A local newspaper is featuring a story on the class I developed and teach at Harper College in Palatine, Illinois. I recently did a phone interview with the marketing department at the college that is overseeing this all on both our behalves. I assume my words are being passed along in the proper manner to the newspaper. The following is some the questions asked, of course followed by my answers.
What can students in your class expect to gain from hearing about your experiences?
Not to be afraid of the unknown but to feel challenged by it and compelled to find answers, correlations, etc. I want them to always ask the difficult questions and be willing to apply themselves in a diligent manner. We must understand that science is a key to the gateway of understanding. When all fields of science welcome us with open arms, money for research will follow. I know that investigating is exciting and fun, but don’t do it just for the thrill. It is also a matter that should be taken seriously and with respect, especially when dealing with a family home.
My hope is that they gain a broader perspective and become more precise in their documentation and standards in their approach to the paranormal and paranormal investigating. I would like them to understand that this field is an interdisciplinary one, encompassing several scientific fields, spirituality, psychology, technology, and more.
How long have you been involved in paranormal investigations? What sparked your interest?
I’ve had many personal experiences over the years, my first memorable experience occurring when I was 14 years old. I, like many of us, struggled to try and understand whats, whys, and hows. So I suppose indirectly I’ve been doing investigating since I was a teen, albeit on a personal level. My desire for knowledge and answers took me on an educational journey over the years across a broad range of topic matter. However, I always quickly came to an impasse. Back then it seemed it was either all spiritually and/or religiously related or just a case of vivid imaginations. It is when I started searching through different scientific topic matters and asked myself how does this or that relate to certain paranormal experiences that I started to make an authentic connection.
Can you please tell me how you began to launch investigations in the area consistently?
Allow me to preface my answer with the following. There are two main categories in which cases fall. I refer to them as contractual and outings. Contractual is when someone contacts you to come in to their home or business to document and report to them what is going on. I have my clients sign agreements that allow me to come in and try and help them. Many of these cases are confidential in whole or part. Outings are when your team or a group decides to visit a known haunted location and pay the owners of the building/property a fee for the right to investigate there. An example would Moundsville Prison in West Virginia. They offer access to paranormal groups and a predetermined fee is charged. Many haunted places offer this now. Ghost hunters used to illegally sneak into places like this so the owners got smart and decided the liability was worth them opening up their doors for legal investigation and they also realized they could turn a very nice profit from it too. A lot of these types of places making a profit are a good thing. Many of these haunted locations are considered historical in nature and were or are in dire needs of funds to either try to repair, maintain, sustain.
I’m really not sure what constitutes consistent, but my personal feeling is that there are two main reasons. One, people are less afraid of ridicule by others than they used to be, and more afraid of what they are experiencing. Two, I think there may be a significant increase in actual paranormal occurrences, but I’m not sure. However, it is just as possible that the there hasn’t been an increase in activity and it is just that people are now bringing it more out into the open. On a personal note I think that it is all of the above plus it has a “cool” factor and become trendy now. Who knew 20 years ago that businesses would someday want to be haunted because it would actually make them money with added business they get from those hoping to personally experience something that is considered truly paranormal.
Why do you think this is an interesting or important topic?
Approximately 70% of people have experienced the unexplainable, the out of the norm, the paranormal. However, most didn’t speak openly about their experiences for years due to the stigma attached to the topic matter. They felt very alone, sometimes frightened, and always curious. Up until recent times you may have been called crazy, a liar, or wildly imaginative. However, now for the most part that has changed. Not only do people speak more openly about their personal experiences, they feel more empowered to search out the answers for themselves, or at the very least attempt to document or capture the experience in a way that may be considered proof. In other words, they want to prove to themselves and the doubters they are not crazy or that it isn’t their imagination, but very much a reality. Now if only the majority rather than the minority of scientist would get on board for the long haul that would be great. There are still a lot of hushed whispers coming from behind the closet doors, but the whispered voices aren’t coming from ghosts. They are coming from scientists, many of whom are afraid to openly become involved because it may damage their credibility and careers. I understand their concerns, I really do. I still find myself saying at times to those outside of the field, “I know this going to sound crazy, but…” I suppose over time, and individual by individual this too will change for the better. It took me more years than I care to mention to come to terms with barring and sharing my paranormal experiences openly, and a few more yet to figure out how to learn from them.
In general people often fear what they don’t understand, and nobody wants to live in fear. So it was only matter of time before human nature would rise to the occasion and start to try to figure this all out like we are doing now. Knowledge is empowering and empowerment eases fear.