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Thursday, October 30, 2014 - 05:00 PM

(Photo Credit: Dennis Conrow)

Dennis Conrow was stuck. After a brief stint at college, he’d passed most of his 20’s back home with his parents, sleeping in his childhood room. And just when he finally struck out on his own, fate intervened. He lost both his parents to cancer. So Dennis was left, back in the house, alone. Until one night when a group of paranormal investigators showed up at his door and made him realize what it really means for a house, or a man, to be haunted.


Dennis Conrow and Matthew Kielty


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Comments [152]

M Earl Owen from The Mountain State

This would have been somewhat belivable had they been using carbide lamps and everytime the questions were asked the striker would spark and pop the acetylene stream into flame; a sure sign to quickly vamoose!
In the face of unequivical proof of Alien lifeforms a vast majority would still not believe it possible. As individuals we can believe in whatever we want which readily explains most of humankinds problems.

Others have asked; what music was being used for this episode? Anyone know?

Nov. 15 2017 01:17 PM
Jim in Texas from Texas

There is a good video demonstration of a German guy debunking the flashlight trick on Youtube, with diagrams and demos. But, one point that kind of got glossed over in this piece was the footsteps and sounds from the kitchen. The loud banging sound was attributed to the sound guy walking in the basement, but these other noises were not followed up on. Personally, had I been there, I would have been MUCH more interested in those sounds than the flashlight trick! (BTW, I am a skeptic, however I'll say that it is very hard to prove a negative - who can truly, logically, with scientific evidence say that ghosts DON'T exist? Most skeptics poohpooh this, but in such a vehement and angry manner that I wonder if they're really talking about ghosts, or their own personal problems. Don't insult people who don't agree with you. It cheapens your argument.)

Jun. 27 2017 03:14 PM
Rob from Vancouver, Canada

I do not believe in ghosts or ant paranormal activities, but I enjoyed this podcast, and was rather disappointed to see how critical other listeners are.

IT'S A FREE PODCAST PEOPLE. Enjoy things for what they are, and stop complaining so much about the resources you take for granted.

Great podcast Radiolab, keep up the good work!

Dec. 01 2016 02:07 PM
Joanna from Shrewsbury PA

Unfortunately, all I can hear is someone in a very fragile state of mind being duped. Just because they got no money for their 'investigation' doesn't mean they're not charlatans, scamming you. Flashlights? Please. A magicians elementary trick. I am very sorry for your loss, and terribly sorry to hear that someone made it worse by exploiting you.

May. 20 2016 01:55 PM

As someone who grew up in a house with strange phenomenon, I was a bit disappointed that more wasn't delved into here but what could be with the house already sold? I wouldn't trust the flashlight trick but that also doesn't mean that there isn't the potential for there to be phenomenon we can't explain.

May. 20 2016 12:46 PM

The butting in of jad or the producer annoys the hell out of me. I can't enjoy most of their shows

May. 02 2016 02:24 AM
Matthew from North Carolina

I found this story to be fascinating as I have never heard such an in depth and credible retelling of such an experience. I've only ever seen what scary movies have to offer and never knew how it would play out in real life. Thanks for a great story!

Feb. 03 2016 02:29 AM
Pete from Gatlinburg, TN

Great episode. I'm in the "I want to believe, but I'm skeptical" category. To all the people who think that ghosts are silly and ghost hunters are a bunch of idiots/frauds/whatever: You don't know what comes after we die anymore than they do. Science is about exploring and asking questions, and then questioning the answers and exploring more. Maybe there are no ghosts, and maybe these people are wasting their time, but at least they are doing something.

Dec. 02 2015 10:54 AM
Charles from Massachusetts

You guys have an interesting podcast generally, but I was really disappointed in this one. Instead of going out and thoroughly researching this topic and seeking your own experience that you could verify, you told an interesting story but then simply wipe it away with an explanation of a "light bulb" trick. That is a disservice to your listeners, and makes it clear that you too are illusionists whose goal is simply to entertain, not to uncover truth or get to the bottom of things.

Nov. 05 2015 10:53 AM
Sam London

Here is what bothers me about the hosts' conclusion and skeptics in general. How was it determined to completely ignore the fact that three girls with no reason to lie felt a presence in the exact same spot AND the focal of a recurring dream they most likely knew nothing about. And them chalking up the timing of "yes" and "no" to coincidence is absolutely preposterous. The odds of the "yes" and "no" syncing to the questions that degree out of chance would be insurmountable, especially with three different lights. Please, someone, anyone explain to me how the skeptical conclusion is definitively labeled as correct in this podcast.

Aug. 13 2015 06:50 AM
Susie from my couch

This I know. When a person dreams about a house, the house represents them and their relationships. While I was married to my untrustworthy ex-husband, I had nightmares of living in different houses, most in disrepair. Many times I would finally dream of living in a wonderful home with a beautiful garden, only to have my ex force us to leave and live in an unsavory place.
This man in this episode needed peace and the best thing he did was to move on with his life. He is now in control.

Jul. 12 2015 07:57 PM
Chris from Australia

If you believe this or not the Love for his parents is very great,I kind of hope this can happen,
Even though it left me a little sad
Wonderfull story

Apr. 17 2015 06:37 AM
Carol Woodson from Seattle

I love the paranormal and really enjoyed this episode. I too want to believe, yet I am probably the world's biggest skeptic. Twice in my life I've been asked by complete strangers overhearing my conversation if I was from Missouri. Funny thing, I am. I tried, but failed to read through all the comments to see if anyone mentioned what I noticed. The man majored in creative writing. He was from a small town where folks know a lot about one another. The house was very old, thus, to the impressionable, already a site for ghosts. His house had been for sale so people could have walked through, learned the layout. They could easily have seen a photo of his father somewhere. They could easily have looked into the history of the house and found out about the woman who burned. Not saying that all this happened; maybe none of it happened and the ghosts were real. Just saying that more proof is needed to establish this. I don't, at present, "believe in paranormal"; however, considering how strange it is that there is something rather than nothing; considering the physicists asking us to believe in a 'singularity" as the explanation of our popping out of nothingness into existence, I also don't rule anything out.

Apr. 01 2015 12:11 AM
ruth in NL from Amsterdam

This episode reminded me of the book 'Going', by Sumner Locke Elliott. SPOILERS: In that book, a woman is being taken out to lunch in the ritual that happens on the last day of people's lives, in a world which now has compulsory euthanasia (at around 65). An old friend bursts into the lunch and 'rescues' her; together they flee, for a couple of hours. In the end she turns herself in to the authorities and goes happily to her death, thanking her friend, because although they failed to win freedom, he once again gave her - even if briefly - the illusion of freedom. Dennis reminded me of that - being able to entertain a cold truth and an emotionally satisfying lie at the same time.

Feb. 17 2015 10:31 AM
Elizabeth E. Moore from Florida

I think this podcast was extremely interesting. I have always been fascinated with the paranormal, and this story was definitely fascinating. It was creepy, but good at the same time. The music and sounds that they put in the background made it even more eerie. Also, I feel bad that he lost both his parents, but it was nice that he got to communicate with them.

Feb. 03 2015 06:54 AM
Catniss J. Moore

This topic is extremely controversial. Some people aren't huge fans of the whole supernatural thing. I admit I'm not too fond of it, but I still thought the overall episode was a very interesting and fascinating one!

Jan. 31 2015 10:07 AM
Kafka K. Catniss from Uranus

This was one of the most interesting and grasping podcast I have ever listened to! I was completely gripped and fascinated until the very last second of it. I personally don't believe in ghosts, not because I truely don't, but more because I am afraid if they really are .....real. I know what they have done to people or claim to have done can be some very frightening things and I would hate to have a nightmare brought to life. I was very moved by this grown mans feelings of talking to his parents, and that it even brought him to tears. Non-believers have to at least agree on one thing, real or fake, that "encounter" helped that man cope with the lose and the missing of his parents and may have helped him slightly move on. Even if it is all a hoax, it can bring some good to people's lives depending on their situation and possible lose of a loved one.

Jan. 26 2015 11:47 PM
Elizabeth King

This podcast was interesting because of the fact that the man was skeptical. I believe in the supernatural stuff to an extent, but this podcast made me think. I've had some weird things happen to me, not to the point of parents dying though. Instead of the supernatural part of this, I also felt sad for the man, he went through a lot, and might just be making things up to cope with the losses?

Jan. 26 2015 10:33 PM
McKenzie Male

This video was interested because the man was a skeptic of the supernatural world until his parents die and he is drawn back to his home. His house has always given him an odd and unwelcoming feeling but he was never sure. While remodeling and preparing to sell his home, he realizes that he isnt alone. His mom and dad communicate to him through flashlights and let him know how proud they are of him.

