Ghost Hunting: True Stories of Unexplained Phenomena from The Atlantic Paranormal Society

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A reading on an electromagnetic field EMF meter, for instance, can be caused by faulty wiring, microwaves, solar activity, or any of a number of other non-ghostly sources.

There is no credible scientific evidence that ghosts exist, let alone that they are electromagnetic—or radioactive: the T. Other ghost-hunting equipment is similarly useless, especially in the hands of nonscientists Nickell I investigated the Winchester Mansion in with colleague Vaughn Rees and found that temperature variations, the settling of an old structure, and other similar characteristics accounted for cold spots, odd noises, and ghostly phenomena Nickell Among the tallest such structures in the United States, the St.

In the tower, various unexplained noises are often perceived Elizabeth and Roberts , 40— Once again, the T. They concluded that the St. Augustine Lighthouse was indeed haunted. On March 23, , I climbed the steps to check out the St. The occasional perception of cigar smoke in the latter may have a ready explanation. There is often confusion as to the true nature of the smoke attributed alternately to cigars, cigarettes, burning wiring, etc. The power of suggestion may be at work as well. For example, private citizens who rented the St. Similarly, apparitions may occur when the percipient is in an altered mental state, such as daydreaming, and a mental image becomes superimposed on the visual scene Nickell , 22— As to noises in the tower, there are a number of plausible explanations, beginning with the wind.

Temperature changes can also cause old steel to make noises as it expands and contracts Thompson , Glimpsed shadows might have an equally simple explanation. I studied the T. Augustine Lighthouse video episode Ghost with two colleagues, Tim Binga and Tom Flynn, and all of us were underwhelmed.

The problem is exacerbated by the pseudoscientific use of scientific equipment and by the distinct possibility that ghost hunters are actually causing—even if unintentionally—some of the very phenomena they are experiencing!

Halloween resurrects spooky visions of a ghost hunt at my home

Elizabeth, Norma, and Bruce Roberts. New York: Pocket Books. Nickell, Joe. Haunted inns. Winchester mystery house. Haunted plantation. Ghost hunters. Lighthouse specters. Augustine Lighthouse. Available online at www. I also remember wondering if it wasreally the website he wanted to talk about, because theconversation kept drifting off in the direction of personal experiences with the paranormal. It was outside the doughnut place, as we were talking alongside my Subaru, that the guy finally came clean.

He had had an experience of his own -- a recurring one, from the time he was fifteen until he turned seventeen and went to college. An intense experience in the heavily wooded part of Rhode Island where he had been raised.

And every once in a while, the experience still popped up. The guy was Grant Wilson. His friend Chris verified everything he said, mentioning tests he and Grant's other friends had put him through to determine if his experience had been real. I'd be more specific, but Grant doesn't like to say much about what happened.

It's kind of a touchy subject with him. Anyway, our conversation left the parking lot and continued in my living room. We sat there for hours discussing our philosophies about the paranormal, and we found a lot of common ground. This went on for days, then weeks. Finally I said, "Screw the rest of what's out there," referring to other ghost hunters and their methods.

They didn't worry about collecting evidence. They just walked into people's houses, got in touch with their feelings, and decided there were ghostly presences afoot. In fact, they never found a place that wasn't haunted. Grant and I insisted on a more rational approach. Before we would ever say a place was home to a supernatural entity, we needed to have proof.

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It was a significant departure. And it was on that basis that we founded T. Grant said it best: "If you set out to prove a haunting, anything will seem like evidence. If you set out to disprove it, you'll end up with only those things you can't explain away. Our T. And the total kept climbing. Two years later, we were up to two thousand hits a day. Other groups looked for publicity, seeking out the media on Halloween and so on. We never did that. But we still wound up building a substantial network of like-minded ghost hunters, people who were inclined to approach the supernatural with a certain amount of discrimination.

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And soon we weren't just getting calls from people in the New England area. People were reaching out to us from California and Michigan and Louisiana. Unfortunately, we didn't have the money to travel out there and help them, and we also didn't have reliable contacts in other parts of the country to whom we could refer them.. Grant and I decided that in order to extend our contact network, we first had to separate the people who saw things our way from those who didn't, and the best way to do that was by being controversial.

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So we put up an article on our website that essentially said orbs were trash. Now, orbs were really popular in those days. Hearing they were insignificant was, for some people, a slap in the face. They railed back at us, telling us we were crazy, and the battle was on. The paranormal field was polarized almost overnight.

But we found the people we were looking for. The first one was Al Tyas at D. Metro Area Ghost Watchers affectionately known as D. Al saw things the way we did and became a big part of the T. We got support from other places as well, across the country and even overseas. People from Europe, Asia, and Australia were contacting us to thank us for taking a stand. As our network continued to expand and our organization grew, Grant and I cut a deal.

