The Paranormal Spectator

Southern Gothic Paranormal Research Blog of Ghosthunters of Tennessee

My First Ghost Hunt-Hope Hill Cemetery

By Benjamin

During High School on occasion my friends and I would go to areas that were supposed to be hot spots for paranormal activity. We didn’t have a ghost box, an EMF detector or any other tools of the trade, but we would go late at night with flashlights to look around for anything that confirmed the stories we had heard…often while some people in the group stayed back in the car. The area we lived in, West Tennessee, has a long memory, and we were familiar with multiple spots within driving distance of our hometown, Huntingdon, TN.

Continue reading “My First Ghost Hunt-Hope Hill Cemetery”

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Talking to Spirits So They’ll Listen

by Leah

Have you ever been interrogated? By the police, your parents, your boss? No one likes to be talked to in this manner. Well, someone might, but that’s a different thing altogether – if you know what I mean. (Another blog for another time…)

Imagine being stuck in a place that you simply cannot leave. You’ve got no family or friends around you. You see the same old scenery every day. You have a story to tell, but no one even knows you’re there, so how can they listen? It’s like being trapped—on an operating table, in a coma—and you can see and hear everything that’s going on around you, but no one even knows you are there. Or that you even exist.

In my mind, that’s how I imagine spirits feel. Continue reading “Talking to Spirits So They’ll Listen”

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Team Code of Ethics

The methods and models (ideas) used in paranormal Investigations were at one time essentially known only  to people who shared the interest and were active in research. Much of the public has become at least nominally aware of the gear, techniques and ideas used by paranormal investigators, in large part to television programs such as those shown on Travel and Destination America. Subsequently, many people who previously had never has anything more than a nominal interest in the paranormal, are now buying equipment and forming teams.

For many people this has been good. This has brought investigating out of the shadows and into people’s living rooms and has also been very educational. However, the “Ghost Rush” has prompted many people to join teams with the goal in mind of it being the way they will get their “big break.” While competition is generally a good thing in any endeavor, whether it is industry, sports or competitive gaming because it is believed to improve the quality of production.

However, competition has not been good in all aspects of paranormal investigating because in the drive to perform better, many teams have taken measures that would have been rare only two decades ago. This is why many of these ethics are in place. Others in place apply only to this team, and are not so much ethical considerations, but just prohibitions. (For example most teams likely lack a male who is prone to take his shirt off when he starts to sweat.) Regardless, these are our Ethics.

  1. Never under any circumstances manipulate evidence for any reason. Do not alter EVPs or photography. Do not engage in any practice that could be construed by anyone, particularly skeptics, as a means of bolstering evidence. Lying is not just wrong because it is not the truth, it contradicts reality. Even in an era of alternative facts, misleading commercials, computer phishing and telemarketing scams, the truth is still a team’s primary goal plain and simple. If you are caught lying regarding evidence, every contribution you have made is now questionable and you will almost certainly be removed permanently. Removal is not done for the sake of punishment, but for the sake of protecting the integrity of a paranormal investigation.
  2. Within the paranormal community treat everyone you encounter with respect and without regard to the person’s race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, national place or origin, political views, or gender identity. Sexual harassment is not to be tolerated.
  3. Please do not use or consume alcohol, cannabis/marijuana (or its derivatives), street drugs, or controlled substances whether prescribed or not that are psychoactive, ie, that get you “high.” There is no judgment from anyone in this group regarding what you put in your body when you are the only person impacted. After all, it’s your body. However, on an investigation often times you are in places that are physically dangerous even if you are as sober as the day you were born. Additionally, investigating is a very cerebral activity and while some substances may not impact your gross or fine motor schools, your thinking is still impaired. Regarding prescriptions that are taken for medical reason, this gets a little trickier, but common sense and the directions on the bottle typically are the best indicator of when this is acceptable. Typically, opioid or pain medications do not make a person “high” when they are truly in pain and when taken as directed. Speak to your team about it before-hand. Marijuana is not typically treated by our Federal, State and local laws as a dangerous substance even though it is S2 drug under Federal Law and in Tennessee is a S6, without medical marijuana laws. For now in Tennessee marijuana/cannabis products are prohibited without exception during investigations. However, laws regarding marijuana are currently changing rapidly. If the Tennnesssee Legislature passes a law legalizing marijuana for medical purposes with a medical card, the use of such products will be treated by the team like prescription narcotics are. No change in the rules will be made if Tennessee approves recreational marijuana. Simply put, you will not be allowed to use marijuana products for “getting high” purposes no matter what the State of Tennessee legislates in the future.
  4. In the paranormal community your first loyalty is to your team. This applies both within your team and within the greater paranormal community. Within your team, your actions and investigative choices are not for grandstanding your teammates. You are to work as a group. Within the greater paranormal community investigations with other teams, are not forbidden but should be done with the blessing your team and must be done secondary to your work with your team.
  5. Never use your group to promote your own agenda. You know what this means without explanation.
  6. Obtain permission, written or  oral, from every property owner before you do an investigation. Written is preferred but many old school people feel insulted when they feel that someone believes their word is not good enough, respect your elders!Trespassing and anything that otherwise disrespects private or personal property is not to be tolerated, it has caused irreparable harm to paranormal investigators.
  7. Roles within a team are an inevitability and reflect individual differences and individual talents. Roles should never be concrete because that discourages the creative process and is inefficient. Team members should have equal vote.
  8. Keep an open mind and do not immediately dismiss what you don’t understand. Most of the public feels the way about you that you may feel about the way another investigates.
  9. Dress modestly and appropriately.
  10. Gifts are accepted but never expected. Donations are allowed but are not expected, or else they wouldn’t be called donations. Donations for paranormal services should not disproportionate. If a person is adamant, again use common sense.
  11. Be respectful of other people’s beliefs and don’t look at them within the framework of your own beliefs.