Jan. 26 2015 08:10 PM
Heather from Binghamton, NY

Sooooo.....I couldn't sleep last night and started listening to the dark....while I was home....alone....big mistake. LOVED IT! It caused me to stay up later because I had to listen to something more "disney" to shake the willies!

Jan. 22 2015 03:07 PM
Gertrude G. Goethe from soft chair, bedroom

I was sort of disappointed in this Radiolab because, despite it being a true story, didn't quite grip me as significant from all the other ghost and paranormal studies out there. It seemed just the same as other paranormal shows, and lacked the in depth, eerie and creepy stories I was hoping for. I personally believe not to mess with ghosts, if they're real or not. It's just asking for trouble. Unfortunately, the most realistic of ghost experiences are often the most boring in comparison to modern day media's demon possession trope. It's rather hypocritical of me, because I love ghost hunting shows and paranormal investigations, but despise horror movies ( jump scares ruin the creepiness and the story for me).

Jan. 20 2015 07:49 PM
Ames from Munich, Germany

I loved this episode. Thanks, Radiolab!

Jan. 19 2015 10:16 AM
mechelle from Nashville

As difficult as it is to sit with the unknown, it is so necessary. To define things is the premise of Radiolab, but sometimes things cannot be defined. Take the episode on Worth for example. What is the value of one year of life? Well, there are all of these factors and possibilities to consider, but at the end of the day, the woman battling cancer doesn't know what she'll do when it comes time to decide whether to fight more or not. It is the unknown. She may feel one way now and a different way later, and she accepts that.

I found Haunted to be a great reminder that there are still things we don't know (and in my opinion, don't necessarily need to know to feel that it is there). It was unfortunate that the phenomenon of three women separately recognizing that the house had an odd energy near the basement door was not discussed. The flashlight phenomenon and the psychics are what distract us from that feeling, that intuition that initially sparked Dennis' exploration.

It is an interesting field of study that I've been less and less skeptical of over the years, hearing people's stories. We can embrace the absurd and unknown, while also staying grounded in reality.

Jan. 17 2015 11:19 AM
Maria from United States

How many acknowledged the little girl standing on the right side of the image?

Jan. 15 2015 05:37 PM
Edgar Keats from Oviedo

I thought that this podcast was interesting albeit a little controversial. While I don't personally believe in the supernatural, it was interesting to hear about this story. While Dennis was at a weak point in his life and could be just gullible to "ghosts", it's still very cool to think of the possibility of there being another form of life.

Jan. 13 2015 06:11 AM
Toni J Wilde from savannah, Georgia

I really enjoyed this podast, although many are controversial over the subject. It was interesting to here their experience and their reactions to this. People may laugh and that's okay, but we are brought up in today's society to only believe the normal. But who is to define the word normal, normal can be various things. These people don't get paid for their time, it's all for their love and motivation. "It doesn't matter if its real or not, life is about experiences and doing what you love."

Jan. 12 2015 08:41 PM
Keats A. Dunbar from Florida

This was a very odd podcast. I personally don't believe in all that ghost mumbo jumbo, but it is still kind of freaky nonetheless. If I was for some reason caught up in that situation I'm not really sure what I would do. Dennis and the team handled it well and obviously payed off because everyone is still alive. I really liked the humor that was brought in to lighten the mood. It kept me as a listener wanting to keep listening because I knew a good, but also funny ending was in store.

Jan. 11 2015 06:44 PM
Gertrude N. Poe from Florida

This was a very interesting podcast. I myself don't believe in ghosts but this was very cool if it was real. I think people need to know that their parents love them and are proud of them so it was a really great experience for this man to have. I hope that his life is going great, and his parents are in a good place. Most ghost stories are creepy, but this one was wonderful and had a happy ending.

Jan. 11 2015 06:33 PM
Garick from The Bermuda Triangle of Weather (Cincinnati)

I have been listening to your show for the past 4 or 5 months and absolutely love it. I find it funny that people are so quick to dismiss the paranormal. Even scientists are more open minded then you for there are many things that they can't explain scientifically and until they do those things are a mystery. And when it comes to the paranormal I do feel a lot of it is fake, but there are some unusual cases or circumstances that even science can't least not yet anyway.

Jan. 10 2015 11:45 AM
Virginia T. Ripley from Florida

Honestly I do not believe in ghosts or the supernatural, I do so however get great entertainment out of people who do believe in it. The people commenting on this post who are being negative are just being rude, everybody has their own beliefs and they are allowed to believe them, your opinion is irrelevant. I do not believe in the supernatural but I’m not going to be rude to people who do. Even though I don’t believe in ghosts and haunted places I still found this podcast very interesting. Honestly sometimes I wish ghosts were real because I think it would be cool to experience something like that. A husband and wife died at the house I live in but I have never once experienced anything “supernatural” on the property. My family knew theirs personally through other family friends and I think it would be interesting to be able to contact them. I don’t believe in the supernatural but I don’t discourage the people who do. All in all this podcast was still interesting regardless of my disbelief in ghosts.

Jan. 09 2015 10:42 AM
Mahardhika Sadjad from Netherlands

I like to think of myself as both somewhat religious and spiritual. That said, Radiolab has always been a place for me to listen to the profound human aspects of science and the science behind humanity. This episode, for me, is kind of a disappointment because even though I am not a complete disbeliever of the spiritual world, it's not something I want from Radiolab. it feels to far fetch and ungrounded.

Jan. 06 2015 09:19 AM
Scout from United States

I thought that this was a very interesting radiolab---definitely a departure from the standard, with little mention of science. However, I appreciate that it respects both believers and non-believers in an interesting and inquisitive way. I really hope that you can expand on this topic in the future!

As for me, I am a skeptic, but have a family member who seems to be a little bit too in tune with "ghosts," having no prior knowledge on the deceased in question, for me to completely disregard the possibility of some kind of "ghost." Now, I don't believe in the typical idea of a ghost, but more so what I call residual feelings. I do not believe that people can communicate from beyond the grave, but I do believe that they can have an impact on the places they have been.

For example, I encountered an experience where, upon my college dorm room after visiting home for the weekend, I suddenly felt incredibly sad. For no reason. I thought to myself "I have to get out of this room." I dropped my belongings 3 feet from the doorway where I was standing and left, narrowly avoiding a complete break down. I went up a floor to my boyfriend's room and remained there for a few hours before my roommate came up looking for me. She told me that she had been crying in the room almost all weekend because she and her boyfriend went through a rough breakup.

Now do I believe that there is a possible scientific explanation for this? Of course! I've read Malcolm Gladwell's novel Blink: the Power of Thinking Without Thinking, and believe some of the phenomena explained there could have applied in that situation. I'm just saying, don't call it nonsense before you have explained all of the possibilities. Again, hopefully more of the possibilities can be discussed in future radiolabs!

Dec. 24 2014 01:25 AM
MEL in TN from Nashville, TN

I agree with the people who were a little disappointed. Radiolab investigates where science, philosophy, and the human experience meet -- but the science keeps this show grounded, relevant, and real, in my opinion. It shouldn't be an afterthought, or the show becomes too much navel-gazing, not enough hard inquiry for me. I really hope the show gets back to this.

Dec. 23 2014 08:14 PM
Radley from Spokane Wa

Disappointed in this, all i can say

Dec. 19 2014 10:40 PM
Stewart James

The segment seems to be a Rorschach test of the RadioLab audience. I personally was less interested in the truth of the "contact" and more focused on the human element of loss and acceptance. I think it is useful to reflect on why the reactions are so divided and passionate from a group that has already self-selected as RadioLab listeners.

Dec. 14 2014 02:45 PM
LPP from Appalachia

As always, I appreciated the show. However, one might be careful about using a pinch of thermodynamics and a heaping portion of convenient chance/randomness to explain things away. When science employs such a universal explanation, it becomes all but indistinguishable from a religion.

Dec. 14 2014 11:22 AM
Anna Xenophon from New York

Hi, this was the second episode I've listened to since hearing about RadioLab on the JRE. He loves you- its kind of wierd, JK, This episode was really unbelievabley moving. I listened to it while in my studio at school painting my final project and I was comforted during the part when the storyteller was fixing up the house, kind of like, a "You too, dude?" sort of thing. And I listened all the way through waiting not for the revelation that it was a con but for- I don't know this idea that hauntings are horrible and you don't want to get involved in Ouija boards and shit like that because it is like opening yourself up to be haunted. I was dumfounded when the podcast ends and the guy said: "No I have dreams of myself haunting the house". It made me tear up, because its the kind of joke my mom would make- "Will you take care of me when I'm sick and have a booboo" sort of joke. I hope this guest (I'm sorry I totally forgot his name) knows that when people say God has a sense of humor, even if he exists or not that's what the saying means and it can mean different things to different people, but I hope that he and all of you know that this made my month. Thanks!!

