Halloween is that special time of year when people willingly preoccupy themselves with horror and fright. Scary stories, haunted houses, and creepy costumes are a few of the holiday’s main attractions. While these may be enough to get your heart pounding, they are typically pretend. After the fun is over, you could return to your home and rest easy knowing the experience was make-believe.
But the world is full of strange and unexplained phenomena that are not always works of fiction. While skeptics trust that supposedly paranormal reports have natural explanations or are simply hoaxes, witnesses and believers insist that there are supernatural forces behind such mysteries. So as a Halloween treat, here are five spooky and unexplained phenomena.
Mysterious Sounds, Booms, and Lights- Sounds in the ocean can be fascinating. The VENTS program’s Acoustic Monitoring Project has been listening in on the planet’s ocean since 1991. While most of the sounds they discover can be easily explained, there are a few that remain a mystery. You can listen to these sounds yourself by visiting this site.
According to CNN, one of the sounds, the 1997 “Bloop”, was discovered at a frequency that placed it louder than all the known ocean animals, including large whales. Not only would the source probably be something gigantic, but scientists agree that it’s very likely biological in origin. The leading explanation for the sound is a giant deep-sea squid, but Boston University marine biologist Phil Lobel believes that, while the “Bloop” sounds biological, a giant squid couldn’t be the source because, “Cephalopods have no gas-filled sac, so they have no way to make that type of noise.” So if it isn’t a giant squid, what other huge living creature do you suppose is lurking in the ocean, sending out loud “bloops?”
But mysterious sounds are not limited to the ocean. There have been many mysterious sounds on land as well, and none more puzzling than unexplained sonic booms.
There have been numerous reports of sonic booms shaking towns, rattling windows, and generally scaring citizens without explanation. In all the cases investigated in this report by Sign on San Diego, seismometers detected no earthquakes; no meteors were observed in the skies; and the government claimed no flights; so what made the boom?
Some conspiracy theorists speculate that these events are the result of secret government testing or extraterrestrial UFO activity, but not surprisingly, the government denies these claims. What do you think?
Sounds are not the only mysteries out there. Tales of mysterious lights have been around for decades, and none are more famous than the Will O’ the Wisp phenomena.
Will O’ the Wisp (also known as Jack-O-Lanterns, the origin of the name for the pumpkin carving tradition) has been dismissed as igniting swamp gasses or ball lightning, but many people aren’t satisfied with these explanations. Paranormal forces often associated with the Will O’ the Wisp range from spirits of the dead to treasure guardians that will award you riches if you can follow them.
Superstition has it that the lights appear in the night to lead travelers off their paths and into trouble. Here’s a common Welsh version of the Will O’ the Wisp myth told by Mysterious Britain and Ireland:
“A peasant, who is traveling home late in the evening sees a bright light traveling before him, looking closer he sees that the light is a lantern held by a ‘dusky little figure’ which he follows for several miles. Suddenly he finds himself standing on the edge of a great chasm with a roaring torrent of water rushing below him. At that moment the lantern carrier leaps across the fissure, raises the light over its head and lets out a malicious laugh, after which it blows out the light leaving the unfortunate man far from home, standing in pitch darkness at the edge of a precipice.”
The Grinning Man- Though it’s unknown if there is one or several grinning men, the most well-known is Indrid Cold, the grinning man who appeared around the time of the famous Mothman Sightings. According to Profiling the Unexplained, Indrid Cold was described by witness Woodrow Derenberger to paranormal investigator John Keel as a tall, tan man wearing a “gleaming green” outfit. Derenberger claimed Indrid Cold communicated his name to him telepathically.
The Grinning Man is thought by paranormal and UFO investigators to be an alien or perhaps a member of the Men in Black (discussed later), but his outfit makes the latter explanation unlikely. Still, an unusually tall, telepathic figure with a disturbing, unearthly grin is a nightmarish concept.
The Hopkinsville Goblins– In August of 1955, The New Kentucky Era reported an incident near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, where dozens of witnesses saw a UFO release several short, big-headed sliver glowing men that they proceeded to fight with for four hours. When the police arrived on the scene, no traces of the aliens remained, but because of the number and reputations of the witnesses, the fact that other UFO’s were witnessed in the area, and the lack of evidence for alcohol intoxication, it has not been dismissed as a hoax.
Joe Nickell of The Skeptical Inquirer offers a down-to-earth theory for the incident. Though some have suggested escaped monkeys, he believes that the goblins were actually great horned owls and the area’s UFO activity was nothing more than a meteor shower. Could you mistake an owl for an alien?
The Ningen– Japanese fishermen have reported seeing large sea animal with a human-like face and some claim it even has arms with hands. While artist renditions portray something like this, the video evidence, available on YouTube here and here, is far less impressive.
According to Forgetomori.com, the Ningen is probably just a case of mistaken identity. Most likely it’s a sting ray.
The Men in Black- When people think about the Men in Black, most remember the comedy sci-fi film starring Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. As entertaining as that movie was, however, the real Men in Black tales are even stranger than a fictional alien roach seeking to destroy a galaxy on Orion’s Belt.
First reported in the 1940’s, the Men in Black have often been associated with UFO and extraterrestrial encounters. But these guys aren’t well-meaning agents looking to solve a mystery. They’re there to threaten a witness into silence. Here’s an incident reported by Hotspots of Paranormal Phenomena:
“One of the first reports of MiB was in 1947 when Harold Dahl reported that he saw six UFOs when he and others were on a boat. After the encounter, Dahl said an intimidating muscular man wearing a nondescript black suit took him out to breakfast and threatened him and his family if he spoke of the encounter. Dahl later declared his UFO report was a hoax, but some believe that he recanted to protect himself from MiB. “
No one knows if the Men in Black are members of a secret government cover-up agency, elaborate fantasies of the witnesses, or actually extraterrestrials themselves, but when they visit, they’re always creepy and never as charismatic as Will Smith.
Whether you regard these tales as hoaxes, hallucinations, cases of mistaken identity or actual paranormal activity, no one can deny that their unusual and eerie nature is perfect for the Halloween season. Be careful out there, readers. You never know when a sea monster will call to you, a telepathic alien will grin at you, or a phantom light will lead you astray.
VENTS Program, Ocean Sound, NOAA.gov
VENTS Program, Unidentified Sounds, NOAA.gov
CNN Sci-Tech, Tuning in to a Deep Sea Monster, CNN.com
Alex Roth, What’s Behind Mysterious Booms?, Sign On San Diego
Mysterious Britain and Ireland, Will O’ the Wisp, Mysterious Britain and Ireland.com
Editor, Story of Space Ship, 12 Little Men Probed Today, August 22, 1955 Kentucky New Era
Caesar the Caes, The Grinning Man: A Cryptoid or Just an Urban Legend?, Profiling the Unexplained
John Nickell, Siege of ‘Little Green Men’; the 1955 Kelly, Kentucky, Incident, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry
Mori, Ningen: A Bizarre Japanese Cryptid, Forgetomori.com
Hotspotz, Men in Black- Unmasked, Hotspots of Paranormal Phenomena