Sorry, Your Government Is Not Lying To You, At Least About UFOs

By Benjamin (with Leah)
Bill Clinton

I am writing this article knowing that it will be polarizing among my peers involved in the paranormal community. Many will love it and use it when a member of their team wants to look for UFOs. However, I fully expect that many people I know personally will find this article, and the writer, at best naïve and gullible. Other people I know may find it to be downright offensive and insulting. I am not writing this article to prompt anyone to take umbrage.

I am writing this article because among many investigators, the issue of UFOs and aliens often comes up, and when it does, I find myself biting my tongue given my own analysis of the subject. My goal when I investigate is not to create a narrative and have the facts fit it, but to base a narrative off the facts and corroborated statements of credible persons. Likewise, in this article I want to point out facts, logical fallacies and important details that Ufologists, conspiracy theorists, fans of the show Ancient Aliens, members of the public at large and many paranormal investigators have simply not considered or have brushed aside. I have the heard the latter at least once when I tried to convince a paranormal investigator that no alien was present during an investigation.

I do not wish at all to offend anyone because belief in this topic may be firmly ingrained in a person’s psyche. There are many people who truly believe that they were abducted by aliens. There are sane people who believe they were detained by aliens who absconded with them in spaceships and were subjected to degrading and inhumane acts. That is, in most cases, a medical phenomenon that has occurred across every culture and interestingly, in most cultures when this phenomenon happens aliens are not seen, but other entities are seen that are generally culturally specific. I will discuss that medical phenomenon in more detail later in this article.

I am not arguing that intelligent life from other planets does not exist nor is it my contention that extraterrestrials have not visited our planet. The title is a pretty good description of this article’s focus. Regardless, belief in aliens and UFOs may be more common, or at least more acceptable and less than stigmatic, than belief in ghosts. Although the Federal Government has funded research in both the paranormal and UFOs, much more funding has gone towards UFO research (I encourage the reader to simply look on the internet to check my claims).  It is no secret, and certainly not a conspiracy theory, that the Federal Government has engaged in many endeavors researching UFOs and aliens. Many United States senators such as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and former power broker Senator Ted Stevens quietly, but without any opposition, pushed for funding for UFO research during their time in the legislature.

Interestingly, the Senate’s funding of UFO research was not done secretly but received very little attention from the media until both Senators Reid and Stevens left the legislature. Importantly, like several other government programs that sought to find and identify UFOs, there was no secrecy, which alone poses a difficult problem for people who believe that the government is hiding what it knows about extraterrestrial beings and aircraft. Other government programs such as Project Blue Book, which was active between 1950 and 1970, spent countless hours studying thousands of reported UFOs. Scientists and researchers involved with Project Blue Book fully acknowledged that they encountered a small percentage of aircraft or phenomenon in the sky that were classified as “unexplained”, even using scientific analysis.

“Unexplained” sighting does not imply that what was seen was alien aircraft, but simply that a determination could not be made. For Ufologists and conspiracy theorists, the status of “unexplained” provides fodder that what was seen were alien aircrafts. However, various groups of people who believe the government is hiding information regarding UFOs and aliens miss a point that could not be any more obvious. If the government was hiding information from the public regarding aliens and UFOs, scientists associated with the government would never admit that it encountered objects in the sky that, despite the analysis of scientists, could not be explained.

The status “unexplained” should resonate with paranormal investigators. As paranormal investigators, we often encounter other investigators who insist adamantly that something completely unclear must be paranormal, without any clear indication, and the fact that natural causes could account for it. The fact that something is unclear or unexplainable does not imply that anything is paranormal. The burden of proof is always on the part of the investigator that it is paranormal, and that nothing else can account for it. The burden of proof is never on the part of a skeptic. Claiming that an orb in a picture was not caused by dust, although dust could have been a factor, is never going to convince a skeptic, or even a discerning believer, that something is paranormal. Similarly, a sound that somewhat resembles words from another language played on a computer application in slow motion, and then at another speed, is not going to convince many people that you have an EVP.

The fact that something is unexplainable means just that. The location called “Area 51” is such an example. Although on YouTube, among other places, “witnesses” can be heard claiming they worked at the famed military base, the truth is that very few people know what goes on there. This is a prime example of a place that people cannot explain, which tends to make people wonder and causes minds to essentially fill in the blanks. For many conspiracy theorists, that is all the proof needed that something really strange is going on there. The nature of the military base creates a perfect storm for people who want to believe in UFOs, given it is an Air Force base and the people who are employed there have Top Secret Security clearances and refuse to talk about.


For some people, given that the government engages in activities that are unknown and cannot be explained by everyday people, grandiose ideas regarding the purpose of the base are bound to take root. There was a time when people believed what their government said.

The government has engaged in several other projects, utilizing mainly the Air Force, to look for evidence of UFOs. Given the amount of money spent by the United States in search of UFOs, and the fact that powerful Senators were reelected on numerous occasions, it is pretty clear that the public as a whole does not look at a person as strange or mentally ill for believing that aliens have visited our planet. The same cannot be said of paranormal investigating. Despite the popularity of ghost hunting shows, paranormal investigators are typically looked at by most of the scientific community, along with much of the public, as on the fringe. I have heard a few paranormal investigators state that ghost hunting has become mainstream, and that there is no stigma attached to it. That is easy to believe when most of your friends are paranormal investigators as well, and when you constantly watch ghost-hunting shows.

