George Hansen Live From The Brooklyn Observatory

George Hansen speaking at the Brooklyn Observatory. First, a lecture on the history of  parapsychology and psychical research. Then, he asks whatever happened to parapsychology?

FEAST!

 

10 Things I Want To See Implemented In Haunting Investigations

If it’s one thing people love more than ghost hunting, it’s short lists of inventive desires that kinda make sense but also entertain. Because I am love, I have combined the two for your reading pleasure. Here now are the top ten ideas, instruments, and people-as-instruments I honestly would love to see utilized in haunting investigations.

10.) Etch A Sketch 

Forget EVP and EMF readings. Set an Etch A Sketch in the corner of the room and ask the presumed entity to draw something–even if it’s just to make a little line. This is something you could leave unmonitored in a locked room for as long as you needed, where the batteries wouldn’t drain and you wouldn’t have to strain to interpret the data like with EVPs. It may sound silly at first but think about it. It’s a simple non-electronic form of recorded communication.

9.) Blind Investigator

Blind people tend to have superior hearing, right? Could they pick up the EVP voices in real time? Or might the fact of their being involved mean the haunting intelligence turns up its sound component a notch for clearer recording? If there were a malevolent intelligence trying to scare people it would quickly learn that its visual presentation ain’t cutting the mustard. It might turn its audio component up.

 

 

 

 

8.) Deaf Investigator 

Perhaps with a deaf person more amazing visual data will present itself.

 

7.) Skeptic

Invite a skeptic from a skeptic’s organization already! If they refuse, at least you’ve got that ammunition when they whine about how you’re investigating it all wrong.

Alternatively….

Do a blind experiment where you invite a member of a skeptic’s organization to come to a haunted house where one of the rooms is the center of activity. As this is a blind experiment, don’t tell them it’s a haunted room–ask them to partake in another experiment. Tell them you’ve decked out one room with subliminal messages to make the person hanging out in it to feel a certain  way. Take them around the house, let them be alone in each room for an allotted time period and then ask them which room it was and which emotion(s) they felt heightened.

6.) Haunted Object from Other Location

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Has anyone ever taken an alleged haunted object from a completely unrelated location and placed it in a haunted house? I think it’s high time we break out the popcorn for that horror show, don’t you?

 

 

 

5.) Strippers

hairy man in speedo

Forget psychic mediums–strippers are where it’s at. Some hauntings have glaring sexual overtones, right? So why not invite a stripper of the gender most to the alleged entity’s liking to the investigation? This can be another blind experiment.

Call a stripper. Invite her/him over to your haunted place. Have them set up their pole or whatever in the rapey ghost room. Tell them you like to watch voyeuristically from the next room through a hidden hole in the wall or two-way mirror. Press play on the stereo and record on your camera and watch the fun! (Or ask them to dance without music so you can record for EVPs.)  If you know the name of the alleged ghost have them say it all sexy-like. Tell them it’s your nickname if you have to.

4.) Reverse Psychology

What happens if you bring the haunt to a haunted location?

People report hearing whispers too incoherent to make out what is being said? You instruct everyone in your party to whisper to each other like that first.

Got reports of Civil War soldiers manifesting out of thin air? Everyone bring a costume, an accent, and get ready to role play–you’re his brigade or his enemy, depending on how the ghost is alleged to treat people. You must play to his ego needs as that is probably what a ghost is when it’s not a leaky faucet.

Does the phenomenon tap people on the shoulder or push them from behind? Instruct everyone to do that to each other often.

What happens when you beat a ghost at its own game?

3.) Diversity!

JacintowithHHSure, plumbers are good. But imagine if they teamed up with a Catholic priest, a Buddhist monk, a Kabbalist, an atheist, a shaman, a medicine man, a theoretical physicist, an existential philosopher, a psychologist, a linguist, and a guru? What would they find intriguing about the alleged haunting?

This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Most if not all of the above can be found through your local Unitarian church.

 

2.) Psychedelics

Do your research. Find the longest-lasting psychedelic that has the least reported bad trips and negative side effects. Find people who take them often with respect and care.  Then have everyone in the group take a hero’s dose.

Don’t forget to hit record on those cameras  and have a good night!

Alternatively….

Gather those same types of people who are well-experienced in a variety of psychedelics. What happens when one person is on mushrooms, one on ayahuasca, one on peyote, and so forth–in an extremely active haunted location? Let’s find out! (In a country where it isn’t against the law to use such substances, of course, NSA.)

1.) Bitchy Little Girls

Everyone’s got one in the family or has a friend with one. She rolls her eyes at everything adults say, she huff-sings, “Mooo-ooo-ooom!” at every little embarrassing thing that comes out of her mother’s mouth. She says “whatever” too much, blasts gangsta rap music to piss off Dad–even if she doesn’t have a dad–and blurts things like, “You always choose ________ over me!” before storming off to her room for some quality text-bitching to her BFF under the Austin Mahone posters.