Dec. 03 2014 03:41 PM
Noel Tavan from United States

I would like to know if the house has been sold multiple times by now from owners who felt that "presence". Flashlight was proven but not the fact that 3 separate people felt something. Could it be just the air draft?

Dec. 02 2014 07:39 PM
Alex from MN

Exploration into this realm is courageous, interesting and just good fun - good going Radiolab. Love the controversy. It's surprising how much fear there is around this. Radiolab illuminates the fear around this subject. Let's explore some more!! Great fun for Holloween, the real reason it was created, to connect with our loved ones. Thanx!

Nov. 28 2014 08:35 PM
Ian from United States

There was a lot of potential in this episode. Unfortunately we were left hanging with the quick flashlight explanation. Might I suggest a follow up show dealing with the phenomenon of humans molding events to match narratives. That would be a fantastic dive into many other subjects in addition to paranormal.

Nov. 24 2014 05:13 PM
Brent from Colorado

I've enjoyed all of your podcasts and am proud to support it. The comments of some of the folks are just an example of a first world problem. Getting upset at a podcast they choose to listen to while driving in their heated leather seats and surround sound stereo while sipping their Starbucks coffee. Reminds me of my spoiled teenagers. At least they have hormones and inexperience to blame and will hopefully grow out of it. What a joke!

Nov. 24 2014 02:08 PM
Hal from Sand Point Alaska

I love all the people getting upset over a radio show. "pissed off"..Really. People and their inability to choose how they react. Would love to see how some of these people who felt like Radiolab burned them would handle a guy cutting them off on the highway.

If you want to look at science without storytelling and the human experience (which they have done from the beginning) then tune into NOVA.

Nov. 20 2014 05:00 PM
Lynn from Seattle, WA

Wow. I enjoyed this show. It was interesting in my opinion. I think the comments left on here by people like HobotheHobob are actually more scary than the idea that ghosts exist. You can just feel the venom and anger coming out from some of these negative comments. I've experienced some paranormal things in my life myself. I have no logical explanation to them, but I don't have "problems" like Hobo mentioned in his scathing comment nor am I delusional.

Chill out people. Whether you believe or not, no need to shove your opinions down peoples throat.

Nov. 19 2014 01:58 PM
Courtney from Syracuse, NY

I liked this episode a lot, probably because it broke the typical format. I am a skeptic because of my faith in science, however I struggle to make sense of some of the mysterious events in the universe...I digress.

I think the first thing that needs to be addressed is that, for the most part, people who are involved in 'ghost hunts' or 'ghost hunter groups' wholeheartedly believe in what they search for. Most groups don't charge for their services and really just want to search for proof of something they believe in. I honestly doubt that a group would go through all of this trouble JUST to 'exploit' someone.

Second of all, RadioLab is about storytelling, and this was his story. He wasn't telling you to believe in anything, and neither were they. It was a story about a man and the relationship with the house that had such an impact on his life.

Lastly, as valuable as I think therapy is, I don't see any harm in anyone using a free service to feel better about selling his parents house after their death. He himself said that he didn't really believe that he was communicating with his parents, but the experience made him feel more comfortable about the process.

I'm sure they knew this episode would be controversial when they decided on it, but come on people. Just because you don't believe in ghosts doesn't mean you have to tell RadioLab they're doing a bad job.

Nov. 17 2014 12:30 PM

Well said, cdoyle1342. The western world is stuck in this mind set that we know everything that is going on in this universe/multiverse based on what our instruments tell us. But to say nothing else exists because we can't apply our scientific method to it is very limiting. We have very very little understanding about what this crazy thing called life.

If you've ever had a near death experience or induced an outer body experience (astral projection) on yourself [You all can do it, read about it and try], or tried a psychedelic you'll soon realize you've had a filter on the whole time. Was this experience real or not? Who knows but the physical and mental changes are real and thats what matters.

If you shut yourself off from the unknown that is fine but listen to the people who haven't shut themselves off to see if perhaps you would like a taste of the unknown. It sure beats working for the next best materialistic thing because that happiness is so short lived. Internal happiness never leaves but only grows stronger. You need to search inside yourself to find out what you really are capable of doing and who you really are. Its not going to be easy for some as they have been brought up to shut off all these gifts but once you open the flood gates you'll soon have a new love for human existence you've never thought possible.

I broke my neck at 19, had to rebuild my life that was perfect and the result 11 years after is more amazing than I could have ever hoped for. Suffering is painful until it makes you stronger and then you'll see the real beauty of this existence. I thank all the spirits and positive energy helping me through this world and making it the best journey I could have ever wished. I could die tomorrow and realize what a wild ride this has been. I hope you all can find something just as beautiful.


Nov. 17 2014 01:20 AM

I cannot believe the negative comments being left. First, this was a Halloween show. Have a sense of spirit for the holidays. Second, you don't have to believe in everything, but at least be respectful. Third, Dennis himself in the segment states that he doesn't believe its real per say; he calls it an experience. What about religious phenomena? What about feeling the comfort of prayer? I am personally not religious, but that doesn't mean that the numerous segments Radiolab has produced about religious experiences (Are You Sure? and Bliss, for example) I slandered the name of this program. We are still discovering things about our own planet, where humans have existed for 200,000 years. You can't tell me you are all so conceited that you're willing to lash out against a podcast/radio program trying to broaden your horizons? I'll leave you all with this; "I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief" - Gerry Spence

Nov. 14 2014 03:31 PM
Fred Williamson from United States

Next they should do a show about how the devil can be heard if certain records are played backward :( This man desperately needs a grief counselor, instead he got a flashlight conversation with his not there ghost father, hmm I wonder why he isn't feeling better since the move out? The fact that the paranormal people chose to communicate with these flash lights is no coincidence. I find people that prey on others suffering from serious grief to be the lowest of the low. Best way to listen to this episode is right after the nihilism one "in the dust of this planet", it brings the absurdity into stark relief.

Nov. 14 2014 05:22 AM

I can't believe all the negative Nellies. Just because this is a story about something you may believe to be fake, doesn't make it a terrible episode. It's still a great exercise in storytelling, and it's not saying "ghosts are real" or judging the protagonist of the story. The commentary remains subjective, despite the campfire spooky story atmosphere.

Anything can come out of a Radiolab, so just enjoy the experience without getting high and mighty.

Nov. 13 2014 04:40 PM
Stalo from UK

A few days ago I came across this film.
Although I can't tell with certainty that this film isn't a fraud I find the idea comforting, when dealing with the loss of loved ones.

Nov. 13 2014 12:00 PM
Griffin S from Tampa

"Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience."

That's from Radiolab's "About" section.

Quitcherbitchin' kids.

So many people in these comments are awfully serious. When has Radiolab *not* dealt with human experience? When has Radiolab ever lacked a sense of fun?

Chill. Out. This was a Halloween story.

Nov. 13 2014 09:48 AM
Ian from Indiana

I'm reading the comments and I just wanted to know did everyone listen to the end?

Did you get upset and turn it off in a huff or something?

Seriously they explain what is happening with the flash lights at the end.

So what's the problem?

Nov. 13 2014 08:36 AM
Dispirited Listener from Spooklyn, NY

Why in there is no God's name would you think that this was a good idea?

That is all.

Nov. 12 2014 09:33 PM
Jorge from Portugal

A program that ruined your credibility. Very sad .
Personally I'm sad and I have to apologize to my friends for having recommended the podcast.

Nov. 12 2014 05:08 PM
Tiana from Denver

The scariest part of this story was when Robert got called "dude".

Nov. 11 2014 05:56 PM
Jim in Texas from Irving, Tx

There has been an explosion in the area of ghost hunting coming at the heels of the immense success of shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. As the poster in Foxx Muldar's office read, "We want to believe". In all the long history of mankind, however, there has never been produced a single piece of evidence for the existence of ghosts. We want to believe because we don't want to wink out like a candle when our lives are over. The tools employed by these ghost hunters are tragically unscientific, like the flash lights, but that doesn't stop people from believing. But, because it's hard to prove a negative, there has also been no proof put forward that ghosts don't exist. What I think is interesting is that since the dawn of man, nearly every culture has carried these beliefs. This persistence alone is enough to make you not close the door on the possibility. It's a question we will only know about a moment after our deaths, and as such, will never be answered on this mortal coil. I do find the reaction that it's silly, immature, ridiculous to even consider the existence of spirits to be interesting, particular from a culture that claims to religious. Do you believe in the Holy Ghost? Is a belief in God that much different from believing in spooks? Like the ghost busters, religions claim to have "proof" of the existence of God, but these proofs hold up no better under scientific inquiry than the ghost hunter's flashlights and EMF detectors. One of our greatest mental faculties, one that seperates us from most animals, if not all, is our ability to fantasize, to imagine things, and this is good and bad.

Nov. 11 2014 12:47 PM
Gandalf G. Bond from Oviedo FL

I don't believe this story is real for even a second because the idea of ghosts is just ridiculous to me. I think this entire event was just a way for Dennis Conrow to deal with the loss of his parents. Even though I don't believe the story, I did find it very entertaining to listen to.

Nov. 10 2014 10:37 PM
Lense from United States

I can definitely relate to this video in so many ways. Not saying that I do or don't believe in ghost, I just believe in people spirits still living within the home they passed away in. Living at my mother's house, I would be in the house by myself and next thing I know I would hear something falling or the blinds would move by themselves, it was crazy scary. My mother would say that it was just our Grandmother checking on us, seeing how we was doing. When I lived at my father's house I would always be scared to leave out of my room because I would always hear foot steps going up and down the hallway, it was crazy scary... So I do agree a person spirit can live on in your household after they have passed, especially when they have been living there for along time.

Nov. 10 2014 10:24 PM
Hermione Grisham

I don't know if I believe in ghosts and spirits that surround us. Its a weird concept that I think would be hard to fully understand. However to fully grasp the concept I feel like a podcast can not do it just, I don't even believe that a film would make me believe. I don't believe the "ghost hunters" were coning him I think that they truly believe the house was haunt and the science behind the flashlight trick was not know about.

Nov. 10 2014 09:56 PM
Toni J Wilde from Oviedo, Florida

Coming from a religious family with a background and being very open to our scences, I can relate to this video. Many times I have encountered ghosts or spirit interactions, however you want to call them. It's something that is very hard to explain to someone who is not accepting of the information or is going into the conversation very one sided. I think this episode was very interesting, hearing first hand what these individuals are encountering. Some may call it bogus, but I believe it is real. Not all "ghost hunters" are telling the 100% truth, but there are people who do. Many things I have encountered have no real logical explanation, and I can live with that, as some cannot. Living life with an open mind, I have an advantage. I can recieve things that people cannot because they simply block it out. I really enjoyed the content of this video and hope to see more like it in the future.

Nov. 10 2014 09:44 PM
Alice H. Nash

While I do not believe in ghosts, I did enjoy this episode. It may not have been scientific with the different "tests" for supernatural presence, I think the real scientific approach here was in the mind's way of coping with a significant loss. People have all different ways of dealing with grief, such as the loss of parents, and it was interesting that he felt like he needed this experience for closure. It also was interesting to hear about ghost hunters through the eyes of people who obviously believe in it to get some perspective.

Nov. 10 2014 05:53 PM
James from China

Just want to echo the general sentiment that for halloween I'm cool with this kinda thing, but hopefully Radiolab will be careful about enabling ghost hunters and the like in future episodes.

Nov. 10 2014 04:11 AM
Chris Mayers from Flagstaff

So, is it just me or is there a rainbow orb in the left window ?
And what about the upper pane on the right window ?

Nov. 10 2014 12:55 AM
Asimov M. Gandalf from Orlando

While I am skeptical of the whole ghost scenario, especially after the explanation of the pounding foot steps and flickering flashlights, I think that this was a good experience for him. It gave him closure over the loss of his parents.

Nov. 09 2014 07:30 PM
Lorelei M. Coleridge

As someone who is really curious about paranormal phenomena, I loved this podcast. It's interesting that the guy never noticed anything himself until his house was investigated. The story seems fairly plausible, since people unlikely to have knowledge of the deaths in the house first sensed something. I'd never heard of the flashlight technique before, but obviously, nothing can absolutely prove the paranormal. I do think the clairvoyants' claims were a bit suspect, because the human factor must always be accounted for, but the rest of the story seemed to support them. Personally, I think that despite the unreliability of the flashlight phenomenon, there is enough that remains unexplained in this story to make one wonder.

Nov. 09 2014 06:21 PM
Ed Miner from Anchorage, Alaska

The lead-in to this episode starts with "There are many ways to communicate with the dead." Radiolab has received grants from the National Science Foundation. The tags for this article are "ghosts, paranormal activity, science, storytelling." What is wrong with this picture? I suggest RL should decide what it wants to be. A storytelling podcast with audio creativity? Great. Return the NSF funding. A science podcast? Start by reading the recent NYTimes article "the unbelievable skepticism of the Amazing Randi."

Nov. 09 2014 12:07 PM
Agnostic from Madison, WI

ITT: angry atheists.

Nov. 09 2014 08:51 AM
Lancelot M. Gatsby from Haunted Mansion, Magic Kingdom, Orlando, Florida


This story some might label as #2spooky. Truthfully I'm not quite sure why I was drawn too it, I am in no way fond of scary stories. But I found this story so very intriguing. It drew me in and I guess it was the whole idea of how outrageous these ghost stories are. I have always found the ghost hunter shows to be absolutely fake. But some of these things just seem to be so very realistic. It drew me in with its story line and how fake it seemed that I so wanted it to be real so I kept listening, waiting for the one part that would tell me "oh man, this can't be fake." These stories drag us in by promising suspense and raising your interests.

Nov. 08 2014 06:43 PM
Jane from Australia

I thought this was a beautiful and sad episode about a person who was haunted by his memory and love for his parents. I think the people who are getting upset are missing the point of this story.
Radiolab, continue doing your great work!

Nov. 08 2014 04:47 AM
Richard from Oakland CA

Great episode - obviously a little too subtle for some of the listeners. My only request is that you tell us who did the cool music at the end of the episode! I want to hear more. Thanks for many great years of listening. Love all that you do.

Nov. 08 2014 02:16 AM
A Radiolab fan from The western US

Congratulations on bunching up the panties of half the listening audience. Sheesh, people turn cold fast. Anyway, I personally enjoyed the show. Sure, not really a science theme, but I don't care -- I dig Radiolab for more reasons than one: The sound design, the likeable hosts, the music, the interesting strangers I get to encounter, the wonderful storytelling, etc. -- and all of that was there. Eh, when people don't get their way or what they expect from someone else's personal effort, it can sometimes result in bunched-up panties, as we all know. It's just the way of humanity. I'm sure cavemen were chiseling passive-aggressive petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock. Keep doing what you're doing. And thanks for doing it.

Nov. 07 2014 08:54 PM
Adam from USA

Hey all you complainers: go start your own infotainment podcast if you're so concerned about scientific integrity. Christ, it's like reading comments from spoiled children. No one forces you to listen, and certainly no one forces you to contribute money to Radiolab.
Hey Radiolab, how about a program investigating the phenomenon of grown adults who whine like children?

Nov. 07 2014 02:47 PM
David Williford from San Diego

How dare you tell a ghost story on Halloween!

I think it is interesting how much anger people feel just because this episode wasn't offering a data / research based answer, or not much of one.

Just goes to show people react negatively to what can't be understood in a logical way. Hence the strong feelings for or against the idea of God.

Radiolab, don't let these negative human beings ever change how you tell stories or what you choose to cover.

After all everything we "know" can change in an instant.

I've listened to every single last episode you have made, I even had tickets to one of your live shows in LA but missed it. (Still bummed about that)
You've always presented all your stories in a very balanced way leaving room for the unknown or the "what if", which is why I keep listening.

Life is not about knowing the right answer to everything, because we never will.

Life is about experiences. To those who didn't like this episode, lighten up.

Nov. 06 2014 08:10 PM
Billy from United States

VERY disappointed in Radiolab for putting out this nonsense episode. You should not be giving these "Ghost hunting" hucksters any more exposure than they already have. I thought Radiolab stood for science and enlightenment. I have been enjoying this podcast for along time and I don't ever want to hear an episode like this again. SHAME ON YOU.

Nov. 06 2014 06:00 PM

Honestly, as a paying supporter of Radiolab, if you ever do a hokey program like this again I won't support Radiolab ever again. I come here for skeptical science that isn't completely rigid and interesting stories but paranormal activity is CHILD'S play. People that have paranormal experiences have a lot of problem's to begin with, usually Mentally, or are just complete fucking liars that are full of shit to begin with.

I'm pretty upset with this shit. Paranormal activity is absolutely debunked science over and over and over. Nobody has clairvoyance. It's narcissism at best. Most likely there is no afterlife.

Nov. 06 2014 04:26 PM
rk from Illinois

I found this to be a disappointment -- not because of the approach to the paranormal, which was very poetic and moody and engaging, but because of the really wooden "let's bring in the scientific explanation about how it was all done" conclusion. Really? You interrupt the poetry and feeling of the program with THAT?

And just so you don't misunderstand my complaint, please notice that your explanation has no explanatory power whatsoever. If it did, then all three flashlights would be lighting up and growing dim in rhythmic fashion, some at the same time presumably. Verbal patterns and patters of dialogue are very distinct phenomena -- Radiolab has alluded to this in other episodes -- and not at all random-seeming.

So, did Radiolab just confirm that causal forms exist that we don't understand and largely don't know about? That these forms exist among us and "haunt" the material world? No, probably not -- just another anecdote to add to the quite literally billions of other such stories about people's personal experiences with things like this.

What's hard to bear is not just the way you upend the emotional poetry of the episode in order to try to protect your scientific dignity; it's that you regard science as having much of any opinion on the matter of the paranormal. A good scientist wouldn't grope for lame explanations to dismiss the mystery of what had just occurred; a good scientist would say, "I don't know."

By the way, for all those comfortable with knee-jerk responses against the paranormal, you might do well to acknowledge that what systematic science has been done on the subject, at reputable institutions like Harvard, Yale, Duke, Princeton, Cornell, and UCLA, have generated data that mildly to moderately indicate the existence of qualities like telepathy and clairvoyance. From the standpoint of experimental evidence, the case is closer to being made than to being refuted.

(Oh, please, someone mention the name of James Randi -- a paid entertainer who poses as a scientific investigator. This always seems to come up in conversations like this.)

Nov. 06 2014 12:47 AM
Louard from Ottawa, Canada

Don't know if someone noted this... Man, that's a lot of comments! But I did notice something about the flashlights and asking questions and all... The "investigator" waited for a light to turn on before calling it the "yes" light then proceeded to ask (only?) questions where yes was, arguably, the desired answer. The same was done up in the bedroom.. "Are you well?", "Do you want them to leave?" etc. As is usually the case, no one tried to fool the ghosts by using negative questions, for instance.. like "Am I a disappointment?" or "Would you like them to stay?".
So, first you identify a flashlight that will exhibit the behaviour by waiting for it to turn on, then you label it as "yes" and proceed to ask a bunch of positive questions. I think this probably explains a lot of why most of the answers seem so coincidentally on point.
I really don't think these paranormal enthusiasts are out to swindle (not the club members in the story, I mean) they, like their subjects, count every hit as another reason to believe and they just want to believe.

Nov. 05 2014 04:33 PM
Anders Gjöres from Stockholm. Sweden

I teach radio journalism at the University of Stockholm. I always start a new course by playing an excerpt from "Animal Minds" (The Whale that said Thanks). The reason for this is to show students what´s been happening with this old, old medium. "Who needs TV?", is the underlaying question. Young people in Sweden listens more and more to radio. And Radiolab is (was) so interesting as they, with Ira Glasses words, "invented a new aestetics". Listening to the latest podcast made me so disapppointed. Radiolab is no more. Now I recommend my students to listen to old Radiolab episodes and Serial. I still wear my Radiolab t-shirt, but not so often these days.

Nov. 05 2014 06:51 AM
Mia Belanger from United States

I'm not sure what I believe when it comes to ghosts. I think they exist, but I'm uncertain of the extent to which the supernatural can interact with people. I think many paranormal activities are exaggerated. I think it's awful if these ghost hunters messed with this man. I wonder how ghosts can use a flashlight. I agree that people are fascinated by other's ghost stories because it is something out of the ordinary.

Nov. 04 2014 07:19 PM
Jen from United States

I thought this was a great episode! I can see why people didn't like it, but I thoroughly enjoyed the storytelling and the #realness of Dennis listening to the ghost hunter audio for the first time. It definitely gave me a few chills, and I thought the drama, entertainment and journalistic components of this story made for a really interesting piece.

Nov. 04 2014 03:00 PM
Ross from Brockville, ON, Canada

Great episode. Don't be afraid to explore the paranormal or unexplained phenomenon in future episodes. Historically I've been a skeptic but after examining and carefully considering unexplained phenomenon I have to admit I really don't know, and I doubt anyone else does either. Curiosity and agnosticism are the appropriate attitudes when presented with something we don't understand. If we deny the possibility before we begin to investigate we will always miss out on that which we have yet to discover.

Nov. 04 2014 02:52 PM
TishAttar from Hollywood

I usually like every single show but this I found kind of a little boring. Maybe it was because I was cleaning my room while I was listening. After reading the comments I have to agree this is the lamest of all the episodes. I hope this isn't a sign of future times.

Nov. 04 2014 02:38 PM
Sam Wood

Terrific, moving piece of storytelling!

Why are people being so pissy about this episode? It was a moving story about a man trying to find meaning after great loss. It didn't legitimize supernatural ghost hunters — it explained at the end how the flashlight phenomenon works.

Get over it! You're just as bad as the fundamentalists who throw a tantrum anytime someone suggests anything that falls outside of their own dogma.

Nov. 04 2014 01:51 PM

I enjoyed it. I love Radiolab. I expect the unexpected, from it. And that is what I usually get !

Nov. 04 2014 01:23 PM
Gabe from Alabama

This was a very disappointing episode. I think it legitimizes paranormal "investigators" and their kind. Please get back to the old Radiolab episodes like The Bad Show, The Good Show, Colors, etc.


Nov. 04 2014 09:33 AM
Michael from Germany

I loved the episode. I don't understand the fury of so many people about it. To me, Radiolab has been about the unknown, unexplained or just plain unexplored in human experience. You can read this episode in different ways, and the truth or untruth of the occasion with the flashlights is probably the least interesting part of it. We are wired to search for meaning. Why should an essentially materialist view of the world have to constrain our thoughts as well? Why can't we wonder about the spirit of our father or mother without arch comments about hokum or con-artists or suckers? Please allow a little diversity in human thought and experience.

Nov. 04 2014 09:27 AM

I miss the old RadioLab ...........

Nov. 04 2014 04:40 AM

Quality of episodes just plummeted and this last one is just bottom don't know if you can make it worse.
p.s Love old radiolab podcasts

Nov. 04 2014 03:52 AM
Lyra A. Swift from LF ,odeivO

Before I listened to this podcast I did not believe in ghosts in the slightest, but after I heard it I realized that I was right the first time: ghosts are about as real as Dracula or Obama. If this story about the haunted house proves one thing about ghosts is that they should be a visual medium. Hearing somebody describe why I should be afraid that lights are flickering is like listening to someone give me a play-by-play of the movie Paranormal Activity from another room, but with better acting. I would not recommend this podcast for its educational value, but if you're just looking for a ghost story, I've heard a lot worse than this, though I'm not sure if that says more about the quality of the podcast or about my low standards for horror.

Nov. 04 2014 12:22 AM
Becky S. Gatsby from Florida

Wow this podcast was so interesting! Spirits are something that I strongly believe in and this podcast made me believe in them even more. The flashlight theory is so fascinating, however, it seems a bit over exaggerated. I believe speaking to spirits is much more complicated than turning a flashlight on and off. In the future talking to the paranormal may be a science but even though this podcast was interesting it isn't really that reliable.

Nov. 03 2014 11:58 PM
tracy from here & there

lame. radiolab is lame. npr is lame.
lame lame lame

Nov. 03 2014 11:36 PM
Ayn A Tennyson from Oviedo FL

This podcast caught my attention because paranormal things are always fascinating to me. I am not sure if I am a believer in spirits but for all we know there may be a whole different world that we cannot see. Most stories on television or radio shows are staged, as well as this podcast may be too. People are most vulnerable to paranormal activity which allows producers to make serious money. The thrill of being in contact with the dead is always a hot topic. Needless to say, I believe that this podcast is a hoax and a mockery of Dennis Conrow.

Nov. 03 2014 11:10 PM
Becky A. Yeats from earth

I believe this podcast was more aimed toward entertainment rather than true scientific backing. Everyone is exposed to some form of paranormal activity through broadcasting of movies and TV shows or even some first hand experiences of there own. Though nothing can be proven I like to think of life after death and spirits lingering around. Though I do believe in spirits, I think that the ones that linger around aren't always positive ones and those are the ones people have to look out for. Some I truly do believe aim to get inside people and hold a satanic value behind themselves. Ghost hunter shows I believe are pumped up for the hype and intend on getting viewers so their shows so well. It is a business. The ones described in this podcast seemed to be in that category. Sometimes we look for things that happen to be coincidences rather than actually stumbling upon actual spirits. Whether one believes in this stuff is up to them but I do believe there are some spirits lingering around out there. We never know when we ourselves might run into one and change our perspective on things.

Nov. 03 2014 11:00 PM
Alice A. Keats from FL

This podcast was spooky yet entertaining. I felt as if it was a tad bit fake and staged. The limit of information and the over dramatic scenes make it seem fake. Many people claim to have seen ghosts and have had first hand experience at paranormal activity but people can also be demented. People will also make up stories for entertainment purposes as well so in a way I feel like this podcast is a little fake. I have never seen ghosts nor felt a 'strange presence'. I would not know what it actually feels like to be in a paranormal scene. Everyone interprets ghosts stories differently and different people form different opinions. Some people will believe and some won't. That's just a part of human nature.