In reality, those of us who engage in the endeavor of paranormal investigations are still definitely considered on the fringe. Two examples of men who were involved in the political process indicate how differently those that believe in UFOs are treated than people who engage in paranormal investigation. Recently in Alaska, a former paranormal investigator was an appointee for a position in state government to head a department that paid compensation to victims of crime. In a hearing, multiple members of the Alaskan state senate posed numerous questions to the political appointee. The questions reflected a genuine concern on the part of the senators that the appointee believed in ghosts. Nothing was asked of the former paranormal investigator indicating any concern on the part of Alaskan legislators regarding his criminal record. The simple fact that he had been a paranormal investigator was enough for him to be rejected.

Belief regarding UFOs has never carried the same stigma. Belief in UFOs and aliens is not a new thing and has been reported for some time. Aside from the fact that multiple senators have sought and obtained funding for research into unidentified aircraft, is the fact that various elected officials have made statements indicating belief in intelligent life on other planets. Aside from former and sitting members of the Senate, President Jimmy Carter reported seeing a UFO while governor of Georgia in 1969. He also reported the encounter in 1972 for it to be investigated. It was never an issue in 1976 when he successfully ran for president.

One thing I noticed early in paranormal investigations is the overzealousness of investigators to make anything paranormal, no matter how easily debunked, similar to UFO enthusiasts. Unfortunately, many paranormal investigators incorrectly use multiple words that have specific meanings in the scientific community. Many words like hypothesis, theory and scientific method have very different meanings when used by scientists than when used by the public at large. Given that most paranormal investigators are not scientists, this is not something for anyone to be ashamed of until you consider that many paranormal teams swear they are only using scientific methods.

More than once, I’ve listened to a self-described expert in the paranormal pontificate when answering questions that neither he/she nor anyone else can answer. Perhaps when the scientific community immediately sees such a scenario, they dismiss all of us  as pseudo-scientists and frauds. Don’t call an idea you have a theory unless you have scientific data to support it. Otherwise, it’s just that–an idea–and does not even make it to the level of a hypothesis. Similarly, Ufologists consider themselves scientists. However, by definition and the standards of the scientific method, Ufology is not a science at all. The scientific method requires that studies and experiments are able to be reproduced by another scientist. It also requires that studies are controllable. Ufology is excluded as a science from the get-go because of the very nature of what it studies. If UFOs are authentic, they are still not available for a Ufologist to study in a controlled environment.

By the testimony of people who allege to have seen UFOs, they are constantly on the move, preventing the study. I say that partially in jest, but the facts as stated were scientifically accurate. I will be the first to acknowledge that paranormal investigating is not a science for the simple fact that the paranormal cannot be studied given the unpredictable nature of spirits. Among paranormal investigators, there seems to be what can only be described as an inability to distinguish between mere possibility and actual evidence. Very little more than mere possibility is often fallaciously recycled by some investigators into evidence that something happened. Subsequently, the idea somehow evolves, well…evolve is not the right word, but after discussion, becomes a “theoretical” model among investigators. Coming from the scientific background, a theory is not just any idea, and it is a well-reasoned hypothetical model that has evidence that supports it. Among paranormal investigators, sometimes this can be turned on its head. Inversely, an idea within the realm of possibility, now a “theory”, causes many investigators to go in to something with a preconceived idea. That prompts them to use even the most suspect evidence, questionable photograph or an overproduce, but a still really vague EVP, is now considered evidence, in air quotation marks.

For some people, given the government engages in activities that are unknown and cannot be explained by everyday people, grandiose ideas regarding the purpose of a secret location Area 51 are bound to take shape. Similarly, the belief that the government is in the name of security, because it can or to avoid massive panic, is hiding evidence is not new, but it has developed over time. One of the reasons I believe that preoccupation on UFOs and aliens are rampant in the United States is partially our cultural experience over the past several decades. Events over multiple decades in the United States have created the right set of circumstances for a belief about aliens and UFOs to be commonly held. There was a time when people believed what their government said. This has not been true for Americans for some time.

Part of it could have been the fact that the Vietnam was virtually always on TV during the course of the conflict. This prompted a lot of the public to become skeptical, and justifiably so. Not long after the Vietnam conflict sees, the president lied repeatedly to the American people about his involvement in a series of events in what would become the Watergate scandal, or just Watergate. During that same decade, but under different leadership, the American embassy in Tehran was occupied and many Americans were held hostage. In the next decade what started as a conspiracy theory, became one of the most shocking hours in American history. During the 1980s, officially, there was little contact between the United States and Iran, especially given the ladder at taking our citizens hostage, investigators would prove a very bizarre theory to be true. At the time, the cold war was in full effect. Multiple regimes in the Americas, Africa and Asia were for all practical purposes satellite states of two major superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States. Nicaragua’s pro-capitalist rebels, known as the Contras, were engaged in a civil war with the pro-Soviet Sandinistas. Governments, whether democracies, oligarchies, monarchies, and even totalitarian regimes, have supported civil wars when one side had interests that were in line with their own, so intervention was not shocking. It was where the Contras had obtained their aid that was shocking. The United States sold weapons to Iran, a country with whom it still has no diplomatic relations with, and used the funds to arm the Contras.

Since the Iran-Contra scandal, it has become common to learn about many other instances in which the government lied. However, the decade leading up to the Iran-Contra scandal was shortly followed by the advent of the internet. The internet itself can be fairly accused of having a direct impact on our current culture, but it also created the perfect storm for people to believe that the government is hiding information. More so than ever before, the internet provided, and provides, the exchange of ideas. People have become more acquainted with conspiracy theories and ideas they would not have encountered otherwise. It’s not by mistake that the X-Files and Alien Autopsy were shown in the mid-to-late nineties, the decade when the internet came into common use. I understand that people have reported seeing UFOs, or flying saucers, for a lot longer than the last few decade. However, I’m stating this is an era where on more than one occasion, conspiracy theorists that out to be accurate, the public has become ripe to believe the claims of UFO enthusiasts.

