Bay Area Skeptics

The San Francisco Bay Area's skeptical organization since 1982

An Apartment Therapy San Francisco reader asks:

I am considering buying my first home. It is a renovated 1924 Edwardian style San Francisco flat, very charming with original details. After doing some research on the building, I discovered that there was a murder in the building in 1966. A young single woman was found stabbed to death in the apartment, the killer was never found. The thing that made my hair really stand on end is she came from the same small town as me and went to the same high school.

My question to your readers: Do I buy this place?? I feel like I’m being a bit superstitious, but the coincidences are just too bizarre. I like the flat, it has a good feel, but I would hate to move in and feel scared and uncomfortable. It will be the biggest investment of my life. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Now, I don’t want to be too hard on the questioner, because it seems like she knows she’s being irrational and really, it would suck to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on real estate only to discover that you couldn’t get over your irrational creepy feeling.

And a number of commenters seem to feel the same way she does:

I’m superstitious, so whenever I move into a new place I always sprinkle salt around all the windows and doors. It’s new-agey b.s., but it makes me feel more settled, somehow.

These people also get a pass from me. Rituals have a psychological effect. And there’s even a good percentage of people with appropriately skeptical views:

Well, even if you want to be rational and say the murderer must be elderly and that ghosts don’t exist, you’d still be living with the uncomfortable feeling that something terrible could happen to you at any moment in the big city. It’s probably not a positive way to approach your life.

I mean no disrespect to the people who believe in energy, ghosts, etc, but, in my opinion:

This is a material world. Unless you think there is an elderly killer in the neighborhood with a grudge against your old high school, get the house and forget the past! You could easily have bought it WITHOUT knowing the history and it would make no difference. Life is not a slasher flick. Coincidence is not the same thing as foreshadowing outside of fiction.

But, alas, this is the Bay Area and there are plenty of responses that are not so well thought-out.

From the pseudoscientific:

I don’t believe that the spirits of murdered people stick around necessarily, but I do believe that, on a molecular level, everything we do influences our surroundings (including inanimate objects) and we, in turn, are influenced by those objects. If a violent death occurred, the “influence” of that experience can still be felt in the immediate vicinity sometimes.

To a LOT of people suggesting mediums/exorcisms/cleansings:

There most definitely needs to be some purification going on there: I’m a sage person, myself.

To the full-on paranormal:

No way! The coincidences are too much, and could trigger hauntings, for sure. If the case was never settled, more reason to think the spirit would be restless and looking for someone to identify with.

But some people offer solutions!

If u love it so much just buy a cat or something, ghosts, mummies, vampires and all that kinda crap hate cats, apprently, keepers of the underworld or something.


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