He would take care of the creative and technical facets of our organization, areas where he's the undisputed king. I would handle the management and business aspects. Among my responsibilities was making sure we brought the right people into our group on Rhode Island. One was Brian Harnois. When he first showed up, he was like a big kid, full of that gee-whiz kind of passion, and he had already formed his own ghost-hunting group of three to four people. He believed in orbs, vampires, you name it, but he was also a clean-living guy who didn't mind rolling up his sleeves and doing the dirty work.

The more he got to know T. Before long, he convinced his group to join us. As it turned out, Brian was the only one of them who ended up sticking with us. Anyone who has seen Ghost Hunters is familiar with Brian's shortcomings. For one thing, he likes to spin yarns also known as lies , and it drives us crazy. All he really wants to do is make people like him, but it backfires. He used to be our case manager, a job we gave himbecause of his enthusiasm. As such, he was the one who fielded calls from people in distress.

He brought to each case the organization you'd expect from a former member of the military police, but he also got on our nerves -- mine in particular.

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Brian is easily excitable, thinks everyone needs immediate help, and never considers the distance we're going to have to travel before he commits us to an investigation. Also, he's perpetually wide-eyed about ghosts. Just the sight of what looks like an orb on a videotape can make him declare a place is haunted.

On the other hand, Brian's enthusiasm has a plus side: it drives his work ethic, and I can count on him to see to the equipment. There was the time he forgot the chairs for an all-nighter at a lighthouse, and at another site he somehow lost an expensive piece of technology. But at heart, he's okay.

I know he's dedicated to our mission. And we're a family, so we forgive each other's mistakes. Sometimes it's my job to remind everyone of that. Carl Johnson joined T. Carl is a suave, well-mannered, articulate retail salesman who also happens to be a demonologist. By the time he came to us, he had already racked up years of experience investigating the paranormal. He had a habit of bringing a briefcase with him everywhere he went, which wouldn't have been so weird if it hadn't been empty half the time. We were pleased to have Carl on hand, and even more pleased when his twin brother, Keith, came aboard.

Keith is a born-again Christian and much more religious than his brother. He's also a walking encyclopedia. We'll be driving to an investigation with him and pass a college campus, and suddenly he'll sing me the school song, or relate some obscure fact about the second cousin of the school's founder. And he'll tell me it was a Jeopardy! On the other hand, he's also prone to giving long explanations of things when short ones will do, and his voice is so soothing it can put you to sleep.

Then there's Steve Gonsalves, a police officer from western Massachusetts. The first time we spoke to him on the phone, he asked to join T. We liked what he had to say and how he said it. The problem was he lived two hours away. We advised him to start his own group instead. For a while, we lost track of the guy. Then we heard about this New England paranormal group that was doing great work in Springfield, Massachusetts -- maybe even better work than we were. When we contacted them, thinking we could learn from each other, we found out their leader was Steve Gonsalves!

He's since become a part of our primary investigative team, but he still runs New England Paranormal as a member of the T. Steve's a real down-to-earth, dependable guy.

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As you'll see, we trust him one hundred percent -- even if he does have a few inconvenient phobias. Fortunately, one thing he's not afraid of is ghosts. Donna LaCroix, another mainstay of our organization, came to us about four years ago. An environmental engineer, she had gone to high school with Grant and was looking for help with some paranormal experiences she'd had growing up. Grant talked her through her issues on the phone.

Before he was done, she was asking to join the group.

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It was a good thing. Donna turned out to be a whiz at case management. She came in and reorganized the whole process. She's also accompanied us on quite a few cases. She doesn't like to hold equipment, and it's a constant struggle to move her into the realm of the scientific, but she looks after us when we're on the road, making sure we eat right and that we go to bed when we should. Donna has shown a clear sensitivity to the supernatural, so she gives us another perspective in an investigation.

She's also a terrific interviewer, not only in terms of her ability to sympathize with the victim but also because she can smell a fabrication a mile away -- and we've run into our share of fabrications. Of course, there's more to T. We have another fifteen members in Rhode Island and probably the same amount conducting investigations for Steve Gonsalves in Massachusetts. They're the ones who work behind the scenes, taking care of the confidential cases we would never show on television.

The arrangement works for them because their jobs prohibit them from being publicly associated with a paranormal group.

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They include a forensic scientist, a nuclear physicist, and even a Secret Service agent, but they're so dedicated to ghost hunting they don't mind doing it anonymously. But the heart of the organization is still my partner Grant, whom I affectionately call G. He's the one who designed our investigative protocol.