Last year on Halloween it was the asteroid headed for earth that caught the attention of scientists. Disaster averted, we’ve plunged into the Altmetric database to see what’s in stall for this year…. Hold on tight to your broomsticks!
The psychology of fright and Halloween horrors
Trick or treat? This research looks at why we seek out experiences that we know will expose us to dread, disgust and terror, and examines what influences enjoyment of horror movies. The authors found that people who find horror appealing tend to enjoy heavy metal or punk music, cult films and erotica. They also tend to be young males, and their personalities lean towards risk-taking, antagonism, imagination and tough-mindedness.
How (and Why) Do Witches Fly?
It’s a “burning” question: how can witches fly? This special issue of Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft focuses on their imagined flight, tracing the historiography of flight from classical antiquity into the early modern period. The article also dispels other common myths: black cats, pointed hats; all of them are the work of imagination and folklore.
Playing the Ghost: Ghost Hoaxing and Supernaturalism in Late Nineteenth-Century Victoria, Australia
Say boo! This research explores the phenomenon of ghost hoaxing in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century colonial Victoria, Australia, as observed through its reportage in the print media. The authors conducted a review of the newspapers, court records, and popular literature of the mid to late nineteenth century that indicated the phenomenon was almost as prolific in Australia as it was in Great Britain.
The over-policing of the devil: A sociology of exorcism
The devil’s in the detail! This article illustrates how it is located in contemporary culture and specifically in the religious field. Following the study done by Michel de Certeau on the mass possession of the Ursulines’ convent of Loudun (France) in the 17th century, the authors differentiate between the ‘possessed’ and the ‘possessionists’, that is between those who are possessed by the devil and those who are convinced of the reality of possession.
The top three scientific explanations for ghost sightings
The haunting truth. The Conversation detail the truth about the paranormal – just in time for Halloween – covering toxic hallucinations, electromagnetic fields and spooky sounds. With the backing of scholarly research, the piece presents ‘the top three scientific and psychological explanations for hauntings, spirits, spookiness and all things supernatural’.
Preserving fright, one haunted house at a time
The ride of your life: Haunted Houses have long been a part of funfairs and fright nights around the world. This piece traces the history of ‘dark rides’, and examines what attraction they hold for today’s audiences. It also describes the innovative conservation project underway to preserve the experience for years to come – using low-level light cameras to record the journeys and recreate them in virtual reality.