Tag Archives: media

How Does the Skeptic View Paranormal Folk?

I’m going to go ahead and safely assume that the vast majority of readers or even one time visitors to this blog are somehow interested in or involved in paranormal or spiritual topics (unless they landed here on accident while trying to search for something cool like a Snuggie for their dog, although those people tend to be paranormal folk too… I think.) So it is this group that I would like to direct this post to. But I want to make it clear, skeptics and Snuggie people are welcome to read and respectfully comment as well.

There are several things that I have not been shy about discussing since I started Big Séance. One of them is that several years ago I began experiencing what I’ve called a “spiritual shift”. That’s the spiritual side of me. At about this same time I started to be fascinated with the paranormal, specifically ghosts and spirit communication. That’s the paranormal side of me. Sometimes I have a hard time bouncing back and forth between the two, fitting into discussions or conversations online, etc. But the one thing that makes me the awkward guest at both parties is the fact that I’m often the more skeptical (a naughty word in both parties) person there. Obviously that doesn’t mean I am out to prove the paranormal doesn’t exist. I’m convinced life doesn’t end at death. I know that sometimes spirits don’t move on and stay with us, and perhaps visit us on occasion. No one needs to tell me one way or the other. But I do think that there are many in the paranormal field whose behavior and reckless claims about things make us look a little… hmm… childish. Inexperienced. Dumb. There always seems to be that Class A EVP that CLEARLY says “Hey thanks for stopping by but I want you to GET OUT!” even though I hear a cough and 4 investigator footsteps. There’s the orb that has 50 possible natural explanations, yet someone decide’s it’s the ghost of Matilda because look, you can see two eyes a nose and a mouth. I try my best to not criticize the theories and beliefs of others, and feel like often I examine and take a hard look at my own. I don’t go out there trying to pick fights. I just think that as investigators or “ghost hunters” (ugh), we need to be as honest and responsible with what we’re saying and what we’re putting out there.

I know I’m not a scientist or parapsychologist, or an expert in either of these fields, but I have bravely referred to myself as a “researcher” who seriously studies and works with the paranormal… and even though there is a lot I still don’t understand, up to now I’ve felt good about that. Perhaps that’s silly. I follow and learn from smart people, many who truly are deserving of the “expert” or “researcher” title. I realize that people who know me in the real world probably get a kick out of this time-consuming and expensive hobby when they find out how I spend my time when I’m not at the day job. Perhaps some of them snicker when they see my posts, and maybe decide that it’s a shame that I’ve gone off the deep end. But honestly, most of the time I don’t even worry about what people think, because I get so excited about it! I plan my blog posts out in my head at work sometimes and can’t wait to come home to get them started. When an investigation is in the works or when someone asks for help, I put all of my effort into that. I get really excited to jump into my next non-fiction book. I want to learn… I want to discover… and I want to share.

Am I still talking????

Sharon Hill - Geologist, Author, Skeptic

Photo Credit: Sharon Hill – Geologist, Author, Skeptic

Anyway… So I find this skeptic and her blog and I think… “Hey, I like to be skeptical. I want to be balanced and see what I can learn from this.” Sharon Hill, the skeptic, is also a geologist. According to her bio at The Huffington Post, where she is a contributor, she “is a researcher specializing in the interaction between science, the media and the public. She is an advocate for scientific skepticism and the editor of DoubtfulNews.com — a critical thinking weird news blog.” Sharon is also the author of another blog, Doubtful (idoubtit.wordpress.com) which I now bravely follow, that caught my attention and is the reason you’re hearing from me today.

Promise me that even if you stop reading now you’ll watch this 35 minute video that was shared in her latest blog post.

It is your homework. This is her speaking at the Northeast Conference on Science and Skepticism (NECSS), in which she discusses her examination of paranormal groups and paranormal people, our beliefs, practices, equipment, our black t-shirts, our self published books with no references or citations, and our “sciencey” words because we want to sound professional and serious. It will open your eyes and mind to what we as paranormal folk look and sound like to the skeptic. I’m not going to lie… I was scared to death and worried that she was going to pull up a screenshot of my paranormal group’s outdated website… or even this blog. I found myself agreeing with her at times. She hit paranormal TV pretty hard. But I’ll admit I was hurt (didn’t shed any tears) because in parts of her talk I saw and heard myself in a lot of what she was saying. I’ve watched a few videos and I’ve heard her in an interview, and I really do think she is making an effort to understand us. She seems to be respectful about her opinions, even though she’s clearly relaxed and in front of her own crowd in this video. But still… I’m a bit bothered by it all. She feels that most of us “value science” but we “don’t have a clue how it works.” At one point she talks about how we tend to want to help, and we’re serious, we just don’t know how to do it. We’re simple folk who are just “invested emotionally” in our beliefs. 

