Welcome one and all to the celebrated annual tradition of me picking 5 ghost photos and awarding them Worst Ghost of the Year status. The Worst Ghost showcase has happened yearly since 2010 (except for 2022 when the ghosts got off lightly because I had COVID…). You can find past showcases here.
If this if your first time viewing the Worst Ghosts showcase (or this blog) then welcome! I am a ghost researcher who investigates paranormal claims and mysteries using a combination of critical thinking skills, scientific scepticism, and decades of accumulated knowledge about the paranormal. I also don’t believe in ghosts (but I used to), so there’s that, too. Niche, right?
These ghosts are the “worst” not because they’re going to haunt you but because they’re rubbish. You may ask “Hayley, why bother to do this?” and to that I say: if I have to suffer then I refuse to do so alone.
#5 Ghostly face caught on camera at York museum
The York Mix reports that a woman called Zoe Callow snapped this photo at York Castle and believes that it shows a ghostly face peering out at her from within an old-fashioned carriage. Callow told reporters:
We were in the Victorian Street part of the museum … I didn’t feel or notice anything unusual at the time and wasn’t aware of anything else of an unexplained nature occurring on the day. I didn’t even notice the strange anomaly in the picture … it was pointed out to me by Llywela Wharton – one of the members of our paranormal team.”
This last piece of info makes sense of the situation. Ghost hunters are the only people I know who will describe a normal day as “not being aware of anything of an unexplained nature occurring”. What a weird sentence to use.
The fact that Callow and Wharton are ghost hunters suggests they’re more primed to spot meaning in randomness than the average person. All of us are prone to this because of the Pareidolia Effect. Ghost hunters though, who are invested in their search for ghost evidence, are more likely than others to see these sorts of illusions where others might not, because they actively (and subconsciously) look for them.
In my opinion, it looks more like a Polar Bear than a human which I think raises a rather important question: what is the ghost of a Polar Bear doing at York Castle?
#4 ‘ghost’ photographed on tour of Lauriston Castle
In August, Edinburgh Evening News reported that a couple visiting Lauriston Castle caught a ghostly figure on camera in the Servants’ kitchen. Taken on a phone, the photo does show something that some could consider to be an apparition if they were so inclined. Staff at the Castle were quick to point out that this ghost is just light reflection:
“We had a lovely event in partnership with Edinburgh Living History … recreating old photographs, during which the castle felt very atmospheric, especially with all our living history volunteers in costume. We have silverware on a dresser in the butler’s pantry which can catch the light like this when taking photographs.”
Interesting, but I think there is an even simpler explanation for this. It is my opinion that this ghost is just light glare coming from the windows to the left of the photo. If you look in the top left of the photograph itself, you can track the light directly from the window down to the alleged apparition.
#3 Paranormal experts capture café spirit on camera
What would a Worst Ghosts summary be without at least one group of Livestream Ghost Hunters making an appearance? For those not in the know, these ghost hunters livestream their activities to audiences watching at home via Social Media, usually for donations or a subscription fee. The Derbyshire Times reports that a group called Paranormal Uncovered claim that during the livestream of a Ghost hunt at a café in Chesterfield, one of their viewers spotted a ghost sitting down next to a window.
The so-called ghost is seen in a screenshot taken by a fan called Anita, who pays a monthly subscription to the Paranormal Uncovered channel and also sends them stars (which are micro-donations of $0.01). I mention this not to condemn it but because it indicates that the eye-witness is not an unbiased passer-by, but instead someone who is invested in paranormal narratives.
Anita is watching the livestream to see ghosts, in other words, and (shocker!) she saw one. As mentioned above, people who participate in Ghost hunting like this are more primed to find meaning in randomness, and this is what has happened here.
The screenshot does not show a ghost taking a seat during a Ghost hunt, but in fact an illusion caused by a seat. The “leg” of the ghost is the curved side of a brown bucket-style chair, and the “torso” is a shadow on the wall behind the chair and beneath the windowsill.
A Chesterfield ghost that’s a chair! Amazing.
#2 Creepy face spotted in picture of ‘haunted doll’
Elsewhere in the world of livestreamed ghost hunting, The Scottish Ghost Company made headlines in The Daily Record when they claimed that a doll gifted to them has the ghost of a teenager attached to it. Standard…
A member of the group, Yvonee Hydes says she became convinced of the haunting when the doll began to move furniture which, quite frankly, produces some great visuals in my head.
The Daily Record reports that the group did a livestream event with a camera focussing on the doll, being watched by people at home, some of whom claimed to see a face looking out the side of the dolls head. Yvonne is quoted:
She [the viewer] sent us the photo. I’ve inverted it and wow. It’s not often the inversion picks up on features. We get sent photos all the time and the majority of the time it’s just pareidolia. This doesn’t appear to be.”
Ghost hunters sometimes have a fascination with basic image editing tools like applying a sepia filter or inverting the colours of an image. I think possibly because it makes people feel like they’re doing something technical and science-y, even though it’s not an effective way to analyse a photo.
Not to forget that we’re not even dealing with a photo here. This isn’t even a still of raw footage being inverted – instead it’s a screenshot of livestreamed video. The image quality is degraded by broadband connectivity and the original still image is extremely low-res as a result of this. No amount of analysis is going to help. The fact that Yvonne goes on to state that the face isn’t pareidolia after dropping the image inversion nonsense on us is just stunning 👌
That’s exactly what it is, Yvonne. A silly face illusion caused by the doll’s hair.
#1 Woman spooked by ‘TV star’s ghost’ in family photo
This still image shows the ghost of ‘Carry on…’ star Kenneth Williams apparently. The Daily Star (say no more) reports that a woman called Melanie Armstrong took a photo of her family while out for a walk and spotted the ghost, which she says is the ‘spitting image’ of Kenneth Williams in the background.
I am not offering here a zoomed in version of the photo to make it seem more ridiculous – this is the image in the story. There isn’t even a full sized version offered alongside it. I have looked at this photo for such a long time and I am completely at a loss. Can… does Melanie know what Kenneth Williams looked like? Is she familiar with the general shape of humans? The paper quotes Melanie:
“A few people I’ve shown it to think it looks like a spirit too and suggested it could have been a lady who drowned in the river. I can see a face – the eyes and the cheekbones, nose and chin. It has an open, pouting mouth and looks like Kenneth Williams from the Carry on Films, it’s uncanny.”
It’s not in the slightest but uncanny. It is my professional opinion that Melanie should take her ghost photo and make like a tree and… leaf.