 1770s, although respected by the local community for his good deeds , he did however have a nasty sideline of killing his guests for their money and throwing their bodies into the water.

In the original  article written by a Frank Smyth for the  Man, Myth and  Magic  magazine, there were quotes from people who claimed to have seen the ghost of the evil cleric along the desolate riverfront. According to Smyth, local people who worked on the river never went down to the wharf after it got dark.

After the article, other magazines and books often made reference to Phantom Vicar who haunted the river-front, It was even featured in a TV special.

However in 1975, Frank Smyth who was a staff writer on the magazine  confessed to the Sunday Times magazine that he had invented the story. His motive was that he was so fed up with stories about modern ghosts that he decided to invent a good old-fashioned ghost and the derelict wharves seemed a perfect location for the mythical old vicar.

The reaction to the original story was such, that it soon become accepted that there was a Phantom Vicar and even when Smyth tried to convince some old river workers that it was fantasy, they replied they had heard the story from their Grandfathers when they were boys.

Which perhaps proves that many of us enjoy  a good scary story even if we know it’s not true.

And so here ends my article, but with a worrying thought that so many of us are willing to believe rather than what we know to be true because of what a newspaper tells us.

I am 100% a believer in the paranormal, but only on what I know from personal experience or have shown to be true. Media induced `urban legends` are not, and never will be an acceptable source of creditable research.

Chris Halton