Whelp, working off the hypothesis that angry pubescent girls are the culprit behind much poltergeist activity, let’s put that pout to work! Let’s give her something to shriek about! Let’s lock the girl who rattles the dishes and telekinetically stacks old books into impossible piles in for the night with Satan. I. Want. To see. That.

Get her parents’ permission first, of course–or if you’re as dysfunctional as they are, use your own daughter. Tell her it’s a sleepover with her besties. Put her alone in that house. Make her wait for the friends that never come. Watch the boredom boil over into anger when she realizes she must have misplaced her cell phone (that you confiscated while she wasn’t looking), and can’t call her friends to ask them, Like, where the hell are you?

That anger will turn to rage, rage to desperation, and with nowhere to turn, it will turn inward. And that’s when her new friends will arrive.

Demons. Everywhere, demons. Her own, some dead guy’s, the devil…. It’s psychic bum fight meets fallen-angelic-UFC cage match. And I’ll bet you it grows her up real fast.

Also, something about proving that incorporeal life forms exist and winning the Nobel. I’m not sure which is secondary anymore.

It’s Time To Help The Skeptics (Part 2 of 2)

photo courtesy of Maple.

photo courtesy of Maple.


Listening to Stories

by Guest Blogger,
Dr. Tyler Kokjohn, PhD.

Examining evidence of paranormal experiences may be disagreeable to many scientists because it deals with weird events and so often places heavy emphasis on personal accounts lacking independently confirmable details.  In stark contrast, scientists are accustomed to testing hypotheses directly by conducting repeated, controlled experiments which yield a veritable bonanza of reliable data.It gets worse.  Evidence of paranormal experiences is often limited to the recollections and impressions of a single individual struggling to describe unfamiliar events which appeared without warning.  Objective data suggests human beings may not always perceive or remember events accurately.  Marshaling direct DNA evidence, The Innocence Project (www.innocenceproject.org/) has now exonerated over 300 persons convicted of serious crimes and revealed witness testimony is clearly not always as reliable as we need it to be.

With its many weaknesses and intrinsically untrustworthy nature, it seems scientists probably long ago abandoned using anecdotal evidence.  Not so fast.  It can be useful and has been the initial impetus sparking some important discoveries.

In his book Virus Hunters (1), Greer Williams tells the story of an English country physician who listened to a milkmaid when she told him that having a previous cowpox infection would prevent her from getting smallpox.  Spurred by her story, Edward Jenner developed the process he dubbed vaccination to prevent smallpox using the far less dangerous cowpox virus.

Those events took place over two centuries ago, but more recent examples of physicians and scientists initiating investigations after hearing anecdotal accounts or receiving unconfirmed evidence are available.  The recognition of Lyme Disease and its etiologic agent in the U.S., the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, came about when a woman noticed the large number of juvenile arthritis cases in the area and called state health authorities to express concern (2).  The first published inklings the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) had appeared resulted from an immunologist evaluating interesting cases for teaching purposes and hearing about the existence of similar patients (3).

Perhaps you have the heard the quip, ‘the plural of anecdote isn’t data’?  That truism is undeniably true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anecdotal evidence is useless.  Recognizing that it may not be informative, accurate or typical, aggregated and used in proper context it can be invaluable.  The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS; http://vaers.hhs.gov/index) is a post-marketing safety surveillance program for vaccines licensed in the U.S.  This program enables health care providers and patients to report issues arising after immunizations thereby enabling side effects to be detected as well as providing a clearinghouse to convey information directly to the public.

Skeptical assessment of personal paranormal experience accounts is challenging.  The person relaying the account may be unaware all evidence is not deemed equally valuable by investigators.  Stories without independently confirmable details or influenced heavily by experiencer confirmation bias do not often lead far.  And most people do not have sufficient training or experience to capture totally reliable information under the best of circumstances.  Confronted with a story and asked to render an immediate verdict, a more productive approach might be to simply pose a series of informational questions to define as completely as possible what was experienced, where, when and by whom.  Investigate as far as possible because while merely asking the proper questions probably won’t reveal any earth-shaking data, it may show the experiencer – or the skeptic – what to be alert for the next time.

Anecdotal evidence has sharp limitations and communication between skeptics and experiencers may be frustrating.  However, we can train ourselves to listen more effectively (4) and the evidence tells us all that sometimes the effort really can pay.

___________

  1.  Greer Williams.  1960.  The Man Who Listened to a Milkmaid, pp. 16.  In Virus Hunters, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
  2. Abigail A. Salyers and Dixie D. Whitt.  1994.  Lyme Disease and Syphilis, p. 290. InBacterial Pathogenesis.  A Molecular Approach.  American Society for Microbiology Press, Washington, D.C.
  3.  Elizabeth Fee and Theodore M. Brown.  2006.  Michael S. Gottlieb and the Identification of AIDS. American Journal of Public Health; 96(6): 982-983. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470620/
  4. John W. Drakeford.  1967.  The Awesome Power of the Listening Ear.  Word Books.