The Infrasound Issue

Many researchers aren’t considering infrasound in their current paranormal research. They should. When I update my free book, Is Your House Haunted?, I’m going to include a chapter about infrasound. In my own studies — which I will publish, as time permits — I’ve seen a high correlation between infrasound and certain types of paranormal reports.

As a starting point, check this PDF. (And thank heavens for the Wayback Machines, so we have access to these kinds of “vanished” reports.)

Psychics – Why Do We See What We See?

calendarWhy do psychics see what they see? That’s (mostly) a rhetorical question.

For a long time, I’ve wondered why we “see” things about ghosts when the ghosts seem to reject our help. Most seem to want us to roll back the clock, and we can’t do that. It’s frustrating. It’s why — in recent years — my focus has been on more tangible evidence related to hauntings: documented history, readings on measurement devices, and so on.

This week, the other side of that issue was on my mind. (No pun intended.)

I wondered why so many of us see the future, as well.  It seems equally pointless.

Almost exactly five years ago, I visited Gavin Cromwell at home. He was living in the United States at the time. On that day, he stumbled out from his bedroom, clearly under lingering effects of the medication he’d taken for an illness. So, I’m not sure he’ll remember the conversation we had.

On that day five years ago, he was distraught. He talked about a ferry that was going to capsize. He thought it was in Asia, and he was sure hundreds of young people were on board and would be lost. He described them traveling from the mainland to a small island, not vice versa. He talked about the ship turning onto its side for no apparent reason, and doing so, quickly. Gavin also mentioned the crew telling the young people to stay where they were because moving around could be unsafe. (At the time, I thought he’d borrowed that from a dramatization about the Titanic.)

Gavin kept asking why he was seeing something like that when he couldn’t do anything to prevent it. He asked me if I knew a way to prevent it, but I wasn’t picking up on that event at all. I had no answers.

Now, as the recent (April 2014) South Korean ferry disaster unfolds, every detail echoes exactly what Gavin said five years ago.  Not just what I listed, above, but far more details, as well.

The problem is: That information wasn’t specific enough to be helpful. Gavin “saw” more than most psychics (including me) might have sensed, but not enough to say, “In five years, on such-and-such a date, a South Korean ferry carrying hundreds of students, en route Jeju, will be involved in a disaster.”

The vision upset Gavin… a lot. He was extremely emotional about it, and almost frantic to prevent the tragedy.

But, even with as many details as he “saw,” there was nothing anyone could do. He didn’t have a specific date or location.

If he recalls that prediction — and I’m not sure that he would, since he was taking medication and was barely awake when he conveyed that vision — I’m sure it would upset him to see that it really happened.

What I’m pondering today is why psychics see what they do. It’s rare that we can help spirits. It’s unnecessarily traumatizing to see a tragedy that can’t be prevented.

What’s the point of that kind of “gift”?

Rhetorical question, sort of. I’m not sure anyone can answer this.

But, as I watch details emerge in the South Korean ferry story, I can’t help recalling the accuracy of Gavin’s prediction and wondering why psychics “see” things like that.

Ghosts and Mythbusters’ Infrasound Test

streamThe following isn’t (and wasn’t intended to be)  a ghost hunting video.

And, for those of us who know about the effects of infrasound, the results aren’t a surprise.  However, it’s still a good demo.

This video is important for ghost hunters because of the description Jamie gives as he’s experiencing infrasound.  

That’s what you’re looking for, if you suspect infrasound.

Watch this video:

Effects will vary from person to person, in terms of intensity and description, but any influence is important as we’re separating what’s normal from what’s paranormal.

Of course, most haunted sites won’t have a sound system generating infrasound.

However, underground streams or other sources of infrasound can affect people at a site. Investigators may interpret it as paranormal, though it’s not.

This is one reason why I recommend checking geological surveys of the area, unless you already know there’s water beneath the site you’re investigating.