Here are several questions that popped in my head during the two times I watched this video.

  • Is she talking about me?
  • Am I just so “invested emotionally” in my beliefs about the paranormal that my eyes are closed to anything else?
  • Am I “fooling the public”?
  • Are her views and opinions a reflection of the average scientist?
  • Am I seen as dumb or ignorant?
  • Should I even care about science? Do we have to have their approval?
  • Does my involvement in the paranormal have any worth at all?
  • Have I helped anyone?

The video from her latest Doubtful blog post.

If you’ve made it through this incredibly bi-polar and emotionally invested post, please share your thoughts. I know you want to! Share away before I wake up tomorrow and decide to delete the whole thing!

 

Related:

The Skeptical Perspective (Jim Harold’s Interview with Sharon Hill on The Paranormal Podcast)

No Scientists (Voices Podcast)

Coming Out of the Paranormal/Spiritual Closet (Big Séance)

 


Join the Radio Sweep Experiment… What do you hear?

At the end of this post I want to encourage you to join the informal experiment and reply via a comment with your findings. But first…

I just finished Speaking to the Dead with Radios by Michael Hobert Edwards. In this young area of spirit communication, he is one of the leading pioneers. Even though I don’t have the wealth of experience at Radio Sweep that Michael has, I found myself agreeing with many of his thoughts and realizing that I could back those opinions up with experiences that I’ve had with a spirit box. In some areas I did have a few differing opinions… or maybe a better way of saying it is that I’d probably do some things differently. I was impressed by how thorough Mr. Edwards was at covering his entire radio sweep process, from the actual radio sweep devices, to how he records, how he analyzes, edits, and documents what he finds. The book really made me stop to take a look at my entire process of EVP recording, in general. And it may have just inspired me to try my hand at hacking a radio myself. I considered doing this a few years ago but chickened out. I want to try it, but I’ll definitely have to reach out for some techie help. I think Speaking to the Dead with Radios would be well worth the read for anyone involved in spirit communication, or in the paranormal, in general. 

Let’s try something just for fun… an informal radio sweep experiment!

If you’ve never tried your hand at radio sweep or using a spirit box, here’s your chance. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be such a paranerd with all of your free time, give it a try! If you’re a seasoned researcher/investigator, I’d love to hear from you too!

Listen to the audio clip below. It is a 2 minute and 40 second portion of a Ouija Board/Spirit Box session I conducted back in December. This is the same session in which I claimed to hear the response of “Ouija… board” (read the blog post from that experience HERE) after asking whoever was present to tell me what I was touching. You’ll hear the “Ouija… board” response at the very end of the clip. 

Regardless of whether or not you think the words or messages you hear are paranormal, what do you hear? Do you think what you’re hearing is the result of Pareidolia (matrixing)? Doesn’t matter at the moment. What do you hear? Even if you’ve decided a particular message or response is from a radio DJ, or a commercial for a little blue pill, or a portion of your favorite Barry Manilow hit, what do you hear? You’ll probably hear many short messages and responses. Will everyone hear the same messages? Leave your findings in a comment.  

Before you begin, be aware that you will hear my voice as I ask a few questions. I look forward to hearing from you all!

What do you hear? Length: 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

What do you hear? Length: 2 minutes and 40 seconds.

 


The latest books to land on my doorstep!

I’m excited to share with you the latest books to land on my doorstep. I started Speaking to the Dead with Radios today and am considering being brave and reading both of these at the same time. I don’t do that often. I’ve read several “spiritual” books recently so I feel it’s time to once again dig deep into some “ghostie” books. Sometimes I just feel the need to do some homework. 