A simple fact is that the claim that the UFO enthusiasts can be debunked based upon the alleged role in motive of the government that believers claim. One of the ways that people can get around serious problems in an argument is to use a distraction, in the form of a statement that cannot be proven. Some people who are biblical creationist, in terms of the Genesis account, makes statements that God put fossils that appear to be a million years old in the ground to test people’s faith. That is a statement that cannot be assessed, much less proven true or false. A similar a cop-out that UFO enthusiasts use to explain why the public has not seen the evidence for alien abductions and other similar claims is because of government conspiracies.

UFO enthusiasts apparently have never considered what the statement used in support of belief in alien counters means when fully accepted. When this belief is fully accepted a believer in such encounters now has to consider that if the United States government is suppressing such evidence for aliens, what about other countries? UFO enthusiasts apparently never consider that their claim that the United States is covering up evidence of UFOs in alien activity, presents them with more problems than it solves. The problem becomes that if the United States is hiding evidence, what about the other 200 countries on the globe and on the planet? Are all 200 sovereign countries also hiding information? That stops being a government conspiracy, and becomes the most well orchestrated lie that member states have agreed to abide by. If you believe that our government is doing that, stop and tell yourself that there is an agreement among all sovereign countries to hide evidence of aliens and ask yourself how it sounds when you just say it to yourself.

If one believes that all countries are hiding the evidence, one has to wonder why a rogue leader who is being taken out of office or about to be executed hasn’t spill the beans. One also has to assume that rogue countries regularly use this as a bargaining chip. (If only we would let the North Koreans talk about alien aircraft.) The idea that every country in the world is conspiring to hide evidence of UFOs is absurdly impossible. The conspiracy theory regarding the apparent deception of not only The United States government, but every government, is proven impossible not by science but by political dynamics. Finally, many people have claimed in detail about alien abduction.

This is another “theory” that is debunked based on a medical diagnosis and the demographic differences in the phenomenon. Night terrors, traditionally called night hags, are a fairly common sleep disorder that occurs throughout the world. One of the most interesting aspects of the phenomenon is that when a person is suffering from the sleep paralysis they often report being harmed by an entity. It is really interesting, because one’s culture almost determines what entity a person sees. In the United States people often see aliens or shadow figures. In Russia people typically reports seeing a woman from the woods named Baba Yaga. And Scandinavian countries an incubus or succubus is often seen. More interesting is the fact that encounters with greys correspond almost entirely with areas where sufferers of night terrors see aliens.

Finally, given the United States government’s track record of openly admitting that UFOs have been investigated, the conspiracy theory is even harder to justify. That, and the government has admitted that some objects cannot be identified. If the government was conspiring to oppress information they would’ve at least failed to disclose the money spent on UFO research and the fact that it is not been hidden.

Sorry, the government is not lying at least in terms of extraterrestrial activity.








Old Jefferson (Pool Knobs)

Old Jefferson (Pool Knobs Recreation Area)

The Politics of Science and the Paranormal

By Benjamin (with Leah)

Outline-body-aura.svgMore than once I have heard paranormal investigators say they believe that within the next five to ten years “ghost hunting” will be truly scientific. While I would love for that to be true, that overly optimistic statement reveals a certain naivete about how scientific studies are funded, the rigor and research demanded by the scientific mainstream, and the main priorities of the scientific community. It also expresses a lack of awareness about the way that related subjects, such as Parapsychology, have been given a handwave by the majority of scientists. Worse, I am a little pessimistic that many paranormal investigators will not use scientific findings when it is applicable.

I have learned various applications in parapsychology classes that are incredibly useful in an investigation. While helpful in an investigation, the applications are particularly useful in remedying various types of hauntings that create nuisances for a homeowner. Surprisingly, the overwhelming majority of paranormal investigators are completely unaware that the applications exist. I will discuss some in detail, along with practical ways to apply them, in a class on Basic Paranormal Research that will soon be available via the world wide web within the next couple of months. This likely has less to do with incompetence on the part of paranormal investigators, and more to do with the fact that parapsychology has become an almost forgotten science that few pay attention to.


One of the less sinister political reasons that parapsychology has become a forgotten science is simply a matter of funding. While people often complain that their tax dollars are unnecessarily spent on endeavors that they do not believe are useful, the fact is that most scientific studies are underfunded. Multiple cancer societies exist because unfortunately private donations and foundations are needed to better understand pathologies and to study various treatments. Public funding for cancer treatment is just not enough.  When decisions are made by universities or legislators regarding which subjects to issue research grants to, social sciences of any stripe are given less priority than other scientific studies that are more politically popular.

Like most other sectors of our culture, academia has become more and more politicized since the 1970s along with funding. Fairly recently, people have become critical of space exploration funding and NASA does not receive nearly as much funding as it did a generation ago. Unlike space exploration, parapsychology has always had trouble receiving funds, in part due to its unpopularity among the academics who consider it a pseudoscience. However, it almost disappeared from American universities completely in the early 1980s. Of every scene in the original Ghostbusters movie the most historically accurate ones happened early in the movie.

The original movie shows Bill Murray and Dan Ackroyd doing parapsychological research in an academic environment. Upon discovering that the parapsychology department is still receiving funding, academic superiors eject them from campus. While the scenario is close to accurate, in reality parapsychologists never had it as good as they did in the movie. In reality, there were never parapsychology departments at universities. Parapsychologists were typically psychologists and scientists who were hired by their universities to teach and conduct research in other subjects, but later became interested in the paranormal. The academic discipline was first called by its name in the late 1800s.

