Observations placeholder

Haunted houses



Type of Spiritual Experience


Number of hallucinations: 1


A description of the experience

From the MADS project (Magnetic Anomaly Detection System) web site

Growing evidence from laboratory research suggests that the application of weak, complex, low-frequency magnetic fields to the human brain can induce sympathetic shifts in neural activity and have consequences for cognition and awareness. The net effect of this interaction can be a magnetically induced altered-state of awareness often resulting in complex hallucinations. The likelihood of this occurring is improved if individuals show an increased degree of neural instability (i.e., brain damaged patients, Epilepsy patients, Migraine patients) that is the result of a dysfunction in inhibitory brain processing. Applied to the natural setting, what this suggests is that some spontaneous reports of apparitions and haunt-type phenomena may indeed be a naturally occurring magnetically induced delusion or hallucination. For this theory to be a viable account for spontaneous haunt-type experiences, such complex fields should be present, measurable and quantifiable, in some cases of reputed haunting. The MADS was developed to scientifically test this prediction in the natural setting.

Although the suggestion of complex magnetic fields is one possible account, it is not the only account for spontaneous strange experience. It is important to acknowledge that magnetic fields themselves are not the only variable with the potential to influence perceptions in observers. Many other physical dimensions and contextual factors may contribute and even predominate in certain cases.

Therefore, one should not expect to find complex fields in every case of a reputed haunting …… failure to find magnetic fields in a single case of a haunting is not convincing evidence against the account (though a failure for all researchers to ever find these fields would be). The magnetic fields hypothesis is only one potential account for these experiences, under certain circumstances, and is certainly not responsible for all experiences.

…. Our research is starting to suggest that particularly vivid, striking, and sustained haunt-reports, that can be said to have occurred to a number of direct eye-witnesses, in relatively localised places, are more likely to have a magnetic component to them. Fleeting ‘corner-of-the-eye’ phenomena and misperceptions of noise are likely to have completely alternative natural explanations for them. Finally, what might be very interesting for future research is to ascertain how such magnetic fields interact with other factors like, visual context of buildings and rooms etc, to induce haunt-type experiences in susceptible individuals. For example, magnetic fields may induce heightened neural activity in observers, but it may be the immediate experiential context that guides the experiential content and the content of the resulting haunt-type experience.

The source of the experience

Ordinary person

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps