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Australia’s Storied Ghosts

JOE NICKELL

Joe Nickell, PhD, is now well into his fifth decade as an investigative writer. He has investigated numerous hauntings in his books that include The Science of Ghosts (2012).

Whenever someone relates his or her ghost encounter, a story is born. And, as folklorists know well, stories tend to evolve in the retelling—changing and becoming embellished by others over time. Thus are created variants, evidence of the folklore process at work. When a writer creates an imitation tale, the product is called “fakelore,” but, ironically, even this can become subject to the oral tradition that produces variants, and that can provide an entirely made-up tale with the appearance of having a basis in truth.

What follows are three of Australia’s most, well, storied ghosts, those linked to history or legend. But beyond their themes of murder, strange encounter, and lost treasure, are they something more than literary tales? Let us see if investigation can help winnow the evidential wheat from the imaginative chaff.

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Skeptical Inquirer
September October 2017
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