Nov. 03 2014 10:38 PM
Katniss B. Sinclair

The paranormal has always been a very controversial topic because no one can really prove or disapprove if it is real or not. In this case the science really is not there but I am a believer in life after death. It really has you think because they say matter can never be destroyed only transferred, so where does our matter go when we pass away? No one can really answer that question but in my mind i believe it still lingers around, which would explain the afterlife presence.

Nov. 03 2014 10:35 PM
Lyra Christie

I have always been a skeptic of paranormal activity. The topic has always been fascinating to me, but there has just not been enough scientific evidence to prove anything. I think this podcast was definitely interesting because of the story Dennis told, and how he was convinced he was really speaking to his father until the flashlight trick was brought into light. I feel like sometimes people look for any sign to speak to people who have passed on, even though it's just a coincidence. The part about him having that same dream over one hundred times kind of freaked me out though.

Nov. 03 2014 10:24 PM
Jane J. Asimov

This podcast was extremely entertaining because I have always been fascinated by the paranormal. Although I have never experience paranormal activity first hand, many of my close friends and family that I completely trust have. In addition I have watched countless paranormal investigating and ghost hunting shows. With this being said I am not 100% certain that paranormal activity and ghosts are real but after watching this podcast and hearing Dennis Conrow's story my doubt has certainly decreased. I would love to have Paranormal investigators come to my house and search for ghost so I too could experience the paranormal first hand and squash any doubt I may still have.

Nov. 03 2014 09:44 PM
Harriet S. Coelho from Florida

I enjoyed the open end of the podcast. There are two options to choose from and no way to choose which is the for sure right one. I've always wanted to believe in the paranormal but I've never had an experience that solidified my beliefs. Dennis seems to feel the same after being told that the flashlights have a scientific reason for going off. I personally believe that something more may have happened.

Nov. 03 2014 09:03 PM
Toni L. Gatsby from NY

I enjoyed this episode whether all the science was 100% true or not. The emotion behind the death of Dennis' loved ones was incredible, and although I don't personally believe in all the paranormals behind this story, the true bravery of this man is touching. The ghost activity in this story is most likely bogus, and even though the "ghost hunters" are a fraud, the message of Dennis coming at peace with loved ones is amazing. The main point of this story is not to persuade the listener that there are spirits and ghosts, but to use ethos and pathos to connect with the listener to covey a greater message of the true value of family.

Nov. 03 2014 09:01 PM
Huxley T Wilder from FL

I love stories like this. The concept of 'life after death' and anything paranormal has always fascinated me. To experience something like that is truly an oddity, and I guess that's why I entertain this thought. I think it's sweet that he was able to 'communicate' with his recently deceased father and mother and get a sense of closure. It is a very controversial subject though; even Conrow knows it and doesn't accept his experiences as fact. it's a curious thought though, to see these people as "making sense of randomness." A very interesting story to hear about.

Nov. 03 2014 08:52 PM
Milo C Rousseau from Florida

This was a really great story. It doesn't matter what was real and what wasn't. This was just an incredibly personal and emotional story. I can completely understand how Dennis could accept that the flashlights weren't in all likelihood being used by ghosts but still want to believe that he spoke with his parents on that day. Deep emotions and personal experiences that strong can't just be waved away because they don't really make sense. It doesn't matter whether ghosts are real or not. On that day, he really did speak to his parents and helped himself to move on from that old house.

Nov. 03 2014 08:28 PM
Virginia N. Plath from United States

I found this episode very interesting. I am a believer in spirits because of experiences my mother and I have had of old family members visiting us in dreams and found it amazing that he had dreams of his parents visiting. Even if he wasn't speaking to his parents through flashlights, I think the raw emotion felt was special. Im sure a lot of people have lost their parents unexpectedly and I think that was great closure for him. I loved this episode, science related or not.

Nov. 03 2014 08:15 PM
Ayn K. Melville

I believe in ghosts to a certain extent. I don't think they can possess us or harm us but I think some people hang around instead of crossing over. For me the "other side" is heaven or hell. I believe in angels and demons completely. I have a guardian angel, my aunt. These ghost hunting shows have zero credibility. All of it can be faked, there is no proof that any of it is in fact real. I wish this episode had more science in it. More scientific explanations of these supernatural phenomenons. This episode is all about playing on emotions and whatever your personal belief is.

Nov. 03 2014 08:07 PM
Toni R Sinclair from FL

This episode of RadioLab had me hooked from start to finish. Although I have a hard time believing in paranormal activity, I felt that this episode had a much deeper meaning. I felt that the so-called "ghosts" were Dennis Conrow's worries, fears, and guilt lingering around the home he has spent too large of a majority of his life in. The thought-provoking, and touching story out of personal experience is one of the many strengths of this episode. The background noise and eerie music also added a great touch to the creepy feel of this!

Nov. 03 2014 08:03 PM
Alice Harisham from Oviedo

I have listened to several of the other NPR podcasts and have enjoyed the science and knowledge I absorb from your programs but I am sad to say I did not find this one as amusing. It seemed slow to get to the point, although I will admit the background musical effects added to the experience. The man who this story was about was skeptical himself and that did not strengthen the attempted feel of mysterious or frightening. Although this factor made me want to keep listening to uncover the reasoning he had behind sharing his story. In the end it was revealed that there was, in fact, a scientific reason behind the flashlight trick but I honestly cannot stop pondering how the coincidence of both women telling him there was an odd presence in his kitchen near the basement and all of the other weird happenings. The best part was when the tech guy ran into something in the basement and it made a loud noise, that surly made me chuckle. In the end I felt bad for the guy because both his parents died from cancer and then he went through this strange experience. This piece was put out there to entertain and it did not do that for me but I hope others got a chill from it and I really appreciated the Halloween themed podcast.

Nov. 03 2014 08:01 PM
Harriet Emerson from United States

The supernatural have always fascinated me and this story really hooks me in. I love the environment he creates when all the "ghost people" explain how they do things and how they connect with the dead. It was freaky how they used lights to communicate with them. I couldn't stop listening, because it was somewhat scary and funny to listen to. I couldn't help but be happy for the guy who connected with his parents. It was very emotional and kept me listening. But then when they talked about the flashlight really worked. It gave him comfort and peace.

Nov. 03 2014 06:37 PM
Patholomeu from Cambridge/Minneapolis

I surmise 3 things…

1. I enjoyed the value of the storie... 100% science or not.

2. That the seemly randomness or happenstance in which any of the 3 flashlights "come back to life" is not random at all.

3. The way in which we derive "any spiritual meaning" from the order of the flashlights turning on & off, is based on the human desire to understand or make sense of our world.

When unscrewing or loosening the caps of 3 flashlights… it can be assumed that the amount of pressure between the plastic lens and the electrical contact will be different between all 3 flashlights. This means that one flashlight, will be more conducive to turning back on vs. the other two. In addition, the first flashlight that turns on, will be shown to be in the most precarious or teetering state as it relates to the potential for turning on and off again. As for the remaining 2 flashlights, one of the remainders will be in a more conducive state vs. the other.

The first flashlight that turns back on… will also be the flashlight that turns on/off with the greatest frequency.

Was it fortune, divine interaction or human interaction which created this shared experience for everyone?

There is no doubt in my mind, that human interaction played the largest role in creating this experience. Whether intentional or unintentional… I believe that the order in which the "Yes" and "No's" were applied to the flashlights; was based on a (conscious or subconscious) desire for achieving some type of absolution. Because an aspect of human nature is to make sense of our world… we will most always seek "Yes" answers to our questions, as "Yes" answers are more conclusive in nature than are "No's".

P.S. When speaking to spirits via this flashlight method… don't use LED flashlights… as they do not generate much heat and will no doubt frustrate the heck out of the spirits.

Nov. 03 2014 06:27 PM
A.J. from St. Louis

My own Dad just passed away on September 29th of Stage IV Prostate Cancer, and coincidentally also wanted to make sure me, his accountant son, had tools and some knowledge to tackle real home-ownership problems and he willed his tools to form a library for his children.

Not that I think my parent's house is haunted, but I really connected with the lead in.

Nov. 03 2014 06:25 PM
Mark Smith from Kansas

For me the theme of this episode is how an experience can be meaningful and affecting even if it isn't real. Dennis had no interest in questioning the reality of it, even when he was given reason to think otherwise.

One thing that wasn't addressed was that it would not have been very difficult to make an educated guess which bedroom belonged to the homeowner, and having seen the room, which corner the bed was probably placed. It's little tricks and finesses like that that make "psychic" readings possible.

