Hoaxes Throughout History
Middle AgesEarly Modern1700s1800-1840s1850-1890s
1900s1910s1920s1930s1940s1950s1960s1970s1980s1990s21st Century2014

Ghost Hoaxes

A case of suspected poltergeist activity in the mid-17th C. John Mompesson of Wiltshire claimed to hear strange noises in his home such as a drum beating, scratching, and panting noises. Objects, he said, moved of their own accord. Many people came to witness the spirit activity for themselves. But skeptics suggested Mompesson himself may have been behind the haunting, either to profit from those who came to see the spirit, or to decrease the value of the house (which was rented). More…
While developing a self-portrait, Mumler noticed the shadowy figure of a young girl floating beside his own likeness. He assumed it was an accident, but spiritualists proclaimed it to be the first photo ever taken of a spirit, and Mumler didn't argue with them. Instead, he went into business as the world's first spirit photographer and grew wealthy producing "spirit photos" for grief-stricken clients who had lost relatives in the Civil War. More…
On August 10, 1901 two English women visited the gardens of the Petit Trianon near Versailles. The controversy over exactly what these women saw there on that day would linger on for decades. The two women were Anne Moberly and Eleanor Jourdain, both academics, principal and vice-principal respectively of St. Hugh's College, Oxford. They were on vacation in France and decided to spend a day at Versailles. They first toured the palace and then agreed to explore the grounds in search of the Petit Trianon. Here is a rough account of what happened next: They began searching for the Petit Trianon but became lost. As they wandered, they passed a... More…
Police in Boise, Idaho were initially stumped by the case of an apparent ghost in the house of Peggy Zimmerman. The ghost made knocking sounds on the floor and could rap out correct answers to questions such as how many officers were in the room and how many guns were they carrying. The mystery was finally solved by a TV newsman who realized that the source of the rapping was Mrs. Zimmerman's 12-year-old daughter, Shelley, who was always present when the ghost was rapping. Shelley had the ability to surreptitiously crack her ankle by flexing it, thereby making a loud knocking sound. More…

Ghostwatch (Oct 1992)

On Halloween night, BBC TV aired a program called Ghostwatch, advertised as a live investigation into supernatural activity at a house in London. After a calm start, events quickly spun out of control when a malevolent spirit attacked the investigators, and then manifested back in the BBC studio. A terrified reporter warned that by airing the investigation on live TV they must have created a "massive seance," unleashing the spirit onto the whole of the UK. The program elicited a huge reaction. Many viewers phoned the police in panic. But there was no ghost on the loose. The program wasn't even live. It had been taped months before for Halloween. More…