True Haunting by Edwin F. Becker

This is the story of a true haunting. It was the first ever filmed and televised by NBC in 1971. A young couple purchases a building that was built and occupied by a single family that refused to relinquish their hold, even after death. Investigated and verified by experts, this residence brought chaos to the lives of those who chose to reside there. Unlike a horror novel, this chronicles what a real ghostly experience would resemble. Long before the laws of disclosure, a young couple winds up in the midst of strange occurrences prior to the term ‘paranormal’ becoming a common description. Searching for help at time when supernatural events were a taboo subject and being ignored by the Church, sent them into a desperate search for any assistance. Only a little known organization came to their aid. Author Tom Valentine, brought in a nationally known psychic, Joseph DeLouise, who then asked assistance of an exorcist from England, Reverend William Derl-Davis. Together, they gave their best effort at exorcising the multiple spirits inhabiting the building and disrupting the lives of the living. Events were filmed by NBC, who sent their most prominent Chicago journalist, Carole Simpson, to cover the event. Follow a young couple with a newborn as they attempt to cope with inexplicable events, experience denial, plead for help from their Church, and step into the world of the paranormal. Understand why ghosts cannot be exorcised and a true example of their strong sense of domain, even after death. Learn what experts and gifted people did in a failed attempt to assist this desperate couple. There is no happy ending, as the young couple suffers emotionally, are physically threatened, have their pets terrorized, and eventually suffer financially by actually “giving” their building away. What was intended as a financial answer to their prayers became, instead, a curse to be abolished. Learn many of the various manifestations that can be common in haunting. Ghosts can be seen and heard. They can propel objects and interrupt utilities. They can affect your moods and feed off of your emotions. They can appear as solid as you and me. They can react and become hostile if threatened or violated. Most important, as this young couple learned, they can harm you and cannot be removed. This is a firsthand accounting of what a true haunting is like. There are certain subtle occurrences you may find the most frightening, because you just might relate and recognize them. If so, guess what? You may have a ghost! (Book description from Amazon.com.)

 

Speaking to the Dead with Radios by Michael Hobert Edwards

Speaking to the Dead with Radios I will tell you is not this just another fish story to reel in readers for momentary mind entertainment. Communicating with the dead using a radio with recorder is achievable and any person can do it. You do not need to be a psychic, a medium or have any paranormal gifts to make contact with the dead using these devices, and that my friend is the luxury of this in that you do not have to pay someone else hundreds or even thousands of dollars to contact your deceased family members or friends as you can do it yourself in the privacy of your own home. (Book description from Amazon.com.)

 


Some Harsh Words for EVP Research…

The following is a portion of a letter from John L. Randall that was sent to Callum E. Cooper and included in his recent book, Telephone Calls from the Dead. This portion actually has more to do with EVP than phone calls from spirits, but it jumped out at me and I flagged it. John L. Randall (who passed away in 2011 not long after writing this) was a biologist and a member of the UK’s Society of Psychical Research. In this letter, Randall was critiquing anomalous phone calls in general. 

“I must confess that I am ninety-eight per cent sceptical when it comes to anything in the field of EVP. I read Raudive’s book when it first came out… I didn’t bother to keep it for my collection. None of his ‘voices’ conveyed anything approaching extended conversation. It struck me that if you are prepared to ransack all the languages of the world you are bound to find a few isolated words which will match up to any random noise on your tape-recorder. By choosing the right language you can even make the ‘voices’ say whatever you want them to say. A noise such as ‘mer’ for example, could be English (a female horse) or French (mother or sea). In playing this game you have plenty of scope for innovation!”

 

I’ve been finding that I am more critical of EVP than many, but OUCH! Tell us how you really feel! 🙂 

Thoughts? 

 

Click HERE for my review of this book. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Video Part 2: Highlights from our 9/15/12 Séance…

It is finally time to reveal the highlights of our two and a half hour September 15, 2012  séance. I’d like to thank Marilyn Painter at Ahtah Sanctuary Holistic Center in St. Peters, Missouri for sharing her time and talents with us for this project. 

If you haven’t been following along, here is some of the previously shared information. Marilyn beautifully announced our intention that evening with the following words.

 ”We set our intention tonight to bring forth those from the past who have an interest in bringing forth evidence to this physical world that spirit exists – that we as human beings, divine human beings are able to make connections and to communicate with those in spirit. Our intention tonight is also to bring forth, without a shadow of a doubt, evidence and proof that we are divine beings of light.”

Our invited spirit pioneers included Sarah Estep, Thomas Alva Edison, Helen Duncan, Konstantin Raudive, and Eileen Garrett. 

 

Some details regarding the “experiment” part of our séance…

Throughout the two and a half hour séance, I documented changes in EMF (electromagnetic field) and temperature. Also, along with recording the evening with multiple video cameras, I had two digital audio recorders in the room. My intention was to hopefully capture some EVP (electronic voice phenomena) as well. 

It is important to note that there were absolutely no EMF readings during the séance. I spent a lot of time charting temperature changes in the room and it seemed to rise and fall predictably and gradually as the air conditioning in the room turned on and off. I do not feel like any of the temperature changes were out of the ordinary or “paranormal”.  And, although I have a few artifacts of what could possibly be spirit voices captured on audio, I am not comfortable with making any claims about them or sharing them with the public. At least not now. 

 

Here is the Part 1 video…

…with an introduction and information on how we prepared for the evening. This was shared previously.

 

 

And here is Part 2…

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Please enjoy!

 

If you enjoyed following this séance, stay tuned for information on the séance we had on Saturday, September 29, 2012. 

 

Peace!

 

 


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