Despite its name Parapsychology was not named because of its relation to the paranormal. It was so named to mean “alongside psychology.” Although what paranormal researchers do can be said to be applying parapsychology, the two are not the same. Most parapsychologists are quick to distance themselves from ghost hunting shows. However, parapsychology and the methods of most modern paranormal investigators have their roots in the Society for Psychical Research, which formed in the 1800s to link scientists together to study the paranormal. Influential American philosopher and psychologist William James was an early president.

In 1930, due to the influence of botanist Louis Rhine, Duke University began conducting studies on ESP and Psychokinesis. Their studies emphasized quantitative measures used in the hard sciences using statistics. Dr. Rhine published studies that included subjects who yielded results using dice and cards in studying ESP that were statistically impossible to be considered chance. Other universities began conducting studies and research on apparitions, poltergeist activity, reincarnation and near death experiences. Despite the influence of Dr. Rhine, the academic staff at Duke University was never really supportive of the research. Similarly, if a Biologist at a major university published a book promoting the scientific evidence for Bigfoot, his or her faculty peers would be embarrassed.

From the start, Parapsychology has been criticized and has had trouble receiving funding. Critics today often consider it a pseudoscience, despite the fact that the Parapsychological Association has been a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Critics often note that few hard findings have emerged from a “Hundred Years of Research.” This criticism ignores the fact that at the peak of Parapsychology’s research on campuses, very few universities seriously studied the subject and very little funding was issued for its study. The lack of serious academic study can be seen as reflected in the very few scholarly journals that exist regarding Parapsychology compared to other scientific disciplines.

There are about three academic journals left that are dedicated to Parapsychology, compared to hundreds dedicated to Abnormal and Social Psychology. Currently only two American universities study Parapsychology in a laboratory environment. No accredited American universities offers a degree in Parapsychology, while a few such as Saybrook and Atlantic University offer individual classes. The universities that do offer the subject as part of other degrees typically do it in Transpersonal Psychology, which is related, but lacks the stigma.

The political unpopularity of the subject has resulted in fewer scientists willing to risk their academic reputations, especially if they want tenure. Nonscientists do not realize that gone are the days when a person like Isaac Newton or George Washington Carver can make a discovery, and it becomes accepted science. Scientific theories become accepted after multiple scientists in multiple settings have replicated studies. One or two studies of any subject are not enough for the scientific community to take a finding seriously. Without more study, Parapsychology will not become mainstream.

Importantly, the study of paranormal investigating will continue to be considered pseudoscience given that the political environment regarding science is unlikely to change. Apparitions, hauntings, the poltergeist phenomenon, etc., are just part of the study of Parapsychology. Ghosts have been scientifically studied much less than have other aspects of the broader science such as ESP, Telekinesis and Precognition. Topics studied by parapsychologists are, with rare exception, studied in nonacademic laboratories that are funded entirely by private donations, which receive grants that are miniscule in comparison to other scientific research.

Likewise, the scientific findings by Parapsychologists in studies helpful to paranormal investigators have gone under the radar. Most paranormal investigators state on their websites when various types of hauntings are discussed that nothing can be done regarding the activities of many intelligent spirits. In my upcoming class, inexpensive and practical means to cut out such activities will be discussed. Finally, I hope that I am wrong that paranormal research will not be considered scientific anytime soon.


Think Outside The Spirit Box

by  Benjamin


I have been involved with paranormal investigations for a few years now. Longer, if you count the times in high school I went with friends to places that were said to be haunted. I have learned something from almost everyone with whom I have investigated. My biggest criticism of many people I have investigated with is a lack of creativity and ingenuity.


When I began investigating, I had to bite my tongue when I heard people refer to tools of the paranormal investigating trade as scientific, given my respect for the scientific method and what the phrase means. I had read a lot about ideas behind paranormal investigations, such as the energy that spirits produce. People I investigated with would tell me with complete sincerity why certain tools worked and explained the “scientific theory” behind it.


While I appreciated being shown the tools and how they worked, I wondered why everyone who investigated used the same tools. Almost every team seemed to have a checklist of the tools they wanted their members to have. Everyone had the same flashlight (that is one I would never deviate from), a recorder for EVPs, a device measuring EMF, a Spirit Box and a digital camera. Out of the tools mentioned, the only one that I stay away from is a digital camera. Importantly, I would do a commercial for Centex, the company that makes my favorite tool, the EDI (Environmental Detection Instrument) device. It was not so much the tools and gadgets that gave me pause, it was the lack of ingenuity on the part of investigators that I could not understand.


Although I have most of the tools that other paranormal investigators have, I try to think outside the box and I consider the ideas behind why the commonly used tools are believed to work. I was surprised that when I had an idea for something that might work, I would hear the question, “what other paranormal teams do that?” Likewise, when my partner Leah found a place with conditions conducive to paranormal investigating she would hear the question, “are there any reports of paranormal activity there?” That was always the strangest question to me, given how little is understood about the paranormal and the fact that a field that is on the fringes of science is resistant to any innovation.  


Verisimilitude is a word I learned in a Freshman science class. Simply put, it is the idea that virtually no major scientific theory is ever completely accurate. It is the idea that every major scientific theory,  whether it is Newtonian Physics or the Big Bang Theory, is not entirely accurate but brings the scientific community closer to the truth than the theories before it. Given that hard physical sciences, which are firmly established, acknowledge that there is so much that is understood about the physical world, it should not be a surprise to a paranormal investigator that even less is known about the spiritual world. Knowing that left me frustrated that teams are reluctant to do anything different or that is the product of their own understanding of the paranormal.