This is a question that’s been raised about Gilson Road Cemetery in Nashua, NH.  There is a marshy area in back of the cemetery, and folklore suggest that the land across the street was once underwater.

However, in terms of underground streams within a block of the cemetery… the map doesn’t suggest that.

Of course, more research is necessary, not just in terms of geology, but also other infrasound sources.

Many hauntings — especially at sites like Nashua’s Country Tavern restaurant — seem to have intensely haunted rest rooms.  (Usually, it’s the ladies’ room.  I’m not sure why, unless women are more likely to notice — or talk about — ghostly encounters in bathrooms, while men tend to be more purpose-driven when they visit a rest room.)

So, I’d like to see study results related to water in pipes, as well.

One complication: There may be other connections between water and ghostly activity.  I think Colin Wilson was the one who commented on unexplained water on the floor, in connection with poltergeist activity at the Winchester mansion in California.

Nevertheless, when investigating a house where the owners or tenants are frightened of ghostly phenomena, infrasound may be the normal explanation they need to hear. (No pun intended.)

Originality (because they finally demonstrated the effect, and it took a lot of effort)

4-half-stars

Credibility (as a “ghost”)

Not applicable.

Proving That Ghosts Are Real

Proof - dictionary definitionThere is no scientific proof that ghosts are real, and there never will be.

When I say that, some people seem outraged, as if I’m betraying them. I’m supposed to be a real ghost researcher, right…?

Well, if we’re talking about scientific proof, you need to know this: That phrase — in popular use among paranormal researchers — is technically an oxymoron.  There is no such thing as scientific proof… for anything.

I’ve used the word “proof” in many of my articles and podcasts.  Generally, I mean that there’s compelling evidence to suggest that ghosts are real, or that we’ve just encountered one, or… well, whatever the discussion is about.  Most people understand that.

When I’ve used the phrase “scientific proof,” I’ve been talking about using scientific methods and devices to present sufficient evidence to convince most people that something — so far, unexplainedis going on at haunted sites.

And, in most cases, it’s reasonable to think that ghosts might be an explanation for that unexplained (or paranormal) activity.

I believe we can combine personal experiences with scientific methods and tools, and achieve more consistent research results.

Eventually, I’d like to be able to say with confidence, “On this date, at this time, something unexplained and dramatic is going to happen at this location.”  Then, I’d like 50 researchers there, each with cameras and measuring devices, to compile enough evidence to say, “This is paranormal and beyond coincidence or error.”

We’re not there yet.

Many of us — including me — are certain that spirits are among us.  Many people are equally certain that orbs, unexplained EMF spikes, EVP, and other measurable phenomena provide compelling evidence that ghosts are real.

However, the phrase “scientific proof” isn’t accurate, and — so you aren’t tripped up by skeptics harping on semantics — I decided to state that clearly.

Rampant Ghost Stories – Contagion or Consistency?

As I’m working on one of my next books, I’m researching regional ghost stories.  Sometimes, especially at large, single locations such as colleges, universities and schools, I’ll see a half-dozen ghost stories or more.  Often, they’re preposterous.  They’re classic urban legends:

  • The ghostly janitor.
  • The suicide victim who shows up in a mirror.
  • The abandoned date who’s still waiting at some outdoor location.
  • The pregnant girl (or girl who gave up her child) who’s looking for her baby.
  • And sometimes, the lost child.

Ridiculous? Yes.  Too many stories for one large location?  Yes.  Fake…?  Maybe not.

When faced with one of these dilemmas, look at the location in general.  Why was a college (or university or other large set of buildings) put at that exact location, instead of using it for residences or retail businesses?  Or, if it’s out in the middle of nowhere (or if it was, when it was built)… why that exact location?  Why did that seem like the right place for that institution?  If the land was cheaper there, was there a reason for that?

Maybe it wasn’t a conscious decision.  The land was there and it was empty, or it was donated, or something like that.  There’s often a very good, logical reason for placing a building exactly where it’s built.

