Skepticism

Message in a Bottle: BOO!

Tuesday morning I was hanging out on my couch, eating some Special K, having some coffee, and watching a little CNN Headline News. I watch cable news every day, and I spend a good portion of that time rolling my eyes and wondering why I torture myself so. But Tuesday morning I startled my dogs, husband and child when I yelled, “Oh come on! You’ve got to be kidding me!”

Apparently they needed to put find something to report in between segments on the price of gas (because we only need updates every 10 minutes or so) and the best they could come up with was a guy in Florida who sells spiritghosts… in a bottle. For serious.

Dear Headline News,

This is not news.

I seriously hate you more than ever.

Sincerely,

Elyse Anders

Of course this was some hard hitting journalism, a story taken on with the same intense scrutiny that I am subjected to in the weekly newspaper Elyse’s Weekly Awesome Times: News on How Much Elyse Kicks Ass. But surprisingly, even after such an in-depth investigation, I still had some questions.

I decided to head on over to the website to see if I could gather some more information.

I checked out their Warnings page where they have the disclaimer:

NOTE: WE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY MISFORTUNE TO BEFALL YOU SHOULD YOU TAKE POSSESSION OF THIS OBJECT.

  • It is not recommended that you break or open the bottle.
  • The intent of this product is for entertainment purposes only. We have had several customers open or break the bottle and contact us stating that unexplained things have occured in their homes and how could this activity be stopped?!
  • To me, it doesn’t seem like a very solid business plan to do to sell a product that could cause “misfortune to befall” customers if they choose to actually use the product. But then again,  I’m no expert on entrepreneurship.

    So what could happen?

    • If you open or break your bottle you may experience any or all of the following:
    • • A voice out of nowhere.
    • • Muffled Moans and Groans for long periods of time during the day or night.

    • Doors opening or closing slowly.

    • A feeling someone is following you around your home.

    • The T.V. volume Increases or Decreases by itself.

    • Water left running at the sink.

  • • The feeling someone is watching you.

    • Noises leading into or out of rooms that no one is present in.

    • A unfamiliar smell of perfume or cologne.

    • Small items moved (favorite items to move are shoes, car keys, T.V. remote and jewelry).

    • Lights coming on or going off by themselves.

    • Electrical appliances coming on by themselves (sometimes they are not even plugged in).

  • • Phone calls (yes, sometimes they call).
  • • Your night light may be turned off during the night.
  • • Bed covers pulled off you, or you pillow may be tossed on the floor during the night.

    • Touches (light pat on the back, the touch can be warm or cold).

    • Activity will usally peak around 3:00 am in the morning or on rainy days.

    Apparently on top of touching you when you may not want to be touched and making you more likely to lose your car keys it may also make you terrible at formatting html documents.

    (Admittedly, I kinda like the idea that it might make my phone ring. It’s nice to feel popular.)

    But what disturbed me the most was this little disclaimer in their Terms and Conditions:

    WARNING: This Product Is Flammable. This product should be situated away from heat sources such as, (stoves, lamps, sun), or any other sources that produce heat or flames. Roland-Deese Productions, Corp. is not responsible for injury or death in any type of connection being physical or electronic.

    What?!?!?! Flammable? What could be flammable? It’s a ghost!

    So I sent them an email:

    I was watching CNN Headline News this morning and saw the segment about your site. You have certainly come up with a novel business idea!

    I have a few questions regarding your product.

    The story on CNN said that you contract ghost hunters to do the actual capturing of the ghosts. How do you get them into the bottles and how do you keep them from escaping through the glass? Is there any way to know whether there is actually a ghost inside the bottle at all? I understand you make no guarantees on your product, but I can only assume that reasonable efforts are made to ensure your customers are receiving the product they purchase.

    Also, your Terms and Conditions state that the product is flammable! What part of the product is flammable? Do you have to have the product specially shipped due to its flammability? Is it possible to obtain an MSDS for your product?

    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Sincerely,
    Elyse Anders

    I was put off writing this post until I heard back from them, but now that it’s been well over 48 hours, I can only assume that I will not.

    (After checking out their order page, it appears that the bottles are shipped standard UPS Ground or USPS Priority Mail. If their product is actually flammable, I’m pretty sure this is a no-no.)

    I guess I’ll just have to believe the testimonials from the site as proof that the product is legit…  Let’s see, there’s the woman whose husband’s wedding ring went missing after opening the bottle (if I started buying and releasing ghosts my husband’s ring would go missing, too). Then there’s the school girls who opened the bottle during a slumber party and were freaked out when the phone rang. One guy had his lights go out during a raging party after opening the bottle. The last testimonial is a little incoherent, so I can only assume that is because of the spiritghosts taking over his brain:

    Dear Roland-Deese Productions,

    Just like your instructions advised, I beleive I have seen all signs of my ghost. I’m thinking of moving out of my apartment, it’s now haunted. The Ghost Bottle is a very entertaining novelty!