About a year ago, my partner and I decided to go out on our own. Not long after that, I began investigating with Mark Walsh, the founder of Rutherford County Paranormal (RCPI), mainly because he lived near Leah and I. I did not know that he had had thirty years of experience in paranormal investigating and had been doing it long before the Ghost Bubble and before Destination America began airing numerous ghost hunting shows. I was impressed that Mark was creative in terms of how he investigated. He used a cat toy that lit up with the slightest touch. He did not scoff when I used a lamp that got brighter with the slightest touch. It became clear that Mark had the same criticisms of teams who get their ideas from ghost hunting shows that I did. Since then, I have seen Mark purchase a Plasma Lightning Ball at Five Below that worked well in our investigations.


Likewise, many of the items I use when I investigate with RCPI, since Leah and I joined, were never meant for paranormal investigations. (Truth be told, very few of the tools commonly used were intended to be used in paranormal investigations). On a regular basis I find items useful in investigations that many people overlook. Recently, while at Barnes and Noble, I purchased a children’s science kit for $25 when I noticed that the box said Motion Detector (with eleven other projects). With this inexpensive kit, you can make a REM pod, a motion detector and a motion detector with touch alarm. That is just one example.


While I acknowledge that Paranormal Investigating is not yet a science, I am reminded of what a Psychology professor told me my Freshman year of college when he saw that Freud did not sit well with me. He explained that Freudian Psychologists did not believe that the Id, Ego and Superego actually exist or that they were something that could be taken apart and studied. Freudian Psychologists use that model because it works with patients in terms of understanding mental disorders. Similarly, no ghost has ever been caught or studied, but ideas or hypotheses regarding energy work and should be applied.


Paranormal Investigating is a study that has only recently gotten attention from the mainstream. Paranormal Investigators should be proud that they are pioneers in what hopefully will be better understood. So be creative and think outside the bounds of the Spirit Box.




The Rosenwald School-An Illustration Of Finding A Paranormal Investigation



By Benjamin (with Leah)

The thing that has shocked us the most about paranormal investigation teams since we began what is commonly called “ghost hunting” is the relative uniformity among groups who engage in the practice. One would think that, given how much is unknown about what is considered paranormal, people would be more creative or innovative in investigating what is, by its nature, outside the box. It is not. (This is in not in any way a critique or a dig on the way that other teams perform investigations, these are simply our own opinions and observations.) Most teams follow the following format. They have a director, case manager, historian/researcher, equipment manager, and investigators. Many of the questions asked are nearly identical to questions on ghost hunting shows. The places that are investigated are places that have been investigated by multiple other paranormal investigation teams. Often teams pay to investigate the site.


To be fair, we  do not deviate that much from the standard way that a team is organized, only roles are much more fluid. Leah is regarded by almost everyone who has worked with her as one of the finest researchers/historians people have worked with, and she is brilliant when it comes to finding places to investigate. When we look for a place to investigate, the last thing that Leah considers is whether other people have reported paranormal occurrences there. Leah considers the circumstances and conditions which would in all likelihood give rise to paranormal activity. Among the things she considers are: is this a location that would prompt a person to form an attachment in death; is this near a river, given that historically since ancient times bodies have water have been a source of life, civilization, transportation and food; and finally, is the location historically significant?

Recently, Leah and I were looking for a place to ghost hunt where we had not before, that had not been investigated before. Leah did a search of public parks with late hours and found the Rosenwald Park and Community Center. She noted that the school had been built in 1927 for African-Americans as the result of a joint philanthropy venture by one of the co-owners of Sears and Roebuck, and importantly Booker T Washington. The name Booker T Washington immediately resonated with me, as it would with almost anyone given that prior to Martin Luther King, Jr., he was probably the most influential civil rights leader in American history. Moreover, the school operated for 33 years in a period most Americans would like to forget about…segregation.

The location of the former school is now a park and features a replica of the school, as it once provided quality education to numerous African-American students who would otherwise be denied the education afforded white students. We went with our equipment in hand and got a lot of activity, despite the fact that to our knowledge no one else had conducted a paranormal investigation there. We were slightly limited in where we could investigate, because the replica of the former school was being used as a community center and people were present.  A little while later we went with the paranormal investigation team that we were then a member of and experienced less activity but, still enough, that it was a good night.

When Leah and I decided to go out on our own I told a man I know, Mark Walsh, who is in many ways the dean of paranormal investigations, at least in the area we live, about the location. Mark, like Leah and I, typically investigates locations that have not been over-investigated. Unlike Leah and I, Mark has been investigating since the late 1980s before the ghost boom and before cable TV was flooded with numerous ghost hunting shows. Mark was essentially apprenticed as a paranormal investigator before TV shows provided anyone with an idea about what equipment and methods to use.

Mark went there a few days later, and we communicated because I could not go. Mark reported a significant amount of activity that he was receiving. Not surprisingly, given the factor of experience, he reported more activity than Leah or I had noted when we went. And much of what he reported was almost identical to what Leah and I, and later the team we were members of, had experienced.

For whatever reason, probably due to the surprisingly conservative way that many teams investigate, this paranormal investigator’s gem had gone unnoticed. This site will be open to a public investigation on October 13th and 14th this coming Friday and Saturday night. It pays to think outside the box when conducting paranormal investigations.

The Paranormal Investigator As Today’s Alchemist

By Benjamin


More than once I have been asked if I think that paranormal investigating or “ghost  hunting” is a science. I have never had any difficulty admitting that it is not. With that said, I answer that it is an exciting time to be a paranormal investigator, because much is being learned that hopefully lays the groundwork for much to come, and it will be a part of what will be considered science. Skeptics to the claims of paranormal investigators love to report that we do not do what can be considered the scientific method with regard to our claims and reports. They love to note that nothing paranormal investigators have presented can hold up when presented with the scientific method.