However, when that location produces lots of ghost stories — a statistically unlikely number of stories — take a look at the history of the land.  Go back to the earliest records, including pioneers, settlers, and ancient people who may have used that piece of land.  See what the history is.

When I researched the land that Gilson Road Cemetery (Nashua, NH) is on, it appeared to be ground zero for a couple of significant Native American battles.  Obviously, I can’t prove what happened on that precise plot of land, when those battles occurred.  Nevertheless, the history fits.

Sometimes, we need to accept that we may not have provable, definitive answers to why some plots of land or even acreage are haunted.  A sort-of answer might be as good as it gets.

However, the opposite extreme is to dismiss a bunch of ridiculous “ghost stories” because they’re preposterous and there are too many of them per square foot, at that location.

Between those opposite views, it’s key to examine why people might be reporting so many stories that will usually evoke a rational response like, “You’ve got to be kidding.”

I’d start with geology.  I’d look for naturally high EMF levels, as well as infrasound from underground streams.  Maybe people are disoriented and explain it to themselves (and others) using classic ghost stories.

Then, if I can’t find any normal (if odd) explanations for the reports, it’s time to examine history and what might have left an imprint on that location.

People don’t always realize why they’re drawn to a particular location, even if it’s where they’re building a school or university.  In their conscious minds, they might be thinking, “Oh, this is a lovely spot.”

On a deeper level, they might feel magnetically drawn to or even fascinated by that piece of land.  That attraction might track back to residual energy or… well, only research will explain why.

At the time, the location choice seemed logical and like a happy decision.  50 or 150 years later, increasing reports of paranormal activity may tell a different story.

The point is: Just because you’re faced with the silliest collection of ghost stories ever, don’t walk away from a site.  Go deeper.  Ask the next question, “Why are all these people telling me ridiculous stories?”

It might be contagion.  Maybe all the cool kids tell each other ghost stories, trying to one-up the previous tale. That can happen.

Or, it might be consistency that’s pointing to an unexplored history of the site.

 

 

Ngrams as Paranormal Research Tools

This started when I watched the recent TED talk about Ngrams (or N-grams).

Tip: Unless you want to sit up half the night with “ah-HA!” ideas flashing like neon signs in your brain, do not watch new TED talks right before bedtime.

At some crazy-early hour this morning, I was awake and at my computer.  Let’s start with the first graph I created.

Ghosts 1800 - 2000

That shows me two surges of interest in ghosts, between 1800 and 2000.  (The terms “haunted house” and “ghost hunting” don’t really have an impact when I’m looking at this broad time frame.)

If you’re blinking and wondering why this is so cool, here’s the geek goodness:  Those spikes tell me when the word “ghost” was most popular in published books.  (It’ll also apply to periodicals.)

Since much of my research is based in historical records — looking for supporting information for (or the folklore roots of) “ghost stories” and reports of hauntings — this tells me where to look for the largest amount of information related to ghosts.  (If I’m going to be digging through dusty old books, magazines and newspapers, I want to be fairly sure I’ll find lots of information… not just a few blurbs here & there.)

So, let’s narrow it some more.  I searched using a narrower time frame, based on what looked like an 1895-ish spike in the graph, above.

ghosts-1895ish

That tells me that my time is best spent looking in records with copyrights between 1895 and 1900. If I am choosing among several resources — and especially if I have a limited amount of time at that particular library — those are the years to focus on.

Now let’s look at more modern resources.

In this search, I added the plural (“ghosts”) to the search, just to see what happened.

Ghost and ghost trends 2000s

“Ghost” out-performs “ghosts” throughout that time period.

That means each of most of the references are talking about a single ghost… not ghosts in general.  That is, they’re saying, “the ghost,” and describing a single entity rather than a generic reference to ghosts in general.

To me, that looks like more people are telling first-person stories, or recounting folklore, as opposed to talking about a group of ghosts at a haunted site.  (For example, the difference between when I describe a single ghostly encounter at The Myrtles Plantation or the Falstaff’s Experience, as opposed to talking about their ghosts, in general.)