    Murray

    Apple Valley, CA

    *sigh*

    A skepchick’s work is never done.

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    Elyse

    Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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    20 Comments

    1. That was a painfull site to look at. The kookiness of the warnings were outstripped only by the testimonials.

      As for CNN Headline News, I deleated the channel from my regular sit-on-the-couch-and-flick-through-the-channels routine after the ‘Paris Hilton is finally out of jail!’ nonesense last summer.

      CNN barely counts as news, but CNN Headline News is just that: all headlines, no news.

    2. This Product Is Flammable. This product should be situated away from heat sources such as, (stoves, lamps, sun)

      I wonder how many people are actually going to transport this thing on their next trip to a sun. Nevertheless, keeping things away from heat sources such as a sun is probably good general advice.

    3. Ghost in a bottle? Damnit, all the good scams are taken. It look more and more every day like if I want to take advantage of the stupidity of the populace, I’ll have to go into politics…

    4. To me, it doesn’t seem like a very solid business plan to do to sell a product that could cause “misfortune to befall” customers if they choose to actually use the product.

      Tell that to the tobacco companies.

    5. Hmmm, great idea. Get people who actually believe in ghosts to keep something flammable with them at all times. Sooner or later it will catch fire… natural selection at its simplest.

    6. If the ghosts are alcoholics maybe they catch them using booze!

      Step one: Put some booze in a bottle.

      Step two: Wait for alcoholic ghost to enter bottle.

      Step three: Profit!

      Is that you Granddad?

    7. New terms will have to be used when you get drunk from these spirits:
      enchanted instead of intoxicated or inebriated,
      haunted housed instead of plastered,
      possessed instead of pissfaced,
      seanced instead of shitfaced,
      orgasmed like a phantasm for drunk as a skunk.

    8. I’m thinking of moving out of my apartment, it’s now haunted. The Ghost Bottle is a very entertaining novelty!

      Bullshit! There’s nothing entertaining about moving. Moving is hard, painful, annoying work, and it takes FOREVER.

      Unless you’re so wealthy that you can pay people to do all the work, and you just have to tell the limo driver your new address. Or, alternatively, you’re so anti-materialist that all of your possessions fit in a small sack. In either of those cases, moving is actually pretty easy. But it’s still not entertaining.

      I’m having flashbacks of more than one August move. I would have paid good money for a bottled ghost, if it actually delivered the ubiquitously reported “cold spot.”

      I have to go lie down.


    9. • A voice out of nowhere.
      • Muffled Moans and Groans for long periods of time during the day or night.
      • Doors opening or closing slowly.
      • A feeling someone is following you around your home.
      • The T.V. volume Increases or Decreases by itself.
      • Water left running at the sink.
      • The feeling someone is watching you.
      • Noises leading into or out of rooms that no one is present in.
      • A unfamiliar smell of perfume or cologne.
      • Small items moved (favorite items to move are shoes, car keys, T.V. remote and jewelry).
      • Lights coming on or going off by themselves.
      • Electrical appliances coming on by themselves (sometimes they are not even plugged in).
      • Your night light may be turned off during the night.
      • Bed covers pulled off you, or you pillow may be tossed on the floor during the night.
      • Touches (light pat on the back, the touch can be warm or cold).
      • Activity will usally peak around 3:00 am in the morning or on rainy days.

      I never until this moment realized how much ghosts are like small children

    10. 2 thoughts came to mind for me.
      Thought 1: I’ll bet “ghost busters” actually believe in what they’re doing, but I’ll bet the “ghost in a bottle” entrepreneur doesn’t.
      Thought 2: If ghosts *are* real, isn’t keeping them imprisoned in a bottle rather cruel?
      Free the imprisoned ghosts. For the love of humanity, free them!

    11. If it’s truly flammable, the real question is whether we can use spiritghost fluid to fuel our cars. This could solve the gas crisis! (But then, alas, the news would have to find something else to report on.)

    12. DMS is right. This is a HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE. Those ghosts were once people, and if they can haunt, steal wedding rings, and blow lights, they are conscious.

      This is a freaking outrage. I’m calling Amnesty.

    13. I was ironing my shirt when this came on. I was getting a good case of pissed off built up. Then my 11 year old daughter chimed in. “That is just silly. No one really believes that.” she said. I felt much better.

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