While the high tech instruments we use are scientific, most were not originally intended for ghost hunting. Likewise, when we are ghost hunting, and our K2 meters go off, and we get flashlight activity, and later we go back and look at our photographs and listen to our recorders and see orbs and hear EVPs, we get excited. We know from our experience, and from that of other paranormal investigators, we have encountered something. This, however, means nothing to a scientist, because although we have experienced something, the fact that we cannot predictably and reliably repeat our findings means that it does not meet the requirements for the scientific methods. Additionally, for a scientist, there are other things which can account for what the K2 meter shows, the flashlight method is given a hand wave, and what we see in digital photographs is attributed to particles of dust.

Not only does such rigid skepticism run counter to the qualitative experience we as paranormal investigators encounter, it runs counter to science’s own history.

Several centuries ago, the precursors to modern chemists attempted to turn iron into gold and did many things that modern scientists considered foolishness. What scientists appear to forget is that while many things alchemists did run counter to proven science today, the discoveries they made laid the foundation to modern chemistry. But for alchemists, there would not be chemists. In the process of attempting feats that were impossible, alchemists discovered many important findings regarding chemical conversions, the elements, and compounds. When a chemist or chemical engineer considers the paranormal a pseudoscience, he or she forgets the roots of his or her own scientific discipline.

Paranormal investigations essentially are based on the hypothesis that spirits, ghosts, or whatever we may encounter can be detected by ghost hunters because of energy. We believe that our K2 meter shows spikes because of energy emitted by a spirit. We believe that what we hear on a recorder is the result of a spirit with enough energy to cause the electronic voice phenomenon. The same can be said of orbs and the flashlight method. While many of the beliefs of alchemists have been disproven by modern science, the basic hypothesis of paranormal investigators regarding energy has not been disproven. Our hypothesis regarding energy is at best is called “fringe science” by mainstream scientists, but the fact that it cannot be disproven, and that we experience it gives hope that it will be mainstream science in the future.

Paranormal investigators understand what people in the scientific community intellectually understand, but have not internalized. There is so much about the universe we do not understand. In many ways paranormal investigators, like alchemists, are on the frontier of what will likely be major scientific understanding which will shed light on many things currently unknown about the universe. Like alchemists, we experience what scientists cannot explain and hopefully we will live to see the day that much of what we are encountering and experiencing now, will one day be accepted science.

Is Your Paranormal Bogus Detector Going Off?

By Benjamin

Do you tell stories in the light most favorable to yourself? There’s a good chance you do if there is any room for interpretation, and there is nothing that is unusual about that. Or if you are like me you do it not so much because it gives a different interpretation, but you do it because of the way you remember the story which may differ from another person’s recollection. Throughout most of my adult life, I have had jobs that required me to listen to the story of the subject. Two jobs that immediately come to mind include working in a state Office of the Public Defender as an investigator and researcher and working in a state Disability Determinations office. In the former, my primary source for truth was the criminal defendant, in the latter my source was a person applying for disability benefits.  One common statement I heard from people when I told them where I worked was, “I bet you get lied to all the time.” Surprisingly, I did not. I can safely say that I was seldom outright lied to by criminal defendants or by persons trying to obtain disability benefits. (Of course I was lied to on occasion.)

Criminal defendants were generally not dishonest with persons representing their interests because they knew that at the end of the day their attorney, and anyone else involved with their defense, had to know the actual truth. This is not the reason that every defendant avoids taking the witness stand. Although it certainly accounts for many, because they are not taking the stand on the advice of counsel, who often knows the truth. (Unfortunately many do not take the stand because they have been informed by counsel that certain prior convictions may come out on cross-examination and they feel will cause the jury to lean towards the prosecutor’s theory of the case.) Not dissimilarly, persons applying for disability generally do not lie about their conditions.  Often such persons believe that they are disabled when, in fact, they are not.

One thing both groups of people have in common is the same thing that officers taking the stand have, and that psychologists or doctors trying to prevent a person from obtaining disability benefits have–they tell stories in the light that most closely reflects their interests. Likewise, I have found that when people tell stories about paranormal activity they are experiencing, they usually believe what they are saying. Importantly, I will even state that many are even more honest because their motivation is to know the truth, and there is little they stand to gain by spinning a story even slightly.

One phrase often heard when people are talking about those with competing interests, who have conflicting stories, is that “there is his side, there is her side and there is the truth.” I have always felt ambivalent about that expression because, regardless of who says and believes that Planet Earth is flat, it is not. With that said, I do understand the sentiment behind it. While the goal of any investigation is to obtain objective truth, pure objectivity does not exist in the hard sciences (for all people have certain biases), much less in anything that involves one’s perspective or eyewitness. However, any paranormal investigator will occasionally encounter people who outright lie.

I am not referring to people who believe their own bogus stories for lack of a better term, because people who are not purposely lying often do that. I am referring strictly to people who knowingly and willingly tell lies. I am going to note various things to look for when this happens. I hope that no one who reads this will start looking for these signs, because people who are telling the truth often do many of these things. Just consider all of the circumstances when your bogus detector goes off.

Occasionally, when people are outright lying, regardless of their motivation, about paranormal events, entities, or experiences, they will give textbook responses that are often over-the-top. Their story never changes, and at some level, it makes logical sense. The old expression that the “truth is stranger than fiction” is very apt when it comes to when a person is lying. Often the truth does not necessarily make sense, but lies do. How many times have you heard a story that is so absurd that you told yourself that it could not be made up? Often when a person is lying, they have a story that has airtight “facts” that cannot be disproven, and there is nothing truly unique in the story. Health-care professionals are well aware that when someone is faking an illness, to obtain narcotic pain medications, disability benefits or whatever the motivation, they will report textbook symptoms that are often over-the-top.