Of course, I’d need to do more research into the Ngram trends to be sure of that.

The following was my final Ngram search before writing this article.

Ghost - ghosts - haunted -2000s-ngrams

In that search, I changed some of the words.

What I see that people use the word “haunted” about as often as they talk about “ghosts” (plural)… but nowhere nearly as often as they use the word “ghost.” I’m not sure what that indicates, but it’s interesting and a little odd.

(Note: The phrase “ghost hunters” is pretty much flat-line at the bottom of the graph.  Interesting.)

At the current time, Ngram searches only include books through 2008.  So, we can’t yet use Ngrams to study recent trends.  (I’d also argue that the emergence of Create Space, et al, will skew more recent numbers.)

So, what have I learned from this…?

Ngrams can be used to identify what time periods to focus on when I’m in dusty libraries (real or virtual), conducting historical research about paranormal topics.

Though that may interest only the most hard-core research geeks (like me), I think it’s a resource to keep in mind.

Let me know if you have additional ideas of using Ngram research, and if you find anything quirky and interesting in your own Ngram searches.

Here’s the Ngram search URL I used:  http://ngrams.googlelabs.com/

[If that URL isn’t working — and, as of November 2016, it seems broken — try this one: https://books.google.com/ngrams ]

Here’s the TED talk I referenced:

Here’s a more recent TED talk on a similar topic:

Homemade EVP Devices?

Image from the Instructables article.

I’m fascinated by things that are emerging from mad scientists’ labs… or at least the kitchen tables of kindred spirits (no pun intended) who think like I do.

Here are a few odd, recent discoveries:

I’m not sure what to think of the Super Beacon Auto-mapper Crystal Quantum Radio.

(I try never to dismiss anything that might help us figure out what anomalies really are.)

Well, the price tag on that tool is a little steep for my experiments.

Then there’s the Beta-Blocker Spirit Radio, at that same website.

As Alice said, “Curiouser and curiouser!”

I recommend cruising through that website.  If you’re an electronics geek, you may get some ideas for tools we can actually use in this field.

But wait… there’s more!

The photo at left shows a homegrown variation.  It might just work. It’s the Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio.

The complete directions are at Instructables:  Spooky Tesla Spirit Radio.

The following video… well, the guy sounds pretty snide at times. However, the tests he demonstrates are worth noting.  Be sure to listen to the sounds produced by the color yellow. What is the radio reacting to?

httpv://youtu.be/aFxBmEpGIBw

The “lost journals” of Nikola Tesla might be someone’s clever work of fiction.  Nevertheless, Tesla’s life may need closer investigation.

In those “lost journals,” it says:

Around 1918, Tesla started to receive what he considered to be voice transmissions, except the voices he was picking up were not human. Instead, Tesla wrote that, “The sounds I am listening to every night at first appear to be human voices conversing back and forth in a language I cannot understand. I find it difficult to imagine that I am actually hearing real voices from people not of this planet. There must be a more simple explanation that has so far eluded me.”

This is consistent with Tesla’s comments in Talking with the Planets, publishing in 1901:

“My first observations positively terrified me, as there was present in them something mysterious, not to say supernatural, and I was alone in my laboratory at night; but at that time the idea of these disturbances being intelligently controlled signals did not yet present itself to me. “

If you build this radio and test it, please let me know about your results.  I’m very interested in homemade devices, and in voice-related ghost hunting tools in general.

Ghosts – Why Do Banishing Routines Work?

Earlier this week, a writer asked me why people use banishing techniques (sea salt, sage smudges, etc.) to get rid of ghosts.

Here’s part of reply to her:

Of course, people don’t actually “get rid of” ghosts.  The ghosts (or things that seem like a haunting) just stop bothering them so much.

