Patterico's Pontifications

10/27/2010

The Mystery Behind Ghost Sightings and Chupacabras solved? (Updated With Paranormal Lawyer Seduction! And the Amityville Horror: the Litigation)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 7:39 am



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; send your tips here.]

First Cracked tells us about The Creepy Scientific Explanation Behind Ghost Sightings.  Then we find out the less creepy truth behind the Chupacabra story.

Oh, and science proves that good luck charms work.

Meanwhile, I am waiting for someone to prove that if you have an umbrella it is less likely to rain.

Update: In other vaguely Halloween-themed news, the State Bar of Az. is seeking to disbar a lawyer who… uh… how about I let Law.com explain it to you:

The report says that [Attorney Charna] Johnson began representing the client involved with the most recent disciplinary action in 2000 in divorce proceedings after meeting him in a ballroom dancing class. The client’s wife committed suicide several months later, and Johnson handled the probate matters.

Within days of the death, Johnson began telling her client that “his deceased wife Jan had ‘come’ to her and that Jan’s ‘spirit’ was ‘inside’ her and that she could communicate Jan’s thoughts,” according to the report. The client testified that Johnson pressured him to have a sexual relationship with her, although she told the investigator that the references to sex were coming from the deceased wife, not herself.

The Disciplinary Commission Report (DCR) states that they did in fact have a sexual relationship.  One interesting thing is that both the DCR and the Hearing Officer Report dance around the question of whether she was actually channeling the dead wife, or at least sincerely believing that she was, and focused instead on other aspects of her misconduct, such as lying about it, and having a relationship that impaired her ability to represent her client (because she was allegedly channeling his wife).  I think they were reticent to allege fraud on a topic of religious import.  It’s sort of like how Jim Baker wasn’t accused of fraud based on him being a sleazy televangelist, but instead based on him overselling rooms.  As long as you keep your fraud to the ethereal, you are not likely to go to jail.

Hat tip to Overlawyered for that one.

And this doesn’t qualify as news because it is too old, but it all reminds me of a classic case Stambovsky v. Ackley (1991), which is more commonly known as the Amityville Horror case.  Yes, there was an actual legal case arising out of it. Basically the owners of the infamous house sold the property to outsiders who had no idea what they were buying for a price that really didn’t reflect the devaluation caused by it being a famously haunted house.  This resulted in a famous line in the pun-filled ruling:

Not being a “local”, plaintiff could not readily learn that the home he had contracted to purchase is haunted. Whether the source of the spectral apparitions seen by defendant seller are parapsychic or psychogenic, having reported their presence in both a national publication (Readers’ Digest) and the local press (in 1977 and 1982, respectively), defendant is estopped to deny their existence and, as a matter of law, the house is haunted.

(emphasis added).  In other words, what the judge was saying was, since the defendant had spent so much time telling the whole world their house was haunted, the defendants were stopped from denying it.  That is, they were not allowed to talk out of both sides of their mouth.  Which allows the court to treat the house as haunted without having to find as a fact that ghosts exist.  So chalk that up as another example of courts wanting to avoid making findings of facts on, well, the paranormal.  Which is understandable, but interesting.

And as you can also see, the court had waaaaay too much fun with it.

Of course, given the first item, the current owners might be able to fix the place to it is no longer “haunted.”

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

9 Responses to “The Mystery Behind Ghost Sightings and Chupacabras solved? (Updated With Paranormal Lawyer Seduction! And the Amityville Horror: the Litigation)”

  1. Maybe Obama’s voice has an 18.9Hz component. Every time I hear him speak I am filled with loathing.

    quasimodo (4af144)

  2. “they were not allowed to talk out of both sides of their mouth.”

    Now THAT is a legal precedent that I think should be refered to more often. If we can get it to apply to politicians and those who malpractice journalism, the world would be a much, much better place.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  3. md

    well, sadly, they only mean that in courtrooms they can’t speak out of both sides of their mouths.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  4. Yes, but it’s still no restriction on speaking out of their other mouth, which some seem to do quite a bit.

    AD-RtR/OS! (c987f6)

  5. Well, AW, it was the talking out of both sides of their mouth outside of the courtroom that brought them into the courtroom, was it not?

    “All” we have to do now is to get promises by political candidates to be taken as seriously as ghost stories, and they’ll be accountable to act in a manner consistent with what they say.

    On the other hand, if the typical politico wants to say ghost stories are more credible than what they promise, that would be an improvement, too, I think.

    “No, Virginia, the one didn’t make the oceans do what he told them to do.”

    Please, don’t burst my bubble just yet…

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  6. From experience, I have found that it is difficult to prove the existance of ghosts.

    Last Halloween, I bought a new camera and tried taking pictures of ghosts. Unfortunately, all of the photos were underexposed.

    As near as I can figure, the spirits were willing, but the flash was weak.

    punslinger612 (64ff1b)

  7. The “chupacabras are coyotes/coydogs/Mexican wild dogs/dogs with mange” thing has been the explanation since at least ’04, according to google news.

    Discovery is only…um… a few years behind the the cryptozoology stuff I read; the serious cryptozoologists (not a contradiction in terms, promise!) don’t think most of the sightings up here are “real,” because they look nothing like el chupacabra is supposed to.

    Picture of what they’d be looking for in a report.

    It’s like someone disproving Batboy by posting pictures of a rat with webbed fingers.

    Foxfier (24dddb)

  8. You’d think that the fact that five people were murdered at 112 Ocean Avenue(and possibly six–the unexplained basement body seen in some of the crime scene photos) would be more important than some ghost stories.

    Michael E. Stora, Ph.D. (ad44af)

  9. On closer look, I don’t think this is the same house. Victorian vs. Dutch Colonial and different town.

    Michael E. Stora, Ph.D. (ad44af)


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