In reality, every set of circumstances are different, and people will report unique symptoms to a health-care professional, and unique experiences regardless of their underlying diagnosis. For instance, I have hardware in my neck, and two of my vertebrae are fused. People who have had a similar surgery report various symptoms. I have some, but not all. I have never felt that my pain intensified when there is a cold front. However, many people who have this procedure do report more pain when it is cold. Often I have migraines, and I never had them before my neck surgery. I have heard few people report this side effect. Rest assured though, that if a person was seeking narcotic pain medication, they would report literally every symptom they have read on the internet.

I am writing this mainly because it reminds me of a call requesting a home investigation I got recently.

I received a call from a woman reporting multiple instances of paranormal activity. At first, given what she was describing, I did not dismiss her claims outright. Everything she reported was something that I had either heard of, read, or had seen (albeit not as dramatically as she described). While I took notes, she described Orbs, Shadow People, Night Hags, Imps, Residual Energy, bruises and scratches that came in sets of three (commonly called the trinity), knocks and described herself as a Sensitive. Interestingly, she was very careful not to use any buzzwords or terms commonly used in the paranormal community. She never used words like Shadow Person or trinity, but described each in almost textbook terms, as she did Imps, Night Hags, and herself as a Sensitive. The only term she used that was a slip up was when she said the word Orb.

As I typically do, I suspended my disbelief while speaking with her. She seemed educated and intelligent, and at face value, nothing indicated that she was outright lying. She mentioned that she was given the name of a priest who could assist her with the problem. While I did not think anything about it at the time, she mentioned that her house was for sale, and that she had lived in it for four years. More importantly, she stated that the paranormal activity had occurred since she had purchased the home. She also stated that more than one fire had occurred in the house.

I mentioned it to my fiancée, our team historian, and she found the story extremely odd. While discussing it with her, along with the rest of our team, several things occurred to us. The first question we all asked when I was relating the story to our team was “what isn’t happening?” The woman sounded as if she had watched every episode of every show shown on Destination America, which mainly features shows about the paranormal. The second was “why had she not contacted the priest, and why was she waiting until now?”

Being familiar with the town she lives in, at first I thought that she might be embarrassed to disclose the activity she was reporting. That was until I remembered that she said the house was for sale. My fiancée uses an app on her phone that gives the history of a house that a person might be concerned about if they believe that was haunted. She looked up the property and found nothing about fires.

We wondered what could possibly be the person’s motivation for making the story up, given the small town she lives in, and the fact that otherwise, she did not seem like an attention-seeker and seemed intelligent.

While we were brainstorming, I remembered a rather bizarre real estate case I read about in New York State: Stambovsky v. Ackley. In it, a house was purchased for $650,000 with a $32,500 down payment. The house had a reputation for haunted activity, and the buyer was unaware. As anyone who has ever sold a house knows that a seller is required to disclose anything that might make the house unmarketable. The buyer, Stambovsky, sued to obtain his down payment and have the contract voided, arguing that the seller should have disclosed the haunted activity. In a case that shocked many people, but nevertheless makes sense, the judgment was for the buyer under the reasoning that the house’s reputation as haunted might could easily make it unmarketable.

Our team realized that it was far-fetched, but that something related to real estate might be prompting the woman to want to have the house inspected by paranormal investigators, and as small as the town she lives in, is might give it the reputation as haunted. She contacted the woman for “clarification” purposes and asked several questions regarding the property, how long the woman had lived there, and whether the priest had been contacted. She turned the phone on speaker, and we quickly noticed that the woman’s answers were guarded. She was not guarded in terms of thinking about what she was saying because she wanted to give an accurate answer, or find her words which even honest people do. Importantly, it was in terms of doing everything she could to avoid using terms commonly used in the paranormal community and seemed to be trying to dumb herself down.

My fiancée accidentally laughed once, mildly skeptically, when she asked when she planned to contact the priest just after she asked why she wanted the house investigated now if she was moving out, given how long the activity had occurred.

I had an admittedly bizarre theory, that amazingly had some factual support: that the woman was trying to keep the house from being sold, as we doubted that the bank in the small town had included the reported paranormal activity. Next, my fianceé, who is great at researching anything, looked on a state database for houses that are in foreclosure. It was no surprise that it was. We then googled paranormal activity, real estate and disclosure. To our amusement, we found that a lot was written, not by paranormal writers, but by many lawyers that paranormal activity should be reported. It is our belief that the woman was creating tales about the house to stall her house from being sold, and subsequently avoiding eviction. We soon learned after doing just a few web searches, that this stunt is a “thing”, so to speak, to avoid foreclosure.

Not surprisingly the woman never called us back after sending multiple texts to me over several days about the house’s paranormal activity, that were not surprisingly increasingly dramatic, as she may have thought she had gained my trust, when in reality I had listened to her without judgment as I would anyone else, and could report activity that was even more concerning. Admittedly, this is not something people will encounter very often, but they may. In one of the few instances we have encountered, it was not unlikely outright fraud to avoid foreclosure. We wanted to be angry, but the story was so outlandish that we found her level of dedication to be humorous in a very dark way.

Continue reading “Is Your Paranormal Bogus Detector Going Off?”

The U.S. Military Believes People Have a Sixth Sense

Will the Navy’s contemporary work on “sensemaking,” the continuous effort to understand the connections among people, places, and events, finally unlock the mystery of ESP? Might technology available to today’s defense scientists reveal hypotheses not available to scientists in an earlier age?


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