I don't know what I dislike more, psychics who don't really believe the things they say to wounded, vulnerable people, or psychics who do believe.

Nov. 03 2014 04:26 PM
Alice Z. Lovecraft from Florida

I have to admit, this freaked me out a little bit. I don't believe in this sort of stuff but I was alone at home at night listening to this and I had to turn on all the lights. I love hearing about experiences about this because they are so odd. It was interesting hearing about the entire conversation and some parts were a bit funny. I loved this show as usual.

Nov. 03 2014 04:22 PM

Thanks for this. I'm leaving a comment mostly as a balance to the many negative comments. I've had a few great conversations with people based on this episode. I think that spirits are hokum, but clearly people are wired to believe in them. I found it interesting to wonder about the social or personal benefit of believing in stuff that we know doesn't exist. It's puzzling to me that so many people intentionally mislead themselves but it doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Nov. 03 2014 03:25 PM
Ayn D. Grisham from oviedo fl

this episode was really interesting , I was also glad that it seemed as if the parents were talking to Dennis because it felt as if it was very self fulfilling for him .in a house for 8 years and having to move out and coming back should be awkward. . It sucks that he had to go back to that strange house, even though it was because of family. I feel bad for Dennis because I would be freaked out and wouldn't be able to come back to the house. to be honest it was good episode but very creepy.

Nov. 03 2014 03:05 PM
Jane from United States

When I heard the title RadioLab, I didn't know that it was supposed to deal with scientific topics. I've always thought it referred to the experimental sound of the show itself. I like all the stories. If you don't, then listen somewhere else. Nothing is served by derogatory comments.

Nov. 03 2014 02:38 PM
scott from USA

I love RadioLab and enjoyed this episode, and I must say I am shocked by all the negative comments! It seems to me that people just didn't "get" the story, or else have incredibly small imaginations? Yes, the flashlight thing was a trick-- as they explained-- but the "truth" of the flashlight communication method was not the crux of the story. Rather, I thought the narrative clearly made the point that what haunted Dennis were his emotions, regrets, longing, missed other words, the house was haunted by Dennis's complicated connection to it and to his parents. I didn't think this episode even *tried* to make out that ghosts are objectively real (though I wouldn't have had a problem if they had, since that's how the ghost was experienced, but then I'm an anthropologist not a positivist scientist). I guess I just mean that the ghost of Dennis's father was real to Dennis, and that's what matters here. Their encounter, however it happened, provided meaning and closure for him: the poignancy of which is lost if the only possible explanation is a scientific one. Right? Is this just me?

It just seems that if Robert and Jad had gone on to interview an "expert" they would have been reducing the Dennis's experience to something that can be explained (away) by rationale science. Interesting to some I guess, but just not the point here. What I love about Radiolab is that they take on scientific questions as they are politically, ethically, and socially situated and leave listeners with as many questions as answers. That's an experience that rings true with how I experience the world.

Nov. 03 2014 01:27 PM
Ed Miner from Anchorage, Alaska

Does anyone have any recommendations for good science podcasts? Perhaps one that is like Radiolab used to be.

Nov. 03 2014 12:23 PM
Casey from Edmonton, Canada

Plenty of places on cable to see this type of story. Big fail as far as the mission of science journalism.

Nov. 03 2014 12:00 PM
Scott from Perth, Australia

Can anyone tell me what the music was at the end ? Loved it and would like to hear more.

Nov. 03 2014 06:01 AM
Bill from Belgium

I'm very disappointed by this episode. I can't believe you take money from the National Science Foundation, and then put out this hokum. It's hard to think of it as a bit of Halloween fun, as psychics and ghost hunters are con artists, preying and profiting from people at their weakest moments. Shame on you for doing their marketing work.

Nov. 03 2014 04:35 AM
Sherlock D. Whiler from United States

Interesting episode. The paranormal don't really make sense, but this is crazy. I don't believe this type on stuff, but it kept my attention. The story itself was very well set up and the mix between audio was superb. It really had you thinking if this was a joke, or that something was really happening in the house. I liked it!

Nov. 02 2014 11:44 PM
Anna A. Dickinson from Florida, USA

I enjoyed this episode- it kept me hooked from start to finish. The awesome blend of actual sound bites with the commentary helped keep in interesting. Personally, I don't believe in extrasensory perception or life after death, but this episode definitely makes one think! Regardless, it was a fascinating story. Whether or not it was actually the parents speaking from beyond the grave, it was still poignant to see them 'communicate' with Dennis.

Nov. 02 2014 05:10 PM
Agatha Y. Coleridge

Haunted or not, this episode was really interesting and captivating, I was also glad that it seemed as if the parents were talking to Dennis because it felt as if it was very self fulfilling for him and he could finally move on with his life and say good bye without any regrets. If I were Dennis, I would have been fairly disappointed to be told that the whole "flashlight talking" was just a phenomenon, because I would have wanted to have kept that as a significant memory, but I'm glad that he just accepted the fact that it was just a phenomenon but still wanted to remember it as something special. Even though it didn't include a lot of scientific details, it still gave me goosebumps and really intrigued me the whole time.

Nov. 02 2014 02:07 PM
Mr beaker from Florida

Radiolab listeners could be forgiven for thinking that their show had "jumped the shark" with its schmaltzy Halloween episode. Let's hope it hasn't.

Nov. 02 2014 01:14 PM
Nick B from Brooklyn

I know this episode is Halloween-themed, but it could have used a lot more science (cognitive biases, projection) and insight into the methods of self-proclaimed psychics/mystics/etc. While some paranormal investigators may have a genuine scientific interest in mystical phenomena, psychics are unethical and irresponsible frauds that prey on desperate people in need of answers and they need to be treated as such.
By leaving the episode open-ended with a "you decide if it's real or not," Radiolab is irresponsibly legitimizing these predatory con-artists.

F minus guys

Nov. 02 2014 10:47 AM
Chris from Sugarloaf

Great story, well told. However I was left wanting more...I wanted to learn (more) about the science behind what was happening (not just the flashlight explanation but also maybe the psychology that predisposes some to believe the paranormal) as well as the ethics of ghost hunting.

I can understand some RL fans not liking this episode and wanting to express it to the RL team but I don't get some of the venom expressed below.

Nov. 02 2014 07:18 AM
Stuart from Amsterdam

The hating from commenters is creepier than the ghost story. Reductionism holds religion hostage one moment, then masquerades as science the next. Same psycho-emotional contraction operating both ways, eroding curiosity and humor. We're barely even at a place to appreciate how much we don't know. Look back at prevailing World Views 10,000 years ago, stay open to what our World Views might become over the next 10,000 years. Stay humble, hungry, grow into the mysteries instead of collapsing them into the limits of our small but wonderful present.

Nov. 02 2014 06:24 AM
Michelle from California

Hi guys, long time listener, first time commenter. I had to jump in to defend Radiolab. I think all the detractors commenting are missing the deeper level of this story. It COULD be that this guy who had lost his parents was talking to them through the flashlights, or it could be that the idea that he was finally motivated to do something with his life and this was the only way to gain closure on his parents approval. Regardless of whether paranormal events are real or a sham, the comfort of this child seeking a final approval of his parents was the real point of the story. Before commenting on how disappointed you are in Radiolab, consider the pain of losing both your parents pretty suddenly to cancer and then finding motivation to learn so many new skills and really turn your life around.

When he asks the room if Mom and Dad are proud of him, and the universe (plastic cooling in a flashlight, dead parents' energy manipulating the switches, the train going past and jiggling the flashlights) sent him a sign that he interpreted as yes, he gained closure. It's a beautiful story really.

Nov. 01 2014 11:37 PM
rinchops from NJ

Tried to fall asleep listening to this... had to hide under the covers... :P

Nov. 01 2014 11:16 PM
Antonia Neruda from Florida

Haunted houses are very strange. It's weird to live in a house for 8 years and having to move out because the house has a weird vibe in it. It stinks that he had to go back to that strange house, even though it was because of family. I feel bad for Dennis because I would be freaked out and wouldn't be able to come back to the house. The house seemed to have its own "feelings" because it didn't seem to want to let him move out or even clean it out. Even redoing the house, the house didn't want that. At night, the house haunted his dreams with memories of his parents. I wouldn't be able to live in that house. When he put the house up for sale, a girl wanted to look around and when she did, she felt a weird presence. Even the realtor said the house was haunted when there was an "open house".

Nov. 01 2014 11:08 PM

Evidently people have forgotten the 'about' this show description: “Radiolab is a show about curiosity. Where sound illuminates ideas, and the boundaries blur between science, philosophy, and human experience.”

If this doesn’t qualify for 'blurred lines' between the three stated goals of the show, I don't know what does!

