Good ghost photos are hard to come by, and we always have to view them with a skeptical eye since it's so easy to create fakes nowadays. However, there were a few intriguing ghost photos snapped this year that are worthy of attention. The best of them might be the ghost of Tewin Bury Farm, taken by designer Neil Sandbach while trying to get a photo for some wedding stationery. Victoria Iovan may have photographed the ghost of a tall woman in white at the Decebal hotel in Romania. Then in June, at Oxford Castle in the U.K., Keiron Brown captured the image of a dark figure in an underground crypt.
Ghost and haunting events
Ghosts and poltergeists made themselves known in various locations around the world. Businessman Anwar Rashid was so spooked by spirits that he abandoned his multi-million-dollar mansion near Nottingham, U.K. Paranormal investigators called it the "most active" place they had ever seen. And near Wollescote, U.K., the ghost of a little girl in Victorian clothes was blamed for distracting drivers and even causing accidents. And back in Romania, police blamed ghosts for vandalism to several homes. One witness said, "The windows started to break one by one. I saw two bicycles moving through the air on their own." Ghosts were attached to celebrities this year, including Joan Crawford, Ted Bundy, Ricky Gervais, and Jessica Alba.
The big Bigfoot story of 2008 was, of course, the ridiculous hoax perpetrated by two dolts in Georgia, who claimed they had a dead creature in a freezer and which turned out to be a costume. Meanwhile, the real Sasquatch stomped all over North America in 2008, triggering sightings: on Mount Cheam in British Columbia; in Northwestern Ontario; at Skiff Lake in Canada; on the Telkwa Highroad, Moricetown, British Columbia; on Highway 101, near Willits, California; and even near Redding in the U.K. And as far as physical evidence goes, researchers found and examined Yeti hair; several footprints, including in Nepal; and a rare fingerprint.
2008 marked the 75th anniversary of the first time the Loch Ness Monster was photographed way back on November 12, 1933 by Hugh Grey. Since then, more than 1,000 sightings have been claimed. As if to show up for the celebration, Nessie appeared in a new video captured in April by father and son David and Graham Garside. It's hard to say what the video actually shows, but it is something in the loch. And of course Nessie wasn't the only lake monster poking its head out of the water this past year. Ogopogo was seen several times since April in British Columbia's Okanagan Lake. And Sweden's lake monster, Storsjoe, was photographed by Gunnar Nilsson with a surveillance camera. A new expedition searched for Champ in Lake Champlain.
Other creatures and monsters
The unusual "creature" that received the widest viewing in 2008, thanks to YouTube and similar viral video outlets, was the so-called "Creepy Gnome", videoed in Salta, Argentina. It was most likely just a small person in a costume, but its weird side-stepping movement freaked out a lot of people. Creatures took to the air, as well. In the early hours of February 23, a driver in Pennsylvania was startled by a huge, bird-like thing that hovered above his vehicle. Living dinosaurs made appearances, too. In August, it was reported that a large, reptilian creature had been seen on several occasions in the 1990s and 2000s on Umbungi Island in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. There were chupacabras sightings as well, in Michigan and Brazil.
The mysterious explosion in Siberia known as the Tunguska Event reached its 100th anniversary on June 30. Although many theories have been offered to explain the devastation in this remote region, it's still unknown for certain what really happened. Crop circles cropped up, but the ones that made news were not in Great Britain for a change. They formed near Goderich in Canada; Grand Forks, Minnesota; Ipuaçu, Santa Catarina, Brazil; Boryoung City, South Korea; and Amsterdam. One that did appear in England mysteriously formed just prior to an auto race. The curious phenomenon of ball lightning also hit the news when it terrorized Annie Dobson by invading her house in West Wales.
Many of the top news stories concerning ESP, telepathy and psychokinesis focused on the research into these phenomena. We found out that the U.S. Army gave University of California researchers $4 million to look into computer-assisted "synthetic telepathy," and the Journal of Scientific Exploration examined connections between ESP and geomagnetic activity. There were interesting successes and failures by psychics: the Prophet Yahweh predicted that alien spaceships would appear on Oct. 31st (they didn't), and remote viewer Ed Dames said that aviator Steve Fossett's crashed airplane would be found in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California (it was). Other psychic masters claimed feats in telekinesis and cooking with brainwaves.
Several science news stories seemed to border on science fiction: doctors revisited the idea that water might have a memory; Japanese scientists said they might be able to bring extinct mammoths back to life; research sponsored by Swedish and European foundations manipulated people's perceptions to make them think they have swapped bodies with another human or even a "humanoid body"; and other Japanese scientists have found a way to extract images directly from the brain, meaning that one day we may be able to watch our dreams on TV. And if you're into mediation, you may need to buy bigger hats because some research shows that it can increase your brain size.
Life after death and human enigmas
If reincarnation is a reality, would it be helpful to know who our new president was in a past life? Dr Walter Semkiw claimed that Barack Obama is the reincarnation of Lyman Trumbull, a Democratic Illinois Democratic senator and the principal author of the Thirteenth Amendment, which put an end to slavery in U.S. The Human Consciousness Project of the University of Southampton announced the AWARE (AWAreness during REsuscitation) study, the largest ever examination of the near-death experience (NDE), while doctors in the U.S. and Britain began a joint study of the out-of-body experience.
The biggest story in the realm of religion and the paranormal broke when the Vatican said it was ok to believe in aliens. The Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, The Vatican's chief astronomer, told the faithful that believing in aliens does not contradict faith in God. In August it was announced that a new scientific examination of the Shroud of Turin would try again to verify its age and place of origin. Meanwhile, the Devil reared his ugly head when a board-certified psychiatrist and associate professor of clinical psychiatry at New York Medical College claimed to document an authentic case of demonic possession.