At this haunted house, you’re being watched

They call it the Gravesend Inn, and locals believe the spot is haunted by the likes of Lawrence Lackey, a bellhop from the 1930s who gradually went insane, and Rebekkah Rogue, a pirate killed on her ship in 1863 by “wreckers” from the area after her treasure.

Or at least that’s the story concocted by the faculty and students from the New York City College of Technology’s nationally renowned Entertainment Technology Department. They are bringing back the fright-inducing, high-tech, theme-park-like haunted house they launched in 1999, but are adding a twist: They’ll be studying visitors’ emotional reaction, “specifically investigating phenomena within a space in our school, where, legend has it, unusual things have happened,” wrote professor John Huntington.

(They’ll only include those 18 years or older, who offer consent, since it’s an Institutional Review Board-approved psychological research study.)

The research seeks to replicate findings by acclaimed British psychologist Richard Wiseman, an avid studier of the paranormal, who built his own haunted house to test out theories of scary phenomena  and strange sensations. He believes spooky feelings can be caused by the environment — reactions to electromagnetic fields or drops in temperature, for instance — rather than ghosts.

“We’re not allowed to give away too much because of the research,” said professor Sue Brandt. But on the experiment’s final night, on Oct. 30, the researchers will reveal the technology they used and give a brief demonstration. 


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