In other words, I don’t think anyone kills or banishes a ghost… not completely.  (I don’t believe that a spirit can be completely destroyed or eliminated.  I think the energy continues in some form. Views vary among religions.)

The sea salt, smudging, rice, turned shoes, etc…?  I have no idea why these techniques work. Maybe we’ll figure it out once we better understand quantum physics.

For me, this subject is lumped into the same category as why “correspondences” seem to work.

In other words, I think something taps into quantum laws that transcend reality (and worlds) as we perceive them from our side.

My other theory regarding sea salt, smudging and — weirdly, using a loud vacuum cleaner — relates to filling the environment with a sensory experience that the spirit doesn’t like, or perhaps the sensory elements push the undesirable energy out…?  It’s just a guess, and far from anything scientific.

The only reason I recommend those practices to people is that they’ve been documented (some, for centuries) as effective, and I’ve seen some of them work in real life.

Turning my shoes in opposite directions worked at The Myrtles Plantation. To me, that’s even weirder than its ghosts.

A lot of these getting-rid-of-ghosts practices are rooted in mythology. Perhaps these tried-and-true methods have been around long enough to appear in really ancient tales.

Note: They seem to work with ghosts, full stop.

As far as I know, salt and sage smudges won’t help with UFOs/abductions. Also, I’ve found no record suggesting that these methods banish good energy from spiritual sites or churches.

Logic..? I won’t pretend that any exists.  Proof…? Ditto.

All I know is that these things keep getting rave reviews from people who try them.

Photo credit: bruno sersocima, Brazil

Bennington Triangle

Vermont foliageThe trouble with the Bermuda Triangle is (a) its location is huge and mostly over the water, and (b) it has been so frequently researched, there’s a massive amount of information to sift through to find any patterns… or a theory that’s been overlooked.

The Bridgewater Triangle (MA) offers some interesting quirks that haven’t been fully explored, but the area is densely populated. That’s both a plus (lots of eyewitnesses) and a minus (many locations are difficult to access or on private property).

The Bennington Triangle (VT) has remained under the radar for many people.

Thank heavens for the Wayback Machine, so I could read this article: Vanishing Point, by Carl Hughes. If you’re interested in it, print it out; it could vanish from the Internet at any time.

I stumbled onto that when I researched facts behind the movie, The Haunting. Yes, there is a connection between the two.

But anyway, I think the Bennington Triangle offers some great opportunities for serious investigators.

Yes, there’s a risk in putting this tip online. However, most researchers who want to grab the limelight… they haven’t a clue what they’re doing. Heaven help them in a location like Bennington, where there might be genuine risks.

The challenge is knowing where to look; I’d already heard some great stories, offline, and they’re pointing in an interesting research direction.

I will share them, later, once I’ve seen what’s worth exploring and what merely results in blisters and insect bites.

Until then, Bennington is probably a great location for hiking or to enjoy Vermont’s fall foliage. Just don’t go there alone. And, as a personal favor, don’t make this the subject of your blog, TV show or radio broadcast.

Not yet, anyway.

Photo credit: Kathi B, Germany

The Role of the Observer

In quantum studies, the role of the observer is a key part of how we perceive reality.

In paranormal research, including ghost investigations, it’s important to consider how much the observer impacts the findings.

headphones on someone listeningSpecifically, I’m thinking about people who — using the same camera (not just one like it) or listening to the same EVP recording — get much better results than others do.

In the case of EVP results, is the recording affected by the first person who listens to it, or the first person who listens to it and hears something?

I’m not talking about the power of suggestion. That is, when everyone suddenly hears the voice saying, “Get out,” once they’ve been told that’s the most likely phrase.

Instead, I’m speculating about the recordings that one person hears and says, “Nope, nothing.”

Then — double-checking the results — a second person hears something clearly. This is an even more important question if everyone (including the first listener) suddenly hears the EVP clearly.

This is entirely speculation, but it’s worth considering. We can’t rule anything out, as we’re exploring paranormal phenomena.