Nov. 01 2014 09:46 PM

I'm surprised at the number of negative comments, saying this podcast is not scientific enough, and stating that they know the "ghost busters" were frauds, unethical (etc.), and that discussing "paranormal" events is unscientific. The high degree of certainty seems more suitable in a fundamentalist church than in the Radiolab audience.

That said, the exploration of what science might have to say about the man's experience is woeful. But, as some commenters have pointed out, it's hard to prove that the paranormal or supernatural is OR is not true - neither is in science's scope. Even an excellent scientific explanation of an unusual event can never prove there's no paranormal or supernatural.

I am a skeptic, but I do not have the dangerous certainty of fundamentalists, whether of the religious or political stripe. If I become unable to admit that I might be wrong (and the other guy is right), I will no longer qualify as a skeptic.

Nov. 01 2014 05:41 PM
Heather from Seattle

Loved it! Very fun! It does stray from your norm'... but what a fun ride! Hope you do another one next Halloween!

Nov. 01 2014 01:23 PM
Lewis from Austin

The whole "recording" was acted. Why else do you think the guy would have said out loud about what was going on in the room (flashlights getting very bright, etc) and the easily explained jump scare mid-story. It's not that there were a group of people conning a man. There was a radio show "conning" it's audience.

Having said that, I haven't enjoyed a good ghost story like this in a long time. Thanks for the entertainment. xoxo

Nov. 01 2014 11:50 AM
Linda Caruso from NJ

This episode was great! What I found most surprising were the Coments! I love your programs but I didn't realize how many narrow minded people are listening ( or, at least commenting).
Keep up the good work! I love you guys!

Nov. 01 2014 10:03 AM
Lance from Hawaii

You should be ashamed for putting out this piece of crap. Promoting sharlatins who pray on people who have lost love ones is a new low. Thank you for dumbing down our country even more. I am writing your sponsors, The National Science Foundation and The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and recommend that the spend their money on "The Skeptics Guide to the Universe" podcast instead of the garbage you put out this week. I can not tell you how disappointed I am in both of you. You have lost all of your credibility. What's next, Bigfoot, UFO's? How sad.

Nov. 01 2014 01:14 AM
Jack from Manchester, UK

I loved the episode. Telling creepy tall tales is the whole point of halloween. Sometimes it's not about how true something is, but the journey of the story. You should do what you want to do in your own style, because I feel that's what makes your show unique.

Oct. 31 2014 10:07 PM
Bob from USA

Oh Radiolab,

As a fan of many years of your podcast, I'm sad to find myself writing a bit of a disappointed comment regarding this episode and, for the first two thirds of the show, what seemed to be a complete lack of the scientific rigor that I've come to expect from your podcast. I'm glad you ended up including the explanation behind the easily debunkable natural phenomenon of the flickering flashlights, but I feel like this sensible answer got sandwiched in between paranormal nonsense so as to get clouded and lost by the average listener and you missed the opportunity to talk about "confirmation bias" which almost certainly caused the "coincidences" to seem as though they had meaning from an active spirit agent. You've developed a well-deserved reputation has being an intelligent, thoughtful, science-promoting website, and I've recommended your show to many others based on that reputation, but giving credence to such utter bunk gives me pause before recommending again.

On the whole, I do love the show and think you do amazing work.

Oct. 31 2014 07:18 PM
Gus Chavez

I don't listen to radiolab to hear of supernatural nonsense. Even the flashlight explanation at the end was a band-air on a sucking chest wound.
Disappointed in you Radiolab.

Oct. 31 2014 07:01 PM
Chris from Omaha, NE

Loved the episode. Don't believe in ghosts or the paranormal...but I always run up the stairs after turning off the basement light...hmmm....
Keep up the great work!

Oct. 31 2014 05:18 PM
Raphael laour

I would love to see more pictures of this house, of this story.

Oct. 31 2014 02:27 PM
Ben from NH

It's a Halloween episode people, calm down.

Oct. 31 2014 02:25 PM
Tyler from CA

What a great episode! We live in a universe of Supersymmetry, quantum chromodynamics, String harmonics, compact dimension.. the list goes on of things we barely understand. Why not?

Oct. 31 2014 01:26 PM
Ron from United States

This story does NOT explore the curiosity that is the human experience. It explores the curiosity that is the willingness of a group of people to deliberately attempt to make a fool of Dennis at a weak moment in his life. There's a special word for people like that.

There are plenty of other podcasts that this story would shoehorn nicely into, like This American Life, but not in a podcast that is grounded in the realm of science and the real world. Ghosts are not real. That's why there are so many negative comments.

Oct. 31 2014 12:53 PM
Grant Volker from Minneapolis

I don't think that this episode is terrible per se. The last few minutes of the episode where they break down the science of how the flashlight trick works, and discuss how we ascribe meaning to random events saved it from being ridiculous ghost story. If this were a full length radio episode I would certainly hope that Jad and Robert would get an expert to talk about how we tend to see meaning in random events, but since it's just a short podcast episode I don't mind so much. I really hope that this type of story doesn't become a trend. Showing how a personal story relates to bigger scientific ideas is what I really like about Radiolab, but when the show heads off into fantasy land, with no science in sight, I get really irritated.

Oct. 31 2014 12:45 PM

I found this episode interesting and, as always, well told. The ability to make a well-flowing, insightful, thought-provoking, or touching story out of personal experience is one of the many strengths of Radiolab. I'm surprised to see negative comments. The story of Dennis Conrow gently explores the curiosity that is the human experience, as is the case with most episodes. I enjoyed the exploration, and the idea of ghosts or hauntings is always interesting as life (or not) after death continues to be a mystery. This topic was what I was in the mood for on this October 31st. Thanks guys!

Oct. 31 2014 12:17 PM
Ron from United States

100% con job, although since the "investigators" receive no money, it's hard to call it a con, so what their motivation is, is confounding. The very moment the ghost hunters unscrewed the tops of the flashlights to just barely avoid the metal contact, it was obvious that the experience was rigged. So, in their minds, ghosts have a hard time sliding a flashlight switch, so you need to make it as easy as possible for them, but one moment later, they totally believe that the ghosts are moving kitchen pots and pans around in the other room. Ghosts can move around large kitchen utensils, but can't slide a flashlight switch? Come on RadioLab! I listen to these podcasts because I love science and how it works in our world. There have only been a few episodes that have pissed me off, and they're always the ones where Robert has interjects his belief that the Bible is real, and in the comment sections, many others have the same reaction when he pushes supernatural thinking into grounded science. Robert must have loved this episode. Please, please, please, stick to science, and leave religion and all things supernatural and fictitious out of the conversation. Love the podcasts!

Oct. 31 2014 11:57 AM
Randy from USA

People please - it was completely bogus. The 'ghost hunters' were controlling it from the next room. This is not rocket science. There has never been, and never will be, a real paranormal experience. Accept it.

Oct. 31 2014 11:56 AM
Åsmund from Norway

I'm a sceptic, and think it is interesting to hear a story from a different perspective, but still this episode really annoys me, and its' not really in the radiolab spirit (pun intended). You don't really ask a lot of the most obvius questions, and when you say its less likely to be a hoax because he got a yes, the answer he wanted, your on really thin ice. It is kind of common knowledge that Mediums and such gives the answers people would like to hear; then they want to belive the answer. Could have been a good episode, but you didn't really explore the subject. Lets forget abot this episode and look forward to the next one.

Oct. 31 2014 10:57 AM

"It doesn't matter if its real or not, life is about experiences and doing what you love."

Yeah, screw reality! What this world needs now more than ever is more self-deception and superstitious nonsense.

Oct. 31 2014 10:42 AM

paranormal crapola? Not really an exploration befitting a Lab, maybe RadioHippsterCoffeeHouse would be more accurate.

Oct. 31 2014 10:06 AM
Randy from USA

This is obvious fakery and a cruel trick to play on an orphaned man. The "ghost hunters" deserve to be ridiculed and vilified for what they perpetrate on innocent people. Saying that it's harmless doesn't absolve them of the fraud and indecent nature of their 'work'.

Oct. 31 2014 09:56 AM
Paul from United States

I thought this was a really good episode. I'm a skeptic on this things and realize how silly those ghost hunters type shows are. However, that doesn't mean I can't enjoy the telling of one man's experience and how it helped him make a type of peace with his deceased loved ones.

Well done episode, Radiolab.

Oct. 31 2014 08:22 AM
Jacob Svonavec from United States

I totally disagree with Jim's comment. This was a superb episode! I have known quite a few ghost hunters and went with them a few times. It doesn't matter if its real or not, life is about experiences and doing what you love. Great Job RL!

Oct. 31 2014 07:37 AM
Jim from United States

Worst episode to this date. I get the premise, but go to therapy or personally remorse their deaths instead of enabling ghost hunters.

Oct. 31 2014 06:08 AM

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