Home & Living

Haunted House Myths Confirmed And Debunked

10/14/2014 08:41am ET | Updated December 6, 2017

Let's call a spade a spade: October is the spookiest month of the year. From scary Halloween costumes to creepy Jack-O-Lanterns staring at us from front porches, ghosts, whether you believe in them or not, are always on the back of your mind.

And for us, when the stairs are a little too creaky or a huge gust of wind blows the front door open, we definitely start believing our house is haunted. So we decided to call in John E.L. Tenney, one of the world's leading paranormal investigators in the world and the star of Destination America’s new TV show, 'Ghost Stalkers' to debunk and confirm the biggest myths.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions -- and truths -- he comes across regularly.

1. You've felt someone tap on your shoulder when no one is there.

shoulder

TRUE: Tenney told us that "the truer nature of hauntings is that they are far more subtle and vary greatly." So if you feel like someone tapped your shoulder in an empty room or house, you just might be in the presence of a haunted spirit.

2. Your furniture is constantly rearranging itself.

FALSE: According to Tenney, "there are no 'hard and fast' rules" when it comes to figuring out if a house is haunted or not, but there are certain things that will not occur, like a pet speaking multiple language or a box springs suddenly hovering three feet off the floor.

3. People have died in your house.

FALSE: "People believe that a death or tragic occurrence in a home means their house is haunted, but not even this has been a reliable indicator that strange manifestations must take place," Tenney explained. "Most homes have seen death or tragedy in some way and, indeed, they do not have what people call 'hauntings'.”

4. You hear strange sounds more commonly during certain seasons.

outside thermometer

FALSE: In some of Tenney's cases, certain residents of "haunted" houses have reported weird noses that Tenney attributes to a change in temperature. He explained that wood, steel and other materials shrinking or expanding might be causing that bump in the night, especially during the fall and spring seasons.

5. You suddenly smell the perfume of a loved one.

TRUE: Just like something tapping on your shoulder when no one is home, Tenney said that the presence of a possible haunting experience "is as simple as smelling the perfume of a loved one who has passed away."

6. You've had a frightening experience in an attic, basement, crawl space or closet.

attic

FALSE: "Reports of frightening experiences taking place in a home are also mostly based around confining and dark locations such as attics, basements/crawl spaces, and closets," said Tenney. "This can be attributed to our own human psychological fear of dark and constrictive spaces."

To further ease our minds, Tenney also said that a "quick look back through my files over the last 27 years shows that close to 98% of the cases I’ve investigated have had normal, if not readily noticeable, explanations." Though that doesn't completely ensure that we won't run into a spirit at some point, we'll keep this list handy just in case.

Fright Dome (Las Vegas)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
Located at Circus Circus's Adventuredome theme park, the Fright Dome is a pitch-black, lights-out, haunted spectacle that culminates with something called the Clown Overload Zone, where hordes of creepy clowns with glowing eyes surround visitors. "Ghost Adventures" star Zak Bagans recommends the Fright Dome by saying it gave him the "worst panic attack."
Netherworld (Atlanta, Ga.)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
Netherworld in Atlanta has more than 200 animated monsters and 100 live actors, and has been featured in movies like "Zombieland." The creeps begin in the parking lot where costumed characters try to scare away patrons from even buying tickets.
ScareHouse (Pittsburgh)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
The ScareHouse in Pittsburgh rates high with famed director Guillermo del Toro, who said, “With the sound design and the atmospherics, it is beautiful. I could live here!”
13th Floor Haunted House (Denver)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
The 13th Floor Haunted House in Denver may be the most technologically advanced haunted attraction thanks to state-of-the-art technology such as Microsoft Kinect to make sure the robotic monsters frighten anyone who dares to visit.
13th Gate (Baton Rouge, La.)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
Considered to be one of America's most elaborately detailed haunted houses, the 13th Gatenot only has more than 100 professional actors, but also live animals, like snakes and alligators.
Bennett’s Curse (Jessup, Md.)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
Bennett's Curse in Jessup, Maryland, is usually an automatic selection on haunted house lists, thanks to three terrifying haunted houses: Medieval Underworld, Inferno 3D and Sanctuary of Insanity. New monsters and effects are added often to keep repeat visitors on their toes -- or on their knees begging for mercy.
Festival of the Dead (Salem, Mass.)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
Salem is a popular spook destination thanks to its famous witch trials. The Festival of the Dead capitalizes on this by including two weeks of events and parties designed to bring out your inner-witch, including seances, ghost hunting seminars and lectures of weird death rituals.
Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando, Fla.)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando is the place for big budget scares thanks to movie industry experts who craft haunted houses so loaded with detail that visitors walk through and feel like they’ve been dropped into an episode of “The Walking Dead” or the movie “From Dusk Till Dawn.”
Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor (Long Beach, Calif.)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
In the 1930s, the Queen Mary was a luxury trans-Atlantic ocean liner. It was pressed into military service to carry troops during World War II where hundreds died in and around the ship. These days, it's turned intoa haunted house that has the unique distinction of having real spooks intermingling with the pretend ones.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Haunted House (Weston, W.V.)
Courtesy of Travel Channel
This former mental institution has been turned into a haunted attraction. Zak Bagans, who completed a live, seven-hour investigation with the "Ghost Adventures" crew, said the spirits that roam the asylum’s halls are still extremely active. “It is undeniably the scariest overall haunted attraction that I’ve been to